Sif portfolio complete


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Sif portfolio complete

  1. 1. Kushaan Shah SIF Portfolio 1. What is the historical context of your birth? In other words, what was the world like in which you grew up? (You may even include a newspaper from the day or year when you were born. You may include magazine articles, advertisements, photos, and other artifacts from those times.) How has the world changed in your lifetime? I was born on December 9, 1992 in the middle of a violent snowstorm. While the winds were raging on that fateful December morning, the nascent stages of 1992 proved to be a bit more peaceful. In February of that year, Bush and Yeltsin formally ended the Cold War and US lifted trade sanctions against China. Additionally, US forces left an occupation of Philippines and signed NAFTA to cultivate relationships with its North American counterparts in Canada and Mexico. In terms of foreign policy today, America is fighting a new battle: the war on terrorism in the Mid1992dle East. While Bush worked in harsh foreign policy, Barack Obama has proved to be a more pragmatic peacemaker with his win of the Nobel Prize. Still, Obama has had his fair charge of controversy in foreign policy: especially regarding the current situation in Syria. Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 and would usher America into an economic boom; the economy would then fluctuate into periods of fluctuation until the recession era of the 2000s. Today, the economy is still in a recovery from the 2008 recession. Technology was entirely different then. Microsoft released Microsoft Works and Windows 3.1, while today they have released Windows 8. While Microsoft remains dominant, new behemoths have risen up in the shape of Apple and Google. DNA Fingerprinting made its appearance in 1992 and now the idea of privacy has been revolutionized. 1992 was the year of classic rock and acoustic music - 2013 has given way to Autotune. In 1992, AT&T released the first video telephone. Social media and smartphones have now revolutionized communication. The text-based web browser made its first appearance in January. Within years, people would become regular users of the World Wide Web. How people dressed in 1992: How people dress up in 2013:
  2. 2. Computers in1992: Computers in 2013: Entertainment in 1992: Entertainment in 2013: While 1992 was a different time, it still holds many comparisons to the times today. The main difference is how technology has changed our world, but we still derive pleasure from many of the same things. 2. What was the community in which you were born, and grew up? How has
  3. 3. this community influenced who you are? I grew up in two different places: India and suburban Massachusetts. My suburban Massachusetts background has introduced me to plenty: The New England scenery has had a large impact on my desire to be a more naturistic and adventurous person. Not only do I like hiking and biking, I have embraced nature on various occasions through camping trips, ski excursions and swimming in the ocean. Despite growing up in the suburbs, the fact that I lived about 20 minutes from the Massachusetts shore and 45 minutes from the New Hampshire border has given me plenty of opportunities to develop my love for nature. In addition, New England has a very strong historical background, which built my interest for history early on. In the third grade, we would go on field trips to historical locations like the Freedom Trail. I remember as early as the 4th grade, I memorized the entire Paul Revere poem. This is a testament to my passion for history and researching. New England has also introduced me to plenty more: Boston sports, for which I have a love for today, and Dunkin Donuts. I spent a majority of my childhood in India and have a great cultural understanding of the country because of it. I grew up eating Indian food, abiding by an Indian religion, and learning Gujarati. I am grateful for that experience, as I am able to relate to my grandparents a lot better and have a better appreciation for my heritage. 3. What is your family history? Trace the geographic journey that you and your ancestors took to get you here today. What are some of the most interesting and notable parts of your family’s history? What part of your family tradition, culture, ethnicity, or heritage most resonates with you? My parents are both from India and born in very different circumstances. My father is one of eleven children born in the village of Kutch. He grew up in the state of Gujarat and learned Gujarati and Hindi at a young age. As the second youngest of eleven, my dad got bullied a lot by his older siblings. He was therefore closest to my aunt and his youngest sister; I am also closest to my cousins from that aunt. I didn’t really know my grandfather from my father’s side, but I knew my grandmother and am very close with many of my uncles, aunts, and cousins. My uncle, Veni Sumaria, immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and started his company Sumaria Systems. My father received his first job there and I received my first internship. Essentially, it was a symbol of opportunity for us both. My mother was born in Bombay and grew up the daughter of a journalist and an actress. My grandfather married twice and I was grateful to have two grandmothers from my mom’s side. My mom grew up with a passion for the arts, which she inherited from my grandparents. I also gained a love for playwriting and writing from my grandfather. My grandmothers are both Jain by religion and I grew up Jain as well; I went to Sunday school and also was a vegetarian. My father and mother both acted in college and came to America in 1984; my father worked at Sumaria Systems and my mother worked in banking for a while until we were born in 1992. My Indian heritage resonates with me in many ways; I love Indian movies, food, and music and have a strong love for Indian festivals. I was a member of the Indian Students Association here on campus to help spread the heritage.
