After earning B.A.’s in chemistry and English (Washington & Lee University), and a master’s degree in biochemistry (University of Buffalo), Janakan Thiagarajah ‘97 decided to pursue a J.D. (Northwestern University) before spending nearly a decade of working in corporate law. He then made the change to work independently, and has since specialized in working with start-up companies in the blockchain and digital currency world.
“The way I’ve researched and analyzed professionally, both as an attorney and as a biochemist, is a result of what was built during my time at St. Anne’s-Belfield,” said Thiagarajah.
“The teachers taught in a way that allowed one to be inspired by the subjects. They approached their discipline from a practical angle, challenging us with essays and written discussions. This compelled us to interpret and make practical use of the knowledge we had learned in theory.”
For Thiagarajah, coming back to teach classes in chemistry and biology at the School in 2004 is one of his fondest memories of his time here, as are his memories of Field Day, Mr. Burnette’s daily mystery quizzes and accompanying Jolly Rancher prizes, and Coach Mac’s morning meetings. A variety of other teachers he remembers as inspiring as well.
“Karen O’Neil changed the way I approached composition and critical writing, and her influence was a significant reason I went on to major in English and pursue law,” he said.
“Pierce Johnson had a wonderful way of making each topic in biology exciting, and the lessons from his class stayed with me through college, and my graduate studies in biochemistry.
Randy Cornell brought a challenge to learning history that pushed me to think collectively about events and their impact, and that ultimately influenced how I study and analyze different subjects.”
Such educators were the norm rather than the exception for Thiagarajah, who knows his time at the School has had a lasting impact on his love of learning.
“St. Anne’s-Belfield taught us to how to love the process of learning, the intellectual curiosity, open mind, and respect for views of others which are part and parcel of that process.”