Rakashi Chand was one of the first women of Indian origin at the National Mrs. United States Pageant. As Mrs. Rhode Island United States, Chand was asked to help with various charities across New England. The title gave her the opportunity to accomplish more than she had ever imagined as an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis research, a demyelinating disease of the nervous system that her mother has been battling for over forty years, and has led to her inability to walk.
She is currently working with the New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as a spokesperson, and volunteers for United India Association of New England.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Rakashi Chand: In my professional life, I work at the Massachusetts Historical Society, a non-profit. On a daily basis I enjoy assisting researchers, giving talks, and watching people’s eyes light up when we (carefully) place an invaluable piece of history in front of them.
As Mrs. Rhode Island United States, I was asked to help with various charities across New England, which was truly an honor. The title gave me the opportunity to accomplish more than I had ever imagined as an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis research, a demyelinating disease of the nervous system that my mother has been battling for over forty years, and has led to her inability to walk. I began working with the New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as a spokesperson and was honored to be the Walk Ambassador for MS Walk in Providence, Rhode Island. Volunteering and being asked to speak at different charities and important causes during my reign as Mrs. Rhode Island United States truly touched my heart and left me so grateful for these opportunities to improve our world.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
RC: I was always involved in the Indian community of Boston, as my grandfather was an ardent community organizer and advocate. I grew up in a home that welcomed new families to America, helped people find their way in this new place, invited stars from India for blockbuster shows, and organized events and celebrations for the community. I follow in the footsteps of my family, having served as Vice President, Secretary and Director of of the United India Association of New England. As an organization, the UIANE works relentlessly to serve the Indian community of New England by cultivating Indian culture in America, encouraging and nourishing its growth, and providing strength and services for our community. We work tirelessly year after year to provide quality events from the Diwali Cultural show, to the Community Picnic, Health fair, Holi Celebration and various other festivities. I feel that it is an honor to serve one’s community.
I am also a PTO board member and I volunteer at various other charitable organizations. As a family we volunteer our time together, so that our children will learn generosity, righteousness and how to improve the world.
INE: What are your hobbies and interest?
RC: I love to dance, nature hikes, cooking, making crafts and baking cupcakes with my children. I am a historian, who specializes in local history, and an advocate for Women’s health and wellness.
INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.
RC: Over the past year, the one moment that brought tears to my mother’s eyes was when I was the Walk Ambassador for the New England National MS Society, Providence Multiple Sclerosis Walk. I had the honor of speaking about my mother and my connection to MS in front of a crowd of thousands of people. As the Walk Ambassador, it was my pleasure to energize the crowd and begin the Walk with a speech to inspire and motivate everyone and to thank them for all of the work they had done to fundraise for MS. After my speech everyone followed me and my children, hand and hand, out of the auditorium and through the streets of Providence for the 2016 MS Walk. My children walked proudly at my sides as the crowds followed behind us. It was such a great honor and I am so grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity!
It was also an honor to be the first woman of Indian origin at the National Mrs. United States Pageant. It was a fascinating experience and I felt fortunate to have such a rich and unique culture to share, so although I was competing in an American pageant I was honored to also be able to represent India. I was privileged and awestruck to be competing with 49 of the most inspiring, most accomplished and most beautiful women from across the Country.
Finally, my daily service at the Massachusetts Historical Society involves educating school groups, providing teacher seminars, assisting families find their ancestors and preserving pieces of history that might have otherwise been forgotten. I love my job!
INE: Your rare talent?
RC: My rare talent might just be the ability to throw spontaneous dinner parties! I grew up in such a big family that I became used to “cooking for a crowd” and always having company; so I invite family and friends over at the last minute and make ordinary days into special days. When my husband comes home from work his first question is always “Who is joining us for dinner?”
INE: Your favorite books?
RC: The Iliad by Homer
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
John Adams by David McCullough
INE: Your favorite quotes?
RC: “Be the Change you wish to see in the World” attributed to Mahatma Gandhi
(Although what he actually said was “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”)
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do” attributed to Edward Everett Hale
INE: Who inspires you the most?
RC: My parents; they are my idols and they inspire me more every day! My father came to the United States from India in 1961, to pursue his PhD in Engineering at a time there were very few Indians in America. He taught us that family and community comes first. My father instilled the values of loyalty, kindness and duty in all seven of his children. When my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 46 years ago my father promised to always take care of her.
My mother instilled the values of determination and optimism in us; She has always been a pillar of strength and inspiration regardless of her pain and suffering. My mother taught us to be always be optimistic because life is a gift, and for that we must be grateful. My mother battles MS every day, but she does not let MS stop her! She is the strongest, most talented, most loving woman you could ever meet! I have learned that sometimes superheroes don’t wear capes, they ride in wheelchairs instead!
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
RC: I try to live my life as an example for my children. I know that everything I do will influence who my children will be someday, because they are watching, learning and absorbing everything that we, as parents, are doing. I want to be a better person so that my children will always strive to be better. I want to volunteer and improve the world we live in so that someday my children will create a better future.