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Though VCU will not hold an in-person commencement ceremony this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will host a virtual commencement celebration May 8 and spring graduates will be invited to participate in the university’s formal commencement ceremony on Dec. 12. In these challenging times, thousands of students will earn their degrees this spring. These are some of their stories.

After dabbling in politics, taking classes in fashion and working with engineering students as part of the Hyperloop at VCU team, Radha Kapadia will be earning her bachelor’s degree from the School of Business in May and heading to Silicon Valley.

Throughout her time at Virginia Commonwealth University, Kapadia has engaged in a variety of pursuits.

“I threw myself into whatever opportunity presented itself,” Kapadia said. “When I first started school at VCU, it was during the presidential elections and that was something that I was fond of, so I became a fellow for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” 

After an internship in the office of Sen. Mark Warner, she moved on from politics to fashion. Kapadia’s roommate, who was in the School of the Arts fashion program, ignited Kapadia’s interest in the subject and Kapadia found an opportunity that allowed her to take a fashion class through the School of Business.

Kapadia thought she could combine business and fashion and eventually interned at menswear fashion company Ledbury, where she worked in e-commerce merchandising. That led to an interest in technology, and she interned for two summers at Gyrus Systems, a Richmond-based software company.

“I am a curious person, making me always want to try things that are different or new to me,” Kapadia said.

“I threw myself into whatever opportunity presented itself.”

That curiosity predates her time at VCU. Kapadia attended Henrico High School, where she participated in the International Baccalaureate program for all four years. She always had her sights set on attending a college in Virginia and ended up at VCU because of its large, diverse campus and the opportunities it offered.

“One thing that really stood out about VCU was the diversity,” Kapadia said. “I just felt like I belonged more at VCU. I also liked the urban feel.”

While at VCU, Kapadia earned certificates in human-centered design, venture creation and product innovation through the da Vinci Center, a collaboration of VCU’s schools of the Arts and Business and colleges of Engineering and Humanities and Sciences that advances innovation and entrepreneurship. The program put her in contact with students from the College of Engineering where Kapadia got involved with Hyperloop at VCU, a team of engineering, business, government and arts students aiming to compete in the international contest to build the best pod for Hyperloop, a high-speed ground transport concept by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Kapadia developed the marketing and branding material for the team, and even though they didn’t win, the experience was amazing, she said. 

“It was really eye-opening,” Kapadia said. “I learned a lot about working with people from different disciplines, especially engineering. That was something that I had never really done before.”

The work also set her on a search for a career in technology. She started to network with VCU grads through LinkedIn. The alumni were generous with their time, helping her with her resume and interview preparation. Kapadia eventually found a position with Western Digital in California. She starts in July.

Kapadia is excited to graduate and begin the next chapter in her life. She has enjoyed her time at VCU because of the numerous opportunities it gave her, including establishing Women in Business at VCU, an organization that aims to empower and inspire future business professionals by connecting them to world-class industry leaders, role models and peers. 

“I love that there are so many different people from many walks of life that come together,” she said. “I really liked that I had a chance to explore new opportunities.

“I never thought when I came to VCU that I would be able to take advantage of so many opportunities where I learned and grew so much from it.” 

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