Vikas Pisipati, BSBA ’10
Senior Vikas Pisipati’s very first volunteer experience as a junior in high school was prompted by an interest in the medical field. So he raised some money himself, left his Wexford, Penn., home for the summer, and made his way to Guatemala City, where he worked as a volunteer at an orphanage for mentally and physically challenged children.
“There were about 25 kids at the orphanage,” Vik says, “and only three nuns to take care of all of them, so they relied heavily on volunteers for help. I hadn’t had much prior experience working with children at the time, especially those with such challenges. Many of them weren’t able to speak or walk. It felt really great to know that I had helped to make their lives a little happier.”
Thus, an interest in medicine evolved into a passion for volunteering.
When he got back to the states, Vik threw himself into fundraising for nonprofits. He started a club at his high school and constantly brainstormed new entrepreneurial ways to fundraise, just waiting for his next chance to go abroad and help in person.
He finally got it his sophomore year at the School of Management, where he majors in operations and technology management.
“I had read an article that said that the state of India where my family is originally from has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases,” says Vik. “That really intrigued me, and I wanted to find out why.”
So he did what any 19-year-old would do. He connected with a group called the Center for World Solidarity and traveled to India to help educate the community about HIV. He visited several villages with a high number of HIV cases, teaching them about the risks. He also developed pamphlets on AIDS specifically targeted toward the high-risk demographic of 12-20-year-olds, a group that previously had little to no access to prevention information.
This sparked another idea. Vik thought that if he could write literature to educate people about HIV prevention, why couldn’t he do the same thing for a topic like accounting?
So when he returned from India, Vik started writing pamphlets about accounting with three friends and personally translating them into Spanish. The group had hoped to distribute them to poor regions in Latin American countries that could benefit from access to this type of information, and had even made connections with organizations that could distribute them. But unfortunately, it stopped there.
“It really became a question of resources and time,” says Vik. “We didn’t want to make promises to organizations that we couldn’t keep, because that would be worse than never offering our help in the first place. But all the materials are written, and hopefully someday I’ll be able to put them to good use.”
For the short-term, Vik is focused on a career in international business, ideally in supply chains. He hopes to travel more (he’s already been to 22 countries) and learn about new places and people.
“The exposure I’ve gotten to other cultures through volunteer work has really helped to prepare me for my future work in business. It’s helped me to understand how to deal with all types of people and has set me up to create better business relationships around the world. I hope to gain some practical experience, then eventually start my own nonprofit and really make an impact.”