Sushil Raja & Mansi Kothari are Program Directors in our Sophomore Mentoring Program. They spoke with us about her experience and what Minds Matter means to them.
Can you introduce yourselves?
Sushil: Hi! I’m Sush. I’m a Program Director for the Sophomore Program. I grew up in NYC and love NYC history, frisbee, and interesting math problems. I can spend hours watching movie trailers and I’m always ready for a run.
Mansi: And I’m Mansi. I co-direct the Sophomore Program with Sush. I love word games (especially crossword puzzles), art museums, yoga, and cooking challenges. I’m also obsessed with Halloween – any excuse to come up with a creative costume!
How do you know each other?
Both: We’re married!
Why did you join Minds Matter?
Sushil: We joined to create equal opportunity for talented individuals.
Mansi: I agree. We were looking to make a serious commitment to a worthy cause and have always felt passionately about access to education as a pathway to a promising future.
How have you been involved in Minds Matter?
Sushil: I started in the San Francisco chapter, and when Mansi and I moved to New York, she decided to join me. We were incredibly lucky to get matched with a pair of twins – Nadia and Lourdes! They are some of the most smart, entrepreneurial, honest, ethical, and funny people we know. On Day 1, Nadia told me that she already knew she was going to be a neurosurgeon, and I was blown away. After they both graduated and went to college, Mansi and I wanted to step back and take on more of a leadership role in the organization. We’ve been co-directing the Sophomore Program since 2018.
Mansi: I think Sush covered it! Besides joining the Executive Committee, we’ve also recruited many of our friends and co-workers to join the program. It’s been very rewarding to see our own circle of friends bond over this organization we care so deeply about. We’ve fundraised for the organization through family, friends, and corporate partnerships. Sush even raced for Minds Matter in the NYC half and full marathons.
What’s been most rewarding for you?
Sush: Minds Matter has turned into a family for us, especially the twins. We were lucky to build a really strong mentorship (and friendship) with them that has lasted well beyond the program. We continue to catch up on FaceTime or in person and talk through highs and lows of college, current events, and life in general. We’ve learned a lot from each other, from the time we took them hiking for the first time to the many times they’ve taught us about K-Pop music and what’s “cool” these days.
Mansi: Definitely the twins. It’s also been great getting involved in the Sophomore program and putting our own spin on it. We’ve gotten to streamline logistics, continue to refine the curriculum, and add some flair! Our first year, we created a video of the Sophomore program that we played on the last day, and it was a ton of fun seeing the students’ reactions as they cheered each other on.
What’s your favorite Minds Matter moment?
Sushil: The college fair. We’ve gotten the execution down to a tee. It’s such an exciting day of the year where all the mentors represent their colleges, dressed head to toe in college gear with brochures, handouts, banners, and swag. The students are always so eager to get a sense of college life and all of the different opportunities out there.
Mansi: Team Olympics! Each Team Leader picks a team color and a chant, and there’s some fierce competition between the teams, from three-legged races to trivia.
Sushil: I take it back – Lourdes and Nadia’s graduation. We were so proud of them!
Mansi: Honestly, I also just loved meeting the new students every year. They’re all so courageous, socially-minded, dedicated, and impressive in every way!
How would you describe each other at Minds Matter?
Sushil: Mansi is definitely the brains behind the operation at Sophomore Program.
Mansi: He’s the friendly face at the door who’s smiling ear to ear and loving every moment.