Jason Sanghi ’09 and Miwa Takaki ’09
As students, Jason Sanghi and Miwa Takaki moved into the same residence hall when they each arrived at Northwestern, but it was through an introductory engineering course that they truly became friends. Jason, wanting to get to know Miwa better, stood near her when team projects were assigned early in the quarter—or, as he puts it, “I snuck into her group.” They started dating soon after.
For Miwa, that intro class brought her more than a life partner: it gave her a firsthand look at the compassionate side of engineering. The pair’s team was assigned to a hospital, where they interviewed stroke patients and developed a tool to make their hospital stays more comfortable. “It was such a hands-on class,” Miwa explains, “and the focus was on building something for others.”
Miwa ultimately double majored in economics and industrial engineering. As graduation approached, she wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted to pursue. She initially worked in business analytics, but eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, for an industrial engineering role. Jason, then an electrical engineer for Lockheed Martin, was based out of Washington, DC and travelled constantly for work. For several years, the couple balanced their careers with the ins and outs of a long-distance relationship.
Then Miwa suggested a change of pace: she wanted to bring together her diverse skills and decided an MBA would be the right way to do so. She suggested they both relocate to New York City, a place with ample opportunity for each of them. Jason, interested in a career shift and ready to retire his travel-heavy schedule, enthusiastically agreed.
Today Jason focuses on development and operations for WebMD, enhancing the user experience for over 200 million users each month. After completing her MBA, Miwa successfully brought together her technical and business skills by joining the team at eBay, where she now serves as senior technical product manager for the algorithmic merchandising team. She also recently completed a second master’s degree, this one in sustainability management at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
Miwa and Jason are both members of NU Loyal, the giving society for donors who support Northwestern in three or more consecutive years, and they continue to feel Northwestern’s presence in their lives. In 2016 alone, they attended three weddings of Northwestern couples. They’re also active in the New York City alumni community and join the Young Alumni Ski Trip almost every year. What they value most, both say, is learning about the diverse passions that fuel their Northwestern friends. From doctors and professional musicians to political advisors and an entrepreneur who’s launching a distillery, Miwa and Jason’s varied friendships show there are many ways to apply skills gained at Northwestern to your own life path.
Miwa notes that Northwestern’s commitment to meeting the full financial need of admitted students is key to creating a diverse and dedicated student body; this commitment fuels her own desire to give back to Northwestern today. In her words, “So many of us couldn’t have attended—and wouldn’t be where we are today—without that promise.”
For Miwa and Jason, Northwestern provided a launching ground to their careers, giving them the tools to follow their own interests in technology. The areas they support at Northwestern reflect the people and programs that impacted their own lives. From student initiatives like the solar-powered SmartTree to supporting Northwestern Engineering, their gifts ensure future generations also have the chance to discover and pursue new passions and write Northwestern stories of their own.