An Inspiring Life Sketch: A speech by Professor Atiqul Islam

An inspiring life sketch is a speech transcribed by Mohin Uddin Mizan during the Youth Summit of KUET in 2017. At the end of the speech, a short biography of Dr. Atiqul Islam is placed for your convenience.

The speech from Dr. Atiqul Islam during a Youth Summit held in 2017

When you are assigned for giving a speech in 11th or 12th position, then there are both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are — (a) you don’t need to speak everything you’re supposed to speak. You’re among the 12-15 cannons. So if you misfire, no one can understand. And, one disadvantage is — everything has already been mentioned. There is either nothing or very little to say.

There have been many discussions on dreams. What I will say to you is that you need to pursue your dream with great strength and never give up. Always keep the positive frame of mind. I’d like to connect the above words with my life experience.

I was born in a lower-middle-class family at Nobi Nagor, a backward village in Brahmanbaria. We are eleven siblings in number and among them, I am in the middle. So, there was no possibility to get special attention from the family. And, within our entire clan, I am the darkest in complexion, not attractive to look at. There was another problem, which turned into an acute one. The friends of my father called me BABA PORA, which gave birth to a psychological problem in me. I started to think of myself as the other.

However, I’ve three elder brothers who are good-looking and good students at the same time. And, everybody has some talent in them, which I lack. I thought there had to be something in me. I discovered that I had to have self-respect; without it, nothing is possible. Meanwhile, I unearthed that I am good at playing.

When I was in class 8, something like a dream emerged in me. I found two role models, my cousins, who came well-dressed from Dhaka during holidays. I dreamt for the first time that I’d be a Chartered Accountant and picked business studies in class 9.

But, studying in class 9 never came into life. It’s a great pity that I’d become seriously ill and the illness continued for almost one year. Again, my good luck was  I’d been promoted to class 10 without any exam.

In the first term exam in class 10, I got 15 in Mathematics and ZERO in General Science. But, I never lose hope. I had self-confidence, and that is why I stood first in the test exam in Brahmanbaria. We had 22 students who got scholarships in class 8. But I surpassed them.

My father told me, “If you can cut a good score in the finals, I will get you admitted whichever college you want.” I got a position in the matriculation exam. My father wanted me to send Dhaka College, more disciplined one than other colleges at that time. But, I declined to go there. Rather, I wanted to get my admission at Jagannath College. Firstly, I never wanted to remain in a disciplined life. I was a free-will-agent who liked to fly kites, catch fish, etc. Secondly, I had a serious attraction in politics.

Let me share another story. My first term result in the Intermediate Exam was so satisfactory that the principal of the college got surprised seeing that Jagannath college had a student like me. He changed my exam centre.

In the middle of the accounting exam, I realized that I had attempted only four questions.

Disappointed, I folded my answer script to submit it to the invigilator. But soon I realized that if I had left then, I would have failed. I had better try to attempt some more questions. At last, I found that I was able to answer 95 out of 100, and in that year (in 1967) only I got the certificate. So, what I want to say is: NEVER GIVE UP.

I got admitted to Dhaka University and got first class in honours and master’s exams. Now, my dream started to change. I can’t decide what I will be. In the meantime, I got a chance in the BCS exam with the 6th position in my batch. Will I be a Chartered Accountant or BCS Cadre? At last, the decision was taken. I became a teacher at Dhaka University.

After two years, I went to Australia to pursue a PhD degree. Surprisingly enough, I was asked about my desired degree after I started to attend classes. One of my teachers asked me which program I wanted to pursue. I replied, “PhD.” They said, “There is no PhD in accounting, but if you can keep yourself among the toppers (within 10) in a course, there is a chance.”

I started struggling. I sat at my reading table at 7 pm and left it at 7 am. Ultimately, I grabbed it, and I was sent to the only one professor under whom one can do PhD.

I started working with him. I submitted the draft of my first chapter, but I was rejected four times. I got somewhat disappointed.

While I was sitting in a place in the campus, one of my teachers asked, “Why are you looking so anxious?” I let him know the cause. He inspired me saying I was rejected for 11 times under the same professor. It doesn’t matter. Don’t lose hope. Be stick to it.”

At last, in the fifth time, my draft was accepted with the condition — “If required, I can return the draft to make some changes again.”

I said all these things to remind you once again that NEVER GIVE UP.

Besides studying, try to do some physical labour like playing, exercise, etc. And, do the duty the Almighty Allah assigns you. Don’t violate other rights. Always remember your creator.

That’s all for today. Thank you so much for your patience.

A short speech from Dr. Atiqul Islam

Professor Atiqul Islam is the vice-chancellor of North South University (NSU). He was the executive dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University, Australia. He also played the role of pro-vice-chancellor (engagement) at the university. He had been teaching for the last three decades. He taught at many universities in the Asia-Pacific. He worked at the University of Sydney and UNSW. Also, he was a professor at University of Canterbury, the National University of Singapore. From 2005 to 2008, he was the head of School of Commerce at the University of South Australia. Later on, from 2008 to 2010, he served as the dean of the Faculty of Business and Government at the University of Canberra.

Mohin Uddin Mizan

Author Since: 11 June 2020

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