Much of Gitanjali Bhattacharjee’s life has been shaped by Texas Orange Jackets. A fellow OJ told her about an internship at BuroHappold Engineering that ended up influencing her enormously, both professionally and personally. The internship was originally meant for the summer, but Gitanjali negotiated an 8-month internship that that eventually led to a full-time job. During her time at BuroHappold Engineering as a structural engineer, Gitanjali graduated in absentia and later committed to attending Stanford University’s Master’s in Structural Engineering program as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Gitanjali is currently in the second quarter of the five quarter program, with plans to continue on to a PhD.
On campus, Gitanjali was heavily involved in Texas 4000, a non-profit organization that raises money for cancer research and spreads awareness of preventative measures on a 4000+ mile bike ride from Austin to Alaska. In addition to raising over $4,500 and physically preparing for the ride, Gitanjali was part of the team that pioneered a whole new route that went through the eastern part of the United States, an area which is heavily affected by cancer. She served as one of the two program leads for the Ozarks route, which is now an established and popular route within Texas 4000.
One of Gitanjali’s favorite activities as part of OJs was volunteering at the Inside Books Project. Choosing reading material and writing letters to prisoners, some of the most vulnerable members of society, was a very reflective experience for her. It was especially meaningful to Gitanjali to be able to serve individuals directly while also being part of a community of volunteers. Gitanjali still reads actively (typically at the beach) and also indulges in other hobbies such as designing and making prints, collaging, hiking in the Redwoods, writing for her blog, and pushing herself to try new experiences such as acting the Vagina Monologues.
Her advice for current Tappees? “Embrace the service opportunities that are available through Orange Jackets. As students at UT Austin, we're responsible not just for giving back to our communities within the university but also for having a positive impact on the city of Austin.”