Boston University Distinguished Alumni Acceptance Speech
October 29 2011
Source: Meera Gandhi/Boston University
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for this wonderful honor. I am deeply touched to be named a Distinguished Alumnus of Boston University, and I am proud to be in the company of the three others honored here today, Elizabeth Cohen, Travis Roy and Gerard Cohen.
My years spent in the 80's in Boston with my husband Vikram, two newlyweds studying in the USA for the first time, and working towards our MBA degrees, are a period of my life that I look back on fondly. I have a warm spot in my heart for Boston, but more than that, for this University in particular that inspired so many of my life goals.
We have since raised three children, Kiran, Kanika and Kabir, all of whom are here with us today, and I have gone on to found my own non-profit charity called The Giving Back Foundation, with my husband. Our Foundation has operations in New York, London, Mumbai and Hong Kong. The Foundation was begun a year ago, and starting off on solid ground, we are slowly building it into an international help center and a haven for philosophical discussion. I have written a coffee-table book and produced and directed a short documentary film called Giving Back, which will be shown today
immediately following the luncheon. The profits from the book and film will all go directly back to the charities with which we are involved.
Without the guidance and wisdom of my brilliant professors at Boston University, I often wonder how much of this I would have achieved? My life motto and the motto of the Giving Back Foundation, is, "We are to the universe as much as we give back to it." The Foundation’s main goal is to help educate women and children. We have begun programs where we feed and are helping build a school and its playground for young girls in New Delhi, India; we have funded a Young Women’s Leadership program at the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val Kill in New York state; and we have sponsored civic-minded members of the film community at the Woodstock Film Festival. We have future plans to help terminally ill children at a special hospital in Dublin, Ireland.
As you can see, we are becoming a global entity, but with a twist. The Giving Back Foundation is unique in that we do not just write checks. We become intimately involved with our beneficiaries, we know them all quite well and work directly with them. We are partnering with about 40 other non-profit organizations, and each and every one of them has touched or inspired us at the Giving Back Foundation in a very personal way. For instance, graduate students from Boston University school of Public Health will join us this summer in New Delhi at St. Michaels Hostel for Girls. The carefully selected graduate students will devote their time to nurturing young women in need gain an education and tangible hope for their futures.
One day we hope that some of these young girls will enter into the graduate school program at Boston University and then we shall all feel that we have come full circle! Boston University helped me to grow and gain wisdom in a very special way, and so my own small gesture of Giving Back is to support today’s graduate students, and at the same time help a group of young ladies in New Delhi, India! Thank you Boston University for all that you did to educate and mold me and for all that you are continuing to do, not just in Boston, but throughout the world. Thank you President Brown for your incredible leadership and Dr Beverly Brown for your support. Boston University, You are indeed very special people with a well-deserved reputation for excellence!