Class News 2016
DIVYA GAUTAM is a 4th year medical student at The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, earning her clinical experience at the Penang campus of the university. She hopes to further her career in the direction of medical health administration as well as continue my training in OBGYN. She is also a Student Ambassador with Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), a world leader in promoting quality health care. Through their work, they provide services to many different individuals and organizations worldwide, including physicians, members of the medical education and regulatory communities, health care consumers, and researchers studying medical education and health workforce.
ALBERT GRAFFE is currently pursuing a B.Sc. in Economics at the University of Mannheim (´17). He takes a special interest in economic policy and finance. Albert has always been particularly sensitive to social injustice and the treatment of minorities, which led him to found the Amnesty International Youth Group in his home town of Leipzig in 2012 and ultimately encouraged him to start the social venture Connect. Connect aims to make a difference in the lives of refugees and university students in Mannheim alike by bringing both groups together to learn and teach their native language and culture to and from one another. Connect’ s goal is to build bridges between Germans and refugees at a time when prejudices persist and hostility is on the rise. Albert’s personal long-term goal is to establish his own financial consultancy in Germany aimed at educating the German middle class to financial intelligence.
ARYA DIWASE attends New York University and she is pursuing a double Major in Journalism and Environmental Studies. Arya writes: When I left KIS two years ago, I left with a tremendous support group of fantastic friends and teachers as well as a yearning to keep learning and keep growing. It was this spirit that KIS nurtured in me that allowed me to embrace New York City and New York University. Like every single one of my classmates, I began my college journey with a number of inhibitions. I was scared about attending a big university like NYU. I was scared about leaving the cozy atmosphere I had at KIS. I was scared about starting over in a new city, especially New York City. However, after two years, my Kodi spirit coupled with a bit of New York City’s magic has allowed me to embrace that Empire state of mind people talk about. Today, I can proudly say that I have my own company, that I am an American Mock Trial National Champion and a bold NYU Violet. When I began my first semester of college, I was going in as a Liberal Studies student still trying to find her passion. It’s a scary experience when you have a time cap on deciding what you want to do in life. But over two years, it’s surprising how much I learnt about myself at NYU. During my first semester, I was exposed to NYU’s Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Program that sparked a deep interest of social entrepreneurship within me. Along with my classmate, I entered a social venture competition in order to find a solution to poverty in India. Going through various staged of the competition, not only did I learn tremendous amounts about running my own business, but it helped me give that business a purpose. I was able to build Jazz Hands, which is a social entrepreneurship venture aimed at teaching underprivileged children English using drama. Today, Jazz Hands has won over $15,000 of funding from NYU in order to keep serving underprivileged children in Pune, India. Last summer, we adopted a government school and taught 150 children and this summer we’re adopting our second school and doubling the number of kids we teach. For two years, NYU has funded us and provided us tremendous support in terms of improving our business and expanding it to reach more communities. Living in Kodaikanal made me fall in love with the nature around me. I knew I wanted to take this forward and create a positive change in terms of environmental awareness. NYU helped me find the medium that I knew would be able to bring about that change. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a member of the NYU Mock Trial team which is currently ranked third in the United States. I have been to 10 tournaments and represented my university at the American Mock Trial National Championship this year. Practicing with my teammates helped me find a family at NYU. Being an attorney on my team has helped me love the activity and it has taught me so much about the legal system as well as the power it has and the change it can bring. Today, I know that I want to work towards pursuing this passion of mine for the law and go to law school. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give my environmental passion a voice through law. I cannot thank my KIS teachers and faculty enough for giving me the encouragement and support to make the most of my college experience. I’m still in touch with most of my classmates who are doing amazing things in their lives and adding a little bit of the Kodai magic to all their college activities. It makes me proud to say that I had the honor of studying at KIS because it truly has made me who I am today and it continues to be the support system I need.
BANU GANESHAN : After graduating from KIS, a place that taught me it’s okay to be emotional and let people become an integral part of your life by living in a close knit community, I didn’t know what I would do without my family of two years. Starting at NC State in August 2014, I hardly had an idea how much my life was about to change. North Carolina is beautiful and Raleigh has been really welcoming and homely. I have found my place here amongst a diverse group of like-minded students. Although we were pretty independent in Kodai, studying at university is a whole other beast. I have been working as a photojournalist for Student Media at NC State since the time I got here and being an editor for the past year at the campus newspaper opened my eyes to what real life responsibilities are probably going to be like. As a teaching assistant for a class filled with freshmen, I explored a whole new side of me I didn’t know existed. Mr. Varghese’s talks on the importance of community service have followed me across the seas and in my free time, I volunteer at different organizations to do my part for this society. As we are all in the process of becoming adults, we learn things the hard way by experiencing a variety of different emotions and feelings as the weeks go by, but you know that all these little things are preparing you for the greater days to come. It was a little hard to get used to the time difference because your friends are scattered across the globe, but even that added to the college experience of trying to occasionally keep in touch with your folks. I was reminiscent of the times we would all have lunch and dinner together in our cafeteria and felt a little lonely just as I was starting off with classes, but as time passed, all the new people I met and friends I made have helped me feel more at home. It’s the start of a second family here and the fact that some of my closest peers are already graduating just shows how different an experience change can bring about. No matter where I go, I have Kodai to thank for molding me into what I am today and I can already feel the intricacies that life as a part of the Wolfpack has begun adding to my outlook.
