With a major crush on Elvis Presley in her teens, Ramila Thakkar grew up in Shillong, capital of Meghalaya, which was the capital of Assam at that time. She emigrated from India to the US in 1972 with her husband Praful.
She is a graduate of St. Mary’s College, getting her B.S. degree in Economics and Political Science from Gauhati University. She subsequently attended Bentley College for accounting studies. From 1973 to 1984, she was part of the budget department at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Brighton, MA before joining Lahey in 1984.
Ms. Thakkar is passionate about community service and has served for over 35 years, first at Shishu Bharati and then Gurjar-Gujarati Association of NE. She has lived in the Boston area for over 46 years and has been a Gurjar member for 40 years.
“Growing up amidst a multi-regional community on the hills of Shillong, Meghalaya in India, my parents were the only Gujaratis in town,” says Ms. Thakkar. “In Shillong, the parochial schools encouraged the young students to “learn to give” – that giving was better than taking – so the seed was implanted in childhood; I always loved taking on projects that helped the elderly in the neighborhood.”
INDIA New England News: Can you tell the readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Ramila Thakkar: I am the current President of Gurjar – Gujarati Association of New England, and have been on the Executive Committee for last 25 years. Prior to that, I was associated with Shishu Bharati (School of Language and Culture of India) for about 10 years, where I taught Indian culture for 8 years every Sunday morning. I then joined the school education committee for the last 2 years.
I am also part of the core finance team at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, where I have worked for the past 35 years. Preparing monthly financial statements and year-end audits are my major functions.
What I like most about what I do is the bond and the strong camaraderie that I have shared, with my committee members and colleagues, over the years. Lifelong friendships have formed, and each and every individual in some way has contributed to my personal growth.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional groups do you belong and why?
RT: Given my long tenure in the leadership of Gurjar, I am a staunch supporter of the organization. Personally, I have gained a lot from it, particularly knowledge about Gujarati culture, since I was deprived of this in my childhood. Growing up amidst a multi-regional community on the hills of Shillong, Meghalaya in India, my parents were the only Gujaratis in town. In Shillong, the parochial schools encouraged the young students to “learn to give” – that giving was better than taking – so the seed was implanted in childhood; I always loved taking on projects that helped the elderly in the neighborhood.
Gurjar is all about promoting Indian culture, focusing more on the Gujarati culture, in trying to keep it alive for generations to come. Gurjar provides a platform for the second and third generations of Indian children to keep in touch with their Indian roots.
I also belong to HFMA, Healthcare Financial Management Association; I have been a member since 1984. The organization has provided tools that have helped enhance my career.
I am a life member of IAB –Indian Americans for Burlington, where I am a volunteer, helping them with their various events.
INE: What are your hobbies and interests?
RT: I am an avid reader and will devour a book staying up all night. I love all kinds of reads, especially biographies of leaders, thrillers, and romances. I read Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind – over 700 pages – when I was eleven years old, and it is still one of my favorites. I love the character Scarlett O’Hara’s feisty spirit, strength, and tenacity.
Besides being a Hindi movie-buff, especially the ones with soft, melodious songs, I love watching old Hollywood movies of Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and the like. I had a major crush on Elvis Presley in my teens.
INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community, your company/organization or professional field?
RT: I have spearheaded and helped organize various Gurjar events, where mothers, daughters and grandmothers have an opportunity to perform on the same stage, like our Super-Mom competition. The first ever India Heritage Fest was held under my leadership. As Gurjar celebrated its 40th anniversary, I have helped lead the way for various other events that culminated in Gurjar receiving the NECA (New England Choice Award) award in 2017 for the Best Non-Profit Organization in the New England area.
My strength lies in my communication and organizational skills, which I bring to the Gurjar platform. I strongly believe that business must be conducted with grace and dignity.
INE: What are your favorite books?
RT: The list topper would be Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, followed by The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The list can be endless as I love reading.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
RT: My favorite quote is about friendship which I believe is the strength of all relations, be it husband and wife, mother and child. Friendship removes all wrinkles. It goes:
“Great love may grow into frenzied hate
And raptures end in tears
But friendship is a placid state
That stands the test of years.”
INE: Who inspires you the most?
RT: I am most inspired by people, who think of others first and put themselves in second place. My Dad was the ultimate “giver” with no expectations from anyone, the most selfless and contented person in this world.
The next person I revere is A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India. I am in awe of his intelligence and his wealth of knowledge, a man of brilliance. His death saddened me the most knowing he breathed his last in Shillong, my home town.
INE: What core values do you try to live by?
RT: I admire and value honesty and sincerity the most. Multi-layered personalities confuse me. I like “what you see is what you get.”
Helping someone or a cause without any expectations is the most gratifying feeling in the world. A word about “community service” – it comes as a guest, lingers to become host, and remains to enslave us, in the most positive way.