  4. 4. 4. Were there people who were particularly strong influences on your life and your way of thinking? Who are the greatest heroes, mentors, and inspirations in your life? These could be people who are living or dead, famous or obscure, people you have known, or people you have only read about in history books. How and why have they touched you so deeply? My mom and dad have been by far the most profound influences in my life, however I’ve had plenty more throughout college. I’ve always been passionate about my education and can remember very vividly the teachers who have had a profound impact on my life: Mrs. Rice in the first grade, Mrs. Hill in the fourth grade, Mrs. R in the fifth grade, Mrs. Fuller in the seventh and eighth grade, many of the foreign language teachers I had in college (Mrs. Fritz, Mrs. Hennessey, Mrs. Alvarez, Mrs. Irons etc.) Two of my most profound teachers in high school were Dr. Jeffrey Ryan in the history department and Mr. Bill Endslow in the theatre arts department. Dr. Ryan was one of the most articulate and poetic teachers I’ve had; his rhetoric was complemented by a very theatrical teaching style that I’ve not seen very widely imitated. Dr. Ryan was also a humorist, very receptive of creative projects, and a generally kind-hearted individual. When one of my very good friends, Eddie Charest, died in my junior year, Dr. Ryan was one of the first to not only offer his condolences but also further empathize with me after class. Mr. Endslow was my theatre director for four years and has given me so much support throughout high school. I was never a theatre arts person before high school; with Mr. Endslow, it didn’t seem to matter. He helped me craft my niche in musical theatre and constantly encouraged me to expand my horizons. Under his direction, I joined the choral department and also became an officer in the drama department. I attribute much of my leadership, high school friendships, and growth to Mr. Endslow and he was a fantastic mentor as well. Even after I graduated, I strived to keep in touch with Mr. Endslow. He has really solidified my interest in the theatre and English in general. It was through his guidance that I won two playwriting awards in high school and also played multiple lead roles. In college, I’ve sought advice from many of my supply chain professors, particularly Professor Gary Cohen, Jeff Miller, and Isaac Elking. Dear Mr. Endslow, Thank you for all you have done in growing me into the individual I am today. While I regret not having been able to do theatre as much in college, you gave me much more than an exposure to theatre. You helped me realize my potential as a leader, which I have used to take advantage of leadership positions in college and expand my horizons. You helped me realize my potential as a writer. I have begun blogging and grown with confidence as a writer. You helped me realize my love the arts; this is even more significant as I venture into the world of business. I am still able to connect with liberal arts individuals and still use so many traits that were useful in theatre. You have had such a profound impact on so many areas of my life and I wanted to just take a minute and thank you. You have many students who are grateful for what you have given them but we cannot quantify this. You have given us confidence and esteem at a time when we were working to earn it from every teacher. You gave us a push, regardless of our talent. So many people attribute their success to you; while I don’t know where the future may
  5. 5. lead and how successful I may be, I will always look in the mirror and see you as a significant part of my life. Thank you Mr. Endslow. Love, Kushaan 5. What adversities have you or members of your family overcome in your lives? Tell stories of how have you/they managed to triumph over such troubles. I am glad to live in a tolerant society. When my parents came in the 1980’s, I can’t imagine that it was always as accepting as it is today. This was a time when many Indian Americans were immigrating to the United States and my parents encountered a lot of judgment when they arrived here. One story my mom shared was how she was once parking badly and almost hit a lady’s car. The lady stormed out and said “Fucking immigrant! Learn how to drive!” My mom, who is a generally responsive lady, also taught me to never fight back against an insult. She taught me the importance of kindness and empathy. Although I was the shortest kid in my classes for a few years and did wear glasses, I was never bullied. I always found a way to connect with somebody and didn’t give people a reason to fight back. In school, I never had too many adversities. Aside from poor handwriting through the fifth grade, I generally got along well with teachers, other students, and classes. In the sixth grade, I loved books and read constantly until I had to wear glasses permanently. I never considered glasses or braces an adversity because many students in high school and middle school were in the same situation. Sports were another story. I was always decent at sports, but never the best on my team. I was constantly out of shape and I think this constantly motivated me. Just like everyone else, I had a very competitive spirit. I wanted to be the best. When I was in high school, I ran track in order to have better metrics to measure my performance. Now I could test my improvement by seeing how fast I ran. Once I found my niche in theatre, I quit sports altogether. However, I cannot deny the lessons in character and teamwork that playing those seven years of sports afforded me. One of my most profound adversities was the loss of my friend Eddie Charest. Eddie died my junior year; he was one of my good friends, had been in a few of my classes and was born with only one ventricle. Despite this, he had one of the largest hearts I knew. I remember coming home from my National Honor Society ceremony to find that Eddie had died. I had never remembered feeling so desolate. I felt like I would’ve been able to deal with the loss of a grandparent; but a 17-year-old boy? It hurt a lot. I remember sitting, crying, and just hoping it was a joke. I remember logging onto my computer and seeing all the “rest in peace” statuses, just angry at the people who didn’t know Eddie and their sudden dedication to his spirit. For some reason, I felt entitled – like I should feel the saddest. As people were happily buying lunch, I refused to go so I wouldn’t be haunted by the empty spot across the lunch table. My first real triumph over an adversity was dealing with this grief. Thinking about Eddie, his memories, and his values really helped me overcome. I realized the best way is to talk it out. When I thought about his impact on me, it made me want to be a better person. “Unreachable” was not in Eddie’s
  6. 6. vocabulary and I was suddenly cognizant of how much I held myself back. Eddie always had fun and he was opinionated; there was nothing wrong with this. It’s easy to swim with the flow of the river but even harder to paddle against the current. Seeing the example Eddie set definitely helped me become a better person whether I was conscious of it or not. I truly miss Eddie and am thankful to have known him. 6. What have been your favorite creative inspirations throughout your life? What are the books, movies, art works, songs, or other hobbies and creative activities that you have most enjoyed? Why and how have these things uplifted and influenced you? Books I Have Enjoyed - I am a huge fan of classic literature and have a humongous list of books that I have enjoyed reading. In no particular order: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, To Kill A Mockingbird, Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Harry Potter Collection. Among these books are plenty of prominent themes: The American Dream, Indifference, Love, Racism, Humor, Adventure, Courage, Religion, Sexuality, Revenge, Materialism, Equality, Good vs. Evil, Youth, and Morality. These books introduced me to new characters who possessed all sorts of flaws. Understanding a story through the experiences of a character