An alumnus’ return to Lakeland this past summer invoked a slew of memories and reunions that won’t be forgotten
Jitesh Haria, Class of 2000 adventure tourism and outdoor recreation, spent a few days out of his two-month Canadian excursion at the Vermilion campus
. He eagerly showed his wife, parents, sister and brother-in-law his home from 1998- 2000. Their stay included a couple of nights in the college’s Alumni House, as well as a potluck reunion dinner.
It was Haria’s first back visit to Canada and Lakeland in 19 years.
Numerous Lakeland staff, who were employed at the college when Haria was a student, received him and his family with
open arms, as well as newer members who were intrigued by this international alumnus’ impact on the college.
“Things are the same yet different with time. It’s great to see everyone I knew from when I was here, especially the people who made my life easier. I remember a lot about my time in Canada and at Lakeland,” Haria said with a smile.
As an international student
, Haria made the most of his Lakeland experience and became a figure in Lakeland life. Beyond being an outstanding student, he made significant contributions to the college’s community as:
- a member of the Lakeland Rustlers rowing, cross-country running and cross-country skiing teams;
- an executive member of the Outdoors Club and Enviro Club;
- a leader in Students’ Association events and residence life.
Haria was also active in the Town of Vermilion as a member of the Vermilion River Natural History Club and Vermilion Nordic Ski Club. Since he didn’t return home over holidays and reading weeks, Haria found time to immerse himself in Canadian culture. He travelled across Alberta to places such as Jasper National Park, accepted invitations to local holiday dinners and participated in a momentous 52-kilometre cross-country skiing race.
“I was one of the last ones to finish the race. I remember it was so cold, but it was a highlight of my experience,” Haria chuckled. “I was a young man from India who completed it. It was probably a sight to see.”
Every experience Haria shared never failed to call attention to the kindness he received from Lakeland and the surrounding community. He said it was easy to establish relationships with classmates, instructors, campus security and grounds crew, as well as many members of the community.
“When I left, I didn’t keep in touch with too many people, but I remember always having someone to talk to when I was at Lakeland.”
After graduation, Haria returned to India to start his own business. He’s now a successful entrepreneur, owner and operator of Wild Escapes, a leading outdoor adventure program across India, as well as Outdoor Travel Gear
, an outdoor apparel company. ‘The adventure begins here’ is the slogan for Wild Escapes, Haria says.
“India is known for the Taj Mahal, and how it attracts hundreds of people. My company helps people discover the hidden places in India. We travel all year round to different parts of India, showing everything from the Himalayan mountain ranges in the north to the rainforest in the east.
“This is something I got from my parents – the will to travel. It’s no wonder I travelled away for school.”
Photos: (Top) Jitesh Haria, Class of 2000. (Middle) Jitesh with his parents, wife Komal, sister and brother-in-law, and Michael Crowe, vice-president academic and research, and Les Parsons. (Bottom) Lakeland College alumni Marilyn Campbell with Jitesh and his family at a potluck gathering in Jasper National Park to celebrate Jitesh.