15 Aug Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2000 Scholar Kavi Kailasam
Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova.
Boettcher Scholar Year: 2000
Colleges/Degree(s): University of Denver: BA Spanish and International Studies; MA International Administration
I’ve worked at Rise Above Colorado for the past two and a half years. Our nonprofit works across the state, directly with youth and with the adults who serve them, to empower young people with education and inspiration to prevent youth substance misuse. The best part of my role is the ability to connect people across the state and leverage the resources and expertise that exist in local communities. I also have the amazing privilege to innovate and create alongside our youth partners, which helps me feel motivated to always live up to their high expectations!
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
I’m forever grateful for the chain of events sparked by the Boettcher Scholarship that has led me to where I am today. Apart from a year in South India working at a local NGO after graduate school, I’ve been in Colorado-based work ever since. When I returned from India, I had the fortune to meet a trustee of the foundation who hired me onto the Community Initiatives team at a local bank. Five years later, I joined the State of Colorado, directing a grant program to fund youth prevention work. That position led me to Rise Above Colorado. Through these diverse opportunities to serve Colorado, my love for this state has continued to grow.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
I like to joke about my ongoing extracurricular activities as an adult. For many years, I’ve played on a USTA tennis league in Denver, building a wonderful community of teammates and friends. And I also have been a member of the Cherry Creek Chorale, going on nine years now. I’ve dabbled in various other activities over the years (including a summer kickball league) and have volunteered at various youth-serving programs in the Denver metro area, including serving on the board of directors for Groundwork Denver and volunteering at Mi Casa Resource Center for Women and Urban Peak’s youth homeless shelter.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
When I entered the workforce, I was idealistic and adamant that the work I would do mattered more than anything else in selecting my first job. An advisor told me to be selective about the people I worked with as well as the nature of the job. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate her wisdom. We spend so much of our time and energy with our work colleagues, and our capacity to impact change is often influenced by them. So, I would advise new graduates, as I was, to surround yourself with people who will positively challenge and inspire you.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
My maternal grandmother died when my mother was a young child, but her legacy has greatly impacted my life. I’ve heard so many stories about her and have even been compared to her at times. I would love to meet her to know who she was, and what her hopes and dreams for her family were. If my great-grandmother could be there, whom I did have the fortune to meet and know, I’d invite her for dinner too. And it would be awesome if they cooked for me!