Tiger Love: Couple finds love and community far from home

Deepak Sharma ’97 (MBA), left, and Karuna Mukherjea ’97 (finance) met when they were students. The California residents remain connected to the university.

Karuna Mukherjea and Deepak Sharma came from far away to attend RIT. The couple believes it was destiny that brought them together.

Both from India, Mukherjea ’97 (finance) and Sharma ’97 (MBA) found a welcoming university and community on the Henrietta, N.Y., campus.

“That is one of the best things that happened to us at RIT,” Sharma said. “It was destiny. Through a twist of events, we both landed at RIT and took many of the same classes, resulting in friendship to love and then partners for life.”

After meeting in the fall of 1996, Sharma recalled picking up Mukherjea in his car many mornings to drive to college together. “That is where our friendship and love blossomed,” he said.

Each found Saunders College of Business—and the university at large—friendly and exciting.

“RIT was one of the most welcoming places for both of us,” Mukherjea recalled. “The faculty, the administration, and the students were all warm—even though this was the first time in our lives we experienced snow! We felt like we had arrived at our new home and the opportunities were boundless.”

Sharma still vividly recalls his first Diwali (Hindu festival of lights) while away from home, when one of his classmates and her family members dressed up in traditional Indian clothes, decorated their house, and invited him over.

“It was such a welcoming act and completely overwhelmed me,” he said.

“This left an impression on both of us that we feel very connected to RIT, even today, and I will always find time to talk or help anyone from RIT,” Mukherjea added.

Outside of classes, they both enjoyed exploring the city of Rochester. “Our friend circle was expansive, spanning 15 countries and included both grads and post-grads,” Sharma said. “To date, some of our closest friends are in Rochester, N.Y.”

The couple married at the iconic Japanese Tea Garden in San Mateo, Calif. Residents of the Bay Area for the past 20 years, each has gone on to successful careers using the foundation built at RIT.

Currently vice president of enterprise marketing at Workato, Mukherjea has become a champion of equity and diversity for the company’s workforce and a mentor to young women. Sharma is chief client strategy officer at Photon, while also volunteering at local nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco area.

The couple recently joined RIT’s Sentinel Society to support the university that launched their lives together. In honor of Mukherjea’s father, they established the Joy Mukherjea Sentinel Scholarship to support students attending Saunders College.

The parents of two daughters, they enjoy their conversations and visits with their older daughter in college, golfing with their youngest, and play time with their dog, Mocha. They also enjoy streaming movies.

“So I see esoteric dramas with her and she watches action/comedy flicks with me,” Sharma quipped.

And the occasional love story, like theirs.


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