Inspired by father, Indian-American Google engineer establishes STEM scholarship in US



A father figure is one who shows us the ways of life. The one who picks us up when we fall, dust us off and keep us moving forward. They inspire us to be nothing like them, yet help us achieve far more than they have ever imagined.

Such is the story of Shobana Radhakrishnan, who is a director of engineering at Google’s Android TV. Besides her demanding responsibilities at Google, she dedicates in investing her time in with various community services.

Shobana Radhakrishnan with her father SS Radhakrishnan

She serves on the board of a non-profit school foundation that enhances the educational environment of her local high school and a second non-profit that promotes arts in the schools, and she is actively involved with a women-in-tech networking group.

In addition, Shobana is also committed to providing the best environment for her teenage children, fellow female colleagues, and anyone with unrealized potential.

When indica asked about where her inspiration comes from and what keeps her going, she unabashedly credited her father SS Radhakrishnan, in whose name she recently established a scholarship in Illinois Computer Science honoring him.

“My father made continual sacrifices that enabled me to become the person I am today,” said Shobana. “Without him, I would not have been able to come to the US and launch a career in tech.”

According to Shobana, although her father grew up in a predominantly patriarchal society, he always advocated for women to have equal educational opportunities, financial independence, and respect.

This was the foundation for Shobana’s success and continual progress in life, including forming the scholarship program.

The SS Radhakrishnan Scholarship supports international students who want to pursue their educational dreams—either undergraduate or graduate—at Illinois CS, with a focus on those students with interest in groups that support women in engineering and computer science.

In an interview with Indica, Shobana shared that she has been involved in helping girls pursue their dreams and promote diversity and inclusiveness since her days as a student.

“For nearly 20 plus years, I have been part of several efforts to promote racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in STEM. I have been recently back at UIUC for several women in CS/tech and student events and was motivated further by this interaction to do something for female students pursuing STEM education,” she said.

Her father, despite facing a lot of social and financial pressures managed to help Shobana pursue her dream and secure scholarships and government funding. While she is immensely grateful for her father, she realized that many do not have the same opportunities to have helped their daughters do the same.

And thus, Shobana has made this scholarship available for any foreign female students planning to pursue an education in the CS department at UIUC.

Beginning with her, Radhakrishnan’s legacy is enabling girls to break the clutches of poverty and achieve their dreams.