Raj Seekri - moving from poverty to philanthropy

Richland mathematics professor Raj Seekri grew up in poverty and has a heart to help others who are struggling.

He and his wife, who is also named Raj, have donated an endowed scholarship to Richland in honor of his father, Ram Lal Seekri.

Seekri grew up in a mud hut in India, but through the help and inspiration of his father, he worked hard to get a good education.

“He went door to door to promote education,” Seekri said. “Those are the days back in India. The parents and grandparents did not want their daughters and granddaughters to go to school but he awakened them and said, ‘Education is the most important thing that gives you security, that gives you an understanding, that gives you even happiness in life.’”

Seekri began his post-secondary education at Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. After moving to the U.S., he received a Master of Science in mathematics from Ball State University and a Master of Business Administration in general business from the University of Dayton.

He began working at NEC Corporation in 1969 and, after four years, he and his family moved to Dallas.

“My wife suggested that we should find a place which is a little warmer for my father to jog and that’s the reason we ended up changing job to Texas Instruments,” he said.

While his job entailed extensive international travel, Seekri so loved teaching that he became an adjunct professor at Eastfield College. In 1996, the school presented him with an Excellence in Teaching Award. In 1997, he began teaching part time at both Richland College and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

When Seekri retired from Texas Instruments in 2002, he became a full-time faculty member at Richland. Like his father, he has a passion to help others learn, but that passion goes beyond the classroom.

Seekri and his wife used some of their investments not only to establish an endowed scholarship at Richland, but also at Howard College, UTD and 19 other universities in order to help those who cannot afford an education.

The endowments are self-perpetuating and consist of seed money that generates income off of interest each year. The newest one will be a teaching scholarship at the University of Texas at El Paso.

“We will not be living forever but that scholarship will live forever,” he said.

His father’s vision keeps Seekri and his wife focused.

“We are all capable of doing something to help others,” he said.

While attending a basketball game at Richland, they realized that the deaf women’s basketball team from Howard College did not have the proper athletic equipment. They reached out to the college and donated the money to help them get the equipment they needed.

They make a budget each year and set up endowments at colleges to help those who can’t afford an education. There are 22 scholarships and counting.

The Seekri’s generosity has not gone unnoticed. UTD has given them the Champion of Community Diversity Award and in 2008 the Dallas Historical Society selected Seekri as a distinguished person of community service in education.

Today Seekri is not only living out his father’s vision, he has passed that vision on to his son Inder, who is a general surgeon. His son goes overseas to give medical care where it is less accessible.

“He will buy all the equipment, the latest equipment for surgery. He will do the surgery himself and then leave the equipment there with the local authority,” said Seekri.

The vision of his father lives on both in him and now in the next generation.

For those interested in applying for the Ram Lal Seekri Endowed Scholarship, contact the Richland Financial Aid office for an application.