Photographed by Laura Tillinghast.


Transition is a journey from known to unknown. It is physical, mental and spiritual by nature. Shanti has experienced many transitions in her life and the most important period was her migration from India, her country of origin to the United States. Her parents had a fear in letting her go, how would she manage on her own due to her physical challenge of Spina Bifida? Shanti was skeptical as well, but equally determined to break away from the ‘nest’ and move on, she stuck to her decision to come to the U.S. She was not able to attend regular college in India as there were no facilities like ramps, etc. for the wheelchair bound, so Shanti did her schooling through distance education. In the U.S. she graduated with a Master’s degree in 2005.

In India, people walked past Shanti without the slightest acknowledgement of her. She was happy to see that she could go everywhere in the U.S. without worrying about accessibility into buildings. Shanti has an adventurous spirit; she sleds on snow-covered slopes to swinging on ropes in a Ropes course. Shanti was so lost in the euphoria of the moment she completely forgot her disability.

“I have a determination to realize my dreams at all costs. Through all my emotional turmoil, one thing I know for certain is believing in myself every step of the way.”