Dr. Parvadha Govindaswamy

Dr. Parvadha Govindaswamy is an associate professor at East Central College, where she has worked for the last 15 years. For the first 22 years of her life Chennai, India, was her playground, where she was born and brought up. Her family (mother, father and younger sister) live in India. Govindaswamy came to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue a doctoral degree in environmental science-molecular biology at Tennessee Technological University, after receiving a master’s degree in biotechnology from Bharathidasan University in India. She has lived in the U.S. for 20 of her 43 years. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be … A mega movie star or a teacher. I’m a teacher now.

What would you rather be doing right now? I’m exactly where I want to be right now. Teaching those for whom education is the pathway to independence, personal satisfaction and growth is where I find deep satisfaction. So dare I say ... I have arrived. 

Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone that … I’m an ace procrastinator. I could win the world championship for it if there was one. Don’t tell my students though. 

Other than your wedding day and/or the birth of your children, what was your proudest moment? When I made my dad cry on the phone when I told him I got the job I’m in right now — a faculty member at East Central College. My parents invested a lot in my sister’s and my education. Their goal was to help us become self-sufficient — not rich. Just independent. And he was overwhelmed to learn that we (my sister and I) somehow, after all the terror we unleashed on them while we were growing up, still managed to stand on our own two feet. That was and will always be my proudest moment. Because that is all my parents have ever truly asked of us, and sacrificed a lot of personal joy for. And making them happy brings me deep satisfaction.    

It really stinks when … Those weeds grow right back after you have cleared them. Like ... take a break, you guys.

What word in the dictionary would your face be next to? Scrutiny. See also under, Stubborn.  

I always laugh when …When I watch children act as if this world belongs to them. Because, it does. And they know it — until of course we teach them otherwise. 

And when dandelions hurry up and make puff balls within 12 hours of you spraying them with a weed-killer ... that is when I’m laughing at myself because I got outmatched by nature. 

Invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner. Who are they? What would you serve? Since I do not live with my family, it would be my family. It can be anything as long as there is rice on the menu.  

At the end of a really long day at work, I like to … My ideal would be to go home, cook a wholesome meal and read a book. Or another ideal is visit with friends and catch up. But what I mostly do is eat carbs and pretend to watch television while I doze off. 

People who knew me in high school thought I was … Talkative. Which is exactly the way I’m still. 

 I would drop all my plans tonight if I had the chance to … If I had the chance to visit my friends in person, many of whom I have not seen since March.

If someone gave me a million dollars, there is still no way I would … There is no way I would quit my job. 

I’m OK if there’s ever a national shortage of …  Cheese (Did I say that out loud?!)

When I’m in a bookstore, I always go to this section first … Social sciences and travelogues. 

What is the most useful piece of advice you have ever received? Education opens doors — even if that door is just your front door.   

When I’m cruising down the road, I’m likely listening to … Indian movie soundtracks (loudly) or an audiobook. I have been known to scare my neighbors with the volume. Just a little though.  

I always get sentimental when … People show up when they say they will. And keep their end of a bargain — however small it might be. I deeply appreciate those people. Those people take care of my emotional health. And they are precious to me. I’m loyal to a fault to those people. 

I’m always also sentimental about my family and friends and the things they like and dislike, and what makes them happy or sad.    

The older I get, the more I realize … I worry for no good reason at all. That kind of worry makes up 90 percent of my worry-state. And I’m working on recognizing it. I also realize that most people do harm without intending to and thus I shouldn’t hold them to their deed or any perceived slight for very long. They wouldn’t have done it if they knew better in the first place.  

If I had one “do-over” I would … I would have been born taller.

My favorite item of clothing is … A loose-fitting dress. There is no need to coordinate tops and bottoms here. Just throw it on and put some jewelry on and some sandals or boots, and we are done. Don’t want it loose fitting? Then, throw on a belt. Chilly? Put a jacket on.  

Trying pants on to see if it fits first before I spend time ironing it, takes all the fun out of dressing for me.  

If I’ve learned anything at all … Don’t take myself too seriously, because I’m often wrong. 

What do you wish Washington or Franklin County had to offer … More sidewalks. More bike lanes. More ethnic restaurants and shops.  

Who is your personal hero or mentor … Truly, everyone I interact with ... if I let them that is.

In my opinion there is no more beautiful place on Earth than … There are too many places to name. Many of them right here in the USA. Any place that is untouched by human hands has so much beauty to offer.  

I’ll watch the movie anytime it is on television … “Sister Act I & II.” And, “Ghost.” 

What’s your superpower or what’s your spirit animal? For someone who is a chronic worrier, when all “you know what” actually breaks loose, I can keep a straight face and act like my insides are not shriveling from fear. The more chaos there is without I can stay calmer within. And my problem-solving skills are at their highest at that time.     

If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? What is the most fool-proof way to help people live the best life they want to live? What is it? My happiness, it seems, is so closely tied with that of the rest of humanity that I just want to know what switch to flip and make it all hurt less. I’m not aiming to find an end to human struggles. There is no growth without struggle. But how do we effectively move forward? How? Why? Where is the manager?