Profile

  • Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2022
  • Hometown: Spring, TX

About: Hello! My name is Jagrithi, but most people call me Jag. Though I grew up in a suburb of Houston, TX called Spring, ever since coming to UT, Austin has felt like home. I love being outdoors, so it's been a great change to be living minutes away from the lake, hiking trails, and parks. I feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing family that has shaped me into the person I am today, great friends that make being away from family a little bit easier, and the opportunity to attend a school like UT Austin.

Currently, I am a fourth-year Architectural Engineering and Business student. I am incredibly passionate about social impact and climate change, so I hope to use my education in order to design healthier cities and more sustainable buildings. I am also on the officer board for the Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab and a Senior Student Associate at the Austin Technology Incubator, both of which are experiences that have fueled my entrepreneurial spirit and desire to one day be the founder of my own startup.

Outside of school, I enjoy running, lifting weights, listening to music, watching 90's rom-coms, and re-watching Grey's Anatomy for an embarrassing number of times. I'm excited to begin my Texas 4000 journey and have the chance to get to know all the incredible new people I will meet along the way.

Why I Ride

On April 29, 2017, my father passed away. Though he was a perfectly healthy, former cross-country runner and swimmer, and only fifty years old, he was taken from me too soon due to a sudden heart attack while gardening in our backyard. At seventeen, I was unable to handle the grief of losing my best friend, my sense of home, my belief in any sort of good in the world. It was unfair. It still is unfair. I, nor should any other child, have to bear the loss of a parent at such a young age. I wish he could have seen me go to the prom, watched me walk across the auditorium stage at my high school graduation, guided me through the difficulty of switching majors and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life going forward. Unfortunate does not begin to describe my circumstances, but what is more painful to know is that my experience is not unique.

When my dad died, comfort was difficult to find. With my mother and brother also facing the same loss, we were all too weak to lean on each other. My mother’s friends became our pillars, bringing us food, taking us on walks, reminding us that one day we would smile again. One of my mom’s oldest friends, Gayatri Auntie, spoke with me extensively one evening as we discussed our views on the world and religion, as my loss had shaken my sense of faith. She did not try to persuade me one way or the other in regard to my belief system, but rather listened to my anger and provided the only thing I needed at the time: a shoulder to cry on. She treated me like an adult, respected my views, and did not try to convince me that everything happens for a grander reason. I will never forget that conversation, because it was the first moment during a stream of indistinguishable days where I felt heard. My pain, my anger, my every emotion felt validated by her, and for that surge of strength she gave me, I will be eternally grateful.

Two summers ago, I learned that Gayatri Auntie was fighting stage IV colon cancer. When my mother first told me this news, my thoughts immediately shot to Gayatri Auntie’s children. I had known them since I was in kindergarten, meeting them frequently for various family get-togethers, potlucks, and game nights. My heart ached for them, for I knew the pain of losing a parent, and I could not bear the idea of any other child having to experience that pain. My heart ached that while Gayatri Auntie had given me so much during my most vulnerable moments, I could not give her the same. Gayatri Auntie passed in November 2020, and her death shook me. Cancer went from being some abstract idea that I couldn't completely comprehend, to devastating my life and the lives of those around me in the realest of ways.

Cancer, like cardiovascular disease, takes the lives of too many loved ones every year. I want to ride to Alaska so I can play some role in changing this. Four years later, I am still healing from my loss, but I feel ready to be more open about my experience and use this vulnerability as an opportunity to create a larger impact. Through Texas 4000, I would be working towards the creation of a cancer-free future, a future where so many children are saved from the pain of losing their mom or dad. When I needed it most, my community gave me the hope of one day feeling happy again, the knowledge to grow independent, and the charity to not have to worry about anything other than my emotional wellbeing. I hope to give this hope, knowledge, and charity back as a member of the 2022 Texas 4000 team.

If you have a story about how cancer has touched you or a loved one's life that you would like to share with me, please reach out to me at jnenawati12@utexas.edu. I would love to carry your stories and memories with me as I embark on this journey.

To Alaska and back,
Jagrithi