BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
BACKGROUND: Vedesh Persaud, 28, was born in Guyana and moved to the U.S. with his family in 1996. He grew up in Queens, and it was only at the age of 18, when he went to college, that he stepped out of the borough for the first time since moving here. Nowadays, he does that more often as his position as a project manager for the city’s Economic Development Corporation takes him all over the city. He lives in Jamaica and likes its liveliness and the blend of different cultures, but, he says, he has a “warm connection” to Richmond Hill.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Persaud started volunteering at the Indo-Caribbean Alliance (ICA) for “selfish” reasons, he said. Four years ago, he needed something to take his mind off the stress of his 24/7 job at John F. Kennedy Airport. Once he got involved, however, that changed. In 1996 he was in the same situation now faced by many of today’s immigrants, and he realized he had a lot to offer them. He launched a tutoring program for high school students who need help with subjects such as mathematics, English, science and Spanish. He was also involved with a program for recent immigrants who need mentorship. Two weeks ago, he was elected and appointed to his current position, which focuses more on fundraising and overseeing the ICA’s programs. But he does see himself continuing as a tutor.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I feel close to the youth leadership program,” Persaud said. “We make a difference in the lives of the mentees — in social skills, character building, academic improvement — and the results are tangible. Being able to have an impact on individuals while giving back to the community is the greatest achievement.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “You put a lot of hard work into a program, do it pro bono, but you have to make individuals aware it exists and see to it that the program reaches the people who need it,” Persaud said. “Also, getting volunteers to conduct the program.”
INSPIRATION: “I strongly feel that I wouldn’t be the individual I am today without my parents. They came from humble beginnings. To make something out of nothing, while letting their kids explore their horizons. They always taught me to push the boundaries. [They] said, ‘Do more than you think you can.’”