By MAIL TODAY REPORTER PUBLISHED: 21:58 GMT, 22 January 2013 | Financial obstacles cannot stop you from fulfiling your dreams, as 24-year-old Prema Jayakumar, the daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver, proved when she secured the first rank in the All India Chartered Accountancy examination. Prema became a role model for lakhs of girls her age when she conquered all odds to achieve her goal. For Prema, education was not just another chore but a way to change her life for better. Her father, Jayakumar Perumal, is double thrilled with the CA results, declared on Monday, as his 22-year-old son Dhanraj has also cleared the exam with flying colours.

Prema Jayakumar (second right) and her brother Dhanraj with their parentsPrema Jayakumar (second right) and her brother Dhanraj with their parents

Prema’s feat has made her a mini-celebrity in her chawl in Mumbai. Her family resides in a small one-room tenement in suburban Malad. Jayakumar migrated from his village Periyakolliyur in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu in 1992. His wife, Lingam, worked in a private company earlier but has now become a homemaker. A graduate in commerce from Nagindas Kandwala College at Malad, Prema secured the second rank in Mumbai University and completed her M.Com while preparing for CA.

She said: “I have always been a topper and knew that hard work would make me excel in the CA exams but topping it has surprised me.” Prema secured an impressive 607 out of 800 marks in the challenging examination. Dhanraj, who worked for some time at a call centre while completing his degree course to fund his education, said: “My sister is my hero, the source of my inspiration.” Both Prema and Dhanraj, who went to a Tamil medium municipal school, overcame difficult circumstances to achieve success. Prema said her parents never pressurised her to excel academically. “We never faced any pressure from our parents to study. However, we knew that education is our only means to change the lives we have lived. Now that my brother and I have reached this stage, we would like to make the most of it and give our parents a good life,” she said. Prema said she was grateful to her parents for giving her a good education despite their poor financial status. “Though my father was an auto-rickshaw driver, he ensured that I was never deprived of education because of lack of money… Now I want my father, who has worked so hard so that can I realise my dreams, to take some rest,” she said. An elated Jayakumar nodded in approval. “Umra bhi ho gayi. Ab kuch aram karoonga, bahut achcha lag raha hai. (I have grown old. Now I will take some rest, it feels so good),” he said as he prepared to wind down after the day’s hard work on Mumbai’s noisy streets. Read more: