As graduating seniors prepare for life in the real world, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, is keeping an eye on students in the Class of 2017 who already are making a difference in the worlds of athletics, entertainment, education and technology.
One of them is Indian-American Nikita Patel, “A Musician On A Mission,” says her university. Another student founded a company that is using flying robots to revolutionize how major retailers take inventory in their warehouses. Others will influence the world of entertainment, such as a budding comedian, an opera singer, and a producer for cable television news.
Giving back has long been a way of life for Patel, says a press release from Northwestern. A computer science major is also a flute player and hails from Houston, Texas. Since high school, Patel has been running a non-profit “Simple Gifts” to provide refurbished musical instruments to those who can’t afford to buy them.
Patel is making sure her non-profit survives and has recruited fellow Northwestern students to take over Simple Gifts after she graduates next week.
She already has a job in her pocket. She joins the digital projects team at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Chicago.
But before that, she’s looking forward to visiting one of her beneficiaries: the group Ghetto Classics, based in Nairobi, Kenya, where volunteers teach at-risk students classical music.
In a recent interview with Stephanie Kulke, Northwestern’s Fine Arts and Performing Arts Editor, Patel said she was inspired by her Hindi language professor, Rami Nair, at the university.”I took her class for two years. After my consulting experience, I would like to end up in the education space and figure out how to work in international development,” Patel told Kulke, adding that Nair went beyond the class work to find out about students’ backgrounds and concerns.
As for her own “proudest” achievements at Northwestern, Patel says, it was to be part of Tufaan Entertainment – a group that she headed as president for a while, and which promotes South Asian culture and arts education around Chicago and elsewhere. Among its activities is an annual Bollywood dance competition. Profits from Tufaan go to a school in India, Shanti Bhavan.