Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking
For a health sciences alumna, thinking like an entrepreneur has meant stepping into her passions — and helping others find theirs
When you meet Aishwarya Khanduja, BHSc’19 — a superlatively energetic, trailblazing entrepreneur — it’s almost absurd to imagine that she was once unaware of her potential.
In 2010, she immigrated to Canada from India with her family. Only 13 at the time, Khanduja recalls she felt painfully aware that she “had no idea how to navigate ‘the system.’” For years, feelings of inadequacy kept her from dreaming beyond high school graduation.
Now, Khanduja is not only solidly at the wheel of her own drive for success, she’s devoted to empowering new immigrants and Indigenous and other youth who, for various cultural and socio-economic reasons, are daunted by the prospect of accessing higher education.
UCalgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking helped turn that passion into a practical, sustainable, full-time social enterprise.
“I was first in my family to attend post-secondary in Canada,” says Khanduja. “I only came to realize I deserved an education because I had an older friend who acted as my mentor in high school.” Once she’d found her wings, Khanduja set out to break down barriers for others around registration processes, scholarship applications and other unfamiliar procedures. “Many people don’t have the cultural understanding of how to get an award or a textbook grant or any of the little things that make such a huge difference.” Her non-profit, First Generations Organization (1GO), provides outreach, advocacy and mentorship to students across Canada who lack access to resources.
Khanduja says the Hunter Hub opened her eyes to an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Through a pitch competition hosted by the Hub, I found the resources and connections to push me to create a sustainable non-profit,” she says. Not only did her enterprise idea win Audience Favourite, but she became a social-innovation student-ambassador for the Hub.
“I was going to apply for medical school, but, through my experiences at the Hub, I learned that I love innovation,” says Khanduja, whose interests lay at the intersection of business, law and medicine. After a busy year growing 1GO and, more recently, launching Loop Education (which employs post-secondary students as educational strategists-for-hire), Khanduja is poised to begin graduate school at Cambridge, where she’ll focus on the commercialization of biotech.
Wherever Khanduja goes from there, no doubt she’ll ensure the path is wide and clear for everyone who follows.
What Giving Gives Me
Our family’s gift to create the Hunter Hub is tangible evidence of our commitment to the university, and of the university’s commitment to the concept of entrepreneurial thinking and their desire to create trans-disciplinary idea exchange.
Diane Hunter, BA’69, MA’71, Hon. LLD’19
The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking was created by a gift from the Hunter Family Foundation
Where creativity and innovation collide
The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking was created in 2017 with an endowment from the Hunter Family Foundation as an interdisciplinary nucleus for activities that will support entrepreneurial student experiences, enable faculty to lead in innovation, and expand a growing community of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.