2017 ‘Leadership Legacy’ Students

Jeffrey Noonan, left, and Kavisha Thakkar have been selected as two of UConn’s Leadership Legacy scholars, an honor bestowed on the University’s most exceptional students, who have demonstrated leadership, personal accomplishment and academic excellence. (Nathan Oldham/UConn photo)
Jeffrey Noonan, left, and Kavisha Thakkar have been selected as two of UConn’s Leadership Legacy scholars, an honor bestowed on the University’s most exceptional students, who have demonstrated leadership, personal accomplishment and academic excellence. (Nathan Oldham/UConn photo)

Two Business Undergrads Honored as among University’s Most Promising

Kavisha Thakkar is planning a career as a physician, but is also pursuing a dual degree in accounting, so that she can better understand the healthcare-payment system and assist her future patients.

“Many patients don’t really understand the finances of healthcare and many have no one to talk to about it,” she said. “People go to a doctor for care, comfort and healing, and not the stress of more bills. I may not be able to change the whole world, but assisting people through quality healthcare is within reach.”

Jeffrey Noonan, a finance major, has secured a summer internship with Bain & Co., one of the world’s top management strategy consulting firms. Bain seeks interns almost exclusively from Ivy League colleges and Noonan is the company’s first UConn recruit.

Noonan, who plans to complete his UConn degree in just three years, credits his experience as vice president of career development for the UConn Consulting Group for giving him the jump-start he needed in solving business problems.

“With the help of my project adviser Paul Millerd ’07, I led an initiative that focused on developing a user-acquisition strategy for a financial technology start-up based in Boston,” he said. “The experience of structuring that problem, and breaking it down into its component parts to perform deeper analysis, really gave me the understanding and the skills necessary to excel in my interviews with Bain.”

Only 13 Students Selected for Exclusive Cohort

Both students have been selected as UConn’s Leadership Legacy scholars, an honor bestowed on the University’s most exceptional students, who have demonstrated leadership, personal accomplishment and academic excellence.

The 13-member, undergraduate cohort will participate in a yearlong leadership enhancement experience that includes faculty and alumni mentoring, guest speakers, and cultural and recreational opportunities.

Associate Dean Larry Gramling, who served on the selection committee, said the 80 applicants were all exceptional, and many had overcome significant obstacles in their lives. “These students are the crème of the crème,” he said.

“Kavisha is passionate about a lot of things, not the least of which is her academics. She just loves to learn, and she expects to graduate with 200 credits,” he said. “On a personal level, she is extremely warm and engaging. She has worked as a resident assistant and the empathy she has for people has come through. I tell her she’s ‘overqualified’ for life!”

“Jeffrey is an amazing guy who has displayed some terrific leadership,” Gramling continued. “He’s such a focused student. He’s taken advantage of everything that UConn offers, and has just run with it.”

Thakkar: 57 Countries and Counting

Thakkar is a Newington, Conn.-native who knew she wanted to be a physician since high school, and selected a major in physiology and neurobiology. She is exploring options in healthcare but is currently favoring either internal or emergency medicine. She has an internship in the Hartford office of Deloitte this summer.

She recently completed research at the School of Nursing Center of Correctional Health Networks with Deborah Shelton, studying prison inmates and altered brain physiology. She also participated in the Health Disparities Research Fellowship Program, during which she focused on stigma within patients with mental disabilities.

One of her mentors is Dr. Elizabeth Simmons, a UConn-affiliated ophthalmologist, “who embodies what I want to be. She really wants the best for her patients.”

Thakkar is a mentor with the Asiantation Mentoring Program, serves as a tutor for accounting students, and volunteers through UConn’s Community Outreach in the Collegiate Health Services Corps. and America Reads. Her other activities include being a resident assistant in Busby Suites and participating in the Rowe and STEM Scholars programs. She has traveled to 57 countries, including an education-abroad experience in Spain, and hopes to see even more of the world.

Noonan Grew Up Learning about Business

Noonan, a native of Colchester, Conn., has a mother who is an accountant and a father who is a vice president of sales. His father also has some real estate investments and that prompted Noonan to minor in real estate.

“I grew up around discussions about business opportunities and talk of what’s going on in business,” he said. “In high school I took an ‘Intro to Business’ class and my interest just took off from there.”

Through the UConn Consulting Group, which he joined in his first weeks on campus, Noonan was mentored by UConn alumnus Ezra Okon ’10. Okon, who has an MBA from Harvard, is a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and offered Noonan some great advice, especially when it came to interviewing. All summer, Okon helped Noonan practice for both resume-based and business case-based interviews, which are typical of consulting.

Noonan is also president of the Honors in Business Association, a 60-member group that invites alumni back to discuss their career paths, insight and advice. The association also plans trips to conferences and business attractions like the New York Stock Exchange and the Boston Federal Reserve. Because the Honors Program has historically been heavily dominated by STEM majors, the Business Association has been a rewarding way for business students to develop their skills and network, he said.

Last summer, Noonan interned with Booz Allen Hamilton, a management-consulting firm, focused on federal consulting. He plans a career in global management consulting and hopes to pursue an MBA within a few years.

“I think the biggest thing I will take from UConn is humility,” said Noonan. “There are a lot of bright students at powerful universities who have been told they are the smartest and the best, and maybe some have overinflated egos. At UConn, we all know we attend a great academic institution, but here people are more relaxed, more reserved, and don’t take themselves too seriously.”