enables us to feel what it could have been like and helps us consider the impact of events, significant or otherwise, on ordinary people. Gaining a broad view of society, through the eyes of another, fosters understanding, tolerance and empathy and the value of these capacities cannot be underestimated in today's world. Music I Have Enjoyed - I have a very enigmatic music taste: I love everything from Rap music, to Broadway show tunes, to Bollywood music. Some of my favorite rap artists are Nas, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, J-Cole, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, and Macklemore. They are great at music production and also rap about some very real subjects. While it is hard for me to choose a favorite album from all these artists, I enjoy how they all differ from one another. For example, Childish Gambino is a black rapper who constantly raps about his frustrations on criticism of his middle class status, as rappers are expected to be “hood”. Similarly, Eminem discusses his controversial status as a “white rapper”. Similarly, Kanye raps a lot about materialism, and Jay-z about his struggles growing up. For me, rap’s allure comes from the lyricism; rap is almost like poetry and I love seeing syntax put together over a musical beat. In terms of Broadway show tunes, some of my favorite musicals are Rent, In the Heights, Spring Awakening, Les Miserables, and Avenue Q. All are musical spectacles with very powerful social commentary. I love singing and have been a part of several musicals. I also love writing and write periodically on a blog; I’ve also guest blogged on other sites and have written full length minute plays. All this can be provided upon request. 7. What are the greatest experiences of your life? What are your finest moments and the accomplishments of which you are most proud? What have been your peak experiences? Who or what moments have had a profound
  7. 7. impact (negative or positive) on you? Tell the stories of the events that have profoundly changed your life and shaped you as a person. I am grateful to have had many great experiences in life. A lot of my experiences have revolved around travel. So far, in the United States, I have been to everywhere in the New England area (Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont), New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Washington D.C. In the past summer, I also traveled to plenty of places in the Midwest. I was working in Oklahoma and visited Texas, Missouri, and Illinois. In addition, I’ve been to Nevada, Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. Of course, I’ve also been to Maryland. Some of my fondest memories have been in the United States. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas Strip, Lego Land, the magic of Disney world and Disney land, the Deep Dish Pizza of Chicago, the streets of Broadway, The lighthouses of Maine, the waves of Virginia Beach, scuba diving in Hawaii, the magnificence of Tex Mex and the memories of hundreds of road trips. I have also been grateful to travel all over the world. I’ve been to India almost every year since I was young and have even lived there for momentary periods of time. In addition, I’ve been to Malaysia, Thailand, Dubai, Singapore, France, London, Canada and the Caribbean. Last spring, I ventured one of the most life changing trips I’ve had to Masaka, Uganda where we lived in the village and worked on sustainability initiatives for the week. I remember the excitement of my very first Patriots game, my first Red Sox, and my first Celtics game. Even more than watching games, I remember the excitement of my very first soccer games. My first soccer tryout, my first goal, my first middle school and high school game. I remember running in a track meet for the first time with insane adrenaline. I remember the pride of knocking down seconds off a time every time I ran. Some of my proudest moments are in the theatre. I remember my first time on a stage as Mr. Folair in “Nicholas Nickleby”. I subsequently embraced all my high school experiences including the thrill of two big roles in musical theatre: John Tremayne in “Me and My Girl” and Rapunzel’s Prince in “Into the Woods”. My last performance in high school was probably one of the saddest moments I’ve had. In College Park, I’ve had monumental experiences from volunteering. I’ve mentored first graders at Thomas Stone Elementary, Mother Jones Elementary, Centronia, and Lewisdale Elementary School, and Paint Branch Elementary School. Being in a classroom has had such a strong impact on me, especially a Title I school. I’ve seen the gap increase between the fast and slow kids in the class and how a lack of reading can correlate to social skills. This has instilled in me a drive to improve education especially in low-income communities. I also want to work to empower youth and individuals in poverty. Having worked with LIFT DC, I set up client meetings with homeless individuals to address employment, housing, and government tax issues. I found that many weren’t molded into the stereotypes society created for them; they were simply like me but with less available resources. All these experiences have led my desire to use my
  8. 8. business major and role in the private sector for good. 8. Write about the things that make you happiest. What gives you the greatest sense of fulfillment, personal satisfaction, and self-esteem? When are you so engaged and absorbed in an activity that time seems to stop? What are the times in your life when everything seems to flow, and you are in the peak state of joy? What are the things that you do that give you the greatest returns on happiness, productivity, and contribution? It is hard to qualify exactly where and when I am happy. While we as a race crave happiness, the idea of disappointment creates a perilous balance. Because life provides us with so many obstacles and failures, happiness is always something to be grateful for when you can find it. There are times when I do deliberately look out for happiness: when I go to an amusement park looking for nothing but exhilarating rides, traveling and looking at new sights, walking through nature, playing with children, loving and laughing, donating to charity, watching a favorite TV show, slipping into pajama pants after a rainy day, taking a nap, having a long sleep, discovering a new food or tasting an old delicacy, seeing my parents and sister after months at school or seeing my grandparents after a year in India. In addition, I am happy when I get valuable alone time, listen to a favorite song, get a nice foot and back massages, jump into a leaf pile, and get together with friends to share memories. Happiness can also be unexpected. Winning a really tough game when the odds are against you, getting a job or internship to validate your experience, scoring high on a really tough exam, getting a tweet favorite or a facebook like, getting wished happy birthday, meeting an old friend you didn’t expect to see, or hitting it off with a new person. From my other experiences, it made me happy to tutor a kid who was struggling and see him read a new word. Get a pat on the back from an employer or a supervisor for doing something right. Making a sale when the market is grim. One of my best moments from the last year was getting a bid to my business fraternity, getting elected president, and gaining the trust of my fellow pledge class. Not only was at a positive leadership experience, I have created very positive relationships out of that experience that are with me to this day. I also enjoy writing; there is no feeling like writing a blog post that gets widely accepted, read, and influences someone else or teaches them a new perspective. Finally, the best happiness is unexpected; it comes when you accidentally hear someone saying next things about you, complimenting you to your face, or just denoting your value as a human being. 9. What are you grateful for? Begin a daily Gratitude Journal. Scientific research shows that people who count their blessings are much happier and healthier than those who do not. Think about everything for which you are grateful or appreciative. I am grateful for many things, starting with the ability to exist and experience the world. I am fortunate to have legs to get out of food, eyes to see, hear, and savor tastes of food. I’m grateful to be able to talk to new people and establish relationships. I am grateful for having two supportive parents and an amazing twin sister, as well as an extended family in India. Many individuals do not get to have cultural experiences outside of the United
