On campus and off campus, Pratik Banjade is a leader. He is a helping hand, an
entrepreneur, and a friendly face to those unfamiliar with American culture. He is a bridge
between the JMU campus and the residents of Harrisonburg. But most importantly, he is a shining example of the characteristics of an All Together One recipient.
Given that Pratik studied at JMU for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, it is
necessary to say that he is certainly well versed in the friendly culture of this campus. But even
with the benevolence among strangers, Pratik manages to take it a step further. Just like almost
every other student, he has been known to hold doors for his peers, professors, and absolute
strangers. However, not many other students would fill expired parking meters with quarters. With everyone's busy schedules, his compassion to help out another Duke is a true show of his character.
On days when the busses are full and it is miserable outside, Pratik would drive students from one end of campus to the other. While most Dukes go out of their way to help out a peer, many will not go as far as to drive them across campus. But this is a person whose giving nature seeks to help others and make others feel special. In fact, he has even been known to make
the most uncomfortable of situations less tense at his own personal expense. As one of his nominators said, "students are more than ever relying on their smart phones and other electronic devices to deal with an uncomfortable situation of being in the same place with strangers and having to talk with them face to face. Pratik thrives in those situations and will typically facilitate large group activities...during which they understand their connections with one another.
All of his positive actions bring attention to an organization that he has dedicated a large amount of time to: the International Student Association. While within this organization he was also the recipient of the Dolley Award. He was able to bring together a group of international students and provide them with an inside look at American college culture. On multiple occasions, he has invited large groups over to his apartment in order to foster school spirit for sporting events like football or basketball. During those times, he would also explain the rules of the game, and even demonstrated each concept. He provided those students with not only a
sense of the local culture, but also with a feeling of family. Every week, Pratik would gather a group to go to dinner at D-Hall or E-Hall in the same fashion a family would have a weekly meal. He also organized a Thanksgiving holiday trip to New York City so that the international students had a place to go when the residence halls were closed for break. He empathized with his peers and wanted to ease any sense of them being homesick. Even in the wake of Hurricane Sandy causing some of their plans to fall through, Pratik dedicated his entire break to make the trip to New York a success.
Along with his compassionate spirit, Pratik has a strong entrepreneurial mindset. During his senior undergraduate year he and his classmate created a video that clearly explains what an Athletic Trainer actually does. Their video was such a success that it reached over 100,000 views on YouTube and was recognized by the Athletic Trainer Association for outstanding work. Because of that video, the Athletic Trainer Association decided to create competitions for students majoring in athletic training to create a video showcasing the career.
Because Pratik is also a graduate Public Administration student, part of his program
requires him to make a plan to integrate the Harrisonburg Community with all that JMU has to
offer. His program includes free tours of campus in order for the Harrisonburg residents to
understand the university a little better. Over time, Pratik was able to use his connections to offer incentives to the tour groups. Some of these incentives included a meal, which allowed locals to enjoy JMU nationally ranked dining.
Pratik has not stopped at those acts of entrepreneurship. He also was a coordinator for a
short-term study abroad program to Nepal. He is knowledgeable about Nepal's geography,
finances, and helpful resources. His family connections allowed him to have additional source of
information in regard to Nepal. From that familiarity, his nominator said, "he was able to create a budget for the trip that could be translated into layman's terms for the academic department and the study abroad office to "OK" it. Unfortunately, this wonderfully planned project became a victim to unstable politics in Nepal going on at that time.
Through Pratik's outstanding sense of service, kindness, and creativity, there is little
doubt that JMU has not seen the last of Pratik Banjade's amazing ideas and programs. His spirit
and compassion exemplify all that JMU has to offer. He has managed to involve the residents of
Harrisonburg with this wonderful campus, and there is every indication that he will continue to make JMU the beneficiary of his creativity and his dreams! Please come forward to receive this All Together One Award.