Jerusha was born in Sri Lanka in 1994. Because of her diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the doctors advised that she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk. However, her parents moved to Melbourne when she was 2-years-old. With intensive treatment she learnt to walk and talk. Now, aged 24 she has successfully completed honours in biomedical sciences and is a candidate for PhD studies, determined to explore treatments for spastic cerebral palsy.
Your story in terms of from where you started to where you are now is simply remarkable. It seemed to start with your parents making that first step to move to Australia from Sri Lanka where they could access a more advanced medical system. What impact have your parents made in your life and the choices you’ve made along the way?
My parents have been supportive in my endeavours. Their interesting values and insights have been valuable in my own life. They have always encouraged me to be a independent thinker and strive for success particularly in academia. They have given me the space and room to grow into my own individual person.
I know you consider yourself a positive person but what is one particularly negative experience or incident that helped shape who you are today?
I will definitely take you back to the time in Sri Lanka where I was told I would never walk or talk. That was quite a negative experience for my family and I but it really shaped who I am today. Due to these experiences, I am compassionate, genuine, humble.
You’ve managed to overcome the odds not only health wise, but from an education point of view as a PhD in neuroscience and being named as one of the Australian Academy of Science’s STEM Women Changemakers. How do you think your personal experience will shape your approach and interests as a medical professional?
My experiences in life has definitely given me a unique sort of empathy. Empathy guided by compassion. I hope that being a humble and caring person of a doctor will enable my prospective patients to appear more comfortable in my presence. I want to support people so that they can live their best lives. That is my deepest desire.