Dhanisha is from Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar. She speaks four languages: Creole, French, English, and Hindi. Apart from being a mechanical engineering student, Dhanisha has been an RA for three years and is a member of SHPE (Society of Hispanic Engineers). In her free time, Dhanisha makes YouTube videos on her two favorite pastimes-- traveling and painting. She aspires to have a career that allows her to balance her creative side with her technical skills, which is why she plans on becoming a product design engineer.
Q: What makes you specifically a good leader:
A: I’ve always been a listener, and I like knowing what other people think and also like taking feedback from people which aligns with the Leadership Academy’s servant leadership model. I am not the type of leader to go up front and tell people what to do. I love asking people for their opinions! I believe empathy plays a big role in how I work with people. Another aspect that makes me a good leader is humility since it helps you accept that you don’t always have the solution, but that you can work with a team to figure one out together. I am also about the things I do. People can tell when you have a passion for something, and they will be more willing to help you in achieving your goal if you are passionate about it.
Q: What would you say is an event/time in your life that you really felt turned you into a leader:
A: Growing up back in Mauritius, my mom was a police officer so she was always protective of her children because she saw first-hand the bad things that were happening in the country. Having that experience made me depend on my mom. I knew that after graduating high school I wanted to do something that would make me more independent which is why I chose to study in the United States. Packing my life in 2-3 suitcases to go to another country and figure everything out by myself taught me a lot.
Another event that shaped me into a leader is a non-profit organization I joined after my senior year where we taught underprivileged children in the villages who did not have access to education. I taught art and design and worked with a team to manage the class schedule. Apart from the logistical aspects, the program made me realize the type of leader I wanted to be. I want to mentor others and help them find their passion.
Q: In what ways has the Leadership Academy specifically helped you become a better leader and what has the Academy meant to you:
A: Before coming into the Academy I thought that a leader had to be super extroverted and upfront. However, when I met the other Scholars, they inspired me because we were all so different and we were all accepted into the Academy. It made me realize that anyone can be a leader. I also liked the fact that the Academy focuses on servant leadership because it helped me realize that I could be a leader. The Academy has also helped me become more self-aware. I think self-awareness is something everyone should have. It allows you to know who you are and that will help open the door to new opportunities.
Q: What’s a piece of advice you wish someone else had given you when you went through a hard time?
A: There’s nothing wrong with failing as long as you learn and bounce back from it, and everything happens for a reason. An example would be that the first time I applied to the Academy, I did not get accepted. I was devastated, but that initial rejection helped me realize that there are things that I can improve on. I worked on improving those things which gave me the confidence to apply a second time.
Q: What’s one thing about you that makes you, you?
A: The moment I see myself being the real me is when I see other people opening up to me. I love deep conversations, learning about other people and finding out why they are who they are. I can also be me when I am with my close ones since they are open to being vulnerable and sharing anything about themselves with me.
Q: The last question I have for you is: What do you miss the most about Mauritius?
A: I was about to say the variety in culture but we also have that at Illinois Tech; I guess it is the mixture of variety and inclusion that Mauritius gives you. To explain it a bit more, we have people from different cultures in Mauritius, but we include each other in it. For example, we have tons of holidays because we try to give everyone their own holidays, we have Christmas, we have Diwali for Hindu, we have holidays for Eid al Fitr for Muslim people after their fast, and they are all such big events in our country. Everyone gets to share their holidays! That is one thing that I miss since even if we have a lot of diversity at Illinois Tech, they are not all celebrated equally.