Megha Agrawal (BS10) Pursues Career in Global Engagement

Megha Agrawal (BS10) Pursues Career in Global Engagement

Megha Agrawal

Megha Agrawal (BS10) recently began her position at The Unreasonable Institute as Institute director. The Unreasonable Institute — which, in only its third year, has already received national and international attention — accelerates entrepreneurs who tackle the world’s greatest environmental and social challenges. These entrepreneurs receive training from world-class mentors, legal advice and design consulting, and the opportunity to pitch to investors.

As an undergraduate, Agrawal became involved with global engagement activities at Northwestern. Although she was interested in service learning prior to college, Agrawal notes, “Previously, I was only exposed to the charity approach, but at Northwestern I was exposed to a holistic picture of what it means to be engaged. I was challenged to think about different models of development and to find my own role within that.”

Agrawal participated in the inaugural year of the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), during the summer after her freshman year. She and her team worked in Kampala, Uganda to launch a sports for social change program alongside the organization Global Youth Partnership of Africa. Looking back, Agrawal feels that having this experience early within her undergraduate career, “was an important base for the rest of my college experience.” It helped launch her toward many other global engagement activities ranging from co-curricular groups like OpenShutter to academic pursuits such as researching community-based organizations in northern Uganda through an award from the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP).

During Agrawal’s senior year, she co-directed the 2010 Global Engagement Summit (GES). She describes this experience as pivotal not only in developing skills like leading meetings and event planning, but also in providing her with a network of peers and mentors who shared her growing interest in global engagement. “GES helped me recognize that there are job opportunities and organizations out there that would allow me to do this type of work as a career.”

This network proved extremely valuable for Agrawal by connecting her to The Unreasonable Institute when it was still in its idea phase. Agrawal began conversing with the co-founders of Unreasonable, Daniel Epstein and Teju Ravilochanto, just prior to her senior year co-directing GES. Ravilochanto was invited to GES 2010 as a facilitator and mentor, where he connected with the GES staff, delegates and alumni community. In 2011, Ravilochanto returned to the GES Summit as a facilitator and Agrawal returned as an alumni mentor.

A year out of college, Agrawal was then working for a large consulting firm. She looks back on this corporate experience as positive overall. However, she says, “I lacked the passion and energy I’d felt as an undergraduate.”

Within her new role, Agrawal enjoys managing Unreasonable’s partnerships. “Every single day I get to talk to incredible organizations all over the world that support entrepreneurs.” Her corporate experience has been an asset since she is the only staff member with that type of background. Agrawal also has the opportunity to design curriculum. “It goes back to my GES days of trying to create an environment and support system to help young social entrepreneurs succeed.”

As Agrawal reflects, “Experiences like GESI and GES were pivotal to how I shaped my time at NU and eventually my career. I met so many driven individuals at Northwestern with an infectious passion for making change.” Now just two years after graduating, Agrawal feels fortunate to make a career out of the types of activities that energized her most as an undergraduate: “It sounds so cliché, but I’m doing what I love.”

Photo caption:
Megha Agrawal plays with one of the young girls from the community where she helped organize a sports for social change program in Kampala, Uganda, when she was a SESP student in 2007.

By Buffet Center Newsletter
Last Modified: 9/12/12