When Derrick M. Denis of Allahabad, India, first sat down in an ITC lecture hall in the Dutch city of Enschede, he had some adjustments to make. Later, he became an agent for change himself.
For a professor to sit in class among students was an altogether different experience’, Derrick recalls. ‘I had to switch from ‘prof. mode’ to student mode.’ This role shift was tough, but he pressed on. ‘With the help of ITC’s encouraging and highly professional staff I bounced back, scoring higher grades as I progressed. All in all, studying at ITC was wonderful. It made me feel young. And being part of a unique community of citizens from all over the world changed my perspective forever.’
While studying, the professor from Allahabad was fascinated by the operational excellence of what he calls ‘one of the best institutions in Europe’. He observed ITC’s academic and administrative performance closely and with deep interest. Thus, when he returned home, he took with him not only a Master’s degree in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, but also a fresh organisational perspective. ‘Back In India I was appointed Dean of Vaugh School of Agricultural Engineering & Technology, an institute with 2,000 registered students and around 52 faculties – and the first school in the whole of Asia to offer a Bachelor of Technology programme with specialisation in Agricultural Engineering. The many recommendations I made for academic and administrative improvement – based on my experiences at ITC – were gladly embraced.’
Derrick has always been fascinated by maps. In 2011, a ‘burning desire’ to learn how to process and use the resources made available by remote sensing led him to sign up for ITC’s Master’s course on Water Resources and Environmental Management (WREM). ‘ITC was the best option among many,’ he states. He was accepted and began to search for funding. To his delight, he found an offer on the World Bank website. ‘The scholarship I was awarded, along with the constant support given me by my wife, made it all possible.’
Today, Derrick is still Dean at Vaugh School of Agricultural Engineering & Technology. He is also involved in ‘water budgeting’ with the Uttar Pradesh Council of Agricultural Research and working on the River Ganges’ water quality with the Indian Space Research Organisation. His studies at ITC are a huge help in all of this. ‘Remote sensing brings everything together, providing solutions in many areas of life. ITC’s global outlook makes its alumni truly global problem solvers. Studying at ITC certainly helped me personally to think global. It increased my sensitivity to the challenges around us. My time at ITC also taught me that good people exist worldwide – and that together we can combat poverty, hunger, drought and disasters with the hope of overcoming them one day. It taught me to work hard to give others a better life.’