Being three years younger, Aashka Kharidia never envisioned sharing a graduation ceremony with her older brother. And certainly not with her older brother and sister-in-law.
But that’s exactly what happened Sunday at George Washington University’s Commencement on the National Mall, as the Kharidia family turned the staging on the grounds of the Washington Monument into their own pseudo reunion.
Aaskha Kharidia graduated with a master’s degree in health care administration. Older brother Aalok Kharidia received his Master of Science degree in systems engineering, and Aalok’s wife, Pooja Kharidia, earned a Master of Health Sciences in biomedical informatics.
Three people. Three master’s degrees from three different programs. One last name.
It was a pretty surreal moment for the family.
“Oh my gosh, we have so many people here,” Pooja said with a laugh. “It’s a special day.”
Aalok and Pooja first met in February 2015 while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). They bumped into each other at the campus center, and Aalok took the leap of faith to message Pooja that night on Facebook.
“It kind of went from there,” he said.
After their time at NJIT, they lived and worked out West, starting their life together. And then they moved from the West to the East Coast.
Aashka moved to D.C. from Missouri—where she received a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University—to pursue her master’s in health care administration.
“I applied to different schools, but when it came to GW, I really liked the campus and the program itself,” she said.
Brother and sister started their programs during the 2020-21 virtual academic year, and they both liked the flexibility the master’s programs at GW had to offer. That was enough to sell Pooja, who enrolled in 2021 to make it a full family affair.
Aalok and Pooja both work for Northrop Grumman, Aalok as a systems electronics engineer and Pooja as a software configuration analyst. Aashka has been working as a product development consultant at OhioHealth since January. All three are appreciative of GW for helping them expand their skillsets and knowledge that they will build upon in their professional paths.
And they are forever grateful that GW now has a significant role in their family story.