  9. 9. States; this has been ingrained into my youth. I am grateful to have loving grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts. I am grateful to have financial support and to be independently trusted with handling money. I am grateful to be able to buy uncontaminated food, clean clothing, and sanitary water. I am grateful for the ability to see blessing in the lessons I learned through suffering, keep a sense of humor, adapt to people, and breathe clean air. I am grateful for sunshine, generally great health, my ability to have a primary, secondary, and university education. I’m grateful to be born with a brain, natural laws that prevent evil human beings from harming others. 10. What are your greatest talents and your signature strengths? According to my MBTI personality type, I am an ENFJ, where I have a strong belief in my principles and thrive off extraversion. I can attest that this is a personality structure, which correlates with my values and qualities. I am a very people-focused individual. One of my strongest skills is empathy and the ability to care about others. Throughout my leadership experience at the University of Maryland, there is no doubt in mind that I qualify as a transformational leader. I always aim to empower my followers and encourage innovation and drive. One of the characteristics of transformational leadership is individualized consideration; I believe that an ENFJ understands and cares about people, hoping to bring out the best in each of their followers. Whenever I am leading a large group of people, I always set aside individual meetings to discuss each person’s goals and aspirations. I am focused on understanding their goals and finding the best ways to support them. I also aim to be charismatic through creating a sense of pride and energy in a mission. I have helped many mentors in the America Reads program become as excited about education as I am through reflections and deriving experiential meaning from mentoring. One can only hope that in five years, they might have a similar goal to revolutionize education systems in their areas of interest. In addition, I have always promoted an inquiry orientation. In my semester consulting project, I have taken the responsibility to make sure everybody feels interested and engaged in the project; this is not my particular role but it has been rooted in my personality to naturally care about others. 11. What have people repeatedly found to be your gifts and talents and strengths? How does this exercise make you reflect on what you wish to do with your life, and what you have to offer the world? I surveyed 20 individuals on three questions: Two traits I had, strengths I had, and a memory they had with me. I’ve made the following word clouds for the former questions: Traits:
  10. 10. Strengths: I think what I’ve realized most is: the amount of awesome people I know but also that my main strengths and traits lie in people skills. This makes me more confident that I want to pursue a career with people. Times people have seen me at my best have been working with large groups of people and demonstrating empathy, especially when important decisions need to made. People are also appreciative of my creative and light nature. Ultimately, going into consulting, startups, or any company, creating and sustaining relationships is very important. I think that this is a trait that cannot be taught unlike analytics or software. 12. What matters most in your life? What are the things that you value more than anything else in the world? Are you living consistently with these values? Are you spending most of your time on the things that really matter deeply to you? If not, how can you change your life to reflect what matters most? There are many things that matter to me in addition to family, friends, health, and happiness. One thing I value a lot is education. Not only do I value my own education and how I can leverage knowledge to achieve a goal, but also passionate about changing the future of education. As a mentor in Prince Georges County schools, I have witnessed how opportunity is not as equally distributed and I want to help change this. I think it’s
  11. 11. really hard to witness how Title – I schools and not feel an ounce of compassion. I also think success matters but it’s hard to create a metric for this. While I do want to be able to make money, support a family and enjoy the more lucrative things in life, I think success is best measured by the smiles on the faces of people around me. By the people I have impacted directly and indirectly. By the approval and satisfaction from my elders and lessons taught to followers. I want to be viewed as a positive role model, someone who is not in a textbook, but someone who teachers and employers can say “This is someone who knows what they are doing”. In my day-to-day life, I try to focus on being present and positive. I work on noticing and appreciating as much as possible that crosses my field of vision. I do my best to avoid expectations, but when they're violated anyway, I'm good about reminding myself everything is for the best. 13. What are the negative beliefs and stories and patterns of thought that stand as obstacles to reaching your full potential? Can you rebut them and show them to be false? In the business and academic world, I am in a state of constant competition and comparision. This often leads to negative beliefs, stories, and patterns of thought that stand as obstacles. One of the main beliefs I had when I did badly on something was simply “I Can’t Do It”. When I don’t do as well on an exam, don’t get a job that I thought I would be qualified for or lose a leadership position, I address this as a lack of capability. My junior year, when I did not get a single interview for a consulting position, I initially thought that I was just not fit for consulting. When I pondered upon it some more, I realized that I just did not have enough experience. When I scored poorly on a test, I just realized I hadn’t taken enough time to study and organically learn the material. It is never usually an internal factor, but external factors that can always be improved upon. In addition, I also believe many times that I am on my own and that I have to be responsible for myself. This leads me not to trust people or accept work many times. This can be overcome by breaking down projects into what I am capable of and what I can ask others to do. If I see others making a positive impact on me, it would lead me to think otherwise. Finally, one negative belief I have is “What If”, where I just assume the worst. What if I fail this exam? What if I start my own business and it fails? What if I ask a girl out and get rejected? Fearing the worst leads you to really eliminate a lot of options. I now look to find educational value of out of anything. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “waste” of time. Every second we spend on doing something teaches us about ourselves; whether it’s our likes and dislikes, our capabilities, or even our passions. Going to Oklahoma this past summer taught me that I didn’t like certain parts of supply chain; if I didn’t have this experience, I definitely would not have known that. 14. Imagine that a museum was to open up an exhibit about your life. What would be some of the artifacts that they might feature, and how would each one reveal something significant about your personality or your character? Make sure that you have an explanatory panel for each artifact. In other words, include a story to accompany each exhibit – something that illustrates why this is so meaningful.
