Quietly brilliant

103-john-varghese Leading light: Professor John Varghese, principal, St Stephen’s College | Aayush Goel

No 1 in science & No 2 in arts

St Stephen’s College’s biggest asset is its alumni. Many distinguished men and women graduated from the college since 1881. The college’s principal, Professor John Varghese, however, is unassuming about its achievements. “Our hallmark is simplicity,” he said. “We have nothing else to boast other than the hard work and excellence of our children.”

A unique thing about St Stephen’s is the culture of service that students learn. Community engagement and social work are a way of life here. Recently, a group of Stephanians braved the freezing cold in Spiti Valley to help schoolchildren at a remote location. They took classes and the college helped with books.

The stringent selection process, both for teachers and students, puts the college in a league of its own. “Besides the cut-off, we have an interview process wherein we see whether the child is genuinely interested and has some creative spark,” said Varghese.

There have been a few bold attempts by the college to embrace change and keep pace with the times. It recently applied for autonomy, and Varghese is quite optimistic. “We would get a lot of freedom to start new courses and do collaborations,” he said. “We will also make interdisciplinary courses an essential part of the curriculum once we get autonomy.”