Harish Karunakaran grew up in a small town within Tamil Nadu, India. His father was a chemistry professor at the local university, and many of his teachers in middle and high school either had his father during their time at university or knew him. Harish always felt like he needed to excel in his STEM classes since everyone knew who his father was.
Harish’s family emphasized the importance of education and always supported his educational journey. Growing up, anytime he wanted a new book or to take a class to gain a skill, his parents figured out a way to make that happen, even if it meant significantly limiting their lifestyle. His only “job” was to study, go to class and make great grades. After getting his Bachelor of Engineering degree from a university in Tamil Nadu, he moved to the outskirts of Boston to get his graduate degree in Robotics Engineering. In 2018, after receiving his graduate degree, he moved to the NRV to start his career at TORC as a robotics engineer. Originally, he was not thrilled to be moving out of a city setting like Boston to a small town, but like most people who experience this community, he now says that he can’t imagine ever leaving.
Harish recognizes how fortunate he was to have his family pay for his education. Now that he is an adult and early in his career, he realizes that not everyone is as fortunate. That led him to start the Kalvi Scholarship Fund at the CFNRV. “My number one goal is to give back to the community that has helped me in so many ways in the past two years. A perfect example is when I broke my leg this June and had to have surgery to fix it. I was very scared without my family here (they were in Tamil Nadu and could not visit because of COVID), but everyone around me was so helpful in helping me get through that difficult phase and made me feel at home. I see so much similarity between our community values here in the NRV and the values of the Tamil people. I just want this to be a small way for me and the people of Tamil Nadu to say thank you to this wonderful community and this great country.”
When Harish decided that he wanted to give back to the NRV, he didn’t know where to look. That’s when he started doing some online research and stumbled upon the CFNRV’s website. He read about the scholarship funds and instantly knew that is what he wanted to do.
He talked this over with his mom and came to the foundation the next day to get things rolling. He said “If I can help one person get closer to chasing their dream with my small contribution, that would make me the happiest person ever.”