Mala Dutta, 56, achieved her dream of receiving a PhD degree on Friday, 34 years after she stepped out of college. What made it a doubly memorable occasion was that her 28-year-old daughter, Shreya Mishra, was with her to pick up her own doctoral degree the same day after they completed their PhD programmes together—something both had worked for.
Officials at the University of Delhi said it was first time that a mother-daughter duo had completed their doctoral programme together from the institution although there have been similar cases at the postgraduate level. They missed attending the convocation last year because it had been scheduled to take place a day after Shreya’s wedding.
Datta, an Indian Economic Service officer working with the defence ministry, said she had always wanted to do her PhD after completing her Master’s in economics from the Delhi School of Economics in 1985.
“I had to take a break from work in 2012 when my younger daughter had her class 12 board exams. That was the time when I registered for PhD (in finance). I then took study leave from the ministry and worked seriously on my completing the PhD,” Datta said.
Her daughter Mishra, a consultant at the World Bank, registered for her own PhD, in psychology, two years later. “After I registered for the PhD we realised that we can complete it together and make it the most remarkable moment for us. Though our subjects were totally different, I started seeking guidance from my mother and worked harder to complete it within three years,” Mishra said.
The mother and daughter finally managed to submit their theses and attend their oral exams last year, with a couple of months separating the two.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful experience for me because I got to learn a lot studying with the co-students of my daughter’s age. There were instances when my professor would call me ma’am. But I enjoyed it. The motivation was to get a PhD degree with my daughter on the convocation day,” Dutta said.
That wasn’t to be, however. “The convocation was on November 19, a day after I was getting married. There was no chance of us attending and receiving our degrees together. It was disappointing for us both,” said Mishra.
Datta and Mishra went to the university on Friday and collected their degrees. “We finally realised our dream and collected our degrees together. Officials there said that we would have made news headlines if we had received the degrees on the day of the convocation. But it doesn’t matter because now my paternal grandparents and my husband are here to share this unique feat,” said the daughter.