Tracing the ripple effects of experiential learning – The story of Akshay Purohit

(Photo: Akshay Purohit, Class of 2008)

A central component of education at MUWCI is learning through service, which helps to instill in our students compassion, empathy, and respect for others. The fact that experiential learning forms the cornerstone of how our students engage with and respond to the world around them in later years has been demonstrated by several of our alumni. Today we would like to bring to you some thoughts by Akshay Purohit, a MUWCI alumnus from the class of 2008.

Originally from Mumbai, Akshay shared how coming to MUWCI expanded his horizons. “Before coming to MUWCI, I studied in an SSC school in Vashi, New Bombay. I always did well in school, which gave me a sense of self-confidence. But at MUWCI, I was constantly exposed to people from different cultures who seemed to know so much more than I did, which made me realize that my worldview was quite limited. For instance, when my Wada mates were debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when one of them was Palestinian, I got exposure to something I had not known until that point and that brought me a lot more in sync with what reality was at the time.”

Underscoring the importance of learning through engagement with the local community, Akshay reveals how his Triveni experiences with Paud Children’s Home motivated his interest in the teaching profession eventually. “As a student, I was involved in teaching at Paud Children’s Home during my two years at MUWCI. It was the earliest interaction I had with the community, and I was able to connect with the kids well as I spoke Marathi. This experience helped me later when I took up a teaching role in college. I was involved in an SAT tutoring program for low-income communities in New York for all of my eight semesters in college. This experience made me a proponent of the teaching profession and motivated me to become a Teach for India Fellow for two years.”

The impact of his experience at Teach for India was significant, observes Akshay. “Teach for India itself was a rigorous learning experience. Teaching full-time in a low-income school in Chembur was one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done. Also, going through the teaching as a leadership model at TFI helped me a lot in my professional career later.”

Akshay’s teaching experiences informed the way he approaches work at his own organization, Neptunus Power. “At Neptunus Power, which is my family-owned company, we do maintenance and reliability services for the marine, oil and gas industries. Our efforts centre around transforming the way maintenance work is performed. Our hope is that if we can contribute towards reducing the use of parts, fuel, or oil by a significant amount, we will have a big impact on sustainability.”

“One of my biggest accomplishments at Neptunus is being able to build an organization that is customer-centric, focuses on our people, is doing good work in our industry and is conscious about the environment,” adds Akshay. “I also think that having a workplace where people enjoy coming to work and are driven by a bigger purpose is important. That is the core of any business. I was someone who stepped into the business and worked on this piece very strongly in the first few years and continue to do so till this date.”

Akshay reflects upon how his MUWCI values helped him reach where he is at today. “While at MUWCI, I learned to always have a balanced perspective and know that there are two sides to a story. That there is always someone else who will view a problem differently, and that their view is as valid as yours. I think today, after having been through experiences like MUWCI and Teach for India, I am able to catch myself whenever I feel as though I am in a bubble and try to get a different perspective from someone else.”

When asked to share advice for our students, Akshay talks about staying grounded and emotionally balanced. He also spoke about not getting disheartened by failures. “It’s a never-ending battle out there. You are up against forces which are much larger than you. So, I do not believe that there is any point in getting too attached to the outcome. It would help if you had a healthy level of attachment with how you are engaging with the work, and know that you can take small steps to achieve a goal. And if you take those small steps consistently and see them translating into impact, you will feel satisfied.”

We are grateful to Akshay for sharing his story and wish him the best in his future endeavours.


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