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Learning About India, Launching a Career

Adam Grotsky’s exciting career started with his deep interest in South Asia and a university education in South Asian Studies.

As executive director of the U.S.-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), Adam J. Grotsky’s job is as complex as it is exciting. 

He oversees the administration of the prestigious Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships, as well as the enrichment of tens of thousands of Indian students through EducationUSA advising centers. He manages a multi-million dollar budget, supervises five USIEF offices around India, and regularly builds bridges with officials from both India and the United States. And that’s just the beginning. 

How did he land in a position to exert such positive influence? According to Grotsky, it started with his deep interest in South Asia and a university education in South Asian Studies.

Grotsky’s connection with the region began long before his college years. As a young child, he lived with his family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fascinated by the experience, he studied abroad in Sri Lanka during high school. This experience, he says, changed his life and further motivated him to learn about South Asia.

“I was very fortunate to get admitted to the University of Pennsylvania [Penn], which has one of the oldest and most prestigious South Asia centers in the U.S.,” says Grotsky. He majored in political science, but took many courses in South Asian Studies, including on the Hindi language. 

“I spent my junior year abroad in Varanasi through the University of Wisconsin’s College Year in India Program, where I continued my Hindi studies,” he says. “I began studying Indian classical music and completed a fieldwork project on Indian higher education.”  

“I learned so much during this year,” Grotsky continues, “but felt like I only scratched the surface.”

As a result, he decided to pursue a master’s program in South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison [UW-Madison]. According to Grotsky, the beauty of South Asian Studies was that it didn’t feel like one discipline, but many. His coursework included classes in sociology, history, religion, language, literature and more. 

“My goal was to learn as much as I could about South Asia and India, in particular,” he continues, “and an area studies degree was a perfect fit for me.”

Grotsky’s explorations of South Asian Studies helped him launch a successful international career. “Immediately after graduate school, I was hired as the resident director for the College Year in India Program,” he says. “I don’t think I would have been able to do this job effectively without the training and education I had received at UW-Madison and earlier at Penn.”

Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City.