In the limelight: Tarini Mohan, Indra Nooyi and Dr. Shaoli Chaudhuri

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Dr. Shaoli Chaudhuri. Photo: Twitter

NEW YORK – Stories of extraordinary effort, generosity and courage in the face of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, continues to pour in from all parts of the world. For each one that surfaces, for sure, there are countless other stories of kindness and fortitude by individuals who have gone out of their way to help others in their community, that stays under the radar.

One such story of extraordinary courage in the face of adversity, which exemplifies determination and discipline is the way to achieve goals no matter the odds, is that of Tarini Mohan, who’s set to graduate from the Yale School of Management.

After what Mohan’s pulled through in the past, the pandemic, which forced the cancellation of her graduation commencement, seems only a minor nuisance. Mohan’s friends recognized that by celebrating her incredible achievement online last month.

Mohan, an Indian American, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010, completed an MBA over the last four years. She sustained the injury in a 2010 motor vehicle accident in Uganda, where she was working with an international NGO to help smallholder farmers increase their incomes.

The accident left her in a coma for three months. Her rehabilitation was long and difficult, with years of grueling therapy, according to a report by Yale. Admitted to Yale School of Management in 2011, Mohan deferred enrollment until 2016.

Tarini Mohan. Photo courtesy of Yale School of Management

“My ‘commencement,’ with 87 attendees, provided me with much-needed vindication for always putting people first,” Mohan was quoted as saying in the Yale report. “Human connections are my lifeblood. It was a real blessing to be shown such love in the time of Corona.”

She added: “My four years in pursuit of an MBA, instead of the usual two, was such a blessing. Without a doubt, I believe that SOM’s unique community is its competitive advantage, and truly sets it apart. SOM’s values attract a very particular breed of student, who is, first and foremost, driven by the school’s mission of attending to both business and society. They are compassionate and inclusive.”

Classmates from her undergraduate institution, Wellesley College; Yale alumni; family; and former co-workers celebrated Mohan and the impact she has had on the Yale SOM community and the outside world.

Christine Chen, who helped organize the Zoom ‘commencement’ for Mohan, was quoted as saying, in the report: “To me, Tarini graduating from SOM was not just a milestone after her years of hard work. It is also a tribute to her recovery and resilience.”

Chen said that Mohan has had a profound impact on her classmates, illustrating for them lessons in perseverance, resilience, and inclusivity.

“When I was a student, planning events or sitting in a classroom, Tarini rewired my brain to think more inclusively, to make sure everyone felt included and able to participate,” Chen said.

Tarini’s father, Rakesh Mohan, gave the closing toast at her celebration. “It’s been her incredible love of life that’s made this day possible,” he said. “And this is just the beginning.”

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi poses for a portrait by products at the Tops SuperMarket in Batavia, New York, U.S. on June 3, 2013. REUTERS/Don Heupel/File Photo

INDRA NOOYI’S INVOLVEMENT AND PHILANTHROPY

Indra Nooyi, 64, the retired chair and CEO, PepsiCo, an alum of Yale’s School of Management, who now lives in Greenwich, CT, also addressed the ‘commencement’ for Mohan.

Nooyi herself has been in the limelight of late after being named as the top business executive leading Connecticut’s restart efforts, along with Albert Ko, Yale epidemiologist; and Paul Mounds Jr., Gov. Lamont’s chief of staff.

Nooyi, who emigrated from India to study at Yale in 1978, joined PepsiCo in 1994 and became CEO in 2006. She became part of the Lamont administration soon after his inauguration as co-chair of the business recruitment arm, AdvanceCT, formerly the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, a volunteer role, noted CT Post. She is also a board member of Amazon.

Nooyi has also pitched in with her own philanthropy to help Connecticut during this time of crisis.

The State Department of Education and the Governor’s Learn from Home Task Force have been continuing to coordinate the distribution of remote learning resources that have been donated to Connecticut, including 60,000 Dell laptops from the Partnership for Connecticut, and more than 185,000 high-quality Scholastic book packs for prekindergarten to eighth grade students from the Nooyi family.

Due to global supply chain shortages during the pandemic, the laptops and book packs are arriving to Connecticut in staggered waves.

  1. SHAOLI CHAUDHURI’S INCREDIBLE STORY

Dr. Shaoli Chaudhuri, 29, a third-year internal medicine resident at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and who works for Allen Hospital too, in New York City, was given a task by The Washington Post: to write a 30-day diary of her experience dealing with Covid-19. The result is a more than 3,500 riveting and moving essay replete with anecdotes of the ravages of the pandemic, culled from that diary, starting from March 17.

Reflecting on keeping a 30-day diary, Chaudhuri writes in the essay published by the Post this week: “Sometimes I think there are no words for what we are going through as health-care workers combatting covid-19. But looking at this journal, there seem to be plenty. Writing about the experience has helped me through the trauma, the ups and downs, and the search for light in the darkness. This is dedicated to the heroes we’ve lost, Lorna Breen, Romy Ocampo; and my personal heroes, my loving family, friends, podmates and colleagues in the trenches with me.”

The diary begins with her revelation that she herself has mild asthma, and fearful of the repercussions of that ailment.

“I feel like I’ve fallen through the looking glass, into another reality where I’m just as vulnerable as my patients. A reality where it could be me on the other side of the glass, hooked up to a ventilator,” she writes.

Here’s a note from her jottings on March 24, when she realizes her worst fears have come true: “I’d woken up with headaches and muscle pain but dismissed it; I figured I was just worn down and stressed. But as I tried to talk to my team, I couldn’t focus. My head was pounding, every muscle ached, all I wanted was to lie down on the floor. I snuck over to a thermometer and saw I had a low-grade temperature. As fast as I could, I left the Allen ICU, away from people, to call health and safety. They instructed me to self-isolate immediately. I felt myself tearing up. The thing I’ve dreaded has happened. I have covid-19.”

On Day 17, April 2, as she’s recovering from the coronavirus, she ruminates: “Sirens are the new birds. You know how in most places when you wake up, the only sound you hear is that of birdsong? Now, in New York City, it’s the sirens of ambulances.”

Two days later, she surmises what the world has slowly realized: “Trials are starting up for treatment medications (remdesivir, sarilumab, convalescent plasma), but we are limited in staffing and doses. The truth is there’s no magic bullet except for people to stay the heck home.”

On Day 27, April 12, one of her worst days in her narrative in the diary, she writes: “It’s been a pretty horrific couple of days. Three of my patients died in the last 24 hours and three others are expected to die this week. When I opened my list this morning, one of my patient’s locations was literally “MORGUE.”

“In the ER, I realize some nurses have given up on wearing gowns; I see patients with oxygen saturations of 50%, gasping for air.

“I feel so terribly, soul-crushingly helpless. I’m just this machine, sucking up near-dead bodies and churning out dead ones, barely having treated them. I broke down on the phone talking to my dad as I described the scenes. This isn’t what being a doctor is about. Update, my fourth patient just died.”

Dr. Chaudhuri’s dream as she phrases it, is perhaps the universal dream today: “I love to dream about “when this is over.” When this is over, I will spend as much time as I can with my loved ones. I’ll fly off to an island, swim in crystalline seas and laze on a beach.”

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)

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