Gavraj Sohal and classmates

As a kid we may dream of being a doctor, lawyer, athlete or any number of other professions. Sometimes, as we travel the road of life, we pursue an interest only to have those dreams change.

Gavraj Sohal
Gavraj Sohal

That’s what happened to Gavraj Sohal, a fourth-year student majoring in finance and minoring in international business and design thinking. Growing up, he hoped to become a dentist — until high school science classes showed him that path wasn’t meant to be. With his family’s encouragement and a personality his mother felt would fit for business, Sohal chose to become a Business Buckeye.

As a first-generation college student, a Cleveland native and someone who has “Ohio pumping through his veins,” Sohal is candid and thankful for his parents’ sacrifices and the generous support of donors who have helped him on his road to success.

Why did you choose The Ohio State University?

I idealized Ohio State, the team and the university culture. Taking part in the Buckeye Student Leadership Academy for high-achieving high school seniors locked me in as a Buckeye. Being first-generation, going to college was a huge feat. Pairing my passion for a degree and being a proud Ohioan, I knew there was no other choice than to be a Buckeye.

Why did you choose finance as your academic focus?

I arrived at Fisher as an undecided major but soon realized I wanted to someday look at financial statements and understand how a company operates. I knew I could seek experience in marketing, sales, logistics and accounting through extracurriculars or job experiences, so finance was the best fit.

What are some of your high points as a Fisher and Ohio State student?

Gavraj with Elise Hecker and Will Jones at the national PSE conference.
Gavraj with, from left, fellow Fisher students Elise Hecker and Will Jones at the PSE national conference.

One of my high points as a Fisher student was being awarded first place in the 2021 Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE) Fisher Sales Case Competition. I developed logistical solutions for reducing inventory time and a mapping system to track products for Penske. This experience was incredibly valuable because I delivered my sales pitch directly to a local company leader and was able to develop my selling skills. 

For Ohio State highlights, it would be game days. Being a part of something bigger than myself where people continuously come together regardless of age, background or ethnicity really exemplifies the power and spirit of our community.

What student organizations and activities helped your leadership development?

Pi Sigma Epsilon, Buckeye Ventures and International Affairs Scholars have given me the opportunity to apply my knowledge from Fisher classes in real world experiences.

During 2022, I was vice president of new member development for PSE in which I served as the liaison for 56 new members and became the upperclassman who students relied upon for professional business advice. Through PSE, I also conducted market research for and consulted with CRMD Ice Cream, the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland, Pepper, a social cooking mobile app, PromoWest Productions, and Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea.

International Affairs (IA) Scholars drove my passion for a global mindset. IA seminars and engaging with people from multiple backgrounds really opened my eyes on the varying perspectives we each have and the importance of being a global citizen.

What philanthropic activities have you participated in?

The BuckeyeThon dance marathon has been one of my most defining experiences as a Buckeye. Thinking about the impact we are making for pediatric cancer patients makes it much easier to stay motivated to participate through the whole night.

I understand the life I would have lived in India had my parents not made the decision to immigrate here at 18 years old. I am lucky to live a comfortable life and choose to exert my energy providing for those less fortunate than myself.

How have you grown throughout your time as a business student?

Fisher equipped me with the technical and soft skills I need to succeed in any work or social environment. From my extracurriculars to business skills, I am a more well-rounded person than when I arrived four years ago.

What impact have scholarships and support had on your development as a business student?

Gavraj with his mom Aman, sister Simran and father Hardeep
Gavraj (left) with his mother, Aman, sister, Simran, and father, Hardeep, at a wedding celebration.

The Max M. Fisher Scholars Award and the Provost Scholarship helped alleviate some of the financial burden on my parents, who worked to support my sister and I through our academic careers. These scholarships allowed me to seek extracurricular and personal experiences my parents were never given.

This support also helped me shift my mentality. It has given me pride that I am perceived as a leader by those outside my immediate circle. It helped me approach my day to day with confidence, motivation and honor. Private support allows me to stay focused and join organizations like Pi Sigma Epsilon where I can leave an impact on campus through uplifting others with my knowledge and expertise.

What would you say to thank a donor who has supported you?

I would look them in the eye and tell them how much their donation improved my livelihood and impacted my Ohio State experience. They let me spread my wings and establish my name on campus and out in the world. Their support shaped a unique experience for me and allowed me to give back to the college through leadership experiences.

If you could ask other people to support Ohio State, what would you say?

I would tell them there is no better feeling than being a Buckeye. From Schoenbaum Hall to High Street to The Shoe, every single minute at Ohio State is special. If a future freshman decides to not enroll here because of financial reasons, imagine how impactful that very decision will be for the rest of their life. Help them become a Buckeye today!

What plans do you have for after graduation?

I plan on returning to Chicago to continue at JPMorgan Chase as a middle markets and specialized industries analyst. I will be entering the analyst program, a two-and-a-half-year rotation training on risk assessment, cash management and banking qualifications.

Long-term, after seeing family and friends venture out and bet on themselves, I hope to start my own business one day. And, I’d also like to help my parents retire as fast as possible to thank them for their support.

What will you remember after your time at Ohio State?

I will never forget the people I met. From my peers to my professors to my roommates; each one has played a special role in shaping my Ohio State experience.

What advice do you have for current students?

At times, you may feel alone on a campus of 60,000 people — but I can assure you, being a Buckeye means you are never alone. Lend a helping hand, say hello or just smile at someone to make an impact on their day — they won’t forget it. Go Bucks!

Being a Buckeye means you are never alone.

Gavraj Sohal
Fourth-year student