She is a ‘superkid’ who works for various projects, participates in art exhibitions, submits creative assignments on time, is the subject of her professor’s research project and still manages to top her class.
But what sets her apart from others is her will to defy all odds, be it a disability.
Radhika Mehra, a bachelor of design student at Ansal University, was born with a hearing loss. She is the only student in her batch of 27 with special needs. However, her professors are awestruck at her talent, and say she is more creative than any other student in the class. “She is profoundly hearing impaired but is also profoundly visual as she comes up with great design ideas”, says Mike Knowles, dean, Sushant School of Design, Ansal University.
While an impairment of 25 decibels amounts to deafness, Radhika has a hearing loss with 110 decibels since birth. Her mother, Reena Mehra, said Radhika’s only companions in childhood were a pen and sketchbook.
“She was always a reserved and quiet child. She would make a sketch and express what she could not utter in words. Eventually, it became a passion for her,” said Reena explaining how her daughter chose to pursue design as a career.
Radhika’s father passed away last year, postponing her plans to apply to the University of Rochester, which has a special institute for the deaf.
“There were no colleges for such a course for special children in India. However, Ansal University agreed to admit her for an integrated course along with other students,” said Reena.
Radhika has been a star performer ever since. An inspiration for her classmates and professors alike, Radhika is brilliant as she likes nothing short of perfection. Besides her sketch board, e-mails and text messages are the only modes through which Radhika communicates with people.
Impressed by Radhika’s extraordinary work, her professor Promil Pande chose her research topic as design education for special needs in India. “A country with 60 million hearing impaired children has no infrastructure for such courses. We need to realise that there are children like Radhika who may have a physical impairment, but that does not make them intellectually less capable. Radhika is the most brilliant student that I have come across,” said Pande.