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Announcing the First Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Scholarship Recipient

A scholarship endowment can create a lasting legacy while benefiting generations of students – that’s exactly what the Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Award Endowment is accomplishing at NC State.

Sameer Murarka

Established in 2019 by Ragini and Ishwar Murarka to honor the memory and entrepreneurial spirit of their son, Sameer, the Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship with the goal to support emerging entrepreneurs in their own quests to think beyond boundaries and do the extraordinary.

A kind, generous, intelligent person, Sameer touched the lives of everyone around him. A born entrepreneur, Sameer had the gift of recognizing opportunities and finding solutions to problems. His legacy continues through the Sameer Ishwar Murarka Memorial Foundation, which supports projects related to education, health and entrepreneurship – areas that were all near to Sameer’s heart.

Dr. Tom Miller, senior vice provost and executive director of NC State Entrepreneurship, said, “Even though I never had the chance to meet Sameer, I feel like I know him through my conversations with his parents and his brother, Niel, also an entrepreneur. He had an indomitable spirit and his mind was always racing at an overclocked pace to come up with new products and services that would benefit people. Sameer loved the idea of making money – who doesn’t – but only if he could provide his customers with a product or service that they truly needed at a price they could afford. This is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we’d like to nurture in our students. I’m deeply honored and pleased that the Murarka family has chosen NC State Entrepreneurship as the home of this endowment to honor the memory of Sameer.”

This year, we are honored to award the very first Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Scholarship to Katie Lawson for $1,800. A rising junior in the College of Engineering, Lawson is studying Industrial and Systems Engineering and minoring in Cognitive Science. Lawson aims to be a leader within the field of neurological research – exploring applications like effective education/communication by measuring neurological activity during social interactions and getting introduced to a neural-controlled prosthesis. Her desire to work with people and improve their quality of life motivates her to pursue challenging research projects and to develop innovative solutions that can be implemented for a positive impact.

She has been involved in entrepreneurship at NC State since her freshman year. As a freshman, Lawson applied her entrepreneurial skills to the NC State Baja Team by competing in and placing 6th place in the national Baja Motorsports Pitch competition. Sophomore year, Lawson further integrated herself into the entrepreneurship community through her participation as an Entrepreneurship Ambassador, being the first e5x Entrepreneurship Scholar, and living in the Albright Entrepreneurship Village on Centennial Campus. Her other co-curricular involvement includes the Grand Challenge Scholars, University Scholars Program, and undergraduate research.

As a sophomore, Lawson worked with Dr. Chang Nam, a research professor within the College of Industrial and Systems Engineering, on two studies. The first project reviewed literature on the most effective methods of education by looking at the neurological activity of both professors and students to determine if students retained more information when their neurological activity correlated with their professors’ activity. Lawson is preparing to present this research at the ISEE conference in October 2020. The second study looked at new ways to measure technology-induced errors within the healthcare field to both educate healthcare personnel on and improve technology to prevent those errors.

Most recently she embarked on an entrepreneurial venture of her own amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by working at the heart of Easy Masks. This business offers a reusable, washable face mask knitted by a fifth-generation hosiery mill in North Carolina. Lawson serves as an industrial engineering consultant at Easy Masks, working on safe and efficient packaging as well as maximizing the quality and quantity of these masks.

“I am honored to receive the first Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Scholarship, and I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Murarka family’s generosity,” Katie shared. “My career goals wouldn’t be obtainable without the network of my supportive mentors within the NC State Entrepreneurship community and NC State’s generous philanthropy.”

Katie’s dream career is to be a leader in the heart of a medical technology start-up and to educate the public about neuro-rehabilitation innovations available to transform both quality of life and the industry itself. “Financially and professionally, the Sameer Murarka Scholarship will provide the opportunity to connect with professionals in the novel field of neuroplasticity and to learn about the industry of medical technology start-ups,” said Lawson.

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