Fellow Spotlight: Ovik Banerjee, UNC Chapel Hill



Name: Ovik Banerjee

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL

University: UNC Chapel Hill ‘12

Major: Environmental Science and Biology double major, Chemistry minor



What led you to apply for Venture for America?

Last summer I had the chance to hear Christopher Gergen of Bull City Forward speak. “We often are so focused on taking the next step up, that we forget to take a look at where we are and the path we are on. We then reach the top of the mountain, see the view, and realize that we climbed the wrong mountain…” That sounded eerily similar to my trajectory and it made me pause and re-assess what it was exactly that I wanted to do. I entered my senior year undergoing the typical college senior crisis of attempting to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Being interested in hard science and its practical applications for the real world, and social justice, I had no idea how to combine all of my passions. Thus when I first heard about Venture for America, a light bulb came on. Instead of trying to find a job that contained all my interests, why not take this opportunity to gain an entirely new skill set and create my own position for the future?

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was in a meeting for NC Fellows. Needless to say, I did not contribute very much to the meeting afterward.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I am definitely excited about getting to know everyone involved with this program, from the members of the VFA team, to the entrepreneurs and community members we will be working with, and the other Fellows themselves. I’m going into this hoping to learn as much as I can and accomplish at least part of Andrew Yang’s goal of creating 100,000 new jobs.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

On a boat just so I could still manage to travel around the world (even though I would need to learn how to move move from point A to point B in said boat). If you are really strict about a specific geographic location, I might have to go with Chapel Hill or San Francisco.

Best thing about UNC: My fellow Tar Heels. Easily some of the most incredible people I have met.

Favorite Book: Fiction: The Count of Monte Cristo. Non-Fiction: Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Favorite childhood TV show: Boy Meets World and Legends of the Hidden Temple

Favorite meal: Indian Food

Role model: Bill Gates

Favorite holiday: Holi (When else can you have a powder/water/paint war?!?!?!)

Best class you’ve ever taken: NC Fellows Sophomore Seminar, a class spent trying to define leadership, service, Quality, and everything in between.

Favorite movie quote: “Life is like a box of chocolates… You never know what you are going to get.” Forrest Gump (I hate to pop your bubble fans, but there is no Greenbow County, Alabama.)

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Sleep (although that rarely happens)

Favorite entrepreneur: Salman Khan

Favorite cereal: Blueberry Morning

Most worn article of clothing: Flip-flops (although I wear them so often one pair lasts about 6 months if I’m lucky)

Favorite sports team: Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Cruise in the Galapagos

Favorite historical figure: Thomas Jefferson

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Spending 22 years of my life in the south and escaping without a southern accent.

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