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Nira Pandya '13 Interview

Interviewer: Abigail Henry

Nira Pandya

April 13, 2018

Nira Pandya '13 is a first-generation immigrant and professional who graduated from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing her law degree at University of California, Berkley. Currently, Pandya is participating in a business counseling practicum that allows law students to have firsthand interactions with clients and allows small businesses to receive pro-bono service for a range of services, from advising to drafting contracts and agreements. She is also a part of the planning committee for the legal sessions at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco.

How Women’s and Gender Studies at SU helps shape Nira Pandya’s current experiences:

Pandya took her first Women’s and Gender Studies course as a third-year student. This entry level course taught her how to turn societal norms and common information on its head as a form of empowerment. For Pandya, WGS fostered the highest level of critical thinking that helped her succeed on her LSAT and helps her succeed in law school every day. Outside of the classroom and professional world, Women’s and Gender Studies has helped Pandya personally gain a stronger sense of self which allows her to achieve excellence in everything connected to that sense of self. Through everything, she can always rely on the community she built in WGS and beyond, which helps her sustain herself and her work.

How community building helps work past one’s own experiential limits:

Pandya says that she realizes she is not going to be great at everything but believes that it is important to strive to learn as much as possible. Pandya fosters communication, which can even mean just turning to a friend to understand what she is missing in her work. She finds it important to ask the question, ‘who am I leaving out?’ Including people with different experiences in her work leads to further improvement and allows her to be a better version of herself.

How Women’s and Gender Studies has influenced work in the corporate world:

Women’s and Gender Studies has always exposed Pandya to a wide range of viewpoints which has helped her challenge the corporate world. She is able to advocate for the inclusion of voices that are traditionally left out of corporations. Pandya finds it important to recognize that everyone is working towards the same goal, but people have differing perspectives from each other, which is helpful for the team if people use their experiences to critique each other.

About Rapport Card:

Rapport Card is an artificial intelligence voice-tracking software that Pandya is working on that seeks to create conversational equity in the workplace. People of marginalized communities in the workplace do not have the same representations as people of non-marginalized communities do, which leads to a communication discrepancy and affects the participation, performance, and promotion of people of marginalized communities. Rapport Card gives employees and companies access to meaningful data points that allow them to see trends of what a more desirable work environment looks like. And the goal for this initiative is to create a more equitable work environment.

Advice for WGS Students:

  1. Do not be afraid of failures. Start becoming uncomfortable, take up big challenges you don’t think you can accomplish and achieve under guidance that believes in you. Do something that you think you may enjoy but haven’t done.
  2. Self-Care. You are going to need something to sustain the difficult and involved work that Women’s and Gender Studies lends itself to.
  3. Start investing in yourself by learning how to build good relationships. You will achieve more in the workforce or whatever your next endeavor is if you build relationships and build community. Ask questions from the people around you and always be eager to learn.
  4. Talk to professors and learn from them. Professors often know how to see more in you than you can see in yourself. They can give you advice on things you may have never considered before.

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