How I’m Contributing to the Future of Higher Education at Minerva

by Natalie Kanter | Apr 5, 2017

The words “seven cities, four years” played on repeat in my head as I went to Ascent, Minerva’s admitted students weekend in San Francisco. I met hardworking and talented current students and I made new friends from countries all around the globe. I could visualize my future at this institution and I saw myself becoming more ambitious and open-minded.

A light bulb had switched on inside my head — I wanted to go to school now, and the degree at the end of the journey was not necessarily the most important part.

My first year and a half at Minerva has not disappointed. I was expecting something new, but I got far more than I bargained for. Every day, both in and out of class, my preconceived notions of the world are challenged as I become a more critical thinker and active participant in my communities. This is, in large part, thanks to two main things: a newfound ability to connect knowledge gained in class to real world scenarios and the fantastic classmates I’m surrounded by.

Practical knowledge is an important aspect of Minerva and I’ve been able to experience it firsthand. In Berlin, I collaborated on a large project with an NGO focused on opening access to higher education for refugees throughout Europe and the Middle East. Four classmates and I designed and produced a MOOC to help thousands of refugees become new online learners.

Throughout the creation process, I used aspects of the first-year curriculum to inform the work I did. I used the previous learnings about how to most accurately explain problems and solutions to a given audience, create effective multimedia presentations, and use data analysis methods to measure the project’s impact. That ability to connect curriculum and professional skills proves the engaging classes that I take week to week actually empower me to make real-world progress along the career path I want to pursue.

Together, my classmates and I come from nearly 50 countries and six continents, and our interests are as diverse as our backgrounds.

I’ve been able to converse with my peers on a level that has completely shifted my worldview — from watching a documentary about the Rwandan genocide with my classmate from Rwanda and learning how it personally affects her life, to discussing the role of Chinese values in the modern world with a classmate from Shenzhen during a train ride across Germany, to sitting in a room in Berlin with dozens of my classmates until the break of dawn, watching the U.S. presidential election — moments like these have popped my ideology and belief “bubble” a thousand times over since coming to Minerva. These types of interactions inspire me to engage with the world every day. Together, we students lift each other up, continuously motivating each other to be better than we were yesterday.

My perception of higher education has evolved exponentially over the last 17 months. What I once saw as a degree-granting assembly line has changed; university can be so much more. Not only has Minerva given me the opportunity to explore the world, but it has transformed me into an invigorated — and employable — citizen, who eagerly awaits what the next day will bring. I have renewed faith in the concept of higher education. Every day, I wake up motivated to create something meaningful, as I look forward to the next two and a half years of contributing to the future of Minerva.