NEW YORK (TIP): Ruchi Shah was 15 years old when she noticed a long line of people outside of a tiny clinic waiting to get treatment for mosquito-transmitted diseases during a family trip to India. After returning to her Ronkonkoma, Long Island home, the driven teenager began working in her family’s garage and a high school classroom to develop an all-natural mosquito repellent.
In March, almost a decade after her dream began, she was named one of 10 winners of Victoria’s Secret PINK’s second annual GRL PWR Project, an initiative that provides funding for young female “leaders, trendsetters and go-getters.” Ruchi’s entry was among those selected from nearly 4,000 video submissions from women across the country ages 18 to 25, winning $25,000 to put toward her business.
Shah’s company, Mosquitoes Be Gone LLC, is a direct descendent of her high school science project, which followed her to Stony Brook, where she majored in biology. In 2015, her junior year as an undergrad, she entered a business plan competition. To her surprise, she won, and a company was born. Her younger sister Nidhi, then a high school senior, became the company’s chief operating officer. Nidhi Shah would herself come to Stony Brook the following year as a psychology major. Ruchi, after earning her BS in Biology, continued her studies at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook.
A champion of helping empower others, Ruchi also created an internship program shortly after founding her company that is a collaboration between Stony Brook’s Department of Biology, the College of Business and the WISE Honors program, which offers educational and professional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities for undergraduate students.
(Courtesy: Stony Brook University)