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Donor Spotlight: Vinita Kumar, BSBA ’01  

Generosity that spans generations

Vinita Kumar

When Vinita Kumar was growing up, her father told her that the only difference between a smart person and a not-so-smart person is hard work. Today, she describes her life as “the intersection of hard work and opportunity,” and she has created a legacy that links her past with future generations.

Vinita’s parents emigrated from India to the United States in the late 1960s with $10 to their names. She says, “My parents were determined to give my sister and me every opportunity, and they saved to give us the best educations they could afford.” 

A scholarship and her parents’ support made it possible for Vinita to attend Washington University, and she never looked back.  “Here, I had the opportunity to learn, to lead, to launch my career, to leave my mark, and to live—to really belong,” she says. In 2014, she established the annual Narinder and Neelam Kumar Scholarship to honor her parents and help future students in the Olin Business School achieve their aspirations.

A business career

Vinita didn’t plan for a career in business, but she knew she wanted a degree she could use after graduation. With a double major in finance and marketing, she was recruited on campus during her senior year by Deloitte Consulting, the world’s largest privately held professional services firm. She launched her career as a business analyst in August, 2001, earned an MBA from the University of Michigan, and today she is a senior manager with Deloitte’s Consulting Unit. She leads a team of 10, advising executives in the insurance industry on strategic business challenges.

She also leads Deloitte’s recruiting efforts at Washington University. “Each year, I am more impressed with the caliber of students we meet here and by what they go on to do. Olin prepares you to work for leading companies, and its international reputation attracts top employers to campus.”

A multidisciplinary education

Vinita was attracted to Washington University by the opportunity to take classes outside her major. She says, “Consulting requires you to apply critical thinking skills to many different fields while working as part of a team. Olin prepares you for all that and more.  I took 30 percent of my courses outside the business school, including cultural anthropology, the Italian Renaissance, and enough English classes to earn a minor in writing.”

In addition to her rigorous academic program, Vinita learned about responsibility, problem-solving, negotiation, and time management through “an unofficial major in extracurricular activities.” She led the Indian students’ association, served as a resident advisor, was an Olin Ambassador, and was a member of the sophomore honorary Lock & Chain.

Community, service, and gratitude

“The first time I came back to campus after graduation, I confided to Dean McLeod that I was homesick for Washington University,” she says. “He assured me that there would always be a place for me here. He was right. I know I will always be connected to Olin and the Washington University community.”

She keeps the connection alive as a member of the Chicago Regional Cabinet, as a volunteer for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, and as a Benefactor of the Eliot Society. “We share a common experience that shaped us,” she says. “It’s incredibly energizing and rewarding to work with students and meet other alums who are active in the Wash U network.” 

Vinita says, “Community, service, and gratitude are integral components of the entire undergraduate experience at Washington University—it’s all about giving back. I have been so fortunate, and I established a scholarship because I wanted to help others as I was helped. I also wanted to honor my parents for teaching me the importance of education and hard work. I am who I am because I went to Washington University.”

 

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