PITTSBURG — In 1995, Jay Maharjan was an international student far from home. But it didn't take him long to embrace Pittsburg and get involved on the Pittsburg State.

Today, he's making a difference nationally and internationally, having served on a White House initiative under President Obama and founding an organization that's playing a key role in the fight against cancer.

On Oct. 13, he'll be back at PSU to accept one of three 2017 Dr. Kenneth K. Bateman Outstanding Alumni Awards at a reception in the Wilkinson Alumni Center, to speak to students, and to be honored during the Homecoming Parade and football game, as well.

"I am honored and deeply humbled to receive it," said Maharjan, noting that he wants it to represent a token of encouragement to all students.

“I would like to encourage the international student community here on campus at PSU and elsewhere in the United States to pursue leadership roles with humility, competence, and confidence,” he said.

A student from Nepal who earned a bachelor's degree in plastics engineering technology from PSU in 1997, he said he received “strong support” from professors and fellow students academically and in campus life.

“PSU is the school that went out of its way to award a room and board scholarship to a transferring student from a community college on the first day of arrival on campus,” he said. “PSU is where I learned school spirit and loyalty.”

He served as a resident hall assistant for two years and a member of the International Student Association — both places where he learned the meaning of friendship and camaraderie, and embracing difference in opinion.

“PSU is where I learned that not only is it OK to agree to disagree, but as leaders we have obligations to do so and protect freedom of speech,” he said. “We may have different political views, we may come from different ethnic backgrounds, we may represent different cultures…but empathetic thinking is what makes America great,” he said.

Maharjan organized a student chapter of Kiwanis, and engaged in numerous community and campus projects.

“The community was fantastic at making me feel at home as an international student,” said Maharjan, who was given a lifetime membership to the local Kiwanis club.

He credits his experience at PSU as setting him on his leadership journey.

“Way before I learned leadership from famous leaders and professors like General David Petraeus and Peter Drucker, I learned here on the campus of PSU that it was essential to learn to do the right thing, before doing things right,” he said.

Maharjan holds a master's degree in leadership, with an emphasis in public policy analysis from the University of Southern California.

He is the founder and CEO of Explore Nano, an organization launched to understand, educate and expedite commercialization of nanotechnology in cancer and advanced stage diabetes.

Currently, Maharjan is conducting research under the guidance of USC Sol Price School of Public Policy to understand the National Cancer Institute’s strategy for nanotechnology alliance in cancer.

Prior to founding Explore Nano, he served as the Nevada state-wide leader and a regional champion for the White House initiative Startup America Partnership under President Obama. Its objective was to mobilize a billion dollars in private sector resources to help create and foster as many as 100,000 startup companies across the United States.

Later, Maharjan also served as the ambassador for UP Global, the State Department-partnered non-profit initiative to foster entrepreneurship in more than 110 countries.

He is the author of the award-winning book "Winning Lessons for Entrepreneurs in the Conceptual Economy." He is a resident of Nevada.