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Keeping a promise to himself
After finishing his undergraduate degree in 1996, Raju Mitra was at a crossroads.
In a one-week period, he had been accepted into a master’s program in International Development at the University of Guelph, received a full-time job offer with a government agency, and was selected to join the RCMP Training Academy in Regina.
He was forced to choose between his personal goal of a master’s degree, a steady income, or the possibility of being of service to Canada with the RCMP.
“It was a major decision in my life, and I wasn’t sure what to do,” says Mitra.
He chose what he saw as the most uncertain option and joined the RCMP in British Columbia. But even as he moved through the ranks to become a Sergeant, his personal goal to earn a master’s degree and passion for self-improvement never went away.
Mitra says, “I promised myself that before I leave government, I will do a master's degree.”
In 2020, he started in Dalhousie’s Master of Public Administration Management (MPAM) program, studying remotely from his home in BC. Mitra will graduate on October 3, 2023.
Standing on his own
Mitra immigrated from India to Vancouver at age 10. He already spoke English and started settling in right away.
“My first job was a paper route delivering the Vancouver Sun,” says Mitra. “I started three months after I arrived and kept it until grade 12.”
Customers on his route took him out for hockey games with the Vancouver Canucks, which made him feel welcome in his new home. “I really cherish those moments; they are lovely memories,” he says.
He says his parents instilled values of faith and hard work in their whole family and it made a difference. Mitra worked as a campus security officer while attending university. He proudly shares that he was able to pay for his entire post-secondary education without taking out loans or relying on family support.
The connection between career and classroom
That same discipline and self-reliance helped Mitra study for his master’s degree while working full-time and taking on a new leadership role.
In 2019, Mitra started working in the BC RCMP Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement (FPPE) unit, which he continues to manage. This unit proactively works to prevent crimes such as online fraud, particularly amongst vulnerable groups like students and seniors. He says the courses he’s taken in the MPAM program have directly benefited his team and the work they do to engage communities.
He recalls working on a secondment in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in 2022, while taking a Municipal Government class in the program. After building relationships in the community, and to fulfill an assignment, he attended a city council meeting. He learned about their ongoing water crisis, how it was impacting the people he had met, and how this issue highlighted the complexities of municipal governance.
He hopes that with the breadth of experience he’s gained from “the many brilliant people” in his program, he’s able to put it to good use.
“You see what you can offer to better society and humanity,” says Mitra.
Raju is a marathoner and has twice qualified for, and run, the invitation-only Boston Marathon. He enjoys having to push himself to achieve a target, adding “I love challenges and being resilient.”
Having reached the finish line of his program, Mitra will be joined at fall convocation by his wife and two daughters from BC. After they supported him through the program, he can’t wait to share the celebration with them.
“I want to instill in my daughters the value of hard work and what it means to use your knowledge, skills, and talents to make a difference for humanity,” says Mitra.
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