Former Parkland student doing extraordinary things
Shagun Kumar Pradhan is currently bicycling across America to raise awareness about the conditions in Nepal following the earthquake that happened this past April. He hopes to raise money as well as awareness of the reality that the Nepalese people are facing today. He began his journey in Urbana, Ill. on June 29, 2015. His final destination is Seattle, Wash.
Pradhan is a former student who attended classes at Parkland from 2009 to 2011. He majored in mass communications and was also a member of The Prospectus.
John Eby is the program manager for the community education department at Parkland. He was an advisor for the newspaper at the time Pradhan was a staff member.
“I’m not surprised that Shagun would dream up such a huge goal, and then jump on a bicycle to reach it,” Eby said. “He is a person with great big ideas, and a great big heart to match. I really admire his energy and his generous nature.”
Pradhan transferred from Parkland College to Iowa State University but returned to Urbana to attend classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at UIUC, Pradhan met Jermaine Martinez through a mentoring program. Martinez was a PhD student and a teaching assistant for a couple of Pradhan’s courses. Pradhan explained that he enjoyed working with Martinez.
“He made sure that the students understood. He connected with the students. He put feelings and emotions into his students,” Pradhan said. “He wasn’t just telling us to memorize stuff, he was telling us why and the reason for it. I really, really just liked the way he presented himself and the way he taught.”
Martinez explained that Pradhan had a strong work ethic and a lot of enthusiasm.
“The guy is just kind of a force of energy,” Martinez said. “I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with him, whether when he was my mentee or afterwards as just friends, where he wasn’t just active.”
Pradhan and Martinez formed a close relationship during this time period. Pradhan credits Martinez for being a source of inspiration and helping him get to where he is in his life now.
Not only is Pradhan hoping to help out the people of Nepal, he is also raising money to fund a book he wants to write about his life experiences.
During his college years Pradhan struggled with the heavy work load of being a student. He completed a program at an accelerated pace and received a degree in communication after only one year of attending classes at UIUC. In addition to attending college he also worked three jobs to help make ends meet. Along the way he developed some unhealthy lifestyle habits and fought a battle with depression. After college he moved to Seattle to pursue a career but he did not find fulfilment in what he was doing, so he returned back home.
He explained that the plan of bicycling across the country came to him during a meditation session, and said that the trip also serves as personal journey for him.
He is documenting his experiences along the way and sharing them via the Internet. According to one of his GoFundMe pages, he hopes that this book will be a source of inspiration.
“My vision is to write a book that will help college graduates get past post-graduation depression, relate to people and help guide them towards finding themselves (aka happiness), and to give inspiration to the dreamers in this world we live in,” his page read.
Pradhan explained that he believes his life experiences serve a higher purpose.
“I see myself as a healer and a helper,” Pradhan said. “Because I’ve overcome it, I can help other people overcome it because I understand it. People who try to help others, that haven’t been through it, don’t understand it. This bike ride for me is nothing compared to what I’ve been through.”
Students who are interested in supporting this cause can learn more about it at www.processthereset.com. They can also make a donation to aid Nepal at www.gofundme.com/nepalneedshelp or provide financial support for Pradhan’s book at www.gofundme.com/shaggybikerider.