In Memory of Roanak Desai, 1978 – 2010

Published 07/25/2017 in Program Updates
Written 07/25/2017

On April 3rd, the Milken Scholars Program lost a dear member of its family


On April 3rd, the Milken Scholars Program lost a dear member of its family. Roanak Valmik Desai was a person who embodied our program motto, Lifelong Leaders for a Better World, in everything he did.

Since he was selected to join the program in 1996, he had been a good friend to fellow Scholars and staff members, touching each of our lives during his amazing journey to become one of the most extraordinary young men any of us have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Roanak was truly a leader, so much so, that we wanted to follow the examples he set when he was just going about his life.

To say that his was a life worth living would be a dramatic understatement.

Roanak emigrated with his family from India to the United States and by the time of his professional life, he had a secure footing in both worlds, reaching a transcendence that is as rare as it is special.

Roanak graduated with honors from Trinity High School in New York City, only the first prestigious institution where he was so recognized. He remained actively involved in Trinity’s alumni association, even as the years and miles rolled by. As many Milken Scholars can attest, this was typical of Roanak’s commitment to mentorship and how he valued his relationships.

Roanak earned a degree in neurobiology from Harvard University and then chose to pursue a path of leadership in business. Such a dramatic shift would cause most of us to falter, but Roanak never lost his stride. He was a man of uncommon intelligence and admirable diligence with an ever positive attitude about everything in life.

After years of traveling the globe as a vice president, Roanak jumped at the opportunity to return to school at Stanford Business. Roanak relished education and its power to change lives. This was fitting, as he never stopped changing the lives of those around him.

With everything that his full life entailed, no matter where he was, or what he was doing, Roanak always made time to see us, to teach us, and to be our friend. He was a fixture at our dinners and at our annual Retreats, and every time they roll around, we will all be stricken by his absence, as we are stricken now.

We can find comfort in knowing that for Roanak, not one minute was wasted. He lived life to the fullest. We are thankful for and enriched by the beautiful and lasting memories he has left with us.

Rest in Peace, Roanak. We love you and will miss you deeply.