  12. 12. I think one of the first things I would put in the exhibit would be a trophy I won in the sixth grade for soccer. It was one of the first trophies I won and represented my triumph in competition. I would also put in a play I wrote in the tenth grade. I won the Boston University playwright’s award for this 10-minute play, which marks many firsts. It was the first time a university, recognized me first time I had written a full-length play, and my first real dabble with theatre. Not only would it be entertaining (a good prospect for a museum), but also represent my sense of humor and my desire to make people laugh. I would put in my Iphone to present my love for technology, my network, and my predilection for mobile applications. Finally, I would put in an unfinished book. This represents my desire to read, learn, and live. I often have business ideas I put into a journal that never manifest themselves because I get too easily excited. The book is not yet finished, because I still have a lot left to learn. YOUR FUTURE: CREATING AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE 15. Author Frederick Buechner once wrote that, “To find your mission in life is to find the intersection between your heart’s deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.” What is the great hunger in the world that you wish to address? In other words, what is the issue that you care about most deeply? And how can you use the talents and strengths and passions that you have identified in this portfolio to address that need? I was heavily inspired by the Frederick Buechner quote “To find your mission in life is to find the intersection between your heart’s deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger”. I think the biggest hunger in the world is universal education. Billions of dollars have been pumped into an education system in the United States that consistently burns out half its students every year. There is a strong sense of apathy and divide, especially with the increasing racial achievement gap, income achievement gap, and general gap caused by students partaking in other external activities (drugs, violence etc.). I agree that school may not be for everyone, but EDUCATION is. Even though working in technology consulting is most conducive for what I want to do in the future (become an entrepreneur and leverage technology), I know that I will always be involved in the nation’s campaign for better education in one way or the other. It warms my heart to see youth inspired and smiling, engaged and motivated, and yearning to transform the world. I think my biggest strength as discovered in my present portfolio is my outgoing nature and my ability to use empathy to bring people together. In an area that is very resistant to change, I think this will be very important! It is important to understand where people are coming from if they want to inspire any sort of progress in a community. Beyond that, I want to make people happy and help them realize their goals for fulfillment. 16. Answer at least one of the following questions about your future: a. FUNERAL – END OF LIFE – Imagine that you have passed away. There are many people who have come to your funeral to celebrate your life. If you have lived your ideal life, what will these people be saying about you? How will they describe your contribution and your character? What would you
  13. 13. like them to say? I have often been taught to live by a Eulogy and not a resume. While our accomplishments and achievements are remarkable, I think eulogies celebrate life very differently from the way we define success in our everyday existence. With a eulogy, success is redefined beyond money and power to include well being and our ability to wonder and to give1. My eulogy would speak to many things beyond my career goals. I would want to be known as someone who always gave time to give back to his community. There are some issues I am more passionate about then others, but I am overall socially focused. I am supportive of any goal that betters humanity. In the education space, I do have a lot of strong ambitions and I would want this to be highlighted in a way that channeled the passion through a vehicle outside of how much money or success I had in the field. I’d want to be someone who was “devoted to creating opportunity for students regardless of their socioeconomic background” instead of someone who donated “x amount of dollars to education”. Outside of being a loving brother and son (and potentially father and husband), I’d want to known as someone who valued the friendships and treated each one with care. I’d want to be known as someone who was optimistic, idealistic and impulsive. Someone who was generous, friendly, kindhearted. I’d want to be known more for how my leadership has impacted the people I’ve led rather than what it has accomplished externally. It could say “Kushaan was a former University of Maryland student, created his own business, sold the business and opened up a school in India”. But beyond that, I wouldn’t want too much elaboration. I’d want it to include memories of times with my friends where they felt I had displayed my best. Memories of times where friends felt I had motivated and inspired them. That I was personable, empathetic, and adaptable to whatever the situation. I think it is important to have career goals, have an income, meet new people and become known in society. At the end of my life however, if I have achieved nothing else on my bucket list but made everyone around me happy to have known me, I would consider that a fulfilling life. 17. Where would you like to be three years from now? What would it look like? Develop one or two goals that inspire you. Work backwards and create sub-plans for every year, and every six months. To preface, I think life is hard to plan no matter how confident you are in your convictions. Three years ago, I was a Spanish and English major looking to make my stamp in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. I had no inkling of an idea what I wanted to do for a career but simply had two passions: reading, writing, and learning new cultures. Today, I am still passionate about reading and writing and am fortunate to have found my place at Maryland. I am active in the Smith School, in the social value creation sector, and have also found new interests in technology and education. That being said, Three years from now, I hope to be transitioning out of my first job and into a functional role in a startup. I recently received my first job offer in consulting which I think is a great way to build a network, get great training in enterprise 1 This definition of success includes what is known as the “Third Metric” according to the Huffington Post
