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Rariyang Pura was about a year old when she lost her hearing. Growing up in rural India, she struggled with her studies because her small school couldn't accommodate her needs. When she was seven, her father sent her to Chennai, more than 1,800 miles from her home, to attend a school for deaf students. There, she learned oral and sign language—tools that enabled her to communicate with her classmates and teachers.
Though she took quickly to her studies, Rariyang missed her parents, who could only make the long trek to Chennai at the beginning and end of the school year to drop her off and pick her up from school. Nevertheless, she persevered, eventually attending college, where she discovered a love for computer science and engineering. As she explains, “Technology is evolving every day, so I am always taking it as a challenge and learning new skills."
Today, Rariyang works as a software engineer in JPMorgan Chase's Bangalore offices. She is a recipient of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People's Helen Keller award, in recognition of her work to raise awareness around employment for disabled people and her position as a role model for others living with a disability.
What does success look like to you?
For me, success is feeling happy and satisfied. That could mean doing a job the right way, or learning something new. Anytime I feel like I am making progress in life, like I am moving forward, then I feel happy. And any time I feel happy, I am successful.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
First and foremost it is my family. I am from the very northern part of India called Arunachal Pradesh, also known as the “Land of dawn-lit mountains." English is not the colloquial language there, so most people don't know it. But my parents taught it to me anyway to make sure I'd have more opportunities. They taught me to be more independent and have always supported me.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
One of my teachers taught me that if you work hard, you will do well. This was an important lesson for me because I did not perform well in school when I was a kid. I really struggled and I worried about it, and I often felt left out. My teacher was the one who taught me not to get mad or frustrated, and not to give up. Instead, she told me to just always try harder. And that's proven true for me. Even though I struggled in school as a young child, I kept working at it and eventually I found an area of study that made a lot of sense to me—computer programming. Now I have a job in it!
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
For a long time, I didn't have any confidence in myself. Even as a child, I lived in a hostel when I was in school, so I was far away from my family. I felt so lonely sometimes being so far from them, and I didn't have self-confidence. Overcoming that was a big challenge for me.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
Both. Working from home has been a new experience for me and it has been nice to have my family around. But I really like my team in the office, too. I liked being able to have random conversations about our work, which is important in programming. OK, so thinking about this some more, I guess the office is preferable.