Thirty years after his graduation, Rabi Rajkarnikar ’89, P’23 returned to campus to bring his son Avi Rajkarnikar ’23 to orientation last weekend. A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Avi was inspired to apply to HWS by his father.
“He is a man filled with great stories and I’m excited to follow in his footsteps,” says Avi, who intends to major in economics just like his father. “In addition to my father’s passion for Hobart and William Smith, the education quality, close-knit community and beautiful campus were factors that made me want to become a part of HWS as I begin a new chapter of my life.”
The elder Rajkarnikar, who is managing director of Sun International, says that being back on campus was like coming home. “I felt as if I had never left. There is such a feeling of warmth being here. It may seem strange to say, but I feel more at home at the Colleges than I sometimes feel in Nepal.”
In the early 1980s, Rabi had a different experience when choosing a college. While training to join the Nepali army following 10th grade, he changed plans and continued his education at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. While there, his career counselor encouraged him to look at small liberal arts colleges in the United States, including HWS.
Rabi says his transition to life in the United States was difficult at the start. But after traveling alone for more than 7,000 miles to the shore of Seneca Lake, his new friends encouraged him to walk on to the soccer team, and he eventually joined the track and swimming teams and the international student club.
“My time at HWS taught me that no matter how many tough challenges come up in life, the next day will be better if you choose to move forward. You can withstand any adversity,” Rabi says.
During his time in Geneva last week, Rabi reconnected with friends and urged his son to develop a sense of community.
“If you stay connected to the Colleges, they will do anything they can to help you,” says Rabi. “The network of support is so important; I am happy to see things come full circle.”
In addition to majoring in economics, Avi plans to minor in entrepreneurial studies. He is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship for Inclusive Excellence, given for commitment to service or activism in diverse or underrepresented communities. As a student at the Lincoln School in Kathmandu, Avi was a founding member of a group of students who started a local non-government organization called Water Safety Nepal, with a mission to foster water safety and survival skills among at-risk Nepali communities. He also participated in Scoop For Education, a scholarship program that supports the education of underprivileged female youth in Nepal.