DukeEngage independent project participant Naman Parikh ’24 was chosen as the first-ever Chelsea Decaminada Memorial DukeEngage Fellow, which recognizes a passion for international service and doing good in the world.
The fellowship was established by the Decaminada family in memory of their daughter, Chelsea ’15, who was part of the 2013 DukeEngage-Kolkata (India) program. After graduating from Duke, she volunteered with the Peace Corps in Tanzania before joining the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chelsea was on assignment in Sri Lanka when she was killed during the 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.
Naman applied to Duke because of his interest in using technology, entrepreneurship, and research to connect commerce and community—and because of DukeEngage. “DukeEngage was one of the main factors that swayed me towards Duke. [It] came up in every conversation I had with upperclassmen I know at Duke, including my high school alumni,” he said. “Not many universities gear students towards building bridges that better people’s lives.”
Social impact work has always been important to Naman. In high school, he led Divyangdost Foundation, a start-up that promotes social inclusiveness of differently-abled individuals using music, friendship as therapy, and assistive technologies. “I’ve always been interested in technology and its ability to scale and positively impact communities in our world,” said Naman.
He decided on an independent DukeEngage project because of its flexible timeline and because it allowed him to continue work he did during high school with the Baroda Rehabilitation Center and his mentor, Dr. Munna Kumar. Naman’s eight-week project involves creating prosthetic and orthotic equipment for differently-abled residents in rural Indian communities.
He hopes his project will create tangible and sustainable impact by making devices more affordable and accessible, and he’s honored that the Decaminada Fellowship made it possible. “Chelsea’s journey was exceptional and inspiring; I will do my best to live up to her legacy through this fellowship.”
DukeEngage would like to thank Eileen and Joe Decaminada and the 100+ supporters whose contributions made this fellowship possible.