Nepalese Students Make History at Claflin University

May 08, 2015

Shree Kushwaha, Madan Godar, and Prayas Timalsina will make history when they receive their degrees on Saturday during the 145th Claflin University Commencement Ceremony, on Saturday, May 9, 11 a.m. at the South Atlantic Seventh-day Adventist Convention Center.  They represent the first students from Nepal to graduate from Claflin.

“It feels good to be a part of Claflin’s history,” said Kushwaha, native of Birgung, known as “the gateway to Nepal.”  “We did not know what to expect. We had no idea everyone would be so friendly and treat us so well.”

Kushwaha, Godar and Timalsina are among the 13 students from Nepal who were enrolled at Claflin in the 2014-15 academic year.  All 13 are in the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College.

“Claflin gave us a quality education and an opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures,” said Timalsina, whose family now resides in Falls Church, Va. “It’s true – Claflin is not just a university.  When you go to school here you become part of the Claflin family." 

This was never more evident than when on April 25, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Kathmandu, the nation’s capital. The earthquake, which was the worst the country had experienced in 80 years, reportedly claimed more than 7,500 lives,  injured more than 14,000 and caused mass destruction throughout the region.

“We were unable to contact our families which made the situation even more difficult,” said Godar who is from Kathmandu.  “ We felt so helpless at first.   We are so far away and we could not get any news about our families. It's been difficult but the campus community responded quickly came to our support."

In addition to working with the Nepalese students to launch an official fundraising effort through the University's Office of Institutional Advancement, Claflin administrators allowed the students to create an online account  (www.gofundme.com/QuakeNepal2015), and a prayer service was held in the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel.

“When we talked to our friends from home at other schools, they did not get the same support as we did at Claflin,” said Kushwaha. “The administrators here wanted to work with us.  At some of the other schools they just took over everything without including the students.  Here, we are working together and we know the administrators, our classmates, the professors –  they really care about us.”

The students feel that Claflin’s small but friendly campus is one of the University’s biggest assets. All three reside on campus which they believe enhanced their experience at Claflin.

“We were treated like VIPs when we first arrived,” said Timalsina.  “So many students were asking about Nepal and our culture. They really like seeing us displaying the colors representing our country.  It really made us feel special.”

Kushwaha plans to conduct research in drug discovery and drug design while working on his Ph.D at the University of Utah. Timalsina will join his parents in Falls Church, Va.  He will continue his education at George Mason University where he will major in data analytics engineering.  Godar will pursue a Ph.D in biochemistry at The Ohio State University.   

“I had a lot of opportunities at Claflin that I may not have received at a bigger institution,” said Kushawa.  “I have more access to the lab which is really important if you are going to graduate school.  At a bigger institution, it is more difficult because so many other students are competing for time in the lab to conduct research.”

All three plan to remain in the U.S., however Godar would love to return to Nepal if conditions improve.

“Presently, the jobs and resources for research don’t exist in Nepal,” said Godar.  “But eventually I want to take what I‘ve learned here back home where I can help my people.”

As the trio prepares for the next phase of their academic and professional lives, they are proud of their connection with Claflin University.

“Claflin will always mean family to us,” said Timalsina. “And we understand that Claflin wants us to be leaders wherever we go.  I will always remember –To whom much is given – much is expected. We will spread the word about Claflin. Perhaps one day we will have an alumni association in Nepal.
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