The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Meet your staff: Continuing to cultivate community

Alumni Director Karan Lodha (‘04) returns to Harker
Tiffany Zhu
Lodha poses in front of Manzanita Hall on Harker Day 2023. Lodha helped host alumni reunions for the classes of 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2018 on the weekend of Oct. 7.

You may remember Karan Lodha (’04) as your middle school adviser or US history teacher from eighth grade. Perhaps this is the first year you’ve seen him. Regardless of when you meet him, Lodha’s warm demeanor and friendly smile remain welcoming on the Harker campus.

In his current job as Director of Alumni Relations, Lodha recognizes the significance that the community at Harker holds for students, not only during their time at Harker, but also after they graduate. Transitioning from Harker into the real world can be challenging, but through his role, Lodha reassures alumni that Harker will remain an institution they can always rely on.

“The world can be a lonely place when you graduate and move to new cities, and this job makes it less lonely for me but also for a lot of other people,” Lodha said. “It lets you have community at the center of everything. [Students reach out] because of the familiarity of the values and the shared experiences as they navigate something new. ” 

The world can be a lonely place when you graduate and move to new cities, and this job makes it less lonely for me but also for a lot of other people

— Karan Lodha, alumni director

Lodha first joined Harker for his freshman year in 2000, where he wrote about sports and activism for the Winged Post. After graduating in 2004, Lodha furthered those interests as staff writer for The Harvard Crimson, where he focused on sports journalism.

“One of the things I wrote for the Winged Post was sports,” Lodha said. “Then, I ended up doing sports journalism and was the editor of the sports section of the school paper in college. I’ve continued to be really interested not just in sports as a consumer, but [in] sports as an institution, and I like to consume a lot of media around it.”

Following college, Lodha worked in the software field for nine years but considered a change in his career, hoping to feel more fulfilled. With encouragement from his former teachers, Lodha became a long-term substitute history teacher at Harker’s middle school, which later led to a full time position. Although Lodha initially found humanities unfamiliar, he recalls the invaluable support he received from his former Harker teachers, and now colleagues, motivating him to persist and branch out. 

“I often think about when I was a student, how my teachers really trusted me to take risks,” Lodha said. “At Harker, they pushed me not to just focus on things I already knew but also to take intellectual risks and try things I didn’t know, and be okay with being vulnerable. Then they did it for me again, when I became a history teacher. I love and appreciate how my colleagues and my former teachers really put a lot of trust in me.”

After leaving Harker to pursue a master’s in education, Lodha taught humanities classes at Windward School and Wildwood School in Los Angeles for a few years. Compared to Harker, he said he felt a lack of connection with students and considered returning to his alma mater. Finally, three months ago, Lodha took on his current role as the Director of Alumni Relations.

“Even though I really connected with individual students, and groups of students, it was not the same as teaching or working at the school that I went to,” Lodha said. “I know the values here [and] what motivates not only the student body, but also the alumni, the parents and the faculty. I just felt like [working here] wouldn’t feel like being new again, which it doesn’t. It feels like I’ve worked here forever.”

I know the values here [and] what motivates not only the student body, but also the alumni, the parents and the faculty

— Karan Lodha, Alumni director

Upper school math teacher Bradley Stoll, who taught Lodha in high school, encouraged Lodha to return to Harker as an educator. 

“He really is brilliant,” Stoll said. “He’s just quick to learn things, and he could do whatever he wanted, so the fact that he’s chosen education, to me, is a testament to who he is. He saw the impact that teachers made on him, and he wanted to do the same thing. Now, he’s in the alumni position, and he can have a different sort of impact.” 

Lodha seeks alumni input and draws upon his experiences at Harker to improve the school environment. While listening to the diverse perspectives of former students, he values both the positive reflections and constructive critiques. 

“It’s interesting to see people’s perspectives on Harker once they leave, because some of them are very positive, and some of them are things that people want to change in the institution,” Lodha said. “But what makes the institution better is if those who leave see ways to make it better and are able to give back or contribute in some way. Alumni can play an important role in helping shape the institution.”

Beyond the Harker community, Lodha has worked to minimize gender discrepancies in work environments. He recognizes that significant change takes time, but he aims to impact the people around him through his initiatives. 

“Something I worked on in the past with colleagues is pay transparency,” Lodha said. “It’s not uncommon for people to get paid vastly different amounts for the same role, and it tends to be a big skew on gender and race, among other things. One of the things I’ve tried to work on just among my small circle is being more open about pay, especially if I might be in a privileged position.” 

When reflecting on how Harker helped him nurture passions and connections, Lodha said he appreciates  the invaluable experiences and opportunities he gains from the school. Through his position, he hopes others share the same sense of belonging within the Harker community that he does. 

“I really enjoy working with the school, and that’s just a testament to how powerful the community is,” Lodha said. “Even when I kept leaving, I kept getting pulled back. I don’t want that for just me, I want everyone to feel that way about Harker. I want them to feel that whether they were here for one year, or whether they somehow keep working here, forty years later, which is some of the faculty here, they just feel like it can be home for them.”

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About the Contributors
Tiffany Zhu, Reporter
Tiffany Zhu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Tiffany hopes to meet more members of the Harker and journalism community and share topics she's passionate about with them. In her free time, she enjoys baking and watching all genres of movies.
Sidak Sanghari, Humans of Harker Co-Managing Editor
Sidak Sanghari (11) is a co-managing editor for Humans of Harker, and this is her third year on staff. This year, she hopes to write many Humans of Harker profiles and get to know everyone on staff. In her free time, Sid enjoys trying new restaurants with her family and spending time outdoors.

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