SEP 23



Awakening to our inner engineer


While engineering may have been the plan all along, sometimes your heart points you in a different direction.  Check out Anuja’s October column in The Ann where she discusses her exciting transformation from UM engineering student to Founder & CEO of BollyFit®.  The Ann is the informative, critical, and inspiring magazine distributed monthly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and


She welcomes hearing about your experiences as you swirl through life – are you finding yourself wanting to dance rooftop to rooftop too?! Comment at, tweet us @bollyfitwinkles and email


Above is the quilt put together by Anuja’s oldest son for his younger brother’s birthday.  It features mementos and memories including a tie from Anuja’s dear father which was a gift to his grandchildren.  He encouraged Anuja’s path into engineering but shows her development into a creative spirit and how she encourages creativity in her own children.

Awakening to our inner engineer

The author, Anuja Rajendra, is the mother of two sons. A U-M grad, she’s lived in Ann Arbor for 16 years. She’s the founder and CEO of BollyFit. She can be reached at

“If you want to guarantee yourself a job when you graduate, you should do Michigan engineering. Otherwise you may as well go to any less expensive school for a liberal arts degree,” advised by father – who, not coincidentally, had a Ph.D. in engineering – as I sifted through college options.

Like millions, yet one in a million, my devoted dad is an incredibly intelligent immigrant who literally had to illuminate his world in a new country after arriving in East Lansing from India in 1970 with the quintessential $100 in pocket and suitcase in hand. His ticket to transcend the transcontinental tracks was admission to the physics Ph.D. program at Michigan State. He had experienced the realities of supporting a family as he counseled me.

So, with my big sister already at Michigan (in – surprise! – engineering), the campus social scene helped entice me to join her. Plus, the prospect of being among the best bellowed to me through branding that began even before Brandon.

The choice was simple: engineering and pre-med at U-M (yes, as an overachieving Indian American of my generation, both) or bust.

Only after my parents shelled out $785 for an MCAT test prep course and I skipped 99 percent of it, did I realize that being a doctor was not my heart taal. Hearing my inner voice for the first time, I opted out of taking the MCAT, even though I had taken all of the pre-med requirements. At least the 50 percent refund I managed to negotiate with Kaplan soothed the seething of my family when I came out to them after the exam and told them I had not taken it.


Years later at business school, I surrendered to my surroundings which screamed success in three words: Consulting! Marketing! Finance! I buried my internal internship calling, which was to work for an inspiring startup, because working for an investment bank sounded better. I literally dragged myself there all summer.


Even after I had children and started teaching a couple of classes that became the buds to my now blooming business, I saw it as a filler until I found a “real career” that would do my business school colleagues proud. At the time, I did not see something artistic as falling in that category.

Today, my soul feels successful – many days – and flows with my energy field – family, flexibility, friendships, fostering community for others and furthering myself and everyone around me beyond the limit of our current forms. I think less about what others think and more about simplifying to savor even more. My dad is totally happy for me.

As for the kids, my husband suggested I think about how we guide them as a funnel. Our job as parents is to expose them to a wide variety of things at an early age and let what’s best for their souls guide the way.


We recently switched our kids out of private school to the local public school. We decided that nurturing community connections and getting exercise by walking and riding to school were more important for their essence than a potentially more rigorous private school education.


Wanting for my boys to step up their sports acumen, I lobbied for them to do travel soccer. Sensing that I was worried about what that would mean for our family schedule, my 8-year-old let me off the hook with the coaches. He said, “Mama, just tell them I like soccer, but travel will cram my schedule and I’d rather play for fun with my friends in the local league.” He already knows what success means to him, at least for now.


I’m awakening by kids. They want me to go back for a Ph.D. in a liberal arts field when they are college undergraduates so we can all graduate together. They’ll be studying something sensible like engineering – if that’s what’s in their hearts.