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Liji Mariyam and Neethu Sara strive for excellence despite odds

Liji Mariyam Thomas and Neethu Sara Alex

AUCKLAND/BENGALURU – Girls have once again scored over boys in the results of the SSFC and Class XII examinations conducted on December 11, 2011 which were announced recently.

Two bright and promising girls from two different extremes have emerged first. Liji Mariyam Thomas and Neethu Sara Alex have topped the SSFC and XII exams securing 93/100 respectively.

While Liji Mariyam pursues nursing as a profession away in New Zealand, Neethu Sara from Bengaluru aims to become a biotechnologist. Both Liji and Neethu stand to receive the Mar Theodosius Memorial Gold Medal instituted by St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Kuwait during the Annual General Body later this year.

Diocesan Metropolitans Dr Yuhanon Mar Dioscosros and Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim have extended their personal wishes and congratulations to Liji Mariyam and Neethu Sara respectively.

Liji Mariyam’s achievement is really praise worthy despite severe constraints. For a girl who began her Sunday schooling in Saudi Arabia, a place where religious freedom is prohibited, to emerging topper among all MOSC students from outside Kerala region calls itself for celebration.

From Saudi Arabia, she moved to UK with her parents and finally hopped to New Zealand. Throughout she had to bear long disruptions in carrying on with Sunday schooling. However, her parents ensured that her spiritual life did not lack by teaching her the importance of Bible reading, daily family prayers and the history, traditions and customs of the Malankara Orthodox church.

At St Dionysius Indian Orthodox Church, Auckland, when the SSFC exam began in 2010, she was in the midst of completing her nursing degree and moving into a career, Liji missed the opportunity to attend regular classes and appear for the exam.

Says Fr Biju Mathew, Vicar, St Dionysius Church: “Liji is very hard working and a dedicated girl. Her family is very punctual in family prayers and all the church activities. For this exam she found special time and succeeded.

Despite her busy work schedule, guidance and immense support from Fr Biju Mathew, Sunday school head master, K N Varghese and teachers Philip Iyamplackal and Issac her parents inspired her to appear for the examination with confidence.

Says Liji Mariyam: “Initially I was difficult to comprehend the structure of the exam, my confidence rose from the help and tips I received from my sister who had represented our church for the 2010 SSFC exam. Deepest and sincere thanks to all of them.”

Liji also profusely expresses her sincere thanks to her beloved grandfather Karimpukandathil Thomas Chacko who has been serving as the headmaster of St Gregorious Orthodox Church, Variyapuram, Pathanamthitta for over 30 years. She also is extremely grateful to all her family all over the world, her teachers, friends and everyone else who have helped her throughout.

Liji Mariyam is the daughter of Chacko Thomas, Representative of Malankara Association and Annamma Thomas. They hail from Karimpukandathil family in Variyapuram, Pathanamthitta and have St Gregorios Orthodox Church in Variyapuram as home parish.

Her favourite verse is from Psalms 40:17 “Yet, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer.”

Neethu Sara Alex from Bengaluru has made the new diocese proud. The first ranker in XII exam is a topper throughout, both in academics and Sunday school exams.

Interestingly, Neethu Sara had secured the second rank in the SSFC held in 2009 and it was sure that she was aiming for the top slot which she eventually obtained two years later for the XII exams.

Brilliant in academics, this gal of 19 is a product of Bishop Cotton’s. She had topped the Science stream securing 93.4 per cent in 10th Standard ICSE and 95.5 per cent in 12th Standard ISC.

Neethu is presently pursuing her engineering degree in Biotechnology from R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru which she gained entry through merit seat in Karnataka CET.

A member of St George Orthodox Church, Indiranagar, she also is active among the Youth Movement programmes. Neethu’s hobbies and interests include biotechnology, her first love and reading, swimming, and listening to music.

Sonu Mary Alex is her sibling and Alex Joseph and Lisa Alex her parents.