  14. 14. applications, and great industry exposure in both the commercial and public sector. I also want to take advantage of other opportunities in my first company in community service and software areas that I don’t know too much about. I don’t know if consulting will be a long-term fit, but I think the startup environment would be really cool to experience. IAs a member of the Hinman Ceo’s Program, I have seen the perks of a startup and I know that I would be a great fit into that culture. Subsequently, I want to look into getting an MBA and then starting my own business (a social enterprise!) In addition, I have a few random goals that are non-career oriented: I want to travel to Spain within the next two years, serve on a non-profit board, and start building capital for my education venture capital fund. I have been learning Spanish since 7th grade and have been infatuated with the culture to the point that I was almost considering a degree in it. I don’t want Spain to be just another trip though; I know there’s so much to see and explore and I want to make it a valuable investment. To elaborate on the idea of a student venture fund, I often think students can come up with the best ideas to make their classrooms more exciting. My fund would be devoted to funding ambitious students who have creative ideas to change the landscape of apathy within their classrooms. I would also want to support opportunities at the University of Maryland and spur social change by implementing an annual case competition around a social issue. In addition, I want to keep writing my blog, grow my social media following and connect with atleast one person that is inspirational in the field of business or education every 6 months. To accomplish all these goals, I have included some basic scheduling: April 2014: - Pool $1,000 to be used for the Education Student Venture Fund - Name my Education Student Venture Fund and write an outline - Sign my Offer and do some due diligence to learn about all the different areas to get involved within the firm - Research some startup contacts in the Silicon Valley area and start emailing out to make the connections - Find out when I can set aside a month for my trip to Spain - Get my blog to 50 posts and my grow my twitter account by 100 followers (550 to 650 followers) - Start studying for the GMAT October 2014: - Start looking into the IRS requirements for venture funds (at this time, I’ll hopefully have a stable income) - Start looking into student ventures to fund – market it out - Pool $1,500 to be used for the Education Student Venture Fund - Get involved with atleast one community service event at the firm - Build a strong relationship with my supervisor and set up a social event with the co-workers - Come back to Maryland atleast once and inspire other students to follow their dreams - If Spain has not happened over the summer, find out when I can set aside time for Spain
  15. 15. - Research non-profits that are looking for advisory board members (particularly in my field of interest) Check out GMAT score and see if it needs to be taken again Get my blog to 100 posts and grow my twitter account by 200 followers (550 to 750 followers) April 2015: - Hoping to have accomplished naming my venture fund, opening it up for donations, and starting to look into more ventures - Get my blog to 200 posts and grow my twitter account by 300 followers (550 to 850 followers) - Start interviewing for advisory board positions within a non-profit board - Start looking into top business schools - Start researching up and coming startups and roles they are trying to fill - Come back to Maryland atleast twice and inspire other students to follow their dreams - Get a promotion at my job and get involved with a social initiative at the firm - Have dinner with somebody important and influential October 2015: - Build on the success of the venture fund with a goal of atleast $5,000 available to donate to students looking to bring excitement into classrooms - Get my blog to 300 posts and grow my twitter account by 400 followers (550 to 950 followers) - Have dinner with somebody important and influential - Implement an education-related case competition at Maryland - Solidify an advisory board position I’d be interested in - Start emailing out to startups - Keep up a strong performance at the consulting job and look at ways to get involved in professional groups around social impact (Net Impact) April 2016: - Get my blog to 400 posts and grow my twitter account by 500 followers (550 to 1050 followers) - Have dinner with somebody important and influential - Evaluate success of this case competition at Maryland - Start my advisory board non profit position - Start narrowing down a list of Startups I would be interested in October 2016 (3 years from this month): - Get my blog to 500 posts and grow my twitter accounts by 600 followers (550 to 1150 followers) - Have dinner with somebody important and influential - Make the case competition a staple at the Smith School - Continue to make an impact as an advisory board member
  16. 16. - Start transitioning from my job to a new startup Build on the success of the venture fund with a goal of atleast $10,000 available to donate to students looking to bring excitement into classrooms 18. List everything that you wish to achieve and experience in your life. Write down as many goals as you can – at least 100 goals for your life. Dream big! Go wild! Don’t compromise at all: write down all of your dreams and aspirations here, no matter how ambitious or idealistic. Identify your top 5 BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals)! 1. Create a Venture Fund for Education 2. Open Up a School in India 3. Do a set of Stand Up Comedy 4. Audition for a professional Improvisation Troupe 5. Learn how to Beatbox 6. Participate in a Community Musical 7. Travel through every Single Country in Europe 8. Go backpacking in Spain 9. Go backpacking in South America 10. Go to one Fifa World Cup 11. Go to one Olympics 12. Help atleast 10 at risk low income kids graduate from high school 13. Fall in love and have atleast two children 14. Get a Promotion at my first job 15. Learn to Code Java 16. Create a Software Application that helps humanity 17. Learn to Code in Python and Ruby 18. Attend a Hack-a-thon 19. Start a Social Enterprise and improve the lives of people through business 20. Serve on a Non-Profit Advisory Board 21. Join a local Racquetball club and improve my skills 22. Play soccer in an impoverished community 23. Learn the science behind data analytics 24. Work for a start-up in the Silicon Valley 25. Bring my Grandparents to the United States one more time 26. Guest write on 5 more blogs within the next year 27. Get my personal blog up to 100 posts 28. Help a non-profit organization win a grant 29. Learn a new musical instrument (Guitar) 30. Learn about the concept of environmental sustainability and how I can play a role 31. Increase my Microfinance Portfolio to help out atleast 10 more individuals 32. Get a Masters in Business Administration at a Top 20 school 33. Learn how to properly play a full nine holes of Golf 34. Try 2 new cuisines by the end of next year 35. Learn how to shuffle cards and snap my fingers 36. Get my Twitter up to 1,000 followers (about 550 right now!)
