This award has been presented since 1982 to recognize outstanding career achievement, as well as significant contributions to the community and/or the University, within fifteen years of graduation from CU. Following her February 1, 2003, death aboard the space shuttle Columbia, it was renamed to honor Kalpana Chawla (MAero’86, PhD’88) and her impressive career as a scientist and astronaut.
Comprehensiveness of the application
Outstanding career achievement
Siddhartha Rathod (Law'07)
In Colorado, Siddhartha Rathod represents a powerful voice for marginalized communities. His work as a defense attorney has brought justice to undocumented individuals, sexual assault victims, prisoners and many others.
Siddhartha became a founding partner of Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC in Denver in 2011. Since then he’s been involved in several high-profile legal settlements. He successfully negotiated one of Denver’s largest-ever settlements in a prisoner abuse civil rights case, which resulted in policy changes for the Denver sheriff’s department and detention center. Additionally, two of his settlements involving officer-involved shooting deaths brought law enforcement and the community together to initiate positive change.
“Siddhartha is a skilled and charismatic lawyer,” said a peer. “He has dedicated himself to extensive community service and leadership by example.”
He is especially dedicated to serving nonprofits focused on equality and inclusiveness. A quarter of Siddhartha’s work is pro bono, which includes his involvement on the legal team that successfully challenged Wyoming’s gay marriage ban.
Today at CU Boulder, the former Marine Corps captain serves on the Colorado Law alumni board, where he chaired the diversity committee. He also mentors students, hosts law school events at his firm and teaches as an adjunct faculty member.
An assistant dean in the law school calls his CU volunteer efforts “continuous and substantial.”
Siddhartha tackles difficult issues whole-heartedly, and it’s his dedication and grit that serve as inspiration for all — especially the next generation of attorneys and policy-makers.
Impossible is not in Teju Ravilochan’s vocabulary. He embraces the difficult, unruly and implausible and groups them into one difficult-but-attainable concept — unreasonable.
Since Teju co-founded the Unreasonable Institute, a Denver-based incubator for entrepreneurs, in 2010, more than 20 million people have benefitted from the 148 startups his organization has supported. The institute, now called Uncharted, also has run 40 accelerator programs in 26 countries.
“One of Teju’s greatest strengths is breathing life into an early-stage idea and pulling together the right people to give it flight,” said a peer whose employer, ReWork, was supported by Teju and the Institute.
For his efforts, Teju was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur this year. The institute’s work also has been cited in the New York Times, Inc. magazine and blog posts by the Wall Street Journal.
“Teju has the relentless curiosity of a puppy, the serene wisdom of Buddha and the pulsating compassion of Mother Teresa,” said a colleague.
Once, Teju gave such an impassioned speech about his current class of entrepreneurs that a woman quit her job immediately to pursue a bigger endeavor.
Said the colleague: “Teju represents to those who know him — and even to those who do not — that the distance between their current reality and their most daring dreams is far shorter than they ever imagined.”