Neil Chavan graduated from University High School in 2015 and then attended Case Western Reserve University. Below, he answers a few questions and reflects on how University prepared him for college and beyond.
What have you been up to since leaving University?
After I graduated, I attended Case Western Reserve University, where I double-majored in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Studies and minored in Spanish. After that, I landed a job at a boutique strategic marketing consultancy in Cleveland called Newry Corp, where I help large materials and chemical companies pursue growth opportunities in emerging industries. Much of my work today focuses on sustainability and environmental technologies.
How do you feel University best prepared you for college?
University gave me all the tools I needed to be successful in college. The balanced education I received at University really allowed me to excel across disciplines. In particular, I found that I was miles ahead of my engineering peers in writing (props to University’s English department). Above all, University fostered my curiosity to learn about diverse topics and to think critically about them. Not only did these qualities allow me to succeed in college, but they helped me advance early in my career.
Do you see that the core values you learned at University still apply to your life now? How?
Absolutely. Commitment to excellence and creativity are the two that I find most applicable to my work as a consultant. We’re often presented with challenging questions that require persistence and some degree of ingenuity to answer. Outside work, I serve on a community relations advisory commission for the City of Lakewood (a suburb of Cleveland), whose mission is to ensure that the city remains a safe and welcoming place for all its residents. For the commission, I find diversity, stewardship, and mutual respect & trust to be themes central to our priorities as we often discuss critical needs of underserved groups within the community and translate them into recommendations for city officials.
Please share your best University memory.
Defeating North Central to win the state championships in trivia, repeatedly riding a school bus around a round-a-bout for a physics lab (we were studying centripetal motion), playing in the pep band for basketball games, competing on the tennis team…the list goes on. What I remember fondly from University is the wonderful community of scholarship and support that the school embodies, manifested through rituals like Morning Meeting and mentoring sessions. When you walk through the doors of Fairbanks Hall, the air is perceptibly different, you know you’ve entered a special place. One of my finest memories of University came even before I was a student; it was when I toured and experienced walking through those doors for the first time.
What has been the most valuable experience you have had since leaving University?
In college, I started and led a clean water initiative in a small, rural village in Costa Rica. The project involved designing and constructing a 2-kilometer underground pipeline to transport well water to houses in the community. As Project Manager, I learned an incredible amount while working on the effort for 3.5 years. I was fortunate to travel to Costa Rica three times and formed close relationships with many of the community’s residents. Most importantly, the project allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom in a real-world scenario, one that ultimately had a large impact on many peoples’ lives.