Having faith in your own abilities
A native of Mumbai, India, Thakkar heard about Beloit College through the Next Genius scholarship program, which awards a small number of Indian high schoolers full-tuition scholarships to attend participating U.S. colleges. After enduring a battery of tests and interviews — as well as connecting with fellow Beloiter and Next Genius scholar, Yasho Kundra’20 — Thakkar received the scholarship and decided that Beloit was the place for her.
Beloit was a supportive environment for Thakkar from the get-go. “I had great professors throughout, all of whom have been so invested, not just in my academic success but also in me as a person and how I grew,” Thakkar says. “Beloit is intense in terms of that.”
Her religious studies and international relations professors had company helping Thakkar succeed. She also found kindred spirits while working in the college’s Wright Museum and mail center, in addition to a few odd jobs over the summer months. “All of [my coworkers] have been so, so supportive,” she says. “I’ve had coworkers offer to take me to the grocery shop — even during Covid, all of them reached out.”
Thakkar also took advantage of college grants that allowed her to travel in a series of what she describes as “life-defining experiences,” all outside of the residential Beloit campus. The summer after her first year, she backpacked in Spain, taking the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage to Galicia in the country’s northwest. The following year, she studied religion for a semester in Jordan.
Then, last spring, that autonomy was lost. Classes suddenly moved online. Travel plans were canceled. Unable to return to India, Thakkar was one of a small handful of international students who spent the isolating and uncertain summer working on campus.
Fast-forward to a year later, and the United States — including Beloit’s campus — is opening quickly, thanks to the proliferation of vaccines.
Thakkar finds the speed of the opening “surreal,” after spending so much time cooped up.
“The difference between how easily the West has just transitioned to a post-Covid society while the rest of the world is still suffering is crazy,” she says. She admits it’s been both hard to hear about the difficulties family and friends face back home and to live her life to the fullest while she’s still here in the States.
Even as the pandemic seems to be waning, Thakkar has learned over the last year to maintain her goals, but keep immediate plans more loose. She will work in the College’s alumni office this summer while becoming certified to teach English as a second language. She hopes to find a job in the foreign service back in India, but remains open to anything.
“Through Covid, we all entered a very uncertain, very fragile economy, so even then [we learned about] having faith in your own abilities, that you will find a direction through life, and will make it in whatever you want to do,” Thakkar says. “Having that confidence and knowing that you have such a huge network of people you can always tap into, who are there to help you with any advice — that’s nice.”