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A cloistered nun (Sister Benedicta) steps out of her order, to go back with a PhD in aerospace engineering

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The Indian Express | Partha Sarathi Biswas  |  Pune | Jun 3, 2016 |

Dressed in the habits of her religious order, Roschelle —now known as Sister Benedicta of the Holy Face— was the only nun among the scholars who collected their degrees.

A member of the Cloistered Carmelities, Benedicta was awarded the PhD for her work in aerospace engineering.

AMONG THE 23 odd scholars who were conferred the prestigious PhD degree at the 8th convocation of the Defence Institute of Advance Technology (DIAT) in Pune Tuesday, Roschelle RM stood out and rightly so. Dressed in the habits of her religious order, Roschelle —now known as Sister Benedicta of the Holy Face— was the only nun among the scholars who collected their degrees. In fact, she had obtained special permission from her Superiors to attend the ceremony as outside contact is forbidden in her order. A member of the Cloistered Carmelities, Benedicta was awarded the PhD for her work in aerospace engineering. “I had joined the religious order post my final viva last year and this was the first time I came out after that. The rules of our order forbid us from going out of the convent and I was given special permission to attend the convocation,”she said.

Born in Kuwait just before the Gulf war, Benedicta had finished her graduation from the St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and acquired her Master’s degree in space science from Pune University. In the field of aerospace, her doctoral work was on scramjet engines. These engines are used mostly for hypersonic vehicles and are used for space vehicles also. Theoretically, such vehicles can drastically reduce the air travel time anywhere on Earth to just 90 minutes. Benedicta had decided to join the religious order post the completion of her PhD. By her own admission she always had a propensity for such a life, but she got her “call” post attending a special retreat in Pune. “My family had an inkling that I might join the religious order, but when I took the decision to join a contemplative order they were shocked,” she said. Members of a cloistered order are barred from outside contact and are expected to remain in their orders leading a life of prayer and meditation. –  Courtesy


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