We were geeking out a bit to meet the lovely woman who OPENED FOR MAROON 5 at a private concert this summer. Nilofer Rajpurkar aka Nilli Minaj was the definition of multi-faceted with her preppy-professional outfits one minute and total skateboarding hip-hop star the next. We were scaling the side of a building to get great shots of this adventurous young woman. Read on!
Tell us a little about you.
I’m a Brit by birth, Indian by heritage, and American by a naturalized citizenship. I’ve never liked to fit into just one category and it’s apparent everywhere in my life. I’m studying biomedical engineering at Purdue University (Boiler Up!) with minors in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Intellectual Property Law. Servant leadership is at the core of my beliefs, and I’m constantly looking to see how I can serve and empower others.
I keep myself sane outside of a tough course load with two passions that come as a curveball to some people:
- I’ve been a musician since I was about four years old and have been exploring the rap and music production space lately.
- I also love to longboard especially around campus at night – it’s a great way to clear my head!
I remember watching Rocket Power as a little kid and thinking Reggie Rocket (the only girl on the show) was so cool. I begged my parents for a skateboard all the time and they finally gave in. I now have a couple boards that I cruise around campus on. Riding through my beautiful campus at night is one of my favorite ways to clear my head. Kickstarter is bookmarked on my computer and is where this repurposed bourbon barrel board came from!
Tell us a little about what you’re wearing.
Like I said, I don’t fit into just one category. Both my outfits are very different but both very me.
My preppy-blazer outfit is something I’d wear to work or out to dinner with friends. The blazer gives it that versatility. I adore blazers - in every color. Something about a blazer just makes me feel far more confident and powerful plus it can easily dress up a cute outfit. The blazer was an impulse buy from The Limited , and I’m wearing it over a simple button up from H&M . My colorful skinny jeans are from Tinseltown I love my Sperry’s and how they go with just about everything.
I’d wear my skateboarding getup to class or just lounging over the weekend. I’m rocking an Empyre snapback . Big fan of pocket tees because they are so simple, but the pocket patterns can make a big statement. Completing the outfit with tried and true skinny jeans from American Eagle with some classic high-top Chucks
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
Middle school and early high school me was queen of flare jeans and free/club t-shirts. High school me is pretty thankful I got a job at Journeys selling shoes where my style really began to take shape. Everybody at Journeys was tatted or pierced and Mom was not about that for me, so I started living the edgy look through my fashion. Skinny jeans (in all sorts of colors) became a staple in my closet along with the S-accessory trifecta – sunglasses, snapbacks, and shoes.
As part of a New Years’ Resolution (set by my friends), I began to dress a little more “girly”. My style is still evolving as I’m transitioning from a college student to a young professional. I’m the kind of girl that goes from a snapback, skinny jeans, and Converse one day to a dress and sandals the next. Either way, I’m rocking something bold though whether that’s a color, print, or accessory.
Tell us about your accessories.
Sunglasses - I never leave the house without sunglasses because even the darkest day can turn into sunshine (SRSLY, we LOVE this girl!). Most of my sunglasses are $10 or less because I can’t ever decided on just one style or color that I love! I had been eyeing the ones I am wearing for a while though and finally broke one day. I think the Ray-Ban Clubmasters are a timeless style and sometimes you deserve to splurge a little.
Bracelets - My best accessory finds have been from stalls on the street or street festivals. I love being able to support talented artists and craftsmen that make every thing that they sell themselves. It’s always a great way to remember my travels too - I’m rocking bracelets from Chicago, Portland, and Canada.
Rings - I’ve worn at least one ring on each hand for as long as I can remember. I feel naked now when I don’t have one on! These are pieces I wear every day so I am intentional about the significance they have for me. One of the rings I wear is a boat oar. I realized my love for being on the water when I joined the rowing team my freshman year of college, and it shaped my leadership style greatly that year. The other ring is a simple band with some stones in it, but means the most to me. My mom gave it to me in middle school, and I’ve worn it ever since.
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
If you’re even remotely interested, feed that interest and figure out if it is something you are passionate about. The best thing you can learn by being in STEM isn’t the coding languages or the equations but rather the ability to problem solve, the ability to keep hammering away at a tough problem, and the ability to think differently.
You have the opportunity to bring a new, unique perspective to every conversation not just because you’re a female, but because of every experience and adjective that makes up who you are. Don’t let it be a competition to “beat the boys” because the boys are on your team too. Focus on developing yourself, your skills, and your interests.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
I’ve always been into music, it’s formulaic but creative at the same time. This summer at Microsoft helped me tackle a new project. I actually worked with another intern who I met at orientation to write and produce a rap song. We entered ourselves into the intern talent competition not really knowing what we were up against. We performed live during lunch hour trying to win employee votes to get us to the next round. We got to the live audition round and ending up getting second. We got to perform for 2000+ people at the Intern Signature Event and open for a surprise main act. That surprise act just so happened to be Maroon 5 – my all-time favorite band.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
- https://instagram.com/nilli_minaj (homage to my homegirl Nicki Minaj who got me rapping in the first place)
And soon to come Spotify!
Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
I live by 11 words – “What would you attempt if you knew you could never fail?”.
Most of the time we are our worst critic and a fear of failure can be paralyzing in life’s crossroads. If there isn’t an opportunity to fail, there probably isn’t an opportunity to grow. The moment I realized failure is not only okay, but healthy for growth is the moment I truly started living.
This girl inspires us SO much. From rowing, to rapping, to boarding, to her sick social media presence, Nilofer is continuously in motion. She definitely kept us on our toes during our photo shoot and we absolutely love, love, love her two mottos:”Even the darkest days can end in sunshine” and “What would you attempt if you knew you could never fail”.
What that kind of attitude, we have zero doubt that Maroon 5 will be opening for her one day :)