Karuna Mukherjea MS ’97 and Deepak Sharma MBA ’97

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It didn’t take long for Karuna Mukherjea MS ’97 and Deepak Sharma MBA ’97 to realize there was a strong connection between them; they were international students on RIT’s campus in 1996 who kindled a friendship during class. The relationship quickly evolved into more.

Before the days of online courses and obtaining a degree virtually, opportunities for attending the college of one’s choice were more limited. Many students would make life-changing decisions to travel abroad in pursuit of higher education. Both Karuna and Deepak made that choice. Twenty-six years later, they are married with two daughters, have successful careers, and have joined the Sentinel Society in support of the university that launched their future together.

“RIT is more than just a university to us,” explained Karuna and Deepak. “Our time there gave us the foundation and building blocks to make a professional life in the U.S. We felt a sense of community with both the faculty and students. As immigrants, it was important to have that extra support.”

In honor of Karuna’s father, the couple recently established the Joy Mukherjea Sentinel Scholarship to fund students within Saunders College of Business. Karuna reflected, “My father was a great believer in education. He encouraged his daughters to take bold steps. We want to continue supporting other brave students by enhancing their experience and allowing them to excel inside and outside of the classroom.”

The sense of inclusion that Deepak and Karuna felt at RIT has remained at the forefront of their personal ideologies. Karuna, currently a vice president of enterprise marketing at Workato, is a champion for bringing equality and diversity into the workforce. She mentors young women as they start their journey in the world of technology. Deepak is a senior vice president of strategy consulting and customer success at Photon; he is devoted to helping others and volunteering his time with local non-profit organizations.

Karuna and Deepak are excited to help students with their scholarship gift. “Our favorite thing about RIT is the vibrant community. We are very passionate about helping to ensure that every student has that amazing experience—as we had—and that they can thrive,” they commented. “We found the Sentinel Society is a great way to give back to the university that gave so much to us.”

Read more stories from other donors like Karuna and Deepak