However, her parents moved to Melbourne when she was 2-years-old. With intensive treatment she learnt to walk and talk. Now, aged 24 she has successfully completed honours in biomedical sciences and is a candidate for PhD studies, determined to explore treatments for spastic cerebral palsy.
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Your story in terms of from where you started to where you are now is simply remarkable. It seemed to start with your parents making that first step to move to Australia from Sri Lanka where they could access a more advanced medical system. What impact have your parents made in your life and the choices you’ve made along the way?
My parents have been supportive in my endeavours. Their interesting values and insights have been valuable in my own life. They have always encouraged me to be a independent thinker and strive for success particularly in academia. They have given me the space and room to grow into my own individual person.
I know you consider yourself a positive person but what is one particularly negative experience or incident that helped shape who you are today?
I will definitely take you back to the time in Sri Lanka where I was told I would never walk or talk. That was quite a negative experience for my family and I but it really shaped who I am today. Due to these experiences, I am compassionate, genuine, humble.
You’ve managed to overcome the odds not only health wise, but from an education point of view as a PhD in neuroscience and being named as one of the Australian Academy of Science’s STEM Women Changemakers. How do you think your personal experience will shape your approach and interests as a medical professional?
My experiences in life has definitely given me a unique sort of empathy. Empathy guided by compassion. I hope that being a humble and caring person of a doctor will enable my prospective patients to appear more comfortable in my presence. I want to support people so that they can live their best lives. That is my deepest desire.
You seem to have a lot of different interests including being an author and motivational speaker. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I definitely want to travel the globe a bit more and share my experiences and insights with in schools, universities, and work places. I also want to continue to grow in confidence and character. I am still single so I also want to find love and hopefully get married someday. If that is meant for me. I’d love someone to share my life with. I want to show the world what is possible if you believe in your vision and life.
Do you have any advice for other young people who aspire to be in the position that you are in today?
Yes I do. Believe in your vision. Do the hard work for the fulfilling of that vision. Grow into your own individual person. Become the boss of your fears. Do not be afraid to be who you truly are. We are all imperfect but beautiful in our own unique way. Believe this for yourself and respect your body and mind. Take good care of it. Each individual has a gift inside them to release. Find your gift and present it to the world with confidence and truth. Find love to give to others through your golden gifting.
And most importantly, enjoy your life and explore your passions. Let life be one big adventure that you can dive into.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you in the progression of your career? Do you think everybody needs mentors? How does somebody find a mentor?
Yes I have lots of mentors that inspire, push and drive me to be better. I am always learning something new from them. I think everyone needs a good mentor. Someone that they look up to and admire.
What do you think you would tell 16-year Jerusha looking back?
Do not worry. Hush. Do not cry. Wait for your time to come. Wait for your moment to arise. You will learn to dance in the rain and find purpose in the sunshine.
How would you describe your dream life?
I would be sharing my artistic skills to the world. Sharing my story, poetry, and singing and possibly expanding my horizons and network. Entertaining wisdom to the world. All the while doing/ practicing research or medicine.
What is your favourite book(s) you’ve read recently and why?
My favourite books is called “So Much To Tell You” by John Marsden because it is a beautiful story about a girl who cannot talk and writes interesting diary entries. It really touched and moved my heart.
What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
I actually have been taking more time to reflect in moments of silence. I love sitting on my own and reflecting on life and spiritually.
It has made me a better person.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
I would definitely start or donate money to a philanthropic / medical organisation that helps women in developing countries access medical treatment and achieve their dreams.
How would you describe the Tamil community in Australia?
I honestly have had a hard time fitting in with the Tamil community in Australia. I am a independent thinker and so I personally find it difficult to adjust to the cultural norms. I think some people are more accepting of people like myself than others though. On a positive note though, I would say they are generally very tight knit and close here which is very cute and admirable in a sense.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
I am such a foodie. I love masala thosai. But has to be mild because I do not like hot spicy food.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
Um, I have watched very little Tamil movies (I am slowly catching up with Bollywood now though) but from the ones I have watched, I loved a movie called Mynaa. I deeply admired the romance and love between the two people from the village. Love does conquer all. I also loved the soundtrack. Beautiful music and meaningful lyrics.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
Although I do not agree with some aspects of the Tamil culture, I think the Tamil culture means a lot to me. I love the positive energy and diversities that the Tamil community can bring to countries. I also over their service and generosity. That has also shaped my understanding of life and my values in some ways.
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