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Why I Give: Ishaan Rao ’17

Ishaan Rao (far right) with (l-r) friend Nikhil Gavini and roommates Miguel de los Reyes and Ravin Kantesaria.

There seemed no better time to connect with a current senior to talk about why they give to NCSSM. We are just weeks away from our 36th commencement exercises and Ishaan Rao ‘17 will soon be an alumnus instead of a student. Rao, who is from Raleigh and attended Enloe High School before NCSSM, is feeling the way so many have felt as they prepare to walk onto Watts Lawn and across the stage to the next step in their academic journey–a mixture of excitement, pride, and sadness.

“The past two years have been the best of my life so far,” said Rao. During his time at NCSSM, Rao participated in a number of programs and activities including Wind Ensemble, Bhangra, DECA, and varsity golf. He also completed Research in Computational Science, which led him to Duke University over the summer. There, he worked with a team to create a software tool that could allow buildings to implement battery storage technology effectively–making more energy-efficient powering systems, like solar panels, usable even when direct contact with their power source is unavailable.

Rao says that when he developed an understanding of the role private support plays in funding his NCSSM experience, making a gift to the NCSSM Foundation Greater Challenge Fund became a no brainer. “My gift and the gifts of others to NCSSM foster the environment that allows my peers and me to grow and become not only better students, but more altruistic people. By investing in NCSSM, I’m investing in making the world a better place.”

But that is not the only reason Rao gives to NCSSM. The relationships Rao has developed at NCSSM play a key role in his decision to give as a student, and to continue giving as an alumnus. “I have never been so close to my peers and the faculty and staff at my school as I am here at NCSSM. The fact that we live and learn together plays a major role in that, but it’s also because I know that my classmates and I are the future leaders of our respective fields, whatever they may be. And that’s because NCSSM has given us an invaluable learning experience: they have not only filled us with knowledge, but taught us how to take that knowledge and apply it to the real-world.”

Rao will head to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall and major in computer science. When asked if there was anything he wanted to share with his fellow graduating seniors, he said, first and foremost, “Congratulations. It was hard but it was fun and we did it.” Then he had these words of wisdom to share: “I hope that the Class of 2017 realizes what a privilege it is to go to NCSSM. An education like this is not usually free, and I hope that as we continue on from here, we remember how important NCSSM is to us and that we give back to ensure that others have the same opportunity.”

We could not have said it better ourselves.

There are many ways for students and alumni alike to give back to NCSSM. Consider honoring a graduate with a brick on the Alumni Walk, or an employee with a tribute gift to the Greater Challenge Fund, or a particular fund that’s near and dear to your heart. Many seniors have chosen to pledge their security deposit as their first alumni gift to the school. This year Rao and 88 of his fellow students have already made a gift in honor of their class–$20.17 or $20.18. Every gift counts and we hope you’ll join Rao today! 

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