Rahangdale family gift makes SSTRIDE Legacy Initiative a reality

Ravi and Shashi Rahangdale

Ravindra “Ravi” Rahangdale made a career of bringing electric power to rural communities in need, first in his native India, and following his immigration to the United States, to small towns and counties in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

Through a $500,000 gift to the SSTRIDE Legacy Initiative, Ravi and Shashi Rahangdale, his wife of 58 years, will be empowering the next generation of physicians produced by the Florida State University College of Medicine.

“My parents have spent over 50 years trying to give back to their communities,” said Tallahassee Regional Campus Dean Sandeep Rahangdale, M.D. “They have focused on educational and work opportunities for immigrants and rural citizens in the states where they’ve resided. Their primary focus is access to quality education because it helps lift individuals, their families and the communities where they live. Additionally, adequate health care and the opportunity for meaningful work are required to nourish and sustain individuals.”

The College of Medicine’s Ravi and Shashi Rahangdale Family SSTRIDE Center will directly address those areas through scholarships, physician mentors and a 30-year network of resources built since the founding of the program, Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence (SSTRIDE).  

“This large endowment will further enhance our ability to uniquely support first generation, rural and underserved medical students beyond the undergraduate level,” said Thesla Berne-Anderson, Ed.D., SSTRIDE founder and executive director of undergraduate outreach and precollege programs.

SSTRIDE identifies and supports Florida middle school and high school students with an interest in pursuing careers in science, engineering, math, health or medicine, many of whom come from rural or underserved areas. Its mission is to help them develop the sense of responsibility, focus and motivation necessary to succeed in their chosen fields.

“Ravi and Shashi’s vision and generosity empower us to create a legacy,” Berne-Anderson said. “This endowment is a testament to the transformative power of alignment with our mission. Dr. Rahangdale’s parents are committed to education and health care in underserved areas, and this is our infrastructure beginning at the secondary school level.

“Specifically, this will support pathway students by giving them a scholarship to come to the College of Medicine and, during that tenure, support them by assigning a physician mentor in their area of interest who can answer questions, offer support and advice, especially during tough times, and teach them how to be resilient when they encounter challenges.”

Growing up in rural, central India, the Rahangdales know resiliency. One of four surviving siblings out of 13, Ravi went on to become the highest-ranking electrical engineering student in his state and began his career as a civil servant responsible for distributing electricity to rural communities. Wanting more for his wife and family, he immigrated to the United States in 1970 with $100 in his pocket and a suitcase to pursue the “American Dream.” 

Tallahassee Regional Campus Dean, Sandeep Rahangdale, M.D.
Tallahassee Regional Campus Dean
Sandeep Rahangdale, M.D.

Shashi and Sandeep arrived in 1971 and joined Ravi in rural western Pennsylvania, where he began working for a transformer company. The Ranhangdales moved to Lynchburg, Va., precipitated by Ravi’s move to another company as his reputation grew for providing quality service and workmanship, building transformers that did not fail. In 1988, he purchased the Fayetteville (N.C.) Transformer Company and soon built a freestanding facility in nearby Hoke County, which he expanded in 1996, the same year he purchased a larger facility in Canonsburg, Pa., and renamed the combined facilities Pennsylvania Transformer Technology Inc. (PTTI). 

Shashi, in addition to raising two children who would become doctors, earned an accounting degree and eventually became vice president at PTTI, where she ensured the company’s 400 employees had “Cadillac” health insurance, made livable wages and provided them training necessary to excel.  

By the time they sold the company in 2023, Hoke County had benefitted from an economic boon surrounding the plant, which led to the rise of other start-up companies and a new hospital branch. Not surprisingly, the buyer, Quanta Services, has asked Ravi to advise the new owner, who plans to expand the plant and add more jobs.

In recognition for his contributions, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper awarded Ravi the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” which is the state’s highest civilian honor. The Rahangdales now reside in Orlando.

“They wanted to help the SSTRIDE program because of its focus on helping rural and underserved students in Florida,” Sandeep Rahangdale said. “A successful SSTRIDE graduate will not only help themselves and their families but will also help improve the health care of the communities they work in.”