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Okanagan College professor remembered through creation of annual award
Okanagan College Media Release

On Oct. 31, 2014, the Okanagan College family lost a beloved and highly respected member when Professor Tom Santosham’s car slid off the road and into a lake near his home in Penticton. Dr. Santosham died in the accident.Santosham Award Jan 2015

Shortly after this tragic loss, the Santosham family decided that it would be fitting, given Dr. Santosham’s passion for teaching, to create an annual award that would support business students at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus where he taught courses in global marketing for 14 years. 

On Dec. 5, two special memorial awards were presented by Dr. Santosham’s wife Penny, son Peter and nephew Vaz, to Kendall Ross and Nathan Milligan—both students of Dr. Santosham at the time of his death. Ross and Milligan reflected on the emotional loss of their professor and the personal significance of receiving the award in his memory.

“It was truly a privilege to have been educated by such a humble person who had an abundance of life and career experience,” says Milligan, who is currently completing his final semester as a Bachelor of Business Administration student. “Professor Santosham was a very kind, caring and knowledgeable professor. When he spoke, the students would listen intently because we all truly valued what he had to say.”

“He was a wonderful professor who was truly passionate about teaching, however, through his teachings it was also evident that his greatest pleasure in life was the success and wellbeing of his family and home life,” added Milligan. 

“This award could not have come at a better time,” says Ross, who completed her Bachelor of Business Administration in December. “Managing finances has been difficult throughout school and this has allowed me to start a savings account for my future, possibly to pursue a master’s degree.” 

Ross hopes to use her business training to launch a career in the tourism sector.

“Receiving the Thomas V. Santosham Memorial Award is a great honor,” noted Milligan. “I am very grateful for the kindness of the Santosham family in providing my fellow classmate and myself with this award. Their generosity will continue to aid future students in their educational endeavors for many years to come.” 

Working with the Okanagan College Foundation, and with donations from around the world, the Santosham family has established the Thomas V. Santosham Award in Business. The annual award of $1,000 will be open to domestic students continuing in the Business Administration program. Selection will be based on academic achievement and financial need. 

“Tom faced many educational challenges when he left India as a teenager to study in Scotland and then later in Canada,” says Penny. “Despite these obstacles, he always aimed high and told young people that with persistence, hard work and prayer they too could achieve academic success.” 

“The creation of this annual award by the Santosham family is a wonderful tribute to Tom’s memory and will serve as a reminder of his commitment to higher education, his passion for teaching and his dedication to students,” says Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “We miss him dearly, and this special award will continue to contribute to students as they pursue their educational goals.”

The Santosham family hopes that the annual award will not only provide Okanagan College staff and students with a lasting reminder of Dr. Santosham’s enthusiasm for teaching, but will also help students to reach their educational goals. 

Dr. Santosham earned degrees in Naval Architecture and Professional Engineering from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and a postdoctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering from UBC in Vancouver. His teaching career at Okanagan College began shortly after he retired from a successful career in International Trade Management, which took him to many parts of the world. In 2001, he was invited by Okanagan College to design and teach a course based on his business experiences. Throughout the years that followed, Dr. Santosham inspired many students with his remarkable depth of knowledge and passion for global marketing. 

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Thomas V. Santosham Award in Business can do so by contacting Anne Kirkpatrick, Development Officer, Okanagan College Foundation, or contributing online at www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca. The Santosham family wishes to thank everyone who has helped to create this award.