Living and Learning

Monica Thapa '17, during last year's trip to Nepal. Photo courtesy of Thapa.

Monica Thapa '17 in Nepal, where she traveled last year. Photo courtesy of Thapa.

Monica Thapa ’17  

Monica Thapa 17’s very first class at Dickinson was also her most transformative. Here, she discusses what she learned in that class and in life, both as a health-studies intern and as part of a multiethnic family. She also explains her last-minute swerve to Dickinson and her appreciation for all she's experienced so far.


Biology, with a health-studies certificate.

Clubs and organizations:

D-tones (a cappella group), Pre-Health Society, Montgomery Service Leaders and Alpha Lambda Delta.


John Dickinson Scholarship and Richard H. Wanner Scholarship.

Favorite book:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Favorite movie:

The Pursuit of Happyness.

On choosing Dickinson:

I actually committed to a university in my home state [before ultimately deciding on Dickinson]. I remember on May 1, the college admissions deadline, something just didn’t feel right about where I had decided to go to school. I had only toured Dickinson a few times, but I felt that it was a better fit for me—small class sizes, a commitment to study abroad and, most importantly, a sense that the professors truly cared about the students. A few hours before the final deadline, I withdrew my application to the other school and committed to Dickinson. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Favorite place on campus:

Either the Academic Quad or Morgan Field—they’re equally beautiful, regardless of the season.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Anything from the Kove.

Favorite class:

One of my favorite classes at Dickinson was probably the first one I ever took, my First-Year Seminar. We read about the domestic and global HIV/AIDS epidemic and had really invigorating and meaningful class discussions. Aside from the material, I felt that the structure of the class was extremely beneficial in my development as a student. All of us sat in a circle and shared our perspectives about what we were learning. That allowed me to become a better thinker and to articulate my ideas more fully and clearly.

Favorite professor:

I cannot say that I have a favorite professor, as they have all been instrumental in my development as a student at Dickinson. Whether it was a science professor who taught me specific lab techniques, a Spanish professor who pushed me to think and write in that language or a sociology professor who challenged me to become a more open-minded and introspective individual, they all continue to have an impact on my life.

Post-Dickinson plans:

My plans are constantly changing. At the moment, I would like to pursue some type of career in global health. I come from a multiethnic background—my father is from Nepal, and my mother grew up in the United States—and I’m interested in a career with an international focus.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Though it might sound cliché, the most important thing I’ve learned so far at Dickinson is the value of education. Whenever I become overwhelmed with schoolwork or classes, I remind myself how fortunate I am to even attend college and have the support system that I have here. There are endless possibilities as to what I can study and which classes I can take. I also appreciate having the opportunity to study abroad and immerse myself in a whole other culture.

In a perfect world …

… everyone would see each other as equals.

Biggest influence:

Definitely my parents. My father is from Nepal, and my mom grew up in the United States, so I was exposed to different customs, traditions and lifestyles when I was little. This made me become more open-minded, tolerant and appreciative of those who have backgrounds that are different from my own.

About my internship:

I have an interest in working in health care after I graduate, and my health-studies internship [this past summer] gave me a lot of hands-on experience in interacting with patients, as I worked directly with the elderly in nursing homes and independent-living facilities. I was constantly interacting with clients who had just come out of surgery, or who were facing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-stroke aphasia and many other conditions.

What I learned:

Though many of the interns felt that by the end of the summer we had made a difference in some of these clients’ lives, I actually felt that this internship made a difference in mine. Though it was tough at times, simply having a conversation with a client was meaningful.

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Published June 15, 2015