MARGAO: Magdeline D’Souza, as a college professor, is a rare breed. Currently the acting Head of the Hindi Department at her alma mater - St Xavier’s College, Mapusa, she holds the unique distinction of being the only Catholic Hindi teacher in the State, beloved by students and friends for her gracious temperament as well as her astounding command over a language that isn’t widely spoken in Goa.
Born and raised in Kanpur, Magdeline’s educational journey laid a strong foundation in her love for Hindi literature, with primary schooling at Kumari Vidhyan Vidyalaya in both English and Hindi media.
Her father, an electrical engineer, instilled in her a love for education. Creative writing blossomed during her school years, and upon returning to Goa and joining St Xavier’s College, she found the Hindi syllabus here very easy and more accessible and decided to pursue a degree in Hindi literature along with commerce. Despite being the only Catholic student in the class, her natural flair for Hindi literature and poetry ensured she topped every year. “I also had very accomplished professors, Dr Mishra and Tripathi, who encouraged me to pursue my M. Phil in Hindi literature,” she recalls.
Fr Antimo Gomes, her other mentor at St Xavier’s, convinced her to continue her academic journey and complete her PhD in Hindi at Goa University. “Word had spread that I was the only Catholic to take up and excel at Hindi literature, and Fr Antimo urged me to study even further so I could inspire the love for the language in more Catholic students. He promised that I would have a job at my alma mater,” recalls Magdeline. She commenced her teaching career in 1991, initially as a part-time lecturer at Fr Agnel College in Pilar and St Teresa’s high school along with St Xavier’s, and later, after Dr Tripathi retired, she took over from him full-time.
Known for going beyond the call of duty, Magdeline has demonstrated exceptional care for students with special needs. Her students mention that she regularly stays back after college hours to coach a visually-impaired student, and through sheer determination, managed to tutor a student from Kerala, who was struggling with the language, to speak fluent Hindi.
Recently felicitated by the Goa government for her various contributions to the field, she stands out as a favourite among her students for her personal touch, animated teaching style, and motherly concern for their well-being.