If you look close enough, there are always stories around you, which will hit that inner cord within you. These stories will motivate you and make you question yourself. These stories will give you the courage to fight the obstacles on the way of your goal.
Today we will see one such story, and it so happens that the protagonist of this real-life story happens to be a dentist.
The name of that brave doctor is Dr. Rajlakshmi S J.
(In the last 2 slides of this article, do not forget to check out some of the amazing pics of Dr. Rajalakshmi, participating in the World Wheelchair Pageant 2017)
In true sense, one article is not enough to cover the immense courage and achievements of Dr. Rajlakshmi. However, within the constraints of this space, we will cover the story of this amazing Orthodontist (Spanning from the year 2007 to 2018). We are sure this story is definitely going to motivate you to excel in your career and particularly as a dentist.
It was 2014, and the final day of a beauty competition and a 29-year-old dentist Dr. Rajalakshmi S J was one of the finalists.
She was asked the question
“If you can choose then whose life she wanted to live again ?”
And she answered
“If I had to live someone else’s life,
I would wish to re-live my own life.”
“I would have corrected the mistakes that I did as a normal person and done more to improve the situation of the disabled in the country”
The auditorium erupted in applause & she was eventually crowned the winner of the beauty pageant.
The praise and cheering kept on echoing in the hall.
Dr. Rajalakshmi S J won the 2014 Miss Wheelchair-2014
Every contestant on that podium is a winner.
But Dr. Rajalakshmi being from the dental fraternity makes it unique for us. However, the crux of the story is not the competition. The essence of the story is in the fact that, Dr. Rajalakshmi is a famous dentist braving all odds.
There is so much that present-day freshers and young dentists can learn from her story.
Go to next slide, to know the story of Dr. Rajalakshmi and what makes her unique
In this post, we are reading the inspiring story of a lady dentist Dr. Rajalakshmi S J. The previous slide mentioned that she is a very successful practicing orthodontist, beauty contest winner, and woman right’s activist. But what makes her unique and different from others? You will find that in this slide.
The Story of Dr. Rajalakshmi S J
The Dream to be a Doctor & More
It was from a very early age that Rajalakshmi wanted to become a doctor.
Having seen both her doctor parents run a clinic in the same building as their home, Rajalakshmi modeled herself on them.
The people there used to call them devaru (God in Kannada) as they saved lives. Her dad passed away when she was in Std 10.
Once, Rajalakshmi took her battle against nepotism to the High Court, when she was denied a job in her college even though she was a rank holder. She approached the High Court, and the court finally directed the college to consider her under the merit and PH quota.
She was also very interested in modeling and fashion. She did her best to always learn the nuances of grooming, beauty, and modeling as a hobby with dreams of one day trying her hands in modeling too.
Dr. Rajalakshmi is a qualified dentist who has an MDS / Post graduation degree in orthodontics. She is a gold medalist in both BDS degree and MDS Degree. It was the year of 2007.
The Accident that Changed her Life
“After having topped the Examination, the professors wanted me to present some papers at the National Conference, and I was on my way to that event when I met with the accident,” recalls Dr. Rajalakshmi.
She was on her way to Tamil Nadu for a conference in 2007 when her car met with an accident, resulting in severe damage to her spinal cord and resulting in paraplegia (both her lower limbs are paralyzed) for life.
For those of you, who have just read about disabled people in their educational course, then do realize you that it is an extremely difficult life to live in our society. Yes, in India it’s very tough. There is lack of empathy in the general public. The government machinery has also not been very efficient for last many years to bring a sense of stability to this issue.
None the less, Dr. Rajalakshmi is a determined soul. She never let the impairment affect her and change her. Yes, she had her difficulties. Initially, she could not accept the fact of using the wheelchair.
She hated it.
She was so disgusted with the idea of using a wheelchair that she rejected it for that period.
“I later realized that if I keep saying no to the wheelchair, I would have to be stuck in one place, something which I could not have afforded. Today the wheelchair is my best friend,” says Rajalakshmi.
