MPM Student Ketaki Desai Details Her Entrepreneurial Pursuits and Her Struggles With Immigration Rules

Jan 07, 2013


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Foreign-born students with entrepreneurial designs find immigration rules complicate pursuits

Ketaki Desai has a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Texas A&M University. She has a business idea that can help American elementary students bridge the digital divide and maybe spark an interest in further STEM education.

She has a palpable passion in this idea and outside interest.

She also has a student visa.

And that’s a problem.

The idea is LeSyn (sounds like lesson) Labs, a benefit corporation formed by Desai and three classmates that would work with schools to provide laptops for every child, plus the curriculum and customer service to support the technology. The laptops would come from the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child, which has similar goals but works in developing countries.

LeSyn aims to bring the technology and curriculum to the developed world, starting with the U.S., as a way to bridge the digital divide that exists, as well as put laptops and programs in front of 4- to 12-year-olds to try and interest them in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“For the last year and a half, I have been putting my heart and soul into this,” Desai said. “If I could put more time into this and get the seed capital, it could have been really awesome and could have been what I wanted.”

Many discussions regarding STEM issues in the U.S., particularly those surrounding company creation and talent retention, also end up being about immigration reform. Students such as Desai — who is studying at Carnegie Mellon University and is originally from India — receive graduate degrees from American universities, but when they are done, they must leave the U.S. if they can’t find a job with a company that has the wherewithal to sponsor an H1B visa.

Read the rest of the story at the Pittsburgh Business Times >>

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