Academics

LEED Spotlight: Nikhita Chawla

ISyE Senior Nikhita Chawla (front row, second from left) with the Wisconsin School of Bhangra.
Dancing her way to success

“There are often misperceptions and incidents of ignorance about my culture, I am, therefore, grateful for an experience through which I can stay connected to my roots,” Nikhita Chawla remarks on her experience with the Wisconsin School of Bhangra. Currently a competitive dancer and captain, Nikhita’s journey evolved from the timid freshman who was dragged to dance auditions to a highly successful woman engineer with incredible experiences. Majoring in Industrial Engineering with a Green Belt in Six Sigma, Nikhita will also graduate with certificates in Computer Science and Global Health. Over her college career, she has worked at the Chesler Lab doing research on pulmonary arterial hypertension, as well as the Living Environments Laboratory, studying home-based healthcare. She additionally interned at the Waukesha City Hall IT department and Kohl’s Corporate Center as a software engineer intern. Post-graduation, she will be joining UnitedHealth Group as a Senior Business Analyst in their Consulting Development Program. Throughout her endeavors, her dance experience in the School of Bhangra has been the constant to which she attributes her success.

Prior to her freshman year in college, Nikhita had no experience as a dancer. The School of Bhangra, however, spoke to her desire to connect with her cultural roots since she is a first-generation Indian-American student. This desire overpowered her timidity as she joined a community of around eight dancers at the time. Over the years, the team significantly expanded with increased membership and participation in competitions. With the evolution of the team, Nikhita also experienced personal growth. She found supportive people with similar interests with whom she could have fun and study as well. Her time management skills were significantly enriched due to her rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule. As a captain, the values of resilience, patience and effective communication stuck with her. She also adopted a teamwork mentality in which she had to balance the maintenance of relationships with effective leadership. This skillset proved to be valuable to her in her career development.

“When employers ask about my skills outside of the classroom, I always bank on my experience in the School of Bhangra,” she remarks. Nikhita plans to continue the pursuit of dance in her near future. She hopes to be involved in the Twin Cities School of Bhangra or even pioneer her own Bhangra program. As she once mentioned to her SOAR advisees two years ago, “Do not lock yourself in the library 24/7, you will miss out on the opportunities and memories has to offer.” From her experience, Nikhita urges Engineering students to find passions and interests outside of the classroom, since these experiences significantly nurture personal growth.