MBBS student Archana Vijayan believes disability is no barrier to taking up any profession
21-year-old Archana Vijayan from Palakkad in Kerala aspires to be a doctor. This youngster who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy is currently pursuing her second year in MBBS from Kottayam Medical College. Archana believes that nothing to impossible and hopes to reach for the stars in the future too!
There are many jobs that are considered difficult if not impossible for people with disabilities. The medical profession is one such career and that’s why even today disabled medical aspirants have to overcome many odds to pursue a career in this line.
Archana Vijayan, 21, from Kerala came up against this perception barrier as well. Archana, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) faced many struggles before she got a seat at the Kottayam Medical College.
Early years a struggle
Archana was diagnosed with SMA when she was around two years old. Her parents noticed that her milestones were slow and she was different from other children. Initially, the doctor mistook SMA for cerebral palsy. Further tests led to the correct diagnosis. The early years were hard for Archana. There were days when she couldn’t sit but she ensured she went for regular physiotherapy.
Her father, who was a postman, made sure that his daughter gets the best education. So he used to pick and drop her from school. Archana has changed at least three schools in Palakkad where she lives.
Archana now has a wheelchair but she didn’t have this through her school years. “When I was in classroom, mobility has never really been an issue for me. My friends and teachers were also very supportive. Initially they were reluctant to include me. But then I was a bright student and they all started accepting me. I performed well in class too”, says Archana.
Journey to a medical college
Archana has faced numerous obstacles while trying to chase her dream of becoming a doctor. “A lot of people demotivated me. They said a disabled person cannot become a doctor. But from childhood, I was determined of being one. I did not have an option B when it came to choosing my profession”, she says.
After class 10, Archana was not allowed to take Science stream. She remembers that was the first discrimination she faced due to a disability. Archana attempted for medical entrance exams, but got a seat for Ayurveda. It was after the third attempt that Archana got a medical seat that she wanted.
“Once when I went for a counselling at Trivandrum, the panel insulted me a lot. They told me I cannot become a doctor because I have a disability. But I knew that is just what I’am going to do”, says Archana.
Currently in the second year, her friends and faculty at Kottayam Medical College are great, points our Archana.
Archana, who also sings well, has performed at various venues in Kerala including the State Youth Festival.
“I had very supportive parents who are my pillars. But I also know that not everyone is lucky like that. I feel every person is determined inside, but they need support to flourish. It was my parents who made me understand my strengths. I always tell that lack of accessibility is always an issue for people with disabilities like me. There are many who cannot follow their dreams due to this lack of accessibility”, says Archana.
Her mother Devi tells that she had her husband wanted to support Archana through all odds. “From a very young age, we did physiotherapy for her. We made sure she participates in everything along with other children. There were many challenges, but we know the journey is going to be fruitful”, she says.
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