From India to the Mile High City: Keerthichand “KC” Nallamothu Finds Snow and Stateside Success at CU Denver
The evening after Keerthichand “KC” Nallamothu arrived in Denver for the first time, he awoke in an airport-area hotel to a sight he’d never seen in his India homeland: white flecks everywhere he looked.
“I tried to make snowballs and play in the snow, but after a point, my hands got numb,” said Nallamothu, who came to America to begin CU Denver business analytics graduate studies in early 2021. “Then I realized: Wow, this is something of a new experience for me. The excitement, I cannot put it into words…because it was really, really nice.”
Nallamothu had no such experiences in Hyderabad, the southern India city where he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and had lived since he was 11. Nor in the tiny village 200 miles from Hyderabad where he grew up and where his parents (who have just one high school degree between them) urged him to study, study, study but, most importantly, to be a good citizen and have a sense of social responsibility.
Two years later, Nallamothu counts snowshoeing and ice skating among frequent adventure trips that he’s taken through CU Denver. And while Nallamothu’s first day in America may still feel to him like it happened yesterday, his achievements since have earned him a CU Denver’s master’s degree, a good job in his field in the heart of downtown Denver, and a vindication of his decision to fly halfway around the world to keep learning.
Back to School
When Nallamothu chose to pursue graduate studies at an American university, he’d been working in Hyderabad as a business development manager. He realized he needed to better understand data and machine learning to advance his career ambition of working with large data sets, particularly in logistics or supply-chain functions. “Data can help you understand the past and make better decisions about the future,” Nallamothu said.
Nallamothu was attracted to CU Denver’s Business School because of its strategic business partnerships and the promise of access to industry-standard Bloomberg terminals that could give him a detailed, real-time sense of markets. Colorado’s physical and cultural geography was also a draw. “I’ve always been an outdoors person, so when I searched for business analytics programs in the U.S., I filtered by Utah and Colorado,” Nallamothu said. “Denver became my most obvious option. CU Denver is right in the downtown area, and it was clear I’d get the most exposure to new cultures here.”
Though the pandemic initially restricted many campus activities, Nallamothu got involved across CU Denver from the outset. He worked as a student assistant in the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office, which he called “the most valuable role I’ve had in the U.S.” He interacted daily with people from varied backgrounds and received mentorship from caring and seasoned staff.
And he immersed himself in his Business School studies. The curricular approach of his business analytics program, which he described as “a perfect mix of theoretical and practical knowledge,” helped him secure a summer internship in 2022 with global manufacturer Georgia Pacific. “All the questions in my internship interview were about projects that were part of my coursework,” Nallamothu said. “As a result, I was able to articulate and explain them well.”
Nallamothu particularly enjoyed learning from Associate Professor Tony Cox, who taught three of his courses and served as his internship advisor. “We would have weekly email exchanges, in which I would sum up my experience for the week,” Nallamothu said. “If I was working on customer churn, he would send me scholarly articles on customer churn, so I could use that thinking in my internship and create a better impression of myself at the job.”
A Pipeline to Success
Despite the tight job market in many technical industries, Nallamothu made such a strong impression on an ISSS office colleague that she recommended him for a job at Zayo Group, a network infrastructure firm with an office next to the Auraria campus. Two days after graduation, Nallamothu will begin a role there as a customer retention analyst. “It’s a really, really interesting topic to me,” he said, as he described differences in customer-retention philosophies between the more credit-centric American business environment and the more conservative, debit-centric environment of India.
Nallamothu has clearly found his element, perhaps no more so than at his favorite place at CU Denver, the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center. He has taken advantage of so many Wellness Center offerings, from joining field trips to taking healthy-eating programs, playing basketball several nights a week, using wind-down spaces for catnaps between classes, and working in the study rooms where he convened project groups and underwent the interview that led to his first American job.
“[It] is the perfect name for this building,” he said. “Because it’s wellness for everything—not just for your body, but for your mind, and for your goals.”