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We’re Coming to Keene State – from Nepal!

Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa
The first Nepalese women to benefit from a new partnership with the Little Sisters Fund, Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa

Among the many extraordinary first-year students coming to Keene State this fall will be two young women from Nepal. Puja Thapa and Benajil Rai have received scholarships, thanks to the partnership between Keene State and the Nepal-based Little Sisters Fund. The Little Sisters Fund has been working since 1998 to educate young Nepalese girls who might otherwise follow the all-to-common path of early marriage, child labor, or sex trafficking. The young women who are given such a chance are usually most appreciative and work hard to take advantage of the opportunity and then go on to apply the skills they’ve learned to educate other girls or their community.

The Keene State/Little Sisters Fund partnership was established to provide tuition, room and board, and fees for two Nepali students to come to KSC for their undergraduate education, and Benajil and Puja are the first to benefit from this offering.

When she was just 17, Benajil Rai volunteered for two months to rescue and recover the living and the dead buried in the collapsed buildings and landslides caused by the Nepal earthquake in 2015.

“In a developing country like Nepal, every student like me has a dream to attend a good college in the US or some other developed country,” Benajil said. “And I consider myself lucky to get this great opportunity, where I hope to get a quality education, exciting experience, everlasting skills, new prospective, and, of course, great friends. The opportunity to study at Keene State College has given me confidence to dream big and pursue my aspiration to become a  journalist. I believe that the  skills, experiences, prospective, and the education that I will receive at KSC will definitely help me reach my goals, allowing me to transform myself from an ordinary girl to a confident and empowered woman who can inspire and contribute to others lives.”

Since 2017, Puja Thapa has been volunteering at the Little Sisters Fund, helping with such things as translation, record keeping, school visits, and mentoring the other little sisters. She also helped initiate a project called “Empowering Young Minds” that instructs students in grades 7–10 about reproductive health and hygiene.

“I aspire to be an entrepreneur,” Puja said, “to start something on my own that benefits especially the rural areas of Nepal. I also want to become an artist like my father. I hope to major in management and minor in art at Keene. I really believe that the opportunity to come to Keene State College can be life changing. I’m sure the knowledge-oriented education as practiced at KSC, rather than the exams-oriented approach that is used in Nepal, will enrich my knowledge and skills that I can continue to develop when I return Nepal. Since I am always keen to learn, I’m excited to experience a liberal arts education that will help me gain a wide range of knowledge about many subjects. If I utilize this opportunity well, I believe I can emerge as a new better person who’ll be more specific and determined about her career.”

If you see Benajil and Puja along Appian Way, please welcome these inspiring young women to the Keene State community.

And if you’d like to support the partnership and help make a Keene State education available to Benajil, Puja, and other little sisters, you can donate here.

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