IU Professor Chaman L. Jain looks admiringly at a portrait of his late wife. It hangs in his living room, draped with a colorful band of flowers.
"She was my teacher," he says warmly of Santosh Jain. "She molded a young, self-absorbed individual into a loving husband and caring father."
Santosh passed away in 2009. It was after her funeral that Chaman and his two children hit upon the idea of honoring her memory with the Santosh Jain Memorial Scholarship. In that way, the family felt, Santosh's generous spirit could continue to teach others.
"We were all together, talking about her and her wonderful qualities," recalls Chaman. "All of sudden, my son, Manu, suggested we should do something in her name. It was on everybody's mind, but it just became crystallized." Chaman suggested a scholarship, to which his daughter, Madhulika (or "Mini"), added that it should be a graduate scholarship.
In the end, the family added another aspect to their gift. It would favor graduate students who showed an inclination to community service and volunteering. "We wanted the scholarship to embody her spirit," explains Chaman.
Santosh's spirit manifested itself in the work she did for her community. Through the India Society of Bloomington, she volunteered. She held fundraising dinners. She helped share the richness of Indian culture with the wider community through cultural events. And when an India Studies Chair was proposed at IU, she and Chaman worked to rally support for the effort.
In more personal ways, she helped young people who came to IU from around the world. Her home was always open and welcoming. At her dinner table, there was always a place for international students far from their homes. "She was very big on education and was always encouraging young people to continue to improve themselves," notes Chaman.
However, her encouraging spirit benefited her family the most. For many years, Santosh supported the family as Chaman pursued a doctorate at IU Bloomington in the history and philosophy of science, which he achieved in 1975. However, he was unable to find a job right away, and the family considered returning to India.
Instead, Santosh encouraged her husband to stay in Bloomington. Because he had held a government post in India, Chaman decided to enroll in a master's program at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 1980. "The next year, both I and my son became university students," he recalls. "Santosh was a constant source of encouragement and support at this time."
Eventually, Chaman earned his Master of Public Affairs degree and became an adjunct professor at SPEA. He also found his career, working for 19 years for the Agency for Instructional Technology. Today, he is a senior lecturer at SPEA.
Throughout this time, Santosh worked diligently on her projects. She wrote an Indian cook book focused on vegetarian dishes. She was also a popular dress designer with clients throughout the university. But it was her spirit that inspired the Jain family to create a scholarship in her memory.
"Her charming persona attracted many," Chaman says. "She taught me how to be tolerant and generous. I will remain indebted to her for the rest of my life."
Now, that same spirit has inspired a gift that will shape young lives at IU. It's a gift befitting a woman whose kindness and generosity shaped her family.