2, March 2010
By Anahita Mukherji
Visually Impaired Garima Overcame All Odds to Top PG Exam
GRITTY SIBLINGS: Garima’s (in pink sari) brother Ashish was the first visually impaired student to do an MBA from WhartonFour years ago, TOI profiled Malad boy Ashish Goyal, the first visually impaired student to do an MBA from Wharton, Pennsylvania. Now, his sister Garima is the first visually impaired student at the Social Commutations Media (SCM) course for postgraduates at Mumbai’s Sophia Polytechnic. Add to this the fact that she has topped the class–no mean feat considering the course involves studying cinema, photography, journalism and advertising.
She won two awards at Sophia, one for excellence in academics and a special award for undaunted courage and excellence in the face of adversity. All this, despite the fact that she lost one month of the year-long course after suffering from slipped disc.
“Garima asked for absolutely no concessions during the course and never drew attention to her disability,” said Jeroo Mulla, head of the SCM department. “She was often on stage, welcoming guest lecturers with such confidence that nobody could ever guess that she was visually impaired,” added Mulla.
The course involved a photography trip to Uttarakhand, where Garima trekked mountain slopes and even crossed a river on a rope. Garima, who topped the terminal exams in film theory, also managed to shoot her own photographs. She would ask her friends to describe the scene in front of her and the colours of objects. She was part of the group of students whose film–Speak Up! It’s Not Your Fault–on child sexual abuse won the award for the best documentary in the class. Her group also won the award for the best ad campaign.
The last one year has been far from easy and Garima used every ounce of determination to survive the course. “I was terrified that I would fail the paper in cinema, as I had no visual recall of any of the films we studied,” said Garima, who scored the highest. Her classmates would often pitch in and describe the scenery to her while a film was going on. During silent movies, one of her classmates would always read out the subtitles. “I would read up a great deal on a film before it was screened in the class. I also paid a lot of attention to class discussions on the films.”
Journalism assignments weren’t easy either. The first time she was sent out reporting, she was extremely nervous. Being the first visually impaired student at the course, Garima was aware that her performance would determine whether or not the doors would be open for other visually impaired students who wished to study media at SCM. That’s one of the reasons she worked extra hard.