Her family supported her, but she did not get much help from the people around. All they would say is ‘Ayyo, you met with an accident’, and do nothing much to support her after that.“That irritated me a lot. Disabled people don’t need people’s sympathy or empathy; they just need your support. If you can’t give them that support, don’t discourage them at least.”
But she has an amazing attitude. It is the attitude thats says – Throw all the bricks you can at me and I will make a house out of it.
With this motto slowly and steadily Dr. Rajalakshmi started building back her life again and the beauty contest was just one sign of it. She is a successful practitioner today. However what brought her into the limelight/social media was the beauty contest.
Go to next slide, to know more of Dr. Rajalakshmi, what made her take part in the beauty contest and how she prepared for it?
In this post, we are reading the inspiring story of a lady dentist Dr. Rajalakshmi S J. The previous slides mentioned that she is a very successful practicing orthodontist, beauty contest winner, and woman right’s activist. But what makes her unique and different from others and how she prepared for the tough beauty contests? You will find that in this slide.
The Beauty Contest
Dr. Rajalakshmi always had the interest to explore fashion industry. She was passionate about fashion designing and wanted to be a model. Her aspirations to become a model took her to the national platform of Miss Wheelchair, where over 250 contestants from all over India participated.
For the contest, she designed her clothes and fashion accessories. The competition was judged by famous personalities including film director Nagesh Kukunoor. “He told me that he did not doubt who would win the first prize as I had rocked all the rounds,” Rajalakshmi smiles.
It was perhaps her response to one question that left the audience and judges spellbound.
“My own life,” said Rajalakshmi. “I would have corrected my mistakes that I did as a normal person and done more to improve the situation of the disabled in the country,”
Said the multi-faceted personality.
Dr. Rajalakshmi S J won the 2014 Miss Wheelchair India – 2014
Every contestant on that podium is a winner.
But Dr. Rajalakshmi being from the dental fraternity makes it unique for the Dental Community.
Because she believes that had it not been for her disability, she would not have known the challenges faced by a disabled person.
She continues her firm resolve and regularly undergoes physiotherapy sessions. She realizes that there is no full proof cure for her, but she is determined to make a successful career and life.
Due to her sheer courage and determination, today, Dr. Rajalakshmi is independent and back to her dental practice. We will look at her prolific dental practice in the last slide.
This win at the beauty contest in the year 2014 gave Dr. Rajalakshmi a huge morale boost. It made her very happy. But more than that she realized it to be the perfect way for advocating equal opportunities for the disabled in India. Home is where the heart is, and she feels it’s her responsibility to be in India to work for a better cause.
With that direction in mind, she started preparing for the beauty pageants at a world level. To prepare herself for this tough task, she traveled many countries and also within India to gain much valuable experience.
“I love driving my customised hand driven car & have mapped various road trips across my state,” says Rajalakshmi.
Due to her consistent efforts and hard work, in the year 2017, she was selected as India’s official entry for Miss Wheelchair World 2017 pageant.
Go to next slide, how Dr. Rajalakshmi created a great impression at Miss Wheelchair World 2017 pageant and won the title of Miss Popularity title
In this post, we are reading the inspiring story of a lady dentist Dr. Rajalakshmi S J. The previous slides mentioned that she is a very successful practicing orthodontist, beauty contest winner, and woman right’s activist. She was India’s official entry for Miss Wheelchair World 2017 pageant. Read next how she fared in it?
2017 Miss Wheelchair World Pageant was conducted at in Poland’s Warsaw and Dr. Rajalakshmi was amazing in it with the perfect mix and India and western attire in all the rounds of the event.
The contest was organized by a Polish organization for the first time to change the social perceptions about the disabled.
Around 24 contestants took part in the pageant. The event was organized by ‘The Only One Foundation’, which was founded by two disabled women.
