Kavitha Arms said she chose Clemson University for the in-state tuition, its reputation for academics and engineering, and because it was the post-high school destination for many of her friends.
Now she can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.
“It’s such a cliché term to say Clemson Family and that it’s a feeling, but it was all those things,” Arms said. “I come back today, and it’s a very special place. I found my identity here, I found my friends here.”
Arms graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and stayed in the Upstate of South Carolina. She is doing well at General Electric and has joined the advisory board that helps guide Clemson’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
She was among those honored in 2018 with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. Arms credited her parents, KD and Dhanam Ganesan, with starting from nothing and producing two successful children, both Clemson University alumni.
“As I accept this, I ask that your applause please be reserved for these two people who brought me here,” Arms said in her acceptance speech. “This is really the fruit of their labor.”
Arms has been working at for GE at 13 years, most of that time with GE Power. She recently accepted a new job with GE Corporate, where she leads the chemical management and product stewardship organization for the entire portfolio of GE technologies.
As part of the job, she develops and implements policies that ensure GE complies with or surpasses regulatory and legislative obligations as they relate to chemicals.
“This is a company ever evolving, ever changing,” she said. “There’s a lot of happening. I keep getting drawn back to the company. I’m proud that I’m loyal to the company, and I’m passionate about that.”
Arms was born in India and moved to the Netherlands when she was 8 years old. She has one younger brother, Bharat Ganesan, who has a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Clemson.
The family moved to Greenville when her father accepted a job at Fluor Corp. Arms enrolled in the 10th grade at Mauldin High School, and her mother got a job at Bosch.
Arms described her parents as hardworking, humble and passionate about their children’s success.
“When I think about their struggles, to say that they paved the way, is quite an understatement,” she said.
Arms also draws inspiration from her husband, Chris, a Greenville native who worked full-time while pursuing his college degrees. He has two associate’s degrees from Greenville Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology management from the University of South Carolina Upstate.
He now works as an industrial engineer at Michelin North America.
“The minute I think I’m working hard, I look back to those days when he was doing homework before he went to work on his night shift,” Kavitha said. “And he did homework in the morning when he came home. The dedication and the passion– that’s what it takes.”
Chris Arms said he’s happy for his wife’s success.
“She always fusses at me when I brag about her too much, but I always tell her I think it’s incredible, because I could not do what she does,” he said. “I try to be a good representative of her and help as much as I can along the way.”
In their free time, the Armses enjoy traveling the world and count a trip to Australia among their favorite destinations so far. They are also aunt-and-uncle to several children and contribute their time and treasure to a variety of causes, including United Way, Hands On Greenville, and GE’s People with Disabilities Network .
“What I’m most passionate about now is giving back and mentoring other young engineers,” Kavitha said. “I’ve been so blessed to have people who took chances on me. So I think it’s time to do the same.”
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