In starting his business career post-graduation, Saket Rajprohat (Senior – Marketing) is taking the path less traveled. The April 2019 Pitt Business graduate is a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship of the U.S. Department of State. He will complete a one-year fellowship in India where his focus will be on increasing civic engagement among the country’s disadvantaged urban youth.
“The opportunity to learn about and connect with a society that comprises the largest democracy in the world is exciting,” Rajprohat says. “I feel that the societies we view as democratic today have taken on various forms of democracy, some more representative than others.”
Rajprohat’s views on participatory democracy were shaped by his own experiences as a foot soldier in the political process in the United States.
He volunteered in voter registration campaigns in Pittsburgh during the 2016 Presidential election, becoming one of the top performers in his group. Afterward, Rajprohat completed a research fellowship with the University of Pittsburgh Honors College that focused on how local businesses can increase civic engagement among Millennials and Generation Z. He worked with the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce (PAACC) and other businesses.
“I discovered a significant lack of knowledge in the systems of civic engagement used by Millennials to become involved in policy change,” Rajprohat says. “Thus, I proposed educational plans for local businesses to encourage Millennials to become involved in civic engagement and presented my findings to PAACC and other Pittsburgh businesses.”
Now, Rajprohat’s Fulbright fellowship in India, which begins this August, will present him with a daunting new challenge.
With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India is both the world’s largest democracy and has the world’s largest population of 10- to 24-year-olds, according to the United Nations. The country’s youth population is becoming increasingly clustered in urban areas due to growing urbanization.
“This population lacks the resources to effectively voice their concerns to elected officials,” Rajprohat says. “I plan to explore ways in which economically disadvantaged urban youth communities can be involved in the processes of democratic engagement.”
Rajprohat, who is minoring in political science with a concentration in international relations, also applied for and was accepted for the Boren Scholarship. Ultimately, he elected to accept the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship.
Rajprohat’s perspective on marginalized members of society was shaped by his volunteer work in college. He volunteered with the Pitt student organization Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth and Empowerment (FORGE) and worked as a paralegal for the law firm Goldstein & Associates, where he translated Hindi and Punjabi for immigrants held in detention centers.
“Working in these positions exposed me to a part of society I was not aware of, which provided me with a reason to work beyond myself,” Rajprohat says.
Rajprohat is a first-generation Indian-American. His parents moved from India in the 1990s, and he was born in Bucks County Pennsylvania before moving to Pittsburgh as a teenager. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a degree from the College of Business Administration because he had a hunger to change the world and knew a business foundation would give him the tools to accomplish it.
“My love for civic engagement and its ability to bring forth mutual respect for individuals’ struggles encouraged me to pursue marketing as a major,” Rajprohat says.
Through the Fulbright-Nehru scholarship, Rajprohat will live in India for a year. He will travel between the cities of New Delhi, Jhansi, and Ajmer. When he returns to the United States, he plans to pursue a law degree with a concentration on civil rights and will pursue a position with the U.S. government. His goal is to represent minority and underprivileged communities around the world.”
“Youth are the future, and ensuring their voices are heard is the key to confirming the progress of years to come,” he says.