India’s Dr. Rajalakshmi won the ‘Miss Popularity Award’ at the Miss Wheelchair World 2017 contest in Warsaw in Poland. Check out below some of the amazing pics of the event with Dr. Rajalakshmi. The event took place on October 8, 2017.
Wow! that is quite a lot of work. However, there is more to the story. Dr. Rajalakshmi is also a prolific practicing orthodontist and academician.
Go to next slide to know how Dr. Rajalakshmi has established a flourishing orthodontics practice and what is her true mantra for all-around success
Her Clinical Dental Practice & Present/Future Projects
Today, Dr. Rajalakshmi is not only teaching as an Assistant Professor in a dental college but also owns a dental clinic, SJ Dental Square. She has been a part of research projects on genetics and successfully presented a paper and poster at national conventions.
However, it was not easy to achieve all this. She had the credentials but then she had to fight against the prejudice of the Indian society and system. Rajalakshmi had to take her battle against nepotism to the High Court when she was denied a job in her college even though she was a rank holder. She approached the High Court, and the court finally directed the college to consider her under the merit and PH quota.
Today after a lot of struggles, she is working as a full-time Assistant Professor in a dental college and also running her busy practice. With her expertise and elegance, she is one the most popular and high practicing orthodontists in her state and also in India.
Editorial Note: Significance of the achievements by Dr. Rajalakshmi SJ
So, what is the significance of the story of Dr. Rajalakshmi and all the adulations she is receiving?
The most important impact of Dr. Rajalakshmi’s story is the awareness it is creating in the Indian society towards the upliftment and opportunities for the differently abled.
Many such people are struggling with silence and stories/personalities such as Dr. Rajalakshmi brings the topic to mainstream discussion. All the efforts by Dr. Rajalakshmi in her professional life as an orthodontist and also an international level beauty pageant winner made people take note of the facilities that the government and society as a whole must provide to the differently abled citizens in India.
All these achievements gave Dr. Rajalakshmi the much-required power to her voice and opinion for people to take notice. And she has been actively utilizing this power for the betterment of Indian society.
Speaking about major challenges that persons with disability face in India, Rajalakshmi says, “The main challenge is the infrastructure. I wouldn’t want to generalize people’s mindsets, but there is still a section who look at physical disability very differently. Disability is just a word used to describe a condition. It can be looked at from different perspectives. Disability can be mental and emotional. The only difference is physical disability is visible. The acceptance is less.”
She shares her experience organizing the Miss Wheelchair India 2015 the following year after her win. “Miss Wheelchair India isn’t just a mere beauty pageant where you win and forget all about it. It gives you a RESPONSIBILITY with the title of ‘India.’ The founder, Mr.Sounak Banerjee, asked me if I could organize it in Bengaluru. It was a challenge to raise funds. I did my best. Despite the publicity, the funds were less. We managed to get other sponsors later. And we definitely raised the bar from previous years,” she says. She also the acting chairperson of the SJ Foundation, which works for the cause of persons with disability.
This desire to forever progress motivates Dr. Rajalakshmi to take part in all the endeavors to enrich her life. Apart from the legal battles for the rights of women and differently abled, she is organizing a national dental workshop, expanding her dental clinic to a second branch, gearing up for wheelchair tennis tournament, speaking at TEDx, and the list is ever progressing.
In her words,
“There is a great disparity in the law that guarantees equal access to employment opportunities to all and what is implemented,” says Rajalakshmi. Her message to young people is never to stop exploring! “Learn to love your life the way it is, but don’t stop at what you have. Life is an evolving process. Keep exploring your capabilities through different dimensions and avenues.”
With this, we conclude one more article on Women Power in Dentistry. Its always inspiring to read real-life success stories of Dentists who have bravely faced all the odds to emerge as successful in their career & life. There are so many points to learn and get motivated.
We wish Dr. Rajalakshmi, all the best for her future endeavors and hope that she continues to inspire many dentists and citizens at large.