  17. 17. 37. Have a magazine article written about me in Forbes, Time etc. 38. Publish an article in Forbes, Time etc. 39. Get a college degree 40. Become a college Professor 41. Provide a solution to reduce poverty and homelessness in the Washington D.C. Area 42. Inspire someone to change their major because they were bored with it 43. Go to the Tomato Festival in Spain 44. Learn how to speak four new languages in the next five years 45. Help spark a revolutionary product idea in education technology 46. Meet a boss or supervisor who inspires me to do something rebellious 47. Meet somebody famous who has changed the world (This goal might very well be achieved at the Net Impact Conference!) 48. Find two new pen pals on the other side of the globe 49. Go to an event for every major Boston sports team (Already ¾ done – need to go to a Bruins game!) 50. Get a job in consulting right out of graduation that keeps me learning 51. Help someone I care about get their first job out of college 52. Help my parents have the best retirement they can possibly have 53. Repay a teacher who has inspired me in college/high school (Watch out Melissa!) 54. Meet the POTUS and ask him about his opinions on Education 55. Meet other students in the “Student Voice” national Organization 56. Go to a conference or event focused around education and education technology 57. Convince a company who is not doing so to implement a CSR policy 58. Empower 100 disengaged and apathetic youth to transform their communities 59. Get two certifications within my first two years out of graduation (In what? I like to embrace uncertainty so we’ll see) 60. Have a blog post of mine go viral on the Internet 61. Be a freelance blogger for a widely read social value resource (GOOD, Coexist etc.) 62. Set up an annual case competition at the University of Maryland 63. Set up a huge event to help out charity 64. Become a published author 65. Learn how to fly a plane 66. Climb a Mountain 67. Visit the Google and Facebook Office 68. Be listed on a Patent 69. Be on a talk show 70. Visit every state in the United States 71. Learn how to be advanced at Photoshop and digital photography 72. Take a class on how to be a proper masseuse 73. Go to the gym consistently for four days a week 74. Eat healthier and lost about ten-twenty more pounds 75. See the natural wonders of the world (Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, Aurora Borealis, Victoria Falls, Paricutin Volcano, Harbor of Rio de
  18. 18. Janeiro, Amazon Rainforest) 76. See the manmade wonders of the world (Colosseum, Leaning Power of Pisa, Hagia Sophia, Stonehenge, Colosseum, Taj Mahal, Pyramids of Giza, Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus) 77. Take a tour of the White House and other monuments in Washington D.C. 78. Create the next big innovation in Crowdfunding and Education 79. Go Bungee Jumping 80. Go Hand Gliding 81. Go Scuba Diving in a major world ocean 82. Go to a Ted Talk (or better yet, be asked to speak at a Ted Talk!) 83. Go to a Huge American sports event (World Series, Super Bowl) 84. Go to the World’s Greatest Parties (Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras, St. Patty’s Day in Ireland) 85. Meet someone who brings an entirely new perspective to something I thought I knew 86. Donate atleast a certain percentage of my income every year to charity (this will be figured out once living expenses and total income is taken into consideration) 87. Give a homeless person who is truly ambitious a job 88. Have coffee with Tony Hseish, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, Sergey Brin and more! 89. Learn how to drive a race car 90. Increase access to education technology to provide an entire school’s worth of kids a computer, books, and resources to low-income schools 91. Create an online Dropshipping business to spur side income 92. Be an extra in a TV show or a movie 93. Go back to my high school and speak to high school students about embracing uncertainty in their college years 94. Foster a love for socially responsible business within young children 95. Help ten children under the age of 15 become entrepreneurs within their community 96. Donate something monumental back to the Town of Reading where I grew up 97. Donate something monumental to the Reading Memorial High School Drama Club where I spent my formative years 98. Be a Keynote speaker somewhere (anywhere!) 99. Live away from home for a year 100. Read a life changing book 19. Identify fears that hold you back from pursuing your BHAGs. When things fall apart, what do you do to “keep things together?” My BHAGS (in bold) are all goals that have some commonalities. They cannot be achieved overnight. All of them take an investment of time and emotional and physical diligence. Having been in the Hinman CEOS Program, I understand that entrepreneurs need to be highly self-motivated, a willingness to fail, understand the value of a network, and know what you don’t know. I think lack of knowledge is one fear, which really drives me from pursuing goals. I don’t like being wrong. I am very cautious when
  19. 19. venturing into new territories because I feel like I can easily hit a wall if I do one thing wrong. I believe in the quote “Never be the smartest person in the room” and I think this is something that has inspired me to change the way I look at something. I don’t have to be an expert or a know-it-all. In fact, I can access many resources and connects that will help me learn more. I think recognizing this will help me keep things together when they fall apart. I have been raised in a society, which focuses on “specialization” and “mastery”. In reality; I think we should always be learning and expanding our breadth of knowledge instead of specializing on one thing. I think other fears are my own perception of my credibility. I am currently a 20-year-old university student; I can’t even legally drink alcohol, yet I want to change the world. This might sound a bit ridiculous to someone who has been around for a while. I need to realize it is my skills and the way I take advantage of opportunities that determines my success, not my age or background. This is a psychological change that I’ve been looking into and I hope to improve this attitude more in the future. There are tangible fears that come out of things like financial investments; if I invest a bunch of money to build a school in India and it fails, is it a sunk cost? If it is a sunk cost, what happens to my financial situation after that? Many things on my bucket list are things I’d save once I have enough