Welcome to HSA’s National Board 2017-18

Mrinalini Vijalapuram

Mrinalini VijalapuramPresident

Mrinalini Vijalapuram holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Studies with a minor in Asian Studies, a certification in Business Foundations from the McCombs School of Business, and a Paralegal Certification from the Center of Professional Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Her bachelor’s degree focused on International Security and she’s interested in nonprofit work to provide education, food, and water to developing nations. She has studied abroad in Rwanda, interviewing both victims and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and in Uganda, meeting those affected by Joseph Kony and the child soldiers’ crisis.

When she’s not working, Mrinalini enjoys photography. She owns a DSLR and loves going around the city taking photos of people and the environment. She is also a huge bookworm, reading and delving into books whenever she can. She’s a vegetarian and strives to be health-conscious—but loaded French fries are her kryptonite.

Mrinalini joined the Hindu Students Association as a sophomore in college at UT Austin because she wanted to be around more people who were passionate about practicing and learning about Hinduism. She enjoyed the events and people in the organization, and decided to become more active in HSA. While she was at UT Austin, she held the positions of Secretary and Holi-Co Chair. After participating in Tuesday calls, and planning Gateway her senior year of college, Mrinalini was brought on to join HSA Nationals as Secretary. Moving forward as President, she wants to help bring together the different HSA branches and cultivate friendships and communication. Mrinalini enjoys reading and studying different parts of Hinduism, especially the historical texts and applying them to her life. In the future, she wants to be able to read as many texts as possible, and help educate others on the different and vast concepts that are in Hinduism.

What are five adjectives that describe you?

Confident, Faithful, Eccentric, Friendly, and Receptive

What are some other interesting, fun, quirky, and/or unique facts about you?

I like to cater my style to my mood, so sometimes you’ll see me in business casual, sometimes in traditional Indian wear, and sometimes in space invaders leggings and a Superman shirt. I love Harry Potter so much that I have a Hogwarts banner in my apartment, and a Deathly Hallows tattoo.

 

Bharath Lavendra

BharathVice President

Bharath Lavendra is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Public Health, and a Bachelors of Science and Arts in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin. Bharath is interested in public health because he is interested in learning what he could do to reduce inequalities in our country, specifically in the healthcare field. During his time at UT, he participated in research in organic chemistry, developing peptide-based sensors that can be used to differentiate different substances. His project focused on wine varietals and a Brazilian liqueur named cachaça.

When Bharath is not studying, he is participating in organizations related to politics and public policy. During high school, he participated in a Youth Advisory Committee for the city government, and has since volunteered or worked for three campaigns during college: Wendy Davis for Texas Governor, Huey Rey Fischer for Texas House of Representatives, and Jimmy Flannigan for Austin City Council.

Bharath joined HSA at UT Austin because he loved how welcoming the other members of the organization were. He was amazed at how many people were coming together to share the Hindu culture and break down barriers on campus. During his time at UT HSA, Bharath has held the positions of Diwali 2014 Co-Chair, Holi 2016 Co-Chair, and is currently the Active Member Committee chair. He joined HSA Nationals because he wants to learn more about the other chapters of the organization, and do his part in furthering HSA’s mission to educate more people about the Hindu culture and traditions. Bharath loves that Hinduism is so flexible in its tenets and methods of observing the religion. His favorite aspect is the sense of tranquility that can be achieved by meditating or singing bhajans. Something he would like to learn about is the different scriptures of Hinduism and he is interested in pursuing modern interpretations and applications of ancient texts and their teachings.

What are five adjectives that describe you?

Affable, Energetic, Gregarious, Optimistic, and Sincere

What are some other interesting, fun, quirky, and/or unique facts about you?

I love dogs! I have two dachshunds at home, and I walk dogs currently as a side gig.

