40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Bhuwan Gautam

President, Board of Directors, Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts; Age 35; Education: BA, Western New England University; MPA, Westfield State University

Bhuwan Gautam

Bhuwan Gautam

Gautam, a former refugee from Bhutan who resettled to the U.S. in 2008, is a president of the board of directors of Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts. He is co-founder of Sanitation, Health and Nutrition Study Center, Nepal. He launched a nonprofit that aids the social, cultural, educational, and health needs of the resettled Bhutanese refugees in Western Mass. He also serves as a co-investigator and steering committee member for the Research Program on Children and Adversity at Boston College School of Social Work, and as a co-investigator for the Global Demography of Aging program at Harvard University.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A detective.

What three words best describe you? Bhutanese American leader.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The diversity, historic places — like the birthplace of basketball and volleyball — the universities I attended, and the great social-service and healthcare agencies I work with.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Dr. DNS Dhakal, a senior Duke fellow. He gave me the wisdom that education is the key to upward mobility.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Keanu Reeves.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? I spend my time envisioning how I can best contribute toward a healthy and less-impoverished society in my community through health promotion, education, and economic empowerment.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Professor Charles Xavier from X-Men. Because I have skills to organize and lead people like he does.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My wife, daughter, parents, siblings, and mentors, because they provide me with love, comfort, and mentorship unconditionally.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Bhuwan enjoyed his life the fullest. Within a short period of time, he not only took care of himself and family, but the entire community. He is our true community leader. Even though he left us alone, he has left us with the legacy. And it’s our responsibility to fulfill it.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Bill Gates. I would share him the work I do in the U.S. and in Nepal, with the hope that he will donate money to build up the programs to fulfill my dream of helping the poor.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography