Vigyan Singhal, and his wife, Sonali Bhushan, made a generous financial contribution to support a new position at the Cameron Institute.
Former Cal Ph.D. Student And Wife Fund ‘Oski Technology Mental Performance & Life Skills Consultant’ Role
Vigyan Singhal graduated from Cal with a Ph.D. in computer science in 1996, and he has fiercely held onto his passion for the Blue & Gold ever since. His passion for Cal runs so deep that when it came time to name his startup, he chose to call it Oski Technology as a tribute to the beloved mascot.
“Oski was a presence on campus all the time, so it was kind of natural for me to name the company after him,” Singhal said, who held the titles of Founder and Chief Oski of the business.
When he established the company, Singhal had Cal on his mind in ways beyond the inspiration for its name. He signed the Berkeley Founders’ Pledge, a program that allows alumni entrepreneurs to make a nonbinding commitment to support the university when the time is right for them. Signees control the timing, amount and destination of their contribution, with most choosing to make a significant gift upon their company’s acquisition or IPO.
When the time arrived for Singhal to fulfill his commitment, he chose to give to Cal Athletics in a way that will change the lives of student-athletes, making it possible for the Cameron Institute to grow its performance, mindset and sport well-being services. Thanks to a generous financial contribution from Singhal and his wife, Sonali Bhushan, the Cameron Institute will be welcoming a new addition to its staff in 2023, named as the Oski Technology Mental Performance & Life Skills Consultant.
“[The Founders’ Pledge] is such a beautiful program because when you’re in the early stages of a startup you’re just so busy,” Singhal said. “Even though you want to contribute, you don’t have the time to think about the logistics of it – you’re just 100% focused on your startup. But, if you pledge at the time with no financial commitment, you are saying that you’ll donate when the time comes. When that time does come, that commitment in the back of your mind comes to the forefront. I’m really glad that this program is in place.”
Singhal’s gift has paved the way for an expansion to the Cameron Institute’s Mental Performance & Leadership Development pillar. Along with Dr. Graig Chow, the pillar’s director, and Dr. Lenny Wiersma – another new Senior Mental Performance Consultant – Michael Urban will fill the role of Oski Technology Mental Performance & Life Skills Consultant. Urban will provide resources to student-athletes across campus that support them in their time at Cal and provide them with tools for navigating life beyond Berkeley.
A new caseload model will be adopted in 2023, where each Intercollegiate Athletics team who opts in will be assigned a mental performance consultant who can provide team and small group sessions, one-on-one sessions for student-athletes and sessions with coaches. Consultants will be integrated within teams, attending training sessions, competitions and, in some cases, traveling with teams to provide support across all the areas of the student-athlete experience.
“We are truly grateful for Dr. Singhal’s commitment to Cal student-athletes and coaches’ mental performance and well-being,” Cameron Institute Director Dr. Marissa Nichols said. “Graig is building an exceptional program, and I’m grateful for the opportunity and ability to add two truly exceptional practitioners in Michael Urban (Oski Technology Mental Performance Consultant) and Dr. Lenny Wiersma (Senior Mental Performance Consultant).”
“Mental well-being is such an unexplored area of medicine and science,” Singhal said. “All we can do is support people. The biggest thing I wish this gift could accomplish is to show the student-athletes that we are supporting them. For them to know that there’s places to go, more resources and that there’s people who are going to help them with mental performance, that’s the best thing I can offer.”