It has been nearly eleven years since Crystal Durairaj graduated with her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Norwich University. Still, she continues to utilize the leadership skills and values that she learned while earning her degree in her current roles of leading and developing non-profit organizations that shed light on those negatively impacted by the caste system in India. Her life has been an adventure since walking the stage to receive her diploma in 2009.
Durairaj enrolled in Norwich’s public administration program directly after earning her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. While earning her master’s degree, Durairaj had the opportunity to travel to India to begin her volunteer work. Norwich’s online program provided her with the flexibility to earn her degree while starting her dream job and move forward with her personal life. Durairaj got married and began her move to India while attending Norwich.
“Because of the online platform, and because the professors were so understanding and flexible with assignments, while I was studying at Norwich, I was able to continue working, have my wedding, and go to my husband’s hometown in India for the first time,” Durairaj reflected. “None of that would have happened if I had been at another university where I was more limited with my mobility and assignments. Norwich’s online program could not have been more perfect for my life situation at the time.”
With Durairaj on her pathway to success, she entered Norwich’s program with one goal in mind: to build her leadership skills. In her volunteer work, many people depend on Durairaj to advocate for those who are victims of the caste system. As she continues to develop new projects, Durairaj relies on the leadership skills and confidence she built as a student at Norwich.
“Norwich is where I discovered my strengths and found my voice,” Durairaj noted. “I think that even though I had this vision, I didn't understand myself well and how my skill set would have fit into my vision. But at Norwich, I built my confidence up to the point that I was able to able to overcome a lot of my inhibitions. I was educated and equipped with the skills necessary to fill leadership roles in multiple organizations domestically and internationally.”
Ever since she was a child, Durairaj knew she wanted to provide education and safety services to children in need in India. Immediately after graduating from Norwich, Durairaj and her husband moved to India to assume leadership of a large orphanage called Hope Mission Home. Currently, Durairaj is working on opening a new non-profit organization, Jubilee Commission, which will send support to India and bring awareness to those negatively impacted by the caste system. She is also building a children’s refuge in India called Sanctuary Home, which is set to be completed in the next six months. In her eleven years of service, Durairaj has provided a future for over 1,000 abandoned, trafficked, and orphaned children.
“To me, the motto of Norwich University, ‘I will try,’ means I can do what has not been done before, and I can continue to do it even when challenges arise. Norwich’s motto has become part of my character,” Durairaj remarked.
Durairaj continues to ignite her passion. Within the next ten years, she is hopeful to publish a book discussing the plight of the untouchable and a proposed path toward the redemption of the culture.
“I would hope to see myself in the next ten years as one of many voices on these issues that are so important to me and hope to be able to join in a global conversation about the value of each individual,” Durairaj said. “I want to be able to contribute towards the conversation in a meaningful way to raise others to go out and advocate for people who need someone to be their voice for them.”
Crystal Durairaj makes the world a better place.