Hometown: Kathamandu, Nepal; Preferred name and pronouns: Avi, he/him
Major in Economics
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
Before coming to Knox, I had never taken on big leadership roles or been involved in student organizations. I came to college with a mindset that I will boldly undertake any opportunities I get because I regretted overlooking the opportunities that previously were presented to me. When I first started being a leader it was to explore, but now I am learning and contributing to the well-being of the community that has helped me grow. That motivates me to become a better leader than I was yesterday.
What are you involved in on campus? What do you enjoy about these activities?
I am co-president of the Entrepreneurship Society, first-year senator in Student Senate, vice president of the Powerlifting Club, an Alumni Ambassador, and a member of Union Board.
At first, I really liked how these positions challenged me to become a better leader. Now, I like lifting up people who want to be better and achieve things but are having a hard time doing it alone. When I see someone struggling, it reminds me of myself when I was in their shoes. Helping them brings me joy.
What brought you and your twin brother to Knox?
Knox reached out and was really interested in me attending. Knox also gave me the best financial aid options, which was good because my parents have to support the education of three children.
My twin, Arun Rajbhandari '25, was accepted at Knox one year earlier than I was; however, because of COVID-19, he deferred. Coming to the college together was unplanned, but maybe destiny wanted us to stay together.
Do you know what you’d like to major in?
I am planning to major in economics. There is a stereotype in the society I grew up in that someone who pursues science is more successful and intelligent, so I took only science classes when I was in high school. I really wasn’t interested in science, which resulted in me not being able to focus in class and I did badly in high school. I took a gap year that really helped me figure things out, but when I came to Knox I was still undecided and that made me anxious. After taking my first economics class, I really loved it and was confident about it.
Is there anything you’d like to do here like studying abroad, internships, etc.? Why?
I would love to do both study abroad and internships. I want to gain a broader perspective of the world and be more sophisticated in the things that I am good at and try new things in the process.
Obviously western Illinois is a lot different from Nepal. What do you enjoy here? What do you miss about home?
I enjoy the stillness compared to busy cities. Also, I had only seen trains a handful of times before coming here. Hearing the train's whistle makes me feel like I am in a movie from the 1900s.
I miss the lush green magnificent hills beckoning you in Nepal, and the sound of the creek making me conscious of the tranquility in the present moment.
Do you feel any sense of community with other Nepalese or South Asian students?
Occasionally, it is nice to have someone to talk to in my mother tongue whose culture is quite similar to mine.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I believe death gives purpose to life, and the purpose of life is to live the way we want. If we look at our lives from a wider perspective, nothing that we do is really significant. This is why doing meaningless things with our lives doesn't make sense to me. We tell ourselves to be responsible with our life choices, instead of doing what we dream of. For instance, I was going to be a computer science major because I thought it was practical and I was afraid that I wouldn't get a job after graduation. I assumed that as an international student, it would be easier to get a job as a computer science major even though I don't have any passion for computer science. My gap year really helped me figure my priorities out and discover that I enjoyed economics.