The benevolence of others helped Shrochis Karki '09 attend Kenyon and Oxford University. He is now committed to providing higher-education opportunities for students in his native Nepal.
Shrochis was an international studies and political science major now pursuing graduate study at Oxford. He recently established the Samaanta Foundation, an initiative that hopes to provide higher education to students with poor socio-economic backgrounds. Samaanta is the Nepali word for equality.
“The emphasis on the education system in Nepal is focused entirely on primary and secondary education, at the expense of higher education,” Shrochis said. “Even talented students often do not get the opportunities they need to succeed. In today’s education, secondary schooling is not enough to be competitive in the job market.”
Shrochis launched the pilot program last year, awarding fellowships to six rural tenth-graders with exceptionally high test scores but without the means to pursue higher education. In addition to the fellowships, the students receive services such as leadership training, mentoring, and English language proficiency instruction to support successful academic and professional outcomes. “We believe that, with the right support and encouragement, our fellows can be the change-makers our communities and our nation need,” Shrochis said.
His parents made “countless sacrifices” to afford his schooling in Nepal. Shrochis repaid them with a stellar academic career, becoming the first international student to serve as president of the Kenyon Student Council, among other accomplishments. He was awarded the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship to fund his study at the University of Oxford, where he is doctor of philosophy candidate in international development.
Shrochis chose to attend Kenyon for its strong political science department, sense of community, and the value it places on social service. “A good student is supposed to study to be a doctor or an engineer in Nepal, and the same expectations were placed on me,” he said. “But I was always more interested in political science and development studies. Fortunately, Kenyon offered me a generous scholarship and I became the first person in my family to leave the subcontinent, as I headed for the United States to pursue an undergraduate degree. The first-class education along with the love and support I received at Kenyon defined me in a more meaningful way.”
Shrochis has been inspired by the numerous Quest for Justice courses at Kenyon to take his quest beyond academia into the real world to further goals of economic, political, and social development in Nepal. “My experiences at Kenyon confirmed that anything is possible if you get the right opportunities and meaningful support,” he said. “It would be a dream come true for me when a Samaanta fellow attends Kenyon.”
Shrochis is part of a volunteer team that relies on donations to fund the foundation’s initial fellowships, and they are seeking partnerships with individuals and national and international organizations. Samaanta is in the process of selecting its second group of fellows and hopes to expand the program to recruit 50 fellows by 2015. “Our focus right now remains on building a robust model that works before we can scale up,” he said. “I do not see this as a career, but as a life choice.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/samaantafoundation.
Photo features members of the Samaanta team on a field visit. Karki is not pictured.