Rooting for Renuka Ramanadhan

Students get behind friend's remarkable resilience after hit-and-run injuries

renuka

International student Renuka Ramanadhan bought a Calvin Klein winter coat last summer to help her survive her second Buffalo winter.

But she hasn’t shown it off to her friends this winter.

On Nov. 1 a car hit Ramanadhan near her Hadley Village apartment. Ramanadhan sustained traumatic brain injuries to her skull and pelvis and is still in the hospital, according to Zoya Atiq, a sophomore biomedical engineering major and Ramanadhan’s close friend. 

Today, the beige winter coat sits unworn in Ramanadhan’s Hadley Village apartment and her friends are looking forward to the day Ramanadhan can finally wear it.

Atiq and other friends have regularly visited Ramanadhan in Erie County Medical Center and are hopeful she will return to UB soon. 

Ramanadhan, an only child, was born in India, but moved with her parents to Singapore at a young age. She spent most of her life in Singapore, attending Global Indian International School and Singapore Polytechnic institute. She moved to Buffalo last fall to complete her undergraduate degree in the School of Management.

Her friends, who referred to Ramanadhan as Rayne, talked about her gregarious personality and devotion to her school work. They said she amazes them with her ability to balance a full social life and still maintain straight A’s. 

“She always used to say to us, ‘Sleep is temporary, your GPA is forever,’” said Mridu Moitra, a sophomore biomedical engineering major. 

Ramanadhan’s friends bought a gray stuffed owl to perch near her hospital bed.  She’s a night owl, said her friend Amrita, a sophomore business administration and finance major. 

Dancing is one of Ramanadhan’s long-time passions, Amrita said.

She is classically trained in Bharatnatyam, an Indian dance form. In Singapore, she performed at the Bhaskar’s Arts Academy. Aside from classical dance, Ramanadhan also enjoys dancing to hip-hop music, her favorite genre. Her favorite artist is J. Cole. 

Ramanadhan also enjoys listening to Korean pop music and watches YouTube videos of her favorite K-pop artists from her hospital bed. 

Ramanadhan loves to watch YouTubers like Manny Mua, who does makeup tutorials and reviews, according to Amrita. When she woke up from her coma in the hospital, she complimented her nurse on the contour on her cheekbones, Atiq said.

The night of the hit-and-run, Ramanadhan was preparing for a competition the next day in which students solve real-world business issues. Ramanadhan was running a fever that day, Atiq said, and she wanted to stay in her apartment to feel better.

It was quite a shock, Atiq said, when she found out a car collided with Ramanadhan.

“When I first heard about the [collision] I was confused, like, ‘Wasn’t she staying in?,’” Atiq said.

It was not uncommon, however, for Ramanadhan to go out for walks, her friends said.

On Nov. 16 University Police arrested UB student Hannah Christensen, a sophomore biological sciences student, and she was charged with leaving the scene of a serious injury without reporting, a class E felony. 

Christensen was arraigned on Dec. 3, where she pled not guilty. 

Atiq and Moitra said they think the charges for whomever hit Ramanadhan should be more severe and that the perpetrator should serve jail time.  

“Quite frankly, a girl almost died,” Moitra said. She added the punishment should include payment of medical expenses by the perpetrator.   

Moitra said she was shocked someone could leave a person on the street after hitting them. 

Ramanadhan’s parents came to Buffalo from Singapore to help care for her. They decorated her hospital room with photos, including Hindu leaders like Guru Sivananda, who teaches meditation and spirituality in Delhi, to make Ramanadhan feel more at home. 

The same picture of Sivananda also hangs in Ramanadhan’s room in Hadley Village. 

Despite her injuries, Ramanadhan has a will to move forward. Her friends said she is restless and asks doctors every day when she can go out again.

Ramanadhan’s mother was planning to visit in December, Atiq said, and Ramanadhan was excited to spend time with her mother.

Particularly, Ramanadhan has been saving up to take her mother shopping and buy her a Michael Kors handbag. 

Ramanadhan’s parents plan to stay in Buffalo for the duration of their daughter’s recovery, Atiq said, and UB is providing accommodation to her parents.

Ramanadhan belongs to the UB Women in Management club and members created a GoFundMe page to help pay medical expenses. 

Her friends are happy with the university community’s response and they say they are thankful club members, faculty and the School of Management have shown support. 

Tanveen Vohra is an assistant features editor and can be reached at Tanveen.Vohra@ubspectrum.com.