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April 9, 2024

Student view: Bridging neuroscience, leadership and inclusive entrepreneurship

Tanushree Thapar is a fourth-year neuroscience major. She also studies entrepreneurship and innovation within the Broad College of Business and is a member of the Honors College. Thapar is presenting her research at the April 12 MSU Board of Trustees meeting. 

I've had the opportunity to thrive in the rich academic and social environment of Michigan State University, a community brimming with over 50,000 students from across the globe, including more than 9,000 international students. My journey to MSU began four years ago, in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaving my family and home thousands of miles away, I arrived at MSU with a suitcase full of dreams and a heart full of hope, ready to carve out my path and discover my true self.

As president of the Michigan State Neuroscience Club, a Schaberg Entrepreneurship Scholar intern at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a fourth-year Resident Assistant in South Neighborhood and the Founder and CEO of my own jewelry brand, Heer, I have not only navigated my academic pursuits with dedication but also embraced leadership roles that have sharpened my vision for the future.

Tanushree Thapar in front of large letters that say BNVC24
Tanushree Thapar at the Burgess New Venture Challenge on April 4, 2024. Courtesy photo.

My entrepreneurial journey began in my sophomore year, where my passion for sustainability led me to the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center. There, as a technical assistant processing e-waste, I learned about the vast potential of recyclables and the challenges hindering effective recycling. Inspired to make a difference, I pitched Greenly, an app designed to educate people on proper recycling practices, during a 2 Day Venture Competition hosted by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

My commitment to innovation continued with internships at A.T. Still University Research Institute, focusing on neuroscience research for Alzheimer's Disease, and at Stunio Inc. as a Diversity in Entrepreneurship Intern through the MSU Research Foundation's Conquer Accelerator program. This experience was something that truly helped me find my passion when I saw the day in the life of an entrepreneur. I contributed to their rebranding efforts, gaining insights into marketing's crucial impact on business success. Coming from a neuroscience background, where understanding human behavior and decision making is key, I relished the opportunity to apply this knowledge in a new context — it was thrilling to see things from a different angle.

Later that same summer, I founded Heer, my jewelry brand, inspired by my own challenges in finding jewelry that matched perfectly with my skin tone. This led me to recognize a broader issue of lack of diversity and inclusion within the jewelry industry. I studied color theory and aimed to introduce DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) principles into the jewelry space, helping individuals of all skin tones feel confident in jewelry they wear. In addition to the diversity and inclusion efforts, my commitment to sustainability shapes the foundation of Heer. I have chosen to work exclusively with recycled medical-grade titanium for our jewelry. Moreover, I am a firm believer in the power of connecting the world through business and trade, especially in its potential to aid developing countries. With this in mind, I'm focusing on sourcing recycled medical-grade titanium shipped from India. This approach not only supports sustainability but also contributes to fostering trade relationships that can benefit countries like India, aligning with my vision of creating a business that makes a positive impact globally.

Looking ahead, my vision for Heer is to create a global impact that goes beyond jewelry. I envision a brand that not only adorns individuals but also connects cultures and supports sustainable practices worldwide. My journey at MSU has been more than academic; it has been a journey of self-discovery, leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit.


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