A Conversation with Minerva Student Ema

Meet Ema, a student in the Class of 2024 | Dec 1, 2020

Quick Facts

Name
Austeja Ema Bazaraite

Hometown
Vilnius, Lithuania

Class
2024

Major
Arts & Humanities
Social Science

Conversation

Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
When I first heard about Minerva, I was immediately attracted to the global rotation concept. However, I did not seriously consider it because, initially, I was convinced that the traditional higher education model was right for me. It took less than a month of attending a regular university for me to realize the quality of education I was receiving was far from adequate. I felt that the lectures were very disconnected from real life, and I struggled to realize how I would use the content later in life. Coming from the intense International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, I was not challenged at all, which made my critical thinking abilities actually decrease. I did not see the point in continuing to pay for such an education.

Then I remembered Minerva, the only non-traditional university I know of, which seemed like the best option. Minerva stood out to me because of its attention to detail. From the academics to student life programming, everything has been rethought and considered in order to improve students’ experiences. Minerva students not only get the highest quality of education but they are also encouraged to apply what we are learning to the world. We are supported to take care of our mental health and assisted in extensive professional development in order to become an overall well-rounded person.

What has been the biggest difference at Minerva?
Minerva does not waste time teaching lectures that the students will quickly forget and never use. Instead, seminars at Minerva focus on effective learning, active recall. Classes are highly interactive and filled with examples from the real-world rather than a professor lecturing ‘at you’. Most importantly, you can see the value behind what you are learning and know that you will use this material throughout your career.

What do you aspire to do when you graduate? What is a problem you would like to address in the world?
Although I haven’t decided yet what kind of career I want to pursue, I know that it will be connected with social justice issues. I sometimes call them the ‘forgotten issues,’ representing the problems that modern society either neglects entirely or pays only limited attention to. I aspire to bring attention to such topics, which vary by country and culture from women’s reproductive health issues to sex slavery and more. One of the reasons why Minerva appealed to me was the flexibility and breadth of its courses. I like the fact that I can take courses outside of my major, which, for someone who has not decided on their future career path, is very important. Thus, I am certain that through academics, with the help of the fantastic Coaching and Talent Development team, I will be able to figure out the exact path I want to pursue.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Minerva community? How would you describe the community?
The Minerva community is very open and inclusive. At my previous large university with thousands of students before, I found many of the interactions to be superficial and impersonal. At Minerva, the difference is significant. The people who come to Minerva are incredibly diverse and everyone has their own unique story to share. Even more, they are creative and courageous, which leads to incredible projects and adventures. It feels like a big, supporting family.

What advice would you tell another transfer student who is considering Minerva?
I know it can be a very daunting decision to make. I don’t think anyone enters university expecting to transfer. But if you feel that where you currently are is not for you — trust your gut feeling. It is not worth spending time and energy on a degree that you are not satisfied with. I wrote down a list of pros and cons of leaving my first university for Minerva to see the comparison clearly. Think about what you really want to get out of your higher education — a diploma from an institution with a ‘high ranking’ or the knowledge, experience, usable skills that will benefit you throughout your professional life?

Then, research as much as you can! Read about the science of learning and why it is more effective than passive lectures. Listen to talks and podcasts about what is different about Minerva. Watch the cross-class vlogs on Youtube to get the feel of the community. It can be very hard to consider such an alternative path, especially when the traditional education system may seem like the only option, and it is hard to trust that Minerva is that good, but don’t dismiss a new challenge before learning about it.

Why do you think it is important to be a global citizen?
Not understanding other cultures leads to conflict. Being a global citizen means you are willing to go beyond stereotypes, which lead to more division. While learning about other cultures, you will also learn more about yourself and grow your ability to communicate with others more effectively. This will not only develop you more as a person but will also make you a great professional in an increasingly globalized world.

What are some of your other passions and interests?
I absolutely love learning other languages and at Minerva, I have the chance to practice many different languages in real-life settings. I speak Lithuanian, English, German, Spanish, and a bit of Russian, and I plan to start learning Hindi soon. Also, I enjoy reading books and am trying my hand at creative writing. Moreover, I closely follow American and African politics, take long exploration hikes, and attempt to improve my sustainable, vegan lifestyle.

What advice do you have for debate current students interested in attending Minerva?
Minerva is a place for people not afraid to take part in difficult discussions, challenge themselves and their views. It is an experience like no other, meant for people that are willing to take risks. If you love learning about different cultures and countries, debating with your peers, and learning in non-traditional ways — then consider Minerva as an option.

How did you get involved with the debate?
I always loved participating in discussions and getting to know more about global politics. Hence, when I started high school, participating in a debate club was an obvious choice. I soon realized I was challenged in ways I have never been before — I had to control my emotions, listen to others carefully, and sometimes even debated against my beliefs. Thus, I continued my debate journey by actively partaking in European Youth Parliament sessions, which was also my first opportunity to learn about other European cultures and expand my global perspective.

Why did you decide to pursue an International Baccalaureate diploma? What appealed to you about the program?
I felt that the national education system in Lithuania was outdated and far from what was needed in the 21st century. When I finally started the IB curriculum, it felt like a breath of fresh air. For the first time, I loved and looked forward to all of my classes. I knew the program would be much more challenging, but also more rewarding as I learned much more in those two years than my initial ten.

What courses were most valuable? Have others proven to be relevant now?
Honestly, I think that I learned extremely useful skills from every single IB subject. One skill that has helped me most in my university courses is the ability to write a professional essay. Additionally, I frequently use the lessons from the Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) course as I can better understand current environmental issues, their causes, and possible solutions. Furthermore, the English Language and Literature course taught me how to evaluate the impact of language and stylistic devices, and I analyze the concepts in ads, newspapers, and even scientific research. Overall, IB left me more aware of my surroundings and better equipped to notice fallacies.

If you were inspired by Ema's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.