 

Rohit Badia

Rohit

Co-Chief Financial Officer

Rohit is currently pursuing a BS in Biology and a minor in International Political Economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. He chose Biology because he is interested in cell biology and the anatomy of the human body. He works a part-time job on campus as a Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) Leader leading Organic Chemistry sessions. Rohit is also doing research in Dr. Kelli Palmer’s microbiology lab at UT Dallas, which focuses on understanding antibiotic resistance mechanisms. During his time as an undergraduate, he was able to attend an Honors College trip to Washington, DC to explore his interests in the US government, and during this trip he was able to make new friendships.

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Rohit wasn’t very active with the Hindu community, so when he came to UT Dallas, he immediately joined HSA because he wanted to learn more about his culture and celebrate his festivals with other Hindu students. Rohit is currently the president of the UT Dallas Branch of HSA. Rohit joined HSA Nationals to play a bigger role in the decisions the organization makes fostering Hinduism. He wants to act as a liaison for clubs and oversee the activities of different branches. Moreover, he wants to help organize events, like Gateway and lead other initiatives.

Rohit likes that there isn’t a set of “rules” that define how one must practice Hinduism. Each and every person has the opportunity to interpret the scriptures and follow it in their unique way. Through his spiritual journey, Rohit would like to learn more about the various mythological/devotional stories of Hinduism, and learn more about specific superstitions.

Have you received any awards, honors, or recognitions?

  1. National Merit Scholarship,
  2. HOSA Nationals 2nd and 4th place
  3. Dean’s List

What are your hobbies, interests, and passions?

I volunteer in my community a lot, play basketball, and watch Telugu movies!

What are some other interesting, fun, quirky, and/or unique facts about you?

I was able to convince a few of my friends for about a year that I was the quarterback of my high school football team. Playing an instrument, singing, and dancing, however, are things I cannot do very well.

 

Sagar Vira

SagarCo-Chief Financial Officer

Sagar Vira is currently working at a Hedge Fund in credit trading. He obtained his BBA in Finance from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in 2015. Sagar was always interested in business, and thought Finance would be a great place to start. During his time at Emory, Sagar also participated in the Raas team.

What are five adjectives that describe you?

Caring, Adventurous, Funny, Focused, and Helpful

Have you received any awards, honors, or recognitions?

  1. Who’s who in American Colleges and Universities, 2013
  2. Scholarship Award of $19,000 for volunteering/leadership, 2012
  3. Humanitarian Award, 2015

What are your hobbies, interests, and passions?

Soccer, Frisbee, Reading, and Traveling

 

Meenu Pillai

Meenu

Secretary & Chief Technology Officer

Meenu Pillai is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering with a minor in Mathematics at Texas A&M University. When she’s not studying, she is dancing with her Bollywood dance team called Akh Mastani, and singing. In college, she interned with the Harris County Pollution Control, where she worked on a project creating an interactive map that locates water wells.

Meenu was originally skeptical about HSA but after attending a couple of meetings and being welcomed by HSA officers, she started to feel at home. Meenu has held the position of Vice President for the past two years at the A&M branch.

Meenu enjoys attending the conference calls on Tuesday and participating in the discussions every week. While attending Gateway and Dharma Initiative for the past two year she was able to learn something new about Hinduism that she could apply to her professional life and has been able to use that information to assist her HSA branch. As a result, she wanted to join Nationals to be part of the event planning process and be part of other ongoing projects that educate others about Hinduism.

Before going to college, Meenu was only exposed to Hinduism through her family. Upon entering A&M, she learned about how various states in India celebrate the same holidays in different ways and was able to expand her understanding of Hinduism. Meenu also loves hearing stories about the deities and being able to relate them to day-to-day situations. Meenu wants to be able to explain and educate others about Hinduism, clear any misconceptions, and relate the faith to her daily activities.

What are five adjectives that describe you?

Self-starter, Hard working, Caring, Kind, and Quirky

What are some other interesting, fun, quirky, and/or unique facts about you?

I have a corny saying for remembering my name. Also, for Halloween, I have a 5-day countdown for Halloween by dressing up in a costume every day up to the day of Halloween.