Hailing from the picturesque town of Ambalmugal in Ernakulam, Kerala, Soumya Saji’s story is one of unyielding determination, boundless passion, and the relentless pursuit of a dream. In August 2019, she embarked on a life-changing odyssey to Canada, unaware that this journey would be the crucible in which her aspirations would take flight.
Soumya arrived in Canada as an international student, enrolling in a two-year Nutrition Management program at Conestoga College in Kitchener. Her initial days were a tapestry of typical challenges encountered by newcomers – adapting to a new culture, navigating a different education system, and finding her footing in a foreign land. However, her resolve to seize this opportunity remained unwavering.
Like many students, she took on a part-time job to support herself financially. Her role as a restaurant helper necessitated a daily commute, and it was during these solitary bus journeys that her extraordinary voyage began.
Most workdays commenced with Soumya embarking on a long bus journey from Cambridge to her workplace and college. Often, she found herself alone on the bus with the driver. Given her naturally curious and outgoing nature, she initiated conversations with these bus drivers, many of whom were Canadians. In these exchanges, they shared stories about their lives, professions, and dreams.
One fateful day, she encountered a South Indian bus driver who would alter the trajectory of her life. She confided in him about her dream of becoming a bus driver and sought guidance on how to pursue it. To her astonishment, he revealed that in Canada, she had the opportunity not only to drive buses but also to operate substantial trucks. He elucidated the various truck categories, including the challenging realm of triple-trailer trucks, and informed her that women were excelling in this field.
Soumya’s interest was thoroughly piqued, and she resolved to explore the world of truck driving further. Over the ensuing days, she continued to engage with bus drivers, fostering friendships within the transportation industry. She was captivated by their narratives of road adventures and their profound passion for their profession.
As her fascination deepened, she stumbled upon a YouTube channel that would become her wellspring of inspiration and knowledge – “Mr. & Mrs. Malayee,” hosted by Jaison and Raji. Their videos offered a window into the life of truck drivers, documenting their experiences on the open road. These videos not only kindled her passion but also offered invaluable insights into the domain of trucking.
Eager to pursue her newfound aspiration, Soumya shared her dreams with friends and relatives in Canada and back in India. Regrettably, not everyone was supportive. Some truck drivers discouraged her, citing the profession’s challenges and harboring misconceptions about its suitability for women. Nevertheless, Soumya remained resolute; she firmly believed that truck driving was a profession open to anyone with determination and a willingness to learn.
With the unwavering support of her friends in Canada and her family in India, she took her first steps towards realizing her dream. They facilitated her enrollment in a truck driving school, a pivotal milestone in acquiring the requisite skills. Since she did not own a car, her friends generously lent her one to ensure she could attend classes.
Throughout this arduous journey, Soumya received vital emotional and financial support from her friends. Their encouragement fortified her confidence, and she persevered, determined to demonstrate that truck driving was indeed a realm in which women could thrive.
Her odyssey is a testament to the power of determination and resilience. She often reflects on the unwavering support she received from her friends, underscoring that with the right support system, one can achieve their dreams, even without significant financial resources or prior skills.
Today, Soumya Saji stands as a shining exemplar of a woman who pursued her passion and triumphed. She encourages others to chase their dreams, even in the face of detractors, ardently believing that anyone can achieve their aspirations with determination and the proper support system.
In a beautiful twist of fate, Soumya found love in Canada. She is happily married to Jithin Tom, a fellow Malayali from Thodupuzha, Kerala. Jithin arrived in Canada as an international student in 2013 and subsequently worked as a driver examiner at the Kitchener Drive Test Center. Now, as a cross-border trucking team, they navigate the highways of both the USA and Canada together, sharing not just the road but also their dreams and ambitions.
Soumya Saji‘s story underscores the notion that dreams transcend boundaries and that, armed with unwavering determination, bolstered by the support of loved ones, and fortified with the courage to defy stereotypes, greatness is within reach. She continues to inspire not only the Malayali community but anyone who encounters her remarkable journey from student to pioneering truck driver.