Few have the privilege of finding their passion, and making it a career. Ayukta Thakur, AMD’12, decided to volunteer at a government school for children with special needs after she moved to Dubai following her undergraduate degree at Northeastern. She immediately found an avenue for her skills, and became an educator and advocate for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). She knew she’d found her calling. In 2016, Ayukta co-founded Integreat Center for Young Adults with Special Needs, which is Dubai’s first center that exclusively caters to young adults, and utilizes a holistic approach to teaching life skills development and vocational training. She is also a Board Member for the 2019 Special Olympics UAE organizing committee.
How did Northeastern impact your professional journey?
Education is not only about learning science, business, or history, but also gaining experiences – and that’s what Northeastern gave me. I learned about different people and relate to their individual experiences. I learned about leadership, teamwork, problem solving, organization, perseverance, motivation, and most importantly, the importance of communication through effective and efficient media. Setting up Integreat Center had a handful of struggles where problem solving, and communication played a vital role. I was a young educator making my way as an entrepreneur. During the first year of enrollment, a lot of parents had doubts in our ability, so perseverance and confidence played an important role. I learned through some trial and error – a quality that Northeastern taught me to be okay with. All these experiences define who I am today, and why I’ve made it my life’s calling to ensure that individuals with special needs can also learn these important key skills to be independent and successful in life.
How do you stay ahead of the curve?
By constantly meeting people, not just in my field, but across different walks of life. By reading, attending conferences and workshops, and continuing my lifelong learning. After graduation, I have been studying non-stop. I completed my SEND Diploma online, got my certificate in applied behavior analysis, and also pursued a Master in Mental Health Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
What’s next for you?
To continue advocating for inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities. This is just the beginning. I want Integreat Center to have sustainable financial operations without my daily involvement, and ensure that team members are getting the resources and training they need to for the long-term success of our Center.