Dr. Sylvia Kamath: the very name, back in 1976, sent shivers of apprehension down our spines. We’d heard of her reputation as a tough teacher who took no nonsense. Our class was fortunate (or so we thought) that she was on sabbatical leave early that year, but some of us soon discovered that she was appointed our guardian for the duration of medical school, and we first met her in this capacity.
She took her role as guardian very seriously and commanded us to attend her get-togethers. Not knowing what to expect, we attempted lame excuses but she would have none of it. Her “wards,” as we were dubbed, were pleasantly surprised when we were welcomed with open arms through her warm and delightful family, mouth-watering home cooked meals, spectacular home made ice cream and lilting voice at the after-dinner sing-song. That year we also witnessed her inspiring performance in the Opera “The Merry Widow.” I think we would all agree that we were blessed to have been in the presence of a teacher whose skill stretched far wider than just in academics. As a musician, instructor, and parent, we had a talented teacher who was a role model to us all.
Although Dr. Kamath gave us a great deal of enjoyment, in no way shape or form was her strict reputation a myth. She transformed the cadaveric, factual and often dull subject of anatomy into a lively one with her wit and gentle sarcasm at our atrocious anatomical errors. We trembled with fear at those dreaded Viva-Voces but I do not think any one of us has forgotten his or her anatomy or its applications to our current practice of medicine.
Outside the Anatomy Department she has continued to be warm and approachable and we have maintained a wonderful relationship with her over these past 25 years. Her ties with the NA chapter of the alumni association grew stronger during her years as Professor of Anatomy in California and will continue to grow —she also happens to be the mother-in law of two of the alumni!
On behalf of all her students, I would like to extend to Dr. Kamath our heartfelt gratitude for all she has been to us-a great teacher, mentor and friend.
Lygia D’Sa, MD