Pratima Penumarthy: Education and Service to One’s Community At Home and Abroad

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BOSTON- The founder and director of Arya Math Academy since its inception in 2017, Pratima Penumarthy is an advocate for education, and believes that education can promote gender equality and promote peace. In a time when schools have not been able to bring children in for learning, her online academy provides academic services and resources that fostered development of skills and attitudes necessary to increase the knowledge and academic independence of all students.

“Education is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future,” says Ms. Penumarthy. “When children are educated, they are armed with the courage and self-confidence to better themselves and their families, their communities, and ultimately the next generation.”

Ms. Penumarthy has dedicated much of her time and energy helping her community at home and abroad become stronger. She is a member of several committees for her hometown of Easton, including the Human Rights and Age Friendly Advisory committees. She is also a passionate member of TeamAid, Inc., an organization exclusively incorporated to assist people in crisis situations while traveling or living abroad. Team Aid is a volunteer-based organization providing assistance to individuals in crisis situations. With a worldwide network of experienced volunteers to assist individuals and provide emotional support for those in need, Team Aid provides support to victims’ families back home, often bridging the distance which separates loved ones.

On March 6, Ms. Penumarthy will be honored as one of the 20 Outstanding Women of 2021 during the 18th Annual Woman of the Year Awards ceremony— to be held virtually this year. To buy a ticket, please click here.

A Q&A with Ms. Penumarthy:

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?

Pratima  Penumarthy: I have been running my own businesses for more than 15 years. As a founder and Director of Arya Math Academy it provided me with skills in communication, I gained lot of experience by networking with professors, other students, parents and tutors. It also enabled me to develop skills in leadership that eventually helped me with my vision. This online academy helped me to provide academic services and resources that fostered development of skills and attitudes necessary to increase the knowledge and academic independence of all students. Since I have always being very passionate about my education and took pride in helping students achieve their goals. This is probably one of the main reasons I decided to start your own company – to help more students.

What I enjoy the most about my work is that my academy is the backbone of the relationship between the tutor and the student. The supports systems I have in place strengthen this relationship. I’m a lifelong learner who is constantly growing and evolving. Keeping up with new research, data, and trends requires a dynamic approach and an adaptable mind, so boredom is out of the question. Every day, as a Director of Arya Math Academy online Tutoring, I enable my students to learn and grow, helping them become masterful readers, writers, problem-solvers, and critical thinkers. In addition, we empower our students to become global citizens—to take a stand and let their voices be heard.

INE: If you are engaged with any charity or non-profit, please tell us why this group and what do you do for them?

PP: I have engaged myself with many organizations, but the one which I am very much connected is with TeamAid inc. Team Aid is the only organization in the world exclusively incorporated to assist people in crisis situations while traveling or living abroad. It truly rises to help others and embrace humanity. Team Aid is a volunteer-based organization providing assistance to individuals in crisis situations. I can very proudly say that I’m one of the coordinators for this wonderful organization. Our organization has helped hundreds of people around the globe when they needed it most. Our organization has worldwide network of experienced volunteers to assist individuals and provide emotional support for those in need. We also provide support to victims’ families back home, often bridging the distance which separates loved ones.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

PP: Reflecting back on my childhood, I always had a vivid imagination. I would imagine being a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. But I never considered a career in social work.  Over the years I realized that I like helping people in need. As evident as this may seem, helping to change lives is one of the most important and rewarding elements of going into social work. When social workers help people, they do not just appear in their lives for a few minutes with words of encouragement. I chose community service because human nature and our capacity for resiliency is a fascinating component of life to study, to observe, and to interact with. By helping community in need, I know that the work that I do is having an impact on people’s lives. Sometimes I don’t have to wonder if my efforts have made a difference.

I also read a lot of articles and magazines, blogs online whenever and wherever I want, in my leisure time. It is an activity that I enjoy very much and, I believe it provides personal benefit.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?

PP: In serving the local community: Town of Easton’s Human Rights Committee (Member of Board from 2016 to 2018)- As a dedicated member I worked together building a stronger, more unified Town—free from bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and disrespect.

And being in the Town of Easton- Age Friendly Advisory Committee (Since Jan 2021) I act as a liaison to enrich and enhance the lives of seniors in the Township of Easton. Identify barriers to access by seniors to Township programs and services. Solicit input and act as a public forum for issues that affect seniors in the community. Provide recommendations based on input received to improve programs, policies and services provided to seniors. Form partnerships in the community to educate, inform and improve quality of life for seniors. Support Age-Friendly initiatives in the community and promote active aging.

I have started last year a separate Facebook group Caring for aging Parents (Indian- American Way) for Indian aging parents both in America and India where everyone can read related articles, share advices and ask for help. When our elders are looked after carefully, it helps in maintaining a good balance in the society. One should feel that taking care of the elders of the house is not only a moral obligation but have care and respect for them. The elders of the house indeed require love, care and attention and it should be our utmost priority to take care of it. It’s is a forum, a place to ask questions, get answers, share best practices and be supportive of each other as we help our parents age with dignity.

As a Chapter President for Big Help for Education, NH – from June 2015 to Dec 2019 , I have volunteered  for many years helping the underprivileged children in India and ensured that the fund was effectively utilized for the intended cause. All the credit is given to the donor in all our programs.

As a Coordinator at Team Aid Inc – from 2018 to present, I try my best to help individuals during chaotic times with unexpected tragedies, especially tragedies that they are unprepared to resolve on their own. I’m very proud to be associated with Team Aid that was founded in 2017 on one fundamental principle: Helping people living abroad that need assistance after experiencing devastating circumstances. As a Team Aid coordinator, I try my best to help individuals during chaotic times with unexpected tragedies, especially tragedies that they are unprepared to resolve on their own. I’m very proud to be associated with Team Aid that was founded in 2017 on one fundamental principle: Helping people living abroad that need assistance after experiencing devastating circumstances.

Also as an active member of our Easton Lions club, I had taken the task of Math/Science Coordinator and served as a resource, and worked to ensure that assigned functions meet established objectives and requirements.

INE: Your rare talent?

PP: Intuition has always been there, whether I’m aware of it or not. It is that unconscious reasoning that propels me to do something without telling others why or how. Intuitive people learn to tune into their bodies and heed their gut feelings and I connect deeply with others. I do feel sometimes that it is some sort of magical ability to map someone’s mental terrain from their words, emotions and body language. I define it as the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it. Most of the time, the gut sense proves to be right on and helps me discover information that is key to whether I would hire the candidate or not. So it has helped me a lot in my work too.

INE: Your favorite books?

PP: The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun

Here the author built more than 250 schools around the world and is sharing what he’s learned and the steps to a more successful and significant life in this New York Times bestseller. The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Braun’s journey to find his calling, as each chapter explains one clear step that every person can take to turn their biggest ambitions into reality. True to Braun’s story, all proceeds from this book support Pencils of Promise.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan: The author took up volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal. Initially reluctant to volunteer, and unsure of whether he had the proper skill or enough passion to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war, Conor slowly accepted the challenge and embraced the adversities. He was later overwhelmed by the reward he received, that he had never expected.

INE: Your favorite quotes?

PP: • “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”- Albert Einstein

  • “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill
  • “If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”-Buddha

INE: Who inspires you the most?

PP: I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my husband Ramakrishna. My husband inspires me to stay humble and be supportive. My spouse inspires me to pursue my dreams. For the almost 23 years we’ve been married, he’s always, always insisted that he wants me to do what makes me happy, regardless of the income. He’s been my BIGGEST cheerleader, best friend and best consultant. He inspires and motivates me to be a better person every day because although self-motivation is important, sometimes our steam just runs out. We all need a person running alongside us, telling us we can keep going, that we can cross that finish line

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

PP: • Be true to oneself

  • Common sense
  • Be responsible and accountable
  • Inclusion
  • Open-mindedness and Learning.

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