From India to New York: Darshana Manji Dadhania’s journey

Written by Jahaida Hernández Jesurum

As the autumn welcomes New Women New Yorkers’ third and fourth LEAD workshop series of the year (don’t wait to sign-up!), I felt inspired to showcase not only a strong woman immigrant, but also a woman immigrant who is a mother and serves as a role model by having done a remarkable job accomplishing her career goals and dreams. That’s what most women dream of today: the full package.

Darshana Manji Dadhania, M.D.was born in the city of Manavadar, India, in 1972. Her parents decided to immigrate into the US in 1980. As an 8-year-old in a new country, she didn’t know exactly what she’d become as an adult yet, but she did know that academic life was her fate. Now, she’s a successful transplantation nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center at New York Presbyterian, one of the most reputable hospitals in the city.

DarshanaManjiDadhania

Darshana Manji Dadhania

Jahaida Hernández Jesurum: Why did your family decide to come to the US?

Darshana Manji Dadhania: An uncle, from my mother’s side, had come to the US to study. When my parents first came to visit him, he was already established in New Jersey, so he then decided to sponsor my parents, myself, and two younger sisters to come live in the US. It was a tough decision because we had a better quality of life in India. Both of my parents were the first generation in their families of farmers to have careers of high regard: my mother was an elementary school teacher and my father was a school principal. Later on, he became a social worker at a local hospital. But when we arrived in New Jersey, they both started to work in factories and hard labor, keeping two jobs at a time.

JHJ: How did your mother’s example impact your childhood and teenage years?

DMD: Who I am today is a combination of both my parents. Since living in India, education in my family was always emphasized by example — especially the sciences. I graduated valedictorian in high school. I applied for an undergrad program and got a 50 percent scholarship. I finished my undergrad in three years instead of four. Then I went ahead with the four years of medical school. I could have only accomplished this with my parents’ example, encouragement, and constant support.

JHJ: How did motherhood affect your career? Was it a challenge?

DMD: I am a big planner. Everything in my life is planned. My children — two boys — are now thirteen and ten. Exactly three years apart — that’s how planned they were. I got married in 1999 and when I first got pregnant in 2002, my husband, who is also a doctor, had to go for his fellowship in Vermont. Luckily my parents had sponsored family members into the country and I was able to count on the support of my aunt who came to live with me in those years. She helped me raise my children along with my parents.

 

 

JHJ: As the daughter of immigrants, what does New York mean to you?

DMD:  Why just New York? New York and New Jersey have meant to me, in one word, success. Not only for me, but for my entire family. We all built our lives here, with mutual support between brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. We’re always in touch, even if we’re in different areas.

JHJ: What would you advise any woman immigrant — teen or adult — about pursuing an education and/or career in New York City?

DMD: I would tell them the same I tell my own kids: that knowledge is power. That one must not simply rely on others to succeed in any field. That one must always perfect their craft, even if you own a business and get to hire the right people. Only your own limitations will get in your way, and these are not obstacles, but issues to confront.

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