Carnegie Mellon University

Father-Daughter Team

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Indian Legacy Family Shares Story

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Despite a main campus that's almost 8,000 miles from their home in Mumbai, India, Carnegie Mellon was the school Sanjaya Saran encouraged his children to attend.

"It worked with me," said Devaki Saran, Sanjaya's oldest daughter and a spring 2007 graduate in mechanical engineering. Her dad, Sanjaya Saran, graduated from Carnegie Mellon with the same degree in 1973. "He talked about Carnegie Mellon and mechanical engineering all the time."

The CEO of XLO India Limited, a company that manufactures automobile steering systems, Sanjaya and his daughter make up one of the many Carnegie Mellon legacy families.

"During the period I was at Carnegie Mellon, undergraduate education abroad was restricted by the Indian government," said Sanjaya. "I was very privileged to have been able to attend the university and the education I received at Carnegie Mellon was second to none. I was sure to recommend the university to anybody, especially my children."

Although the university has experienced significant growth since the early '70's, many of the traditions Sanjaya told Devaki about before she arrived on campus are still happening today.

"He would talk about buggy a lot," said Devaki, referencing an event held at the Pittsburgh campus every spring. "I didn't get it till I was here. It's hard to image what [buggy] actually looks like. I mean, when you tell people that it's basically very small students being pushed down a hill in a hand-built automobile, they don't exactly get it. But once I got here, I was like, 'Ohhh, this is what Dad meant.'"

Now that she's here, there are a lot of things Devaki is teaching her dad.

Sanjaya joked, "Her experiences at Carnegie Mellon have indicated that I am now obsolete! In all seriousness, handing over the baton to this generation will be easy. It's unbelievable what progress has been achieved by the university over the years. And after a recent visit to Carnegie Mellon, I have no doubt that Carnegie Mellon is on the cutting-edge of technology worldwide."

"It's also a great place to be an international student," added Devaki. "I've got a diverse group of friends, both international and not. And this is a campus that's very open to different ideas and cultures in such a respectful way."

"Carnegie Mellon is a global university," said Sanjaya. "To me, that means a university that's sensitive to global issues. At Carnegie Mellon, you also get campuses in various geographic locations."

Taking her dad's advice was a decision Devaki doesn't regret.

"The reputation of Carnegie Mellon is just getting better and better," said Devaki. "I realize the importance of coming to a good university now that I'm looking for jobs. Every year, more and more businesses are coming to recruit graduating students."

While Devaki is still experiencing all the opportunities the university has to offer, her dad is reminiscing about his time here and thinking she'll, too, have similar feelings.

"Over the years, I have often reflected on my life," concluded Sanjaya. "I 'grew up' at Carnegie Mellon. It made me the person I am today. Looking back, I can say that the four years I spent at Carnegie Mellon were the most defining years of my life."

Related Links: Global University  |  Alumni  |  Mechanical Engineering