finances backed up. Financially, there is the fear of the unknown. Regarding ideas about sparking a new product idea in Education Technology and providing a solution for poverty, I might come up with something that has never been done before. How is measurement on this gauged? What can go wrong? Could failure in this instance mean more harm? This is typical paranoia associated with a new idea. I think a lot of this fears can be overcome. For example, in order to reduce questions about my age, I can start setting smaller goals and building a brand to make myself more marketable. For new ideas, I can talk to as many people about their prediction to get a better gauge. For the finances, I can make sure I’m abreast of the latest in financial literacy to better plan future investments. Overall, I do think there is a large amount of risk involved in many things on my bucket list. But what’s risk at the end of the day to an aspiring entrepreneur looking to change the world? One of my favorite quotes is, “If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies”. I think applies both to my personality change, mindset change, and societal change. The future can be beautiful but only if I’m willing to overcome my fears from the present. 20. What are the things that give you a sense of hope? What makes you optimistic about the future? What do you find exciting and promising about this moment in history? In today’s society, I am optimistic about many things. First is the way technology and data is transforming lives. Technology has not only allowed humans to connect with each other through various mediums, it has made possible the flow of information in a more rapid and efficient way. Not only does it allow companies to target their customers and get their products out in an optimal manner, it matters a lot for society. IBM at the moment is finding a way to create an application and figure out exactly what a baby is crying about. They are also looking to use analytics in order to find a way to track heart disease five years before it even take its toll on someone’s body. I do think however, that one of the biggest risks is thinking that technology can be a solution by itself. I’d say in any situation, the technical component is about 30% of the work. 70% is in understanding
  20. 20. and utilizing the context around it. It’s just a tool. The information it can give us, however, can create entirely new horizons in every field. Something I think is beautiful is that technology is even replacing immorality; In Vitro Meat, for example, is fully lab cultured meat that was never part of an animal – this could be used as a replacement for the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock. In healthcare, Xenotransplation allows animal organs to be donated. You can now even create your own life: Programmable organisms can be created after being designed on a computer. Many other things also give me hope for humanity. I feel that the United States is also getting more socially progressive. We have now near eliminated racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination or atleast to the point where it is a disdainful stigma. We have accepted homosexuals legally as people and we have done a lot more in the past few years for the disabled and poor then we could’ve dreamed 50 years ago. On a smaller note, it’s nice to know that random acts of kindness still exist, as well as good deeds to complete strangers. Then, as cliché as it is, one thing that gives me hope is the belief that each new day is fresh and clean. Each day is a chance to learn and grow from reckless decisions we have made in the past. We are inspired by the realization that our past does not have to equal our future. This occurs for both Nobel Peace Prize winners and inmates in prison. Everyone has another opportunity and I have belief that some will take advantage of their second opportunity and completely overpower what they have done with their first. 21. Researchers have shown that people who are most happy and satisfied with their lives are those who spend a great deal of their time giving to others and the world. Now that you have completed this portfolio and have hopefully come to some greater clarity on your goals and dreams for your life, what is your vision of how you would like to make a difference in the world? What can you do to get started on it today? I am currently answering this question as I am sitting on a plane to San Jose for the Net Impact Conference. I have reviewed my portfolio and am actually quite shocked at my ability to even answer half the questions in the future section. I have just finishing creating a vision for my future that is far more detailed and far more intricate than I ever have created in my life. If you asked freshman year Kushaan if he had planned a year ahead, let alone three years ahead, he would have had no sense of direction or vision. To know that I even had the ability to break down my goals and visions is a remarkable achievement and a testament to my growth both in this class and as a person. I found the bucket list to be one of the most profound exercises I drew out some of the smallest things that I convinced myself I’d do; some of these things I have been telling myself for almost two years. It feels great to say: I have a vision. I have tangible passions and I know what I do. I want to create my different in the world through promoting education and technology on a large scale. I want to revolutionize the way children learn regardless of their socioeconomic background and I want to find a way to create a difference both here and internationally. To get started, I think the best first step is to bring up my passions at the Net Impact Conference. I want to talk to as many people as possible and get a gauge of ideas, thoughts, and potential collaborations. I want to get started planning out new ideas by just writing them down on paper every time they come up. I finally feel a sense of accountability with my bucket list. I want to also go to as many Changemaker
  21. 21. events at the Smith School, including the Social Enterprise Symposium, Sustainability Jam, and Ashoka events. The one thing I am seeking now is mentors and like-minded students who can take this passionate and cultivate it into something specific. I hope I am able to see my passion manifest itself by the end of Social Innovation Fellows and I am grateful to have had this assignment; it’s not everyday that one sits down to think about everything they’re passionate about. I think that this has made the difference for me.