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Challenging Himself to Become the Change He Seeks 

Karan Verma challenged himself to speak to one new person every day. (Photo by Carlo de Jesus) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 9, 2016) – Karan Verma traveled 964 miles from his hometown of Chicago to test his resilience and attend the University at Albany.

He did not know one person in New York State prior to arriving as a freshman. It was tough to leave behind his family, his home and friends.

“What brought me to UAlbany was Rockefeller College’s combined five-year program, where I was humbly accepted into graduate school as a junior,” the graduating senior said. “The reason I stayed is because of the people.”

His uncle, Sunny Verma, was on a plane from London to the U.S. when he ran across an article about the BA/MPA program at UAlbany.

“The next day he called me and told me, ‘This is what you need to do,’ ” Karan recalls.

Karan’s uncle knows his nephew’s interests very well and pushes him to develop new goals each year. So Karan said good-bye to his parents, who were born in India, and his brother.

“My parents have provided me with endless support and love that I carry with me every day. And my older brother is the person who has taught me to value the journey and believe in myself,” said Karan, a 2016 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. “These influences have helped me become the person that I am today, and fuel me forward as a hard worker who loves life like a five-year-old.”

After graduation, Karan will be a summer intern at KPMG in Albany, working in information technology enablement. He will then return to Rockefeller College for one more year to finish his MPA.

Early on, Karan posted a vision statement in his room to bolster his courage when he was hesitant. It says: “I, Karan Verma, am committed to creating a world where individuals are aware of their own significance and their impact on others by being benevolent, adaptable, willing, resilient, purposeful, and by living with self-worth.” His statement is derived from Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” To this day, Karan looks across the room each morning and night to read his vision statement. He also challenged himself to talk to someone new each day, and in this way, fostered many meaningful relationships.

While at UAlbany, Karan has created that change. When he found out that 500 bottles of water were being consumed each day in the Campus Center, he launched a campus wide water bottle initiative, the H2O Zone that saved nearly 2,000 water bottles in just two weeks. Reusable water bottles were given out to faculty, students and staff, and a hydration station created.

He also co-founded a social incubator, the Albany Center for Entrepreneurship (A.C.E.) at the University that was instrumental in bringing Blackstone LaunchPad to campus. He currently serves as Blackstone Launchpad’s program ambassador on campus.

When he was running A.C.E., he and others were invited to have a conversation with the director of Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Global Director of Blackstone LaunchPad.

“During this conversation we served as an example for current student entrepreneurs,” said Karan. “Knowing this, they agreed to come to the University at Albany and stated that part of the reason why they chose to go with UAlbany is because we proved that the campus had an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

As program ambassador, he recruits and mentors students on their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Karan and his family returned to India for the first time in 12 years this past summer. “I got to see where my parents grew up, and the challenges they faced in order to move to the United States. There were three generations in one house, very humble beginnings. But it also helped shape their outlook on life, which they have passed on to me,” he said.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.