Sanjiv Shrestha ’05 grew up in a rural Nepali town that lacked running water, electricity, proper health care, and telecommunication. Among the people he grew up with, being successful meant becoming a doctor. To pursue that path, he needed to leave his local school, which ended at fourth grade. He attended a boarding school that was considered one of Nepal’s best, and he also spent two years in England. Through interaction with a variety of people he learned to define success in broader terms. “It became increasingly hard to convince myself to prepare for a career that was decided for me even before I could read and write,” Shrestha says. He received a Starr Scholarship to come to Carleton and graduated summa cum laude in economics.
He currently is working at Goldman Sachs but says, “I’m still struggling to define my career.”
How have larger numbers of international students enriched Carleton?
“One of Carleton’s most remarkable features is its learning environment. There is just no substitute for diversity. We cannot learn from any book what we can learn from our experiences and those of our friends. It is not just about seeing different-colored skin. When you become close friends with someone who grew up so differently from you, your definition of friendship changes, your sense of reality changes. This is not something you can learn from a textbook or from a lecture. It took being exposed to people who had a different understanding of the world in order for me to realize that I don’t need to become a doctor to be considered successful.”
What about your Carleton experience was truly transformative?
“When my mother came for my graduation, her greatest joy was not that I made it through Carleton with a decent grade point average but that I had friends and professors who gave me true shelter. This was transformative for me—getting to know and being a part of so many remarkable people’s worlds.”
What are your plans for your future?
“My 25-year journey from a small rural town in Nepal to metropolitan New York still seems totally surreal to me. I will never forget where I come from, my experiences with friends, or the opportunities I have been given by people I know and the ones I do not. My sense of home has always been a dynamic one. Whether I return to Asia or stay in the United States, I will try, in my own small way, to live up to what people have invested in me.”