After graduating from the University of Florida in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and then earning his master’s in engineering and an MBA, Jayant Shroff worked for 10 years in R&D jobs at Fortune 500 companies including Bell Labs, AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering. His professional career in the U.S. spans over four decades and he has held many executive positions. He married his best friend, Dr. Yogini Shroff, a practicing physician. Both emigrated to the United States in the 1960s, and together they enjoyed growing their successful careers.
The Shroff family is focused on mentoring young people to be leaders through Shroff Family Foundation scholarships in Chemical Engineering at University of Florida and Engineering college scholarships at Sarvajanik Education Society in Surat, Gujarat. The Shroff Family also co-founded Yuva Pragati, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the impoverished rural youth of Gujarat, India. At home in Metuchen, N.J., the Shroff’s community service involves board membership at a local senior center and food bank.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time as a student?
In 1964, I choreographed an Indian folk dance called Raas from the state of Gujarat in India for an international dance competition. We had eight participants who had no idea about dancing. It required a lot of improvisation. Anyway, we came first among 10 entries! I will never forget the moment when the judges announced the winners. At midnight, we all went out for ice cream to celebrate. These outings brought a lot of joy.
Another memorable day was in the spring trimester in 1965, when I was called into Dr. Charles Hukaba’s office. Dr. Hukaba offered me a graduate assistantship at Drexel University for a master’s degree in chemical engineering. Dr. Hukaba had accepted the position of Department Chair at Drexel beginning in the Fall 1965. I was overjoyed with this unexpected offer and decided to accept it.
I was quite shy when I first enrolled at UF. However, by the time I graduated I developed confidence in my abilities, acquired excellent communication skills, and enhanced my critical thinking and analytical skills. This confidence helped me to be successful throughout my professional career.
Q: What advice do you have for current students?
- Success is 90% hard work, 5% intelligence and 5% luck-being in right place at the right time.
- Focus is another dimension for success.
- Capture every opportunity you get and explore it to best of your abilities.
- Be kind and humble, help others, it will give you a lot of joy and fulfillment in life which any amount of money cannot give. The bounty will come back to you some day. This is from our own experience of more than 40 years of giving.
Q: What impact do you hope your gift has for UF ChE students?
We have always believed that education is the first step toward transformation and success in life. And we are very proud that we got an opportunity to assist young people in achieving their dreams.
Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?
We would change the definition of success from acquiring a lot of wealth and resources to being kind, respectful to each other, being a good citizen and concentrate on being happy and content. In the schools we support, we teach these qualities to children at an early age and call it “VALUE EDUCATION.”
Q: What makes you most proud?
Our desire and ability to help more than 100,000 children with no means in remote villages of India acquire good education, become valuable citizens, and achieve economic independence.
For the past 25 years or more all celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, new job offers, etc.) in our family have started with appropriate donations to a worthy cause. Our daughters celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary (we did not want a big party) by building a large assembly hall in a residential school for children of migrant workers in the village of Wanghadhra in Gujarat, India.
With the equal support of my wife Yogini and daughters Viraj and Radhika, our son-in-laws Ojas Mehta and Seth Bair, and few like-minded friends we have embarked on this mission since 1982.