Tarana Patel: From Business to Teaching English (and Half-Way Back Again)
Tarana Patel (TESOL ’02) was a business major as an undergraduate student at Claremont McKenna, but found herself using all her electives for language study and history. Fluent in German, on the plane ride back home to India, Tarana struck up a conversation with a German lady who talked about her experience at a wonderful school called the Monterey Institute. Once home, Tarana was asked to teach German to a group of engineers and “realized that teaching languages was what I wanted to do in life.” Searching for a graduate school, she found the Monterey Institute and made the connection with the conversation she had on the plane.
“The education I got at MIIS gave me a real advantage,” says Tarana, who was hired as the academic director at the University of California, Riverside upon graduation. For more than seven years, she oversaw the English language and teacher training programs at Riverside. Then she decided it was time to make a change and founded her own company, LearnEd, focusing on setting up new English language and teacher training programs in rural India.
It could be said that a passion for higher education runs in Tarana’s blood, as her grandparents (on both sides) founded S.K. University in Northern Gujarat state, a university that now counts around ten thousand students. With the recent passing of her paternal grandfather, who was the chief administrator of the university, Tarana has stepped in and found that having a business degree is actually quite handy. But she has not given up on her passion for language teaching and has recruited several MIIS TESOL students for internships and the exciting opportunity to help her build the English language program at S.K. University.
When not in India, Tarana spends her days working from Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband, an investment banker turned screenwriter. “We are both following our dream!”