My name is Vidya Ramchan, and I’m a senior at York College. I came to America from as a child from Guyana, where people with disabilities had no healthcare. i was kept home and away from most activities. Born with cataracts, multiple surgeries did not repair my eyes, and two cornea transplants were rejected. I can see large print, big landmarks, trees, and colors. I read large print. I can see faces, but not people’s eyes. I don’t walk with a cane.

People have more of an issue with my disability than I do. Even friends tell me not to work so hard, because they think I won’t be able to get a job. It used to upset me terribly. But my Hindu faith, meditation, and prayer helped me stop reacting so negatively. In fact, those misunderstandings make me work even harder. I want to show the doubters that even though I have a disability I can still become somebody special and contribute.

Respecting elders is part of our culture in Guyana. it is a conflict for me here; friends think that I should be more American, not ask for permission to do things, and move our of my family’s apartment. I want to remain humble and respectful, part of my culture.

I would like to work in community health, helping children and young adults. I am a licensed massage therapist and returned to college to be able to incorporate massage into my future career: to help cancer and heart patients, for example. If you do something positive for young people, they can contribute as adults. They are the future of America.