BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Raishamaraj Persaud, who goes by “Ray,” migrated from Guyana to the United States in 1973 at 9 years of age, due to political corruption in his home country at the time.
In 1974, Persaud’s family relocated from Manhattan to Flushing, and has since made Queens his home.
Persaud’s career began shortly after graduating from Hawthorne College in New Hampshire in 1983. He worked as a pilot for two years before marrying his wife and starting a family.
Since Persaud wanted to work in a field that allowed him to have time with his growing family, he began working for Tel-A-Car and stayed with the company for 23 years, working in billing and receivables. During his time at the company, Persaud decided to start his own business known as Ray’s Transport Service, which is still in business and operated by his brother.
Due to the 2008 economic recession and Wall Street crash, the black car industry saw a steep decline in business. Prior to the economic hit, Persaud had taken civil service exams and was called in 2008 to take the physical and mental tests to join the correction officer academy.
In August 2009, Persaud became a correction officer and has been in the job ever since. Persaud started working at Rikers Island in its George Motchan Detention Center (GMDC), where he was stationed for four years. He was then transferred to the Transportation Division (TD), where he spent four years, and currently works within the Environmental Health Unit, escorting contractors around the island and allowing for inspectors to ensure that the prison is in compliance with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) standards.
Persaud’s said that he switched careers because he wanted to ensure that he could provide for his family, but also be able to live comfortably after retirement.
In addition to being a correction officer, Persaud is the vice president of the New York City Department of Correction DESI Society, the nation’s first fraternal organization that represents South Asian correction officers.
The society increases correction officers’ knowledge and understanding of South Asian cultural heritage, provides a union for and promotes diversity among its members, sponsors activities to enhance services to its members and their families and provides a place for the city’s correction officers of South Asian descent to congregate, network and organize events that celebrate their heritage.
“When I first started [as a correction officer], there were a lot of DESI people from India in corrections, but they didn’t have a place to get together and talk,” said Persaud. “There’s a Colombian society, a Christian society, Hispanic society, but none for South Asians. Once we started the DESI society three years ago, we see more Asians starting to join.”
Persaud attributes his success to his parents and upbringing, in both Guyana and the United States. Persaud’s parents, who were born and raised in Guyana, instilled in Persaud the importance of work and family.
His goal is to retire at 67 years of age, depending on his physical health, and be able to enjoy his home life with his four children and wife as well as travel the world.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.