Why I'm #TeamEdstruments: Praneeth, Business Analyst
A trained martial artist, this UChicago economics student overcame pandemic disruption to impact K12 finance.
Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, Indomitable spirit.
These are five of the tenets of taekwondo, ones Praneeth Nagarjuna knows all too well as a 3rd-degree black belt in the sport.
"I got into [taekwondo] as a five-year old because I wanted to be able to fight people, which sounded fun," he recalled, "But I learned along the way that it's not about that. More than anything, it's a way-of-life based on those principles."
Martial arts weren't the only classes that influenced Praneeth during his childhood in the Bay Area. After becoming interested in economics, he became hooked on the discipline during his senior year in high school.
"To see concepts as formalized intuition— to see how governments and firms work — there was logic that causes these decisions," said Praneeth of concepts such as grocery store pricing that he learned in his first economics course. "The first couple of days [of class] got me interested in the subject."
After his high school graduation, Praneeth delved further into the field by majoring in economics and public policy (with a healthcare specialization) at the University of Chicago.
"It was an interesting change," says Praneeth of moving from the Bay Area to Illinois. "It felt foreign and took me a while to see what the city had to offer. And the very first winter I spent was the polar vortex winter, so that was a nice introduction to the cold of Chicago compared to the winters of San Francisco."
As he adjusted to college life, Praneeth continued looking for ways to connect social impact, economics, and finance.
"To create real change in the world, it's a matter of using the existing systems in place to create incentives for firms and people to behave in certain ways," he reflected. After posting his resume on Handshake to find organizations aligned with his mindset and passions, he chose Edstruments to promote education equity through stronger K12 finance management.
"Policy churn, board member conflict…there are different areas of roadblocks in education policy," referring to a class on the subject he completed his junior year. "Policy change needs to be data-backed and cost-effective, and Edstruments can connect budgets to student goal data so leaders can more effectively and equitably allocate funds. What Edstruments is doing is a key step in enabling effective education decisions, and given my academic background, it made sense for me to join.”
While on the team, Praneeth gained first-hand exposure to education management as a vehicle for social change. During a productive spring, he researched areas of need in different school districts and charter organizations to drive business development and customer success. Additionally, he explored untapped markets and user feedback to promote the continuous improvement of the platform.
Praneeth looks forward to returning for his senior year at UChicago and exploring more ways to serve his community through consulting, finance, and public policy. In the long term, he aspires to expand his impact through high-level investment management.
"My long-term goals are to get into impact investing and have my own fund where I can invest into social impact projects that matter, whether that's in healthcare, renewable energy, education, whatever it may be."
Though Praneeth has experienced challenges walking the line between simultaneously working towards both profit and social impact, that hasn't deterred him from his future career goals.
"When you say you're an economics major trying to get into finance, the immediate connotation is that you only want to make the rich richer and make a lot of money in the process. What I'm doing is trying to show that, in reality, that doesn't have to be the case."
Whatever he chooses to do next, it's clear Praneeth will continue to succeed through living the lessons of his martial arts training.
"Treating elders with respect, having patience, really understanding yourself, your limitations, your goals, and working hard to achieve them." These are the qualities he described learned through taekwondo, and they are also ones that helped him further Edstruments' mission during his internship. Though the Edstruments team may no longer boast a 3rd-degree black belt, we look forward to using our powerful K12 finance management platform to continue fighting for education equity every day.
Edstruments exists to equip education leaders with the knowledge and tools to most effectively and equitably serve their students. To learn more about how we can help your school administrators make better financial decisions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form on our main website.