A local chapter of an international service organization recently gave a gift that will fund 10 scholarships at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
Representatives of the Dallas Indian Lions Club, including UT Dallas Distinguished Alumni Award winner Ashok (A.K.) Mago, EMBA’99, came to campus Sept. 17 to present a $10,000 check to Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Caruth Chair and Jindal School dean. The money will fund scholarships next spring for students in need.
Lions Club International is a service organization with more than 46,000 local clubs in more than 200 countries. In keeping with the club’s motto, “We serve,” the Dallas India Lions Club also donated $7,500 of grocery staples to the campus food pantry, Comet Cupboard. UT Dallas police helped distribute the boxes.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, A.K. has been in constant touch with me about how JSOM students can be supported,” said Gaurav Shekhar, an assistant professor of instruction at the Jindal School and director of the MS in Business Analytics Flex and Online programs.
Mago, a past district governor of the Lions Club International District 2X-1 and founding and chairman of the US-India Chamber of Commerce DFW, said he and other club members had discussed students — the challenges they face because of the pandemic and the financial difficulties they may have. Club members were looking for ways they could help them.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that they have decent meals to eat every day,” Mago said. “Doing this helps us feel that the money we put every year toward charities is being put to good use. The Dallas Indian community is doing its fair share of supporting the rest of the community. Those of us who are more fortunate should contribute toward the well-being of others.”
Mago was on hand for the check presentation, as were Sampoorna Ramakrishna, club president; Nishi Bhatia, club first vice president; and Jyoti Arora, club secretary.
In addition to presenting the check, they stayed to unload some of the grocery boxes, which will help feed about 400 students.
“Dallas Indian Lions club is primarily established to serve the local community in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area,” Ramakrishna said.
The large, diverse student population at UT Dallas — one that includes a large number of Indian students — was also a consideration for the club, she said.
Ramakrishna said that because of the many members who are UT Dallas alumni, the club has a long relationship with UT Dallas and JSOM.
“Dallas Indian Lions Club cares about the hardships Indian students are undergoing — particularly during this pandemic situation,” she said.
“We can never give enough,” Shekhar said. “The heart tells you that even though you may have impacted a lot of lives, there are a lot more who need help. These are tough times. If we are together, we can definitely make things work.”
Mago called the current situation an “extraordinary situation. In regular times, these students are able to take care of themselves. Because of the pandemic, they are relying on the support of the entire community. I know the University is helping them a lot. We, as a club and as individuals, will continue to do our part.”
Shekhar also said that such support positively impacts students in a number of ways, including helping them focus on academics and job interviews and allowing them to enjoy the student experience.
“UTD fosters an environment of support that goes well beyond degrees and student experiences,” he said.
— Jimmie R. Markham