Harkirat Singh Paras: From Quiet Kid to Successful Entrepreneur
He didn’t speak until he was 18. Now, people flock to hear him talk.
Harkirat Singh Paras is a Smile Train patient from Amritsar, India. Below, he shares how he overcame the odds to become a true renaissance man. This piece was originally written before the coronavirus pandemic.
I hardly spoke to anyone until I was 18. The reasons included people advising me to talk less, five consecutive surgeries, and classmates bullying me for my voice. As I got older, the bullying got worse. I even got rejected in a job interview just because of my cleft. This made me self-conscious, so I kept my focus on my academics and health in preparation for each upcoming surgery.
High school graduation was the turning point of my life. When I started college, I used the opportunity to leave my introverted nature and fear of public speaking behind. While studying for my Bachelor of Technology in mechanical engineering, I started to do research on fossil fuels. I published my various research papers on biodiesel and one of them won the Best Paper Presentation Award in a conference sponsored by the Government of India. I was elected as Student Head of the college and won the Best Student Award by the ISTE Student Chapter. I was the college’s first full-time student to be officially promoted to a part-time role as Social Media Manager.
Most of my friends and even my relatives don’t know that I can sing. Yes, you read it right. I have a cleft and I can sing. I have completed a five-year vocal course from Pracheen Kala Kendra, which is equivalent to a Master of Arts in music and have chanted in the world-famous Golden Temple. Currently, I am pursuing a Master in Business Administration and am the founder and director of a company that does business in industrial hardware and digital services.
The world bows in front of those who believe in their dreams. I chose to stand up and work to change how people think about me and others like me with clefts. Today, I proudly say that I talk to hundreds of clients and colleagues and do business all over India. Thousands ask me for guidance, motivation, help, and support.
Currently, I am undergoing orthodontics treatment and speech therapy at Amandeep Hospitals. I can feel the worries of the parents of the other children, who ask my mother about me during my checkups. When she tells them about my achievements, their million-dollar smiles and reassured expressions make my heart swell with pride. I still remember that emotional day when a father who was visiting Amandeep Hospital for the first time asked me for my guidance on how to raise his son.
Today, I adore my brave parents, the doctors who have helped me get to where I am today, and, most especially, Smile Train. You all have collectively given me the most beautiful smile on this earth. Thank you.
Our Impact in India
As of May 2021