Anand Baiju, a second-year Civil Engineering student at the University of Toronto, drowned at U of T’s land surveying camp in Minden, Ontario on September 4. He was 18 years old.
Baiju is remembered by those who knew him for his unwavering dedication to his family.
In the first year of his studies, Baiju balanced a full-time course load with part-time jobs as a security guard and a fast-food worker. He worked these jobs to fund his education, since his family was “not that financially sound to support his institution,” said Manoj Gopinath, Baiju’s uncle. Baiju also sent money back to his parents.
Kaifkhan Kalyani, a close friend of Baiju since fifth grade, said that Baiju “had the whole family on his shoulders.”
Baiju often said to his parents, “‘Don’t worry, I will take care of the family once I graduate from Engineering,’” recalled Gopinath. “He always told his dad, ‘You won’t have to go to work. I will take care of the family.’ He was a very responsible kid… He had a great love for his family.”
Baiju also cared greatly for his little sister, who recently turned 12 years old. Gopinath recalled how Baiju would regularly buy gifts for her with his earnings.
“The last one I remember was that he bought a doll for her… he thinks of her; he buys something in a very loving and caring [way],” said Gopinath.
To plan out his time between studying, working, and spending time with his family, Baiju met several times with Jennifer Fabro, the First-year Advisor for Civil Engineering.
“We talked a lot about balance,” said Fabro, “and we chatted about motivation — I know that family was really important to him, and he was really keen to be the first engineer in his family. That was really important to him.”
Despite his busy schedule, Fabro recalled that Baiju had “a positive attitude” and that “his smile could light up a room.”
“He was just a really lovely person,” said Fabro. “I know a lot of people were touched by him, so it’s a really sad situation.”
But “there was so much more to him than just the academic side,” said Kalyani. “He’d just help everybody… He was really a cool guy. He was very down-to-earth, you could really talk to him about anything.”
“You know how some people just try to be alone and get their marks, and not try to help other people?” continued Kalyani. “He wasn’t like that. He made sure everybody tried to get their stuff done.”
“He influenced me to work harder and get into the top universities. And he did that stuff for everyone… ask anybody in our school. He would always be willing to lend a hand and share what he knows in terms of chemistry, physics, calculus, or math. He did that for everybody, not even just me — he was helping people he didn’t even know.”
Kalyani said that Baiju influenced a lot of people at their high school to take academics seriously and work on their grades.
Just two days prior to his passing, Baiju shared his plans for his future with his friend. “He wanted to get a civil engineering degree, and then he wanted to get his MBA from Rotman,” explained Kalyani. “He wanted to build up a construction company.”
“He was very passionate about his future, he had very hard career goals set in place. He knew exactly what he wanted to do,” continued Kalyani. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get to pursue his dreams.”