Nishant Makhijani: Assistant Director Advancement, University of Illinois

Posted: 28 April 2021

Every experience I’ve had has shaped who I have become and will define my future too.

Nishant Makhijiani is Assistant Director of Advancement at the University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign. A former pupil of Daly College in India, he attributes his passion for environmental issues, and the communication skills he now employs in his fundraising career, to his education at a Round Square school and his experiences on a RS exchange to Lakefield College in Canada.

“Going on exchange gave me a clean slate, a chance to think of myself differently” he says. “I learned to love myself and open up a little. I had to ask questions of strangers to find out how things worked, but I was always treated with a lot of kindness: I was allowed to make mistakes. In speaking to my peers, I learned a lot more about people’s interests, their boundaries, and cultural differences. It was a process of trial and error, but one which really built my understanding of what it means to communicate well. It transformed who I was and showed me that if I can make friends with strangers then I can make friends back home too.

”When Daly College hosted a RS Conference, Nishant was part of the organizing committee, and led workshop discussions in RS Barazzas.  He went on to become Chair of Daly College’s Green Club, and led many projects promoting environmental change within the school. “I was always the guy yelling at people for not using the recycling bin,” he says.

Nishant secured a place on a civil and environmental engineering course at University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign, where he applied his growing knowledge and experience to improving environmental practices. After graduation, he was offered a position with the university’s sustainability office and when an opportunity arose to work in fundraising for the College of Engineering, he took up the challenge. In this role he draws on the event management, communication and leadership skills he first developed through his RS experiences.

He says “I’ve come to realise that I am always looking for a chance to help others. I love seeing the smile on another person’s face when you do that. I learned that I am a great connector, and this is essentially what I am doing in my job today”.Nishant was invited to talk about his experiences at a Tedx talk where he said: “People learn through experience. Don’t turn your back on an experience just because it seems irrelevant to your current life goals. You never know how it will help you in the future. Every experience I’ve had has shaped who I have become and will define my future too.


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