Ruby Raju, Founder and Director
The genesis of DESIROOT.ORG lies in my youth as a first-generation child of a bi-cultural family living in America. I was proud of my ‘curry’ background, but I also had a deep yearning to move forward; to explore my emerging identity; and to take advantage of the possibilities that life in this country had to offer me. I knew that I had a unique opportunity to break through some of the taboo barriers and stereotypes that have held multicultural youth back from reaching their potential in new environments and that, if I were successful, I could serve as an example for other young girls and boys who are facing the same dilemmas while shaping their lives.
As I look back on what I have achieved, I cannot help but feel proud. While my underlying personal passion is in creative expressive arts (dancing, theater, acting), my professional training and experience has been in leadership, logistical, administration and budget planning, and operational management, diversity and inclusion best practices. My breath of experience represents my ability to be versatile, as I hold clinical experience in psychology while working with individuals with intellectual and physical disability, forensic treatment, in-home care working with families from lower socio-economic status, male substance abuse residential treatment and high school with co-occurring disorders, and geriatric with dual diagnosis, and trauma rehabilitation. Throughout my career, these roles have allowed me to dig deeply into my personal history and values and have allowed me to bring a mind/heart perspective to all of my work.
I am pursuing my Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and hold a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University (San Francisco Bay Area Alameda, CA). I have used that training to support the National Parks Service as a Critical Incidence Stress Management Peer, an Equal Employment Counselor, utilized my people soft skills to facilitate healthy relationship and dialogues between diverse personalities and teams geographical spread in the capacity of Regional Fire Program Manager Assistant, a Parks Budget Officer, and a Regional Budget Analyst. I also participated in a collateral consultation role where I was a member of an interdisciplinary team supporting the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the City of Pittsburg.
I am also tremendously proud of my military service in the United States Army. My military experience has included an assignment as a Logistical Section NCO Chief at the Scholfield Barracks in HI; deployment as a Global Broadcasting Analyst for the Joint Task Force in Djibouti, Africa; and an assignment as an Army Material Maintenance System NCO Chief at Ft. Hood, TX.
While all of my achievements have brought me a great deal of personal satisfaction, these to not ultimately define me. In 2010, I was involved in a severe car accident that left me unable to walk. In addition, a tumor was discovered on my heart that turned out to be life threatening. It was during that time that I spent many hours reflecting on my life and ultimately realized that it was time for me to become more involved in my community – I wanted to ‘give back.’
This decision did not come as a surprise to me. In fact, it is very much in alignment with my commitment to and my experience with non-profit causes since 1998 when I was 16 and became one of the youngest recipients of the Koshland Foundation Youth award for my work in support of the Pittsburg High School Multicultural, East Indian Punjabi Club, and City of Pittsburg Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. I have held multiple executive leadership roles in number of other non-profit organizations as well and served as youngest Director for ‘Give Always to Others.’
With the launch of DESIROOT.ORG, I can now empower youth to seek their own path while they continue to honor generational roots. Having walked that path myself, I bring a perspective that many others may not be able to offer. My goal is to encourage intergenerational dialogue, open up possibilities, offer professional resources, and give youth opportunities to promote their works of art and other forms of creative self-expression to an extensive audience.
I have no doubt that my online platform will touch the hearts of thousands of youth who have multi-cultural roots; that they will give voice to their dreams; that they will connect to their families on an increasingly meaningful level; and that they will become a member of a generation that will rise to great heights of personal and professional success.