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Women Across Boundaries Share Their Success Stories

Ranjani Saigal

Women physicians, educationists, writers, photojournalists and entrepreneurs of different generations came together at the women physicians' luncheon organized by Dr. Brinda Kamat to discuss opportunities for women physicians to make greater contributions to society. “We have here people who bring a lot of different kinds of experience to the table and I hope this cross-pollination will be beneficial to all” said Kamat

The gathering included representatives from Indian Medical Association of New England, Young Physicians Society and other Indian American women who have made great strides in the fields of business, education and social work.

The meeting began with everyone introducing themselves – describing what they currently do, how they got there, their short and long term dreams. There was a very interesting discussion on how the various people present, from various backgrounds had become accomplished in their chosen fields. While the women had different careers and different interests, caring for society, balancing career with family and bringing a passion to everything one does to be the best, was a common theme emerging from the discussions.

Dr. Radha Jalan, President and CEO of Fuel Cells Inc., was the guest speaker for the afternoon. She has been a founding figure and active participant in the following organizations: TIE-Atlantic, Silk Road, Boston Club, Commonwealth Club, AASRA etc. Her talk was very interesting and inspirational as she talked about the obstacles in her path and how she overcame them. She also talked about future plans to create a social and community based umbrella organization for South Asian women.

All of the women physicians expressed a strong interest in discovering avenues to give back to society. Dr. Sarita Mohanty spoke about the efforts of YPS. “The health fair organized at India Day was extremely well received and showed the need for future health fairs in the Greater Boston community,” said Mohanty. YPS is also working with IMANE to help form a free clinic in Waltham.

Also present was Rita Advani, who has done a lot in the area of education. She contested and won a school committee election. “Indians always claim that they care about education and I decided that since I do care I want to do something to improve it” said Advani. “Getting into the school committee and working through the process was an eyeopener for it showed me what it really takes to make a difference.“

There were two “moms” in the group who had made outstanding contributions to society. The story of Dr. Rashmi Shah’s mother was inspirational. The untimely death of her husband forced her to take over his accounting business at a time when it was not common for women to do so. Despite misgivings and lack of experience she not only managed the business well, but also expanded it considerably to gain a more global focus. She did all this while raising children who became doctors and engineers. Another story was of that of the mother of the sisters, Dr. Brinda Kamat and Dr. Janine Saldana. Married to a successful railway officer, she used all the resources in her command to travel the length and breath of the country to donate all her time to the cause of education. She opened several schools particularly for women. She also continued her education and got her PhD from England. Again she did all this while raising children who have their own successful careers.

Personally for me, in was truly an inspirational afternoon.

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