Akash Bhalerao graduates from the UI with experiences to fuel his future


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ben Allan Smith

UI senior Akash Bhalerao poses for a portrait in the Dancer’s Garden on Tuesday, May 8. Bhalerao is graduating with degrees in both social entrepreneurship and environmental restoration. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Graduating senior Akash Bhalerao has made the most of his time at the University of Iowa. He has excelled in his studies and involvement on campus through participating in 15 student organizations.

“It’s been a journey, an amazing journey, and I got to meet a lot of important people … through my time here, fall in love with this place and the culture of this place … I’m about everything being a Hawkeye and I just love being black and gold,” he said.

After Associate Director of Admissions Tom Paulsen visited his high school in India, Bhalerao decided to attend the UI. His “gut feeling” to become a Hawkeye turned out to be the right decision because of the people he has met and the opportunities he has had, Bhalerao said.

“I joke around with my parents that if I’m ever get kicked out of the house, I’m settling in Iowa City,” he said.

Bhalerao has worked toward a degree in social entrepreneurship and environmental restoration through the Interdepartmental Studies Program.

His degree is broken down into different disciplines that relate to environmental and social justice, communication and social media, and leadership and entrepreneurship. It was important he had a meaningful area of study that would implement his interests into an employable degree, he said.

Through the eight-month creation of his schedule, Bhalerao met with around 40 faculty members to create a degree that would allow him to “study the interconnectedness among disciplines,” he said.

In addition to his work in academics, Bhalerao has been a huge part of student life on campus. As a part of Dance Marathon, Homecoming Council, UI Student Government, a campus tour guide, and so much more, he has become a familiar face on campus to many.

Through his involvement with UISG, Bhalerao was last year’s Sustainability Committee chair and was involved as a senator this year.

He partially credited his academic and social success at the UI to the faculty he has had the opportunity to work with and the courses he has taken. In particular, he said David Gould affected his time at the UI when working with him as both a student and teaching assistant in the Green Room course.

“We have amazing opportunities here so I just try to make the most out of it,” he said.

Bhalerao said if he had the chance to give advice to his freshman self, he would tell himself to seek every opportunity presented to him.

“When people tell you to say no sometimes, don’t listen to them,” he said. “Keep saying yes … because you never know what will connect where and how many amazing people [you’ll meet].”

He noted that relationships are the most important part of any growth opportunity and the most important thing you can do.

“No matter how much you do or how much you are involved with or how many projects you successfully work on what you’re going to take out of it at the end of the day … is relationships with people, and relationships with incredible, amazing people from all around the world.”

Bhalerao has an internship with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership in Council in Washington and will start a one-year program at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden for a master’s in strategic leadership toward sustainability.

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