What motivated you to join Minerva University?
Reflecting on why I chose Minerva, several key factors come to mind. Firstly, the distinct pedagogy appealed to me. The unique approach to teaching felt like a more conducive learning environment, especially when I realized that active learning is central to the university's design. This seemed like an ideal way to spend my educational years.
Secondly, the curriculum, especially the Cornerstone classes, which encompass four competencies: thinking critically and creatively, and communicating and interacting effectively, resonated with me. Spending years acquiring foundational knowledge seemed more sensible than delving into a specialized area without a broader understanding of the world.
Next, the holistic learning experience beyond academics was appealing. While it’s often advised to travel post-high school to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and the world, Minerva offered an opportunity to immerse myself in several different countries and cultures, providing a global perspective unattainable through mere vacation or a month of backpacking. The experience significantly impacted my thinking, enhancing my adaptability, flexibility, and problem-solving skills, especially in challenging situations.
Lastly, the community at Minerva was a draw. I desired to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who were curious and excited about the world in enriching ways. The environment of loving, caring, and intellectually curious individuals greatly shaped my perspective. Forming a close-knit community with a hundred or so people provided a unique experience that significantly influenced my view on friendships.
In making my decision for Minerva, I used the following heuristic: evaluating what aspects of university life I might miss out on or regret not experiencing at traditional institutions compared to what Minerva offered. Although Minerva might present a size constraint, its growing interconnectedness across different classes seemed promising. On the contrary, choosing a conventional route would mean missing out on a unique learning experience, something I wasn't willing to compromise on, especially as I planned to transition directly into my professional journey post-university without taking a break.
Diversity is a hallmark of Minerva's student body. How has your experience at TKS, which encourages students from various backgrounds to collaborate, influenced your perspective on diversity and its role in a global education?
I love how the experiences that we get through sharing our lives and journeys are perspectives, and just continuing to build our life within Minerva exposes me to a whole host of different types of thinking that I know I wouldn't have encountered at most other institutions. One thing that I was dreading was that in my Canadian university choices I would have been surrounded by people who have had the sameupbringing,the same type of thinking, or just general archetypes that I've been surrounded by all of my life prior to Minerva, I have understood just how vastly different people's life t rajectories and their paths and their expectations of the basics of life vary. And also to see the commonalities between people from different parts of the world, how there are things that unite us that we never thought could be, and to deeply experience their upbringing in a way that maybe the immigrant diaspora doesn't quite do in Canada.
What does the Minerva community mean to you?
Having been a part of the Minerva community for four years, I sometimes forget that this isn't the norm elsewhere. It's not typical to have multiple groups of friends whom you love deeply, whose weddings you know you'll attend, and with whom you've shared countless late-night conversations, mountain and ocean views, and traversed through some of the toughest phases of life, shedding tears and sharing hearty laughs. There's something about living with a group of people over four years that crafts that environment. It's a sentiment rare to find and something I'll miss dearly upon graduating.
Connection is one of my core values, and meaningful relationships constitute a huge component of a fulfilling life. Minerva has truly shown me that the world is full of individuals with whom I might not expect to bond or connect initially, yet they are so intelligent, ambitious, and passionate about the world. From them, I have learned a tremendous amount and forged connections that I treasure. The community, both on a small, personal scale and in a broader sense, constantly reminds me of the richness that comes with forming such bonds.
In what ways do you think your time at TKS prepared you for your academic journey at Minerva? Are there specific skills or mindsets that you found to be particularly valuable in both environments?
When I reflect broadly on the environments that have shaped me into who I am today, both TKS and Minerva have been path-altering. I found that in a very organic way, TKS flowed into Minerva, especially during the foundational year, which is partly why I chose it in the first place; it felt like a natural bridge from one chapter into the next in my life. I wasn't looking forward to joining another institution that would resemble high school in its limitations, and lack of focus on solving real-world problems or continuing to develop those crucial skills. Minerva seemed to fill that gap perfectly.
I believe the mindsets focused on in TKS are broadly applicable in every aspect of life and transition well into the Minerva environment. The intellectual curiosity, the desire to create change in the world, the focus on helping others, and not being confined by the expectations of what's deemed normal or status quo, all transitioned smoothly into my Minerva experience.
Moreover, the desire to be surrounded by individuals who stimulate your thinking and inspire you remained a constant. The problem-solving skills honed at a high level in TKS were fully embodied through the highs and lows at Minerva, especially as we were often thrust into unexpected situations. Living in different countries, though sounding like an extended vacation, involved navigating challenges like being stranded in a country during a layover, dealing with varying levels of safety in unfamiliar cities, missing a train in a foreign country, or facing language barriers when a cab driver is yelling at you (and you can't read, write or speak the language). These experiences significantly contributed to building the muscle of figuring things out and learning how to navigate complex scenarios – a highly practical skill.
Broadly speaking, I continue to curate my life and make decisions guided by the heuristic of becoming an interesting person. Being interesting, in this sense, refers to the unique experiences you pursue, the continuous learning you engage in, and the way you connect with people. This guiding principle has continuously extended and enriched my life journey.
How has your journey through TKS and later Minerva influenced your perspective on the world and your career aspirations?
TKS served as the starting point where I realized that my pent-up desire to positively impact the world could actually be attainable. It reshaped my definition of success, transitioning from merely seeking stability and consistency in my life, to creating a fulfilling life aimed at maximizing the potential impact I can have. Minerva has been instrumental in expanding on this understanding by providing a contextual grasp of the world and various challenges people face across five different continents, offering a firsthand global perspective rather than a theoretical one.
The unique opportunity to live in six different countries and travel to over 20 countries during my university degree has been eye-opening. It's a rare privilege that has allowed me to gain a broader perspective on what the world can offer and look like through different lenses. Exposure to diverse ways of thinking and the different problems people encounter in their home countries has honed my problem-solving skills. It has empowered me to ask insightful questions to understand how people's quality of life varies based on their geographic and systemic circumstances. This exposure has fostered a deeper understanding of the systemic issues prevalent in different parts of the world and has ignited a thought process on how to begin dismantling these barriers.
What advice would you give to a TKS student or alum thinking about applying to Minerva?
I believe that engaging in the TKS process, which involves fostering curiosity about a subject and striving to understand or make a dent in that problem space, sets a solid foundation. It's one of the finest environments I've encountered for nurturing ambition and a desire for change, provided you grasp the core essence of the program and not merely chase it for its aesthetics or brand name. With this understanding, there’s less to fret about. If you've determined that this path aligns with your goals, then what follows is a realization of a fulfilling life as discussed in TKS—encompassing life, success, and meaning.
At Minerva, you are ushered into an experience scarcely found elsewhere, offering a chance to embrace the world's beauty, the wonder of connections, friendships, and exploration in a profound manner. Unlike taking a gap semester for backpacking or participating in a study abroad program, Minerva provides exposure to a multitude of countries, offering a deeper understanding and engagement that comes from living rather than merely traveling. Post-university, the hustle of entering the workforce often constrains the opportunity or encouragement to pause career progression and explore the world. However, Minerva ingeniously melds both worlds—pursuing an enriching education while also exploring and understanding the global landscape.