312 Express Scripts Hall
St. Louis, MO 63121
I express my gratitude towards all the special people who have helped me in the past or are currently my source of energy and inspiration.
I am thankful to Cynthia Jobe and Christopher D. Spilling at UMSL’s Office of Research Administration for believing in me when I joined as an assistant professor right after my PhD and for guiding me through the process of grant writing. I took my baby steps in grant writing holding Cynthia's hands and I am thankful to her for her tireless support.
I am deeply thankful to my colleague Dr. Sharlee Climer for always being available to review my drafts. She inspires me to respect students and work with them as colleagues.
Philip Reiss, our system administrator at UMSL, is always available to help me every time I need to purchase a new research server or when one of my servers has issues. I am extremely thankful to Philip for helping me with all of my servers. My students and I can access the servers 24/7 because of his behind-the-scene efforts. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, he helped me purchase a new server, install it at the university datacenter and reconfigure it many times.
From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank two of my high-school tutors, Ganesh Kumar Shrestha and Indra Timsina, who believed in me even when I was a poor performer during my junior and senior years in high school. Ganesh sir and Indra sir instilled in me the idea that the basic concepts in science and mathematics are fulfilling to learn when we simplify and understand them.
In my 9th and 10th grades, my Science teachers, Kumud Adhikari and Uday Raj Aryal, kindled a desire in me to pursue science for the rest of my life. Also, during the same years, our Maths teacher Arun Kumar Bhatta inspired me to learn concepts in mathematics. I am very thankful for all the support and encouragement I received from them.
Our C++ teacher Nagendra Dangal at Advanced College of Engineering in Nepal was my biggest source of motivation to do well in my freshman year in college. He repeatedly encouraged me to become an efficient programmer and pumped me up when I was slow. I am thankful to him for all the support I received from him during my academic resurgence.
When my parents had come to stay with us in St. Louis in 2018, in the evenings we would take them to the Adult Education Literacy Center at the Clayton High School to learn English. Although my mom is relatively younger, my dad was 82 at that time and all he knew in English was to read the alphabet. Despite them being the poorest students in the class, the teacher, Ms. Laurie Lambert, never discriminated them. My parents would return home impressed every day, because of the indiscriminative teaching and the unbelievable amount of hard work that she used to put in to make the classes informative and exciting. I never took any classes with Ms. Lambert but from what my parents used to share with me, I think that she is one of the best teachers I have ever known. I am thankful to her for showing my parents what a good teacher looks like and how effective the education system in the US is.
During the junior year of my undergraduate degree, I experienced the joys and challenges of working in a team when my classmates Subash Niroula, Susma Pant, Sharad Subedi and I teamed up for our Computer Science semester project. That year, I experienced the synergy of working in a team and also, I learnt the frustrations of dependencies among members. I am thankful to Subash, Susma, and Sharad for being there in all the ups and downs of our project phases and bearing with me when I may not have been as nice as they probably wanted me to be.
My friends, Abhishek Dutta and Pushpeshwor Pokharel, were my role models during my undergraduate studies. They trusted me and inspired me to ace in my university courses. With Abhishek, I had my first ‘aha' moments about the potential of artificial intelligence. Pushpeshwor introduced me to books such as the Headfirst Series, which I instantly fell in love with. I am grateful to my dear friends for being my role models and for guiding me as peers.
The saying “A grandfather has silver in his hair and gold in his heart” applies perfectly to my father-in-law Laxman Kafle. During the final year of my PhD, I was extremely busy finishing three research manuscripts and applying to almost every open faculty position. At the same time, we lost our closest friend and were grieving. My father-in-law was with us during all of this, fully taking care of our child, while I finished my manuscripts, found a job that we wanted, and we were coping with the grief. I am deeply thankful to him for being a shoulder to rest on during many of our helpless times.
For almost five years, as a spouse of an international PhD student in the US, my wife could neither work nor go to college. As much as there is excitement in coming to the US, the immigration policies and restrictions are painful for F2 VISA holders. The PhD journey felt like a war story for me and I was always stressed about my successful graduation. I will never be able to find words to thank my wife for being by my side unconditionally even when I was grumpy, for being my strength when I was not feeling great, and for arranging a party when, finally, it was time to celebrate my graduation.
My family members in Nepal are unsung heroes. They raised me, shaped me, taught me to become a human before anything else, and selflessly cared for each other in the family. I am especially thankful to Kedar, Anju, Krishna, my uncles Arjun, Umesh, and Hemu, and my parents. They have no clue about my research, artificial intelligence, or any of the courses I teach. They only care if my family is happy and healthy, and I care about them deeply.