Obituary: Keshav Sanghani, student in Arts & Sciences, 19

Sanghani will be remembered for his love of languages and his talents as a student. (Courtesy photo)

Keshav Sanghani, a rising sophomore in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died June 30, 2019. He was 19.

Sanghani, of Willowbrook, Ill., was an accomplished student who was studying math and economics. He also spoke four languages and was teaching himself a fifth, Russian.

Madhavi Verma, lecturer in Hindi languages and cultures in Arts & Sciences, said Sanghani was not only a gifted student, but a patient teacher who helped classmates master vocabulary and grammar.

“All of the students loved him,” Verma said. “They would call him ‘Keshavji,’ the ‘ji’ being  a sign of respect in Hindi.”

Verma said Sanghani always arrived early to class. In those moments, she discovered a sensitive man who loved his family and heritage. She recalled how Sanghani helped the class create a recipe book of Indian dishes. 

“He was the one that did all of the formatting and set up the accounts for the students,” Verma said. “And he included a very special recipe from his grandma. He was incredibly knowledgable about his culture. Students were so interested to hear him speak about the folktales and traditions.”

Nick Syring, a postdoctoral mathematics lecturer in Arts & Sciences, said Sanghani was never afraid to ask a question or offer an answer.

“That’s not common — it takes a degree of courage to speak up in a large lecture class, but Keshav was among a handful of students who really would participate in a back-and-forth discussion,” Syring said. “I remember feeling very grateful to him because his engagement made it a better class.”

Sanghani’s older sister, Saryu Sanghani, is a 2019 Washington University graduate and a faculty assistant in the Department of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences. Sanghani appeared to frequently follow in his sister’s footsteps, choosing the same classes, musical instrument and, ultimately, college.

“But each of those things were decisions I made with his advice,” Saryu Sanghani said. “No wonder he made the same ones.”

Together, they loved to explore the Soulard Farmers Market, drink bubble tea on the Delmar Loop and discuss life’s difficult questions.

“One could ask Keshav profound questions and be guaranteed that any answer he gave, he had thought of at length and believed not for its impact on the asker but because it was compatible with the perpetual, if at times uncomfortable, truth that guided his brilliant life,” Saryu Sanghani said. “He was one of my closest friends, an intellect, a companion, a confidant, an adviser, but most importantly, my brother.”

Sanghani’s father, Dhiren Sanghani, said his son had a beautiful voice and sang devotional songs in Gujarati, Hindi and Sanskrit. He welcomes students with memories of his son to contact him at dsanghani@gmail.com.

“He was great at anything he took on,” Dhiren Sanghani said. “He was compassionate yet expected the most from all of us.”

In addition to Saryu and Dhiren Sanghani, Sanghani is survived by his mother, Kailas Sanghani; his grandmother, Sharda Sanghani; and his sister, Jahnvi Sanghani.

Students who would like supportive counseling are encouraged to use the online student portal, studenthealth.wustl.edu, or to call 314-935-6695. Faculty and staff may access the Employee Assistance Program.

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