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Congratulations, Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa, 2021 Keene State Graduates!

Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa
Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa displaying artwork by Puja's father that was included in an exhibit at Keene State. Photo taken before COVID-19.

For four years, two women from Nepal have brought their culture, determination, intellects, and smiles to Keene State. Their shared intention: to get the skills to make a difference in the world. Sponsored by a partnership between Keene State and the Little Sisters Fund, which helps Nepalese girls have access to education, Benajil Rai and Puja Thapa have succeeded in attaining their dreams of a college education.

Benajil Rai, BA in Multimedia Journalism, double minor in Political Science and Public Relations

“Little Sisters Fund has been supporting me since I was in fourth grade, when my family was displaced during a civil war. One of the first courses I took at Keene State was called Forgiveness and Reconciliation. It was eye-opening. My passion is to make documentaries that focus on social justice and diversity, and to work in Nepal once I gain experience in my field. I am so happy to represent my country here. I believe people yearn to know more about the world. I want to thank my suitemates, my professors, my friends here – you are all invited to Nepal!”

Puja Thapa, BS in Business Management, double minor in Studio Arts and Women’s and Gender Studies

“I have a passion for entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment – thanks to the help I received from Little Sisters Fund, I grew up with those values. I have a lot of emotions about leaving Keene State – I am excited for this new journey of life, and finding a job with a mission-driven organization or nonprofit. I got an amazing education here, both in management skills and in my art courses. I’ve loved working at the student newspaper, the Equinox, where I oversee the overall production, budget, and coordination with the editors. I will miss being in the Equinox office every Monday and Tuesday night, I will miss the art studios – I will miss every corner of Keene State.”

Both Benajil and Puja especially thank Keene State Professor Emeritus of Education Len Fleischer and his wife, the artist Erika Radich, who initially connected the college with the Little Sisters Fund and were instrumental in raising the funds to bring the two women to Keene. As Benajil said, “They are the kindest people we have ever met, a gift to us. They are our American family.”

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