BY KRISTEN MILANI
From tragedy to recovery and success, Paul Ramcharitar has proven that it’s not impossible to get back on your feet.
Not only a Conestoga computer application development student, he is also a Learning Commons English conversation partner and a former summer intern.
In May 2012, he started working alongside four other interns to help create the new Virtual Learning Commons service for students. During the summer he did a lot of hard work including HTML coding.
While working in the Learning Commons, he said the most gratifying experience was during the final summer intern meeting.
“We shared our experiences and what we learned. I felt very grateful for all of the support from all of the staff as well as my fellow interns.”
Even while being a father of two young girls, he is an accomplished student and is on the Dean’s List at Conestoga with a 3.91 grade point average.
Senior web developer/analyst Andreas Kyriacou was there to guide and assist Ramcharitar during his internship, and said Ramcharitar seemed to be very passionate about what he was doing.
“He always seemed very interested to learn and to prove himself,” he said.
Ramcharitar first realized he was good with computers when he was 12 years old. He became interested in word processing programs, the paint program and video games. Since then, computers have always been a key part of his life.
In 1991, he began studying at McMaster University for his bachelor of science degree. After graduating in 1996, he changed course and went to Bible college in Calgary, Alta. to become a pastor. He decided not to finish. Instead, he returned to Ontario and went to Shaw College for computer networking, his first post-graduate program. In 1999, he graduated as valedictorian and was on the Dean’s List.
Just before graduation, he got a job at Canadian Automobile Association’s information technology branch. After, he continued doing contract work then later worked for the Waterloo Regional Police. He spent four years as a consultant for the collision reporting centre. One of his tasks included entering data into spreadsheets for motor vehicle collision reports.
Although he has accomplished a lot in his life, it didn’t come without difficult setbacks. On July 14, 1994 around 3 a.m., he had just finished his night shift as a security guard and started driving home. He later gained consciousness in the hospital. Doctors couldn’t exactly tell what happened but speculated that he fell asleep behind the wheel before hitting a concrete post. His family doctor said he was a walking miracle.
“It was a very gruesome ordeal,” Ramcharitar said.
He later found out that he had punctured his right lung, had a hairline fracture in his arm, shattered some bones in his left foot and broke his upper jaw and many bones in his face including his nose. He spent a week and a half in intensive care and two and a half weeks in the burn and trauma unit.
“My mom said when she first saw me in the hospital, she could only recognize me from my feet. It was that bad but I am here to live and tell the story.”
He had reconstructive surgery to his face as a result of the accident. His upper and lower jaw had to be wired together, wiring was done above his eye and a metal plate was placed near his cheekbone. The nerves in his left eye were damaged which affected his peripheral vision for the past 18 years.
Due to the nerve damage, it took him five years to complete a three-year program at McMaster because of how difficult reading was. He still has double vision when looking down and struggles with exercise because of the damage to his foot. He has also been living with Type 2 diabetes since 2007.
After finishing his current postgraduate program, he hopes to own his own business as an educator in web design, web technologies and potentially educational technology. He wants to help people who want to web design or just use the Internet.
“My dream job would mean that I’m happy with what I’m doing,” he said.
He has also considered starting a non-profit organization to teach seniors in nursing or retirement homes.
“There are always people who want to learn the soft-ware or they want to design something but they just can’t afford to do it.”