Deepika Dave ’15, recently conquered Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak, which rises to 19,241 feet and is located in Tanzania.
Dave, an engineering graduate and founder of RAYS Global Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is an advocate for youth and female empowerment in the U.S. and India.
She loves to inspire youth, and rather than simply advising them — wanted to set an example.
“And for that,” Dave said, “I set myself out of my comfort zone to let them know that if you are determined, motivated and maintain your physical and mental fitness, you can achieve what you want.”
Encouraged by her husband and two sons, Aarya, who is majoring in business, and Shaurya, studying neuroscience, Dave trained for the trek through cardio and yoga, climbing 70 to 100 stories wearing a weighted vest, hiking weekly and practicing breathing techniques.
Elevated by words and deeds, the men in Dave’s life took care of the family’s business and household, while advising her about protein and calorie intake. “Mom,” said her business major son, “I understand this trip is expensive but your experience will be priceless, so just go for it.”
Once a homemaker, Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UNC Charlotte while in her 40s. She also received a civil engineering departmental award at the 2015 research symposium. The Sigma Alpha Lambda honors society member is passionate about helping youth and women become the best versions of themselves and strives to use her platform as a retail business owner, nonprofit founder and member of the UNC Charlotte Alumni Board of Directors.
She said she continuously devises new ways to help shape the next generation spiritually, physically, intellectually, and through discipline.
“I like career meetups at the University’s Career Center where I can connect and interact with our youth and their thoughts,” said Dave.
After returning triumphantly to Charlotte, Dave and her all-female group of travelers celebrated their accomplishment at a get-together with family and friends. While she feels “amazing” for having joined the small sorority to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, Dave cannot help but feel for others who lack the opportunity to fulfill their goals.
“My heart goes out to our sisters who have potential but are being held back or limited to certain roles,” she said.
For those conquering their own personal mountain, Dave advised, “Think smart, work hard, take calculated risks, trust your instincts, have confidence, believe in yourself and do your Karma, and leave the rest to your destiny.”
Read more on the Alumni Associate website. WSOC-TV aired coverage of the group's trip.