Underrepresented students at West Virginia University will benefit from a new scholarship established by an international couple seeking to pay tribute to the Mountain State.
T.V. and Vijaya Ramakrishna contributed more than $400,000 to create a namesake scholarship that supports underrepresented students enrolled in any WVU undergraduate program. Their gift bolsters efforts to expand scholarship opportunities for minority students as WVU works to cultivate a more inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff across its campuses.
“Scholarship support opens doors for students to pursue their academic goals,” WVU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore, Esq., said. “Our students often face multiple obstacles. Resources such as the Ramakrishna Scholarship can make sure funding is not one of those obstacles. I appreciate the Ramakrishna family’s generous investment in our students, our Mountaineer family, and their futures.”
Although neither the Ramakrishnas nor son Naren and daughter Sarva Rajendra attended WVU, West Virginia has always held a special place in their hearts. T.V. Ramakrishna grew up in difficult circumstances in India and had no hopes of obtaining an education until a teacher encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He eventually moved to the United States, earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering, and built a life for himself and his family in West Virginia.
“We moved [to Charleston] and were so touched by the wonderful people from all walks of life who welcomed us into the community so hospitably and with such kindness,” T.V. Ramakrishna said. “We raised our family there, owned a business and built our lives there for 35 years. When we began our charitable work to educate underprivileged children in India, West Virginians were the first to support us. Creating this scholarship is our way of paying forward our love for the state.”
Ramakrishna was head of research for the West Virginia Division of Highways and worked closely with WVU professors on several projects. Since retiring, Ramakrishna and his wife run a nonprofit organization, Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education, that houses and educates underprivileged children in Bangalore, India.
The Ramakrishnas now live in India, but they never forgot West Virginia’s impact on their family. That memory motivated them to create the Ramakrishna Scholarship.
“We learned a lot about how to give in West Virginia, so we realized that we needed to leave a part of ourselves in the state,” Vijaya Ramakrishna said. “Education is the eye to the world; you can see the entire world if you have an education. We hope to open their eyes to all the possibilities. We want them to know that we believe in their potential.”
Giving back is a fundamental part of the Ramakrishnas’ passion to make a positive difference in the world, whether it’s to the state that gave them so much or helping children in India build their future.
“If you help someone somewhere, it’s helping someone anywhere because that ripples through the whole world,” Rajendra said. “Whatever good that you can do will multiply to reach other people.”
The Ramakrishnas’ gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.