One Woman Living, Breathing, Creating, Dancing, Empowering, Educating, Laughing, Traveling and Running the Distance in this Beautiful Life....
Priscilla CL Raj is an International Social worker, Behavioral Therapist, ESL teacher, Writer, and Missionary
Born in Chicago, IL to a father native of India and an American mother-Priscilla followed her father’s philosophy as a doctor- “to help others live healthier lives” and her mother “to share her spirit and true empathy with those who crossed her path.”
While genetics were on her side, purpose was on the other. At the age of ten, she knew that she wanted to make a difference. She dreamed of traveling to India to help those in extreme poverty and sickness. The feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of others triggered constant curiosity in her being. Living in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago-she made an effort to help in her immediate environment. Any problems in her neighborhood-crisis, family problems, or bullying. It was just a natural instinct to help those who needed it and be a friend to everyone around her, which continued throughout her life.
Whether it was a Food drive, tutoring children on the Southside of Chicago, leading activities with the elderly having Altzheimers disease, volunteering with church community projects-Priscilla actively immersed herself into her community to be of service to others with a true love and commitment.
This passion for people lead to a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. Instead of taking some fun electives, Priscilla zealously took all psychology electives. She could never get enough of the human mind and behavior. The passion and purpose to keep learning continues from education to real life professional, personal, and spiritual experiences.
After time in Chicago, she moved to Huntington Beach, California where she worked as a Mental Health counselor for those children and families in East LA. This threw quite a learning curve with extreme amounts of gang violence in the worst areas of LA. She had a solid start developing great relationships with mothers, youth, children, and peers who all became the best of friends.
What followed was working with Special Needs children in the school and in the home with focus on Autism and Mental Retardation. She had encountered cases labeled the most “difficult," but difficult never meant hopeless. She dedicated herself to improving the behavior of many children. Two years of Applied Behavioral analysis contributed positively to her knowledge of the Special needs population and how to intervene in effective ways while promoting independence and self-help. The success was a rewarding start and a positive way to confirm her purpose.
A Masters in Social Work program came at perfect time with diverse, creative, passionate, and intelligent professors and students. Her work and passion continued with the Severe and Persistently Mentally Ill performing clinical therapy in one of New York’s best Mental Health practices.
Next, Priscilla was presented with a new population, which brought real hesitation. Her transition into New York foster care was one unexpected, but thought provoking and life altering. It was a real wake-up call into the unfortunate reality of the lives of children fighting for safety and a good home. Priscilla demonstrated pure persistence towards listening to the voice of children and building relationships between parent and child. Inspiration and empowerment worked at her core as parents were craving someone to believe in them rather than doubt their potential to parent. This contributed to many psychoanalytical theories about foster care and collisions with an unjust system.
Of course, advocating and educating in the US system is admirable, but Priscilla wanted to build her cultural competency with people around the world who truly needed her expertise and spirit. Although, she also gained inspiration from her Dean and professors who paved the way for International Social Work with fantastic achievements. She knew that she wanted to be like them. When doubt comes to surface, but inspiration takes over the heart.
Traveling to Southeast Asia without a plan-she decided to follow her heart, the need, and spiritual guidance. Within a few days, she was working with the Thailand Red Cross, within a week she was connected with a whole community, and it felt as if this was some kind of home.
Traveling in between cities, the response was astonishingly the same amongst the streets, homes, clinics, and NGOS. Priscilla gave acknowledgement, authenticity, concern, and listening to everyone that came her way. These people came when walking down a street, sitting on the bus, getting lost, engaging in ritual or church-it made traveling and professional work have a valid, consistent, and spiritual reasoning.
While she wanted to explore different cultures, it was difficult to leave the beautiful people whom she adored and appreciated no matter what the level of poverty, illness, sickness, or challenge. Those who challenged her ended up leaving her presence with a smile.
From organization to NGO to the streets, this was a continuation of her work with people, but it had been taken up a level going international. She made her dream come true to work with those in India, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, Honduras, Morocco, Laos, Thailand, Turkey, and more.
Priscilla felt the most alive when she was abroad having these informal sessions with people such as: business owners, street kids, school children, single fathers, youth. She gives sincere gratitude for the partnerships with incredibly selfless people who had the same mission to make a difference- no matter what resources they did or did not have. These dedicated souls were inspiring and taught Priscilla an incredible amount in regards to social work, policy, system discrepancies, and change one person at a time.
Throughout her travels, English was in high demand by schools and organizations. Those informal teaching moments throughout the day became a bigger commitment. English teaching in Southeast Asia leading to Middle East (Turkey) to Africa (Morocco). She started with one company and shortly realized her potential to succeed independently.
This lead to the start of “Believe in Your Purpose.” She received her TOEFL certificate and created a Business English curriculum and lessons for individuals and business companies. She also worked with French students for IELTS and admission essays to American schools. With such high demand and quick business growth, she felt thankful for all the humble, kind, lovely, determined, and beautiful students she served.
After a fifteen country visit and a seven year exit from Chicago, Priscilla decided to return back to her native roots. With desire to continue serving, she actively participated in her home church-Willow Creek. It is here where she gains spiritual guidance, support, and engages in ministry. Her church community encourages her from close and afar.
The next independent mission trip involved Central America with five different organizations in five different countries while having a missionary component for the street population. People were gravitating to her spirit and she kept herself very busy traveling from homes, churches, schools, clinics, street corners, buses, villages, and city to city. It had been confirmed that her spiritual presence had a significant impact on those surrounding her and her intentions expanded.
Priscilla does not only work with the underprivileged, but she works with the business man, the doctor, the single mother, the college graduate, the divorced widow. There is a wide spectrum of people who come into her path. Everyone has a specialty or focus, but she just connects with a person-not a race, an illness, a sickness, or status.
With each mission, Priscilla is listening, experiencing, analyzing, and documenting. She writes about psychology, cultural comparison, human behavior, poverty, and social work. Her own theories are produced from all the experience, education, and cultural exposure. She enjoys writing Travel Blogs, articles for various publications, and writing analysis through books is her current focus.
Priscilla has lived by the life mottos, “Work hard, play harder” and spin on Gandhi “Live, learn, and give as if there was no tomorrow.” A friend used to call her “The Energizer bunny” as she is always on the move-learning, being, or doing something. She is a true adventurer who has engaged in numerous thrill seeking activities including: sky diving, cliff diving, swimming with sharks, bungee jumping, and anything with the word "Adventure." Facing fears and learning from each and every experience is what Priscilla writes, teaches, advises, and speaks. She is always caring about the lives of others and rooting for their success. A passion for empowerment to the various underpriviledged and at risk populations is in her heart and future work/advocacy.
At this time, Priscilla lives presently and actively for the incredible moments that this life has given her. She enjoys all those new, fun things, but in smaller doses. The peace and quiet is cherished and spiritually fulfilling to her self. She loves the outdoors, writing, symphony/opera, traveling, cooking, painting, reading, making speeches, and bike riding. She resides in Chicago, IL with her bunny, Frederick. She is focused on her writing, attending workshops/seminars, and serving in Christian ministry.