Nadia Rajaram overcomes adversity, breaks down barriers

Following her mother’s path, Rajaram ‘knows she’s implicated in the world’

Nadia Rajaram, a transitions to post secondary education (TPE) student, is no stranger to overcoming adversity.

At the age of four, Rajaram was in a car accident which left her with brain damage and made alternative education accommodations necessary.

The challenges didn’t end there, as her father developed a drinking problem that escalated when she was in her late teenage years.

“His alcohol addiction became so bad I no longer felt safe,” Rajaram explained.

As a result, Rajaram was forced to move out of her house and into a youth homeless shelter. She later moved into a group home until she was able to live on her own.

In spite of her brain trauma and difficult home life, Rajaram always had a strong sense of community and saw the importance of volunteering, even at a young age.

“My mom always wanted me to have a strong sense of community” said Rajaram. To help build this sense of community, Rajaram said her mother Diane would often take her to meetings at Parkdale Legal Community Services, a clinic which provides support, advice and representation for low-income residents of the Parkdale and Swansea neighbourhoods.

With her mother, Rajaram would also frequently attend meetings of the Worker’s Action Center, a group which advocates for better wages and conditions for low-wage and precariously employed workers.

“She fights for people,” said Rajaram describing her mother.

Diane is now separated from Rajaram’s father.

Today, Rajaram continues to be a volunteer at the same two organizations her mother introduced her to. She is also heavily involved with the Fight for 15 and Fairness group, a campaign for a $15 minimum wage in Ontario. Rajaram is also an active volunteer with the New Democratic Party.

For Ambrose Kirby, a faculty-counselor at George Brown College, Rajaram isn’t somebody who needs a lot of pity or help overcoming her barriers.

“For me, Nadia is a real leader, someone that knows she’s implicated in the world,” said Kirby. “She just knows she has a responsibility to do something in the world with her skills and her passion.” Kirby added, “she creates something out of nothing. When someone puts up a barrier, she a finds a way to turn it into an opportunity.”

Now living independently, Rajaram hopes to continue her work in the community by applying to the community worker program at George Brown in the future once she completes the TPE program.

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Nadia Rajaram overcomes adversity, breaks down barriers