Nobody thought 21-year-old Paridhi Verma could get any job offer during the placement process at Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.
However, Verma’s candid reply about her acute visual impairment at the recently concluded campus placement in one of the top business schools in the country left many job-seekers stunned. “Yes, I have a disability. I suffer from macular degeneration with visual impairment up to 90%,” she confirmed.
She got an offer as a customer relationship executive from a micro-finance bank and thinks it is a good break for any graduating student to work with a bank.
“With 10% vision, I may have to take a slightly different path than others. Macular degeneration is a very rare disease and occurs in one in seven lakh people. It is incurable and progressive in my case,” she said.
Against all odds
IIM-L professor Himanshu Rai said Verma has been a symbol of resilience and perseverance.
Verma managed to continue her education with the help of readers and scribes to help complete her exams.
“Normally, in an examination, one writes his/her own destiny. In my case, my destiny was in my writer’s hand. I consider myself lucky to get wholehearted support from well-wishers since childhood. God has been kind to me,” she said.
After her BBA, she aspired to do an MBA and cleared the tough Common Admission Test (CAT) in her first attempt.
“Adversity can never be a hindrance if you are determined to achieve something. After completing BBA, I prepared for just three months for the Common Admission Test,” the Jaipur girl said.
She was touted as the youngest student of her batch when she got admission in IIM-L at the age of 19.
Verma is also thankful to her parent’s for their support. “I am a single child. My parents never let me go to any special institute. They chose to make me study in regular reputed schools,” she said.
The offer letter has completely changed her approach towards life.
“I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying,” Verma, who walked the ramp at IIM-L festival sometime back, said.
A resolve of steel
Her problem was detected when she was in Class 5 after a battery of test by reputed eye doctors.
“It was concluded that I am suffering from macular degeneration. It is without a cure in my case. By this time, I was in Class 9. I was not mature enough to understand the situation but worried to see my academic performance graph declining gradually,” she said.
She managed to beat all the odds and said being spiritual from a very young age helped her tremendously through the tough years. And a strong intuition and ability to learn quickly, helped her to adapt fast.
“By now, I understood what the problem was. Then, I became a more confident and self-motivated person,” she said.
She said she won the under-18 state level football championship in Class 10. And as an undergraduate student, she learnt to play the guitar and formed a college band. She also became part of a professional band that performed at concerts.
“Yes, I am special. However, the good news is that I wasn’t born that way. I eventually became a strong communicator and then enrolled for a course in mass communication and video production. I obtained a diploma,” she said.
While doing her summer internship with a company as part of her MBA coursework, she learnt how to believe in her own abilities, understand her strengths and areas of improvement and work towards making herself employable.
Her two years at IIM-L is the first time she has been away from home and she said hostel life has also taught her a lot.
Her resolve has also been recognised by the government as well as the civil society. Verma was honoured with the “Women of the Future Award 2015” by the Rajasthan government when she was in the final year of college.
Her parents received another award on her behalf from Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on ‘Daughters Day’ on September 4, 2015, to promote education in adversity.
“The challenge in life lies in overcoming difficulties and laying a successful path for yourself,” she said while posing for an HT lensman at the IIM-L convocation ground where she will be awarded a diploma with 400 other students.