Ninth in a series of profiles of this year's 20 under 40 winners.
WATERLOO - Wherever he is, he will help.
Paresh Shettigar, 38, believes there is always a need to do something extra, above and beyond what is needed for yourself and your family.
"You take care of your own, but you are also supposed to do more," he said. "But, I want to help people who want to help themselves. If I find a group of people who are trying to help themselves without any expectations back, that hits home with me."
In most recent years Shettigar, an engineering technology professor at Hawkeye Community College, has helped raise funds for the survivors of 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, as well as police and emergency response personnel and for flood relief efforts. Shettigar said his love for teaching stems back to his days as a student, when he frequently helped struggling classmates. He now enjoys reconnecting with past students who are working in the real world.
"I am constantly amazed and proud of what my graduates are doing out there," Shettigar said. "…It's almost like watching your kids grow up and leave the nest. It's one of those serendipities of the job. I don't think you can put any kind of dollar value on that."
In addition to his work at the college, where he has been teaching for 14 years, Shettigar is also a civil/structural engineer with Shoff Consulting Engineers in Cedar Falls.
He was nominated for the 20 Under 40 honor by Linda Allen, Hawkeye's vice president for academic affairs. Allen said Shettigar's commitment to the college and community should be commended.
"Paresh feels strongly about the Cedar Valley and the ability to give back," Allen wrote in her nomination. "He says, 'The lives of families are determined by the community in which they live and the cultural tradition from which they come.'"
Shettigar grew up in India and much of his family still lives there. Even as a master's student in Wisconsin, Shettigar never believed he would become a permanent U.S. resident. And though he loves Iowa and the Midwest, he still dreams of splitting his time between his home country and his new home. He became a U.S. citizen in December 2001.
For now, he gets by with trips back to India, his participation in the India Association of Northeast Iowa and through educating the community on India and Hinduism, Allen said.
Currently, Shettigar is focusing much of his attention on his own young family. He and wife, Veena, are raising their 3-year-old daughter, Bhoomika. Shettigar said he is constantly amazed by the young girl and her total fascination with everything.
"Young kids are so engrossed in the moment and focused on what they are doing at just that point. We are so distracted, all the time, by so many other things," he said. "I am trying to get better at that. It's all about their innocence and keeping a perspective on things."
Contact Emily Christensen at (319) 291-1570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.