Jai Khanna becomes the first Indian student to speak at UW–Madison’s Winter commencement4 min read
UW–Madison’s exceptional graduate of winter ’21 Beatboxes in his speech
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 9: Jai Khanna, 22, born and raised in Mumbai, India, became the very first Indian student to speak at the winter commencement of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Jai used beatboxing in his commencement speech and delivered a huge applaud winning message on‘Living life in the moment’, relevant to the times we live in. The University of Wisconsin–Madison is the highest ranking national public university and fourth overall in Washington Monthly’s 2021 College Guide and Rankings.
“The University of Wisconsin-Madison prides itself on being a global university with students from more than 120 countries. We are fortunate when talented students just like Jai Khanna choose to spend their time at our institution. Jai has proven himself to be a talented leader and impressive student. I was fortunate to be able to spend a little over a year working with Jai on the campus Student Covid Advisory Board. This group provided suggestions and feedback on the campus approach to the COVID pandemic. Jai’s connections to many different students’ groups allowed him to bring a unique perspective to our discussions. As demonstrated in his role as our winter 2021 Commencement Student Speaker Jai is compelling and is living his life with passion and purpose. That is exactly the type of students we are seeking to put out into the world. I am proud that Jai will be representing the University of Wisconsin-Madison now as a Badger alumnus!”, says Argyle Wade, PhD, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
“Living life in the moment,”is a lesson that proud Badger, Jai Khanna, was forced to learn during the pandemic. When COVID-19 struck in March 2020, Jai decided to stay back in Madison to wrap up a few projects instead of quickly booking a flight back home. However, by the time reality sunk in, borders had closed. The difficult and uncertain times also paved way for Jai to do more at the UW–Madison.
According to Christina Olstad, Dean of Students, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Jai Khanna served as an integral member of the Dean of Students Advisory Committee, a group of faculty, staff and students providing guidance, feedback and insight to the Dean of Students. Jai is passionate about advocating for the needs of international students and creating a welcoming and inclusive campus community.”
As he negotiated difficult times, Khanna was tapped to serve on the COVID-19 Student Advisory Board, where his experiences provided invaluable insights to campus leaders as they charted a path forward for campus. The senior class officers also selected Jai to give remarks on behalf of the class of 2021 at the winter commencement ceremony, making him the first Indian to do so. Jai also made it to the Chancellor’s list of UW–Madison’s exceptional graduates of winter 2021. In the 4 years at UW–Madison, Jai completed 5 internships in 3 countries — India, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.
“It was Jai’s sheer determination, passion and commitment towards achieving his goals that made this possible. He has overcome many hurdles that came his way during the last few years and it was a proud moment to watch our son, the first Indian, speak on behalf of his entire batch at the graduation”, says Jai’s father, Mr Sanjay Khanna, Advisor at The Royal Commission for Riyadh City.
At UW–Madison, Jai was involved in multicultural student organizations, including Aa Dekhen Zara, an annual South Asian Dance competition hosted by UW–Madison students, and the Wisconsin School of Bhangra, one of the premier dance groups on campus. He also participated in the Wisconsin School of Bhangra as both a dancer and a group manager.Through all four years on campus, Jai served on the Student Advisory Committee for the Dean of Students Office.Jai brought long-established leadership skills and an international perspective to his time at UW–Madison — a combination that enriched campus and led to multiple accomplishments.
Born and raised in India, Jai was an active member of the Relay for Life fundraising effort at Oberoi International School, Mumbai.He helped raise 1 million rupees to support cancer education, prevention, and research. Jai also served as a key member of the school’s student council and trained as a kickboxer, a sport he still enjoys.He even led an effort to clean the beach in Mumbai from the school. Jai has currently accepted a position as a mechanical design engineer in the area of battery packs for a leading U.S. manufacturing firm.