On Friday, September 20, 2019, the Illinois Tech Leadership Academy hosted its annual Homecoming Event, which was an assembly of Leadership Academy Scholars, both current and past, as well as various Illinois Tech faculty, members of the university administration, and invited guests. The event was held at the University Club of Chicago, located downtown, with a gorgeous view of Millennium Park to punctuate the exquisite scenery and atmosphere of the event. The evening began with a time of light chatter as attendees partook in hors d'oeuvres, drinks and most importantly, reunions! The socialization and networking featured notable guests such as Illinois Tech Provost Peter Kilpatrick, Head of the Psychology Department Frank Lane, and Dean of the Lewis College Christine Himes.
After about an hour of conversation, laughs, and well-deserved catching up, attendees were invited to sit as the speakers for the night took the floor. First up was Dr. George Langlois, the executive director of The Leadership Academy, who gave an overview of the Academy’s impressive semester thus far, highlighted the goals of the Academy for the rest of the year, and introduced both the incoming scholars as well as the current and senior scholars to the alumni and other guests present. Dr. Langlois then introduced Provost Peter Kilpatrick to say a few words about the Academy. His speech not only attested to the importance of The Leadership Academy but also saw mention of plans he has to expand the reach of the Academy.
The first speaker of the night, current scholar Muhammad Hamza Khan, was introduced, and gave a reflective account of his time at the Academy; the mentors he gained along the way, and the Academy’s impact on his life. As he moves on to accepting a full-time job with GrubHub, he recounted his experiences with the company this past summer and spoke about the tools he applied and skills he learned because of the Academy that enabled him to complete a successful and impressive project during his time there. The final speaker for the night was Leadership Academy alumna Kumar Abhijeet (‘05), VP of Global Sales at renowned Chicago startup, Ocient. Abhijeet began his speech by focusing on his very unique journey, coming from India to the United States, and then his progression through the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Illinois Tech. He recounted numerous internships with Chicago-based companies such as Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and spoke of the pivotal role that Illinois Tech’s Leadership Academy played in giving him the skills and confidence to attain such jobs. His postgraduate life, as mentioned, was also heavily impacted by the connections he made and life lessons he learned from the Academy, which propelled him to numerous leadership positions at companies such as IBM and CleverSafe, before leading him to Ocient. Abhijeet spoke about the importance of focusing on your passions and aspirations, and pairing the will to achieve your goals with doing good deeds in order to attain a happy and successful life. He then left us with a very important takeaway-- applying leadership not only to your professional life, but to personal settings, and making the most out of time spent with your loved ones.
After the closing remarks by Dr. Langlois, the night ended with a group Leadership Academy family photo and more light networking and conversation to close out the event. The event was a great way for current scholars to be able to take inspiration from the alumni and to understand the importance of forging new connections.