Inspired by UC Davis Mentors, Alumnus Pursues Global Opportunities
Shehzad Lokhandwalla ’15 graduated from UC Davis less than a year ago with a bachelor’s in computer science and a minor in education. Since then, he has lived and worked in three continents and pursued more diverse opportunities than many people achieve in their entire careers.
Lokhandwalla has served as a software developer intern at the United Nations in Switzerland, a technology consultant at a children’s hospital in Laos, and is now a technology fellow at Tanzania Education Corporation, which supports a secondary school in Tanzania focusing on technology curriculum.
“Two things have inspired me to take on these challenges,” Lokhandwalla said. “First, I had really great mentors at UC Davis, including Chancellor Katehi, School of Education Dean Harold Levine and Professor Sarah Perrault in the English department. Second, I love children and education, so my passion drives me to always do a little more and be selfless in it.”
Lokhandwalla’s passion for service ignited when he was serving as an ASUCD senator and working as a student assistant to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.
“One thing Chancellor Katehi said to me was, ‘A leader always has to give something back,’” Lokhandwalla said. “So if a leader earns something—like education and knowledge—you’re expected to give that back. She also said that public service is the most important thing you can do in your career.”
Lokhandwalla credits Levine and Perrault for encouraging him to explore opportunities where he could combine his skills in software development with his passion for education.
“At the time, I wasn’t sure how to go forward, so Professor Perrault suggested that I work in the non-profit sector, teaching people about the intersections between business and technology. Her suggestions inspired me toward ideas for my future,” Lokhandwalla said.
Leaving a Legacy
Although Lokhandwalla’s time at each employer has been brief, he has left a mark on all three organizations.
“When I was working at the UN as a software engineer, most of my job involved making changes to web applications,” Lokhandwalla said. “But I told my supervisor that I wanted to leave a legacy and do something to stand out. That’s when he said that I could work on a crowd funding app.”
Lokhandwalla spent a few weeks conducting research and working on an initial design for the app, which could help the UN collect donations in the future.
“Although it hasn’t been completed yet, it’s nice to know that I am the first one who did the initial design and research for it,” he said.
At the hospital in Laos, Lokhandwalla developed and taught the staff to use a computer software system where they could enter and store patient information for easier access. Prior to this, patient information was kept in paper files. He also created a photo booth where pediatric patients could take pictures with their friends and family, which helped improve the day-to-day experiences for the children at the hospital.
Currently, at the Tanzania Education Corporation, Lokhandwalla’s teaches students ages 16-17 about software engineering. As the inaugural technology fellow, he is developing the curriculum and shaping the organization for years to come. In addition, he hopes other schools in Tanzania will adopt his curriculum as well.
Lokhandwalla plans to one day establish a non-profit school for Indian adults who want to start their own technology businesses. In Tanzania, Lokhandwalla is earning invaluable teaching experience and learning what it takes to run a non-profit school, which will be supremely helpful in pursuing his long-term goals.
Lokhandwalla’s commitment to service does not stop with his career. He also considers himself an ambassador for UC Davis, having helped the Cal Aggie Alumni Association organize events in Geneva and making a point to connect with Aggies around the world.
“I want to give back as much as UC Davis has given me,” Lokhandwalla said.