GODWIN SCOTT: After leaving Kodai to come to Canada’s capital to study engineering at a Carleton university, I realized that the world is more than just going to class or studying or playing indoor football and relaxing in the free time. Don’t get me wrong, those were one of the best memories of my life, but what I do mean is that, the end of your time in High school is just the beginning of the adventure. The values you learn in school is what is going to carry on to your day to day life and interactions. Personally speaking, starting university in a different country with just about every being new to me, was not easy. Making friends wasn’t as easy as saying “Hi” to somebody at Gymkhana and not everyone is going to be as down to earth as our Kodai Ayah’s. But we Kodai people, we learn quick, we learn to adapt, so in 2-3 days’ time, I had more friends than SAT vocabulary I had to memorize. Slowly but surely I realized the Kodaikanal International School prepared me for the real world. I think most of my class of 2014 family will agree on the fact that if they could they would repeat the time they spent in Kodai. That’s not only because Tibs/Tavas/CCD were so awesome but mostly because of the relationship and memories we made. I do apologize for making it sound so dramatic but all in all, I wish all students the best and expect you to make the most of the time you spend in that peaceful mountain. Go hiking, play indoor/field day (even if its cheer-leading), participate in drama, volunteer in Soex/Peer program, take up leadership roles, ask that girl out for prom and most of all have fun.
RAHI SURYAWANSHI: UC Davis is situated in Yolo County, California. The spirit of the school stems from the name of the county; everyone is trying to make the most of their college experience. From freshman 15 to freshman -15, college has been full of ups and downs, and I've had experiences that have fostered both, my personal as well as my professional growth. As I was enthusiastically collecting the different brochures and signing up for multiple email LISTSERVs during the Welcome Week Student Fair '14, I heard loud drum hits that instantly caught everyone's attention. They came from a performance by Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan, the collegiate Taiko team on campus that I'm honored to now be a part of. My freshman year started off with me auditioning for something I'd no idea about before I came to UC Davis. This team has been my heart and soul for my two years here and encompasses the part of me that goes crazy every time I hear Nashik Dhol. Delving into an art form of a culture different than mine has been enthralling and this team has given me the opportunity to perform at really unique locations and platforms, one of them being TedXUCDavis. In addition to Taiko, I've been involved in the Dead Arts Society which is a student run theatre club on campus, thus, the plays are written, acted, directed and stage managed by students. I've come across some of the most talented people in this club, who taught me to always be myself; the best version of myself. Next, I had the amazing chance of walking the ramp for the Student Fashion Association's annual show, wearing an outstanding student designer's work. In spite of what Mr. Siraj may think, this was completely out of my comfort zone which made it an amazing experience. As for my professional growth, I got accepted to serve as a staff member to a senator at the Associated Students of UCD. Senator Shaitaj Dhaliwal has ambitious platforms, one of them is to create an annual music festival for UC Davis called Cowchella, which all of you are very warmly invited to. This position has also given me the opportunity to represent UC Davis at the University of California Women's Caucus of 2016. In addition to that, I've applied and interviewed for multiple jobs (it's become some sort of a hobby, really) and I recently got offered a paid job (for all the food that I consume) as a sales associate for the Book Store on campus! Jokes apart, money is not my motivation. These two years have truly taught me how to make the most out of everything that I do and that comes from networking, being able to present what I stand for to the people that I interact/work with and having the willingness to learn, at all times. KIS was a stepping stone to UCD and UCD is going to be a stepping stone to my future. I'm excited for these next two years and to graduate and I can't wait to see what my future has in store for me.
SONIA SCHAK: Kodaikanal was the place where I fell in love with the idea of education policy. I became fascinated by the methods utilized by KIS administrators to run our school successfully and efficiently. Furthermore, the location and diversity of KIS gave me an opportunity to juxtapose the idea of education policy from a more cross-cultural setting. Moreover, my KIS IB Math classes taught me that data signified truth and is critical to formulate any decisions. I carried my passion for education policy and data to college and enrolled as an Education Policy at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. At Maxwell, I have been challenged to analyze and collect complex data. Data which enables me to resolve whether a certain education policy is feasible. I would have never analyzed data if it hadn’t been for KIS. Furthermore, I have honed my love for education policy, amongst other activities, by serving as the cabinet member for academic affairs in SU's undergraduate government, as an undergrad representative on the university accreditation committee as well as a student supervisor for a project at a correctional facility. I wouldn't have been successful at managing my time to fit in all this or have the skills to negotiate with the university administration/prison administration, if I hadn't learned how to adjust in a dorm with many or not worked as the Eucy Editor and volunteered with NHS at KIS. KIS is what you make of it and I am so grateful for the countless experiences that life behind the stonewalls taught me to love learning, face new challenges, be competitive and truly live by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
AYMAN SIRAJ: It's been two years since I've graduated from Kodai. Just like the two years I spent in Kodai, time has flown by really fast. Yvonne our lovely alumni coordinator has been trying for a year now to get me to write a piece for the alumni magazine. This time I have decided not to 'forget'. So what have I been up to since then? I'm currently studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Southern California. That's all you get about my studies. More on life in general. Kodai’s nature and people gave me a love for photography which I continue to practice till this day. I've been lazy in creating a portfolio site but I hope to get one going soon. I've been fortunate to intern in two different cities for the past two summers - Bangalore & Cape Town. This summer, I interned at Travelstart (think yatra.com but for Africa). As a person who loves anything to do with travel and planes, this internship was right down my alley and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The summer before, I interned at MAC Machine Tools & Automation - this internship was very challenging but rewarding. I was taught to use Solidworks and then made some designs on it. The hardest part about going to a boarding school? You never know when you'll see your best friends as everyone is spread out. I've been fortunate enough to sporadically meet up with friends in New York & Toronto over the past two years but at least once a week I'll reminiscence about the great times spent at Kodai. Whether it be after dinner hangouts on Flag Green, gobbling up dosas at Hilltop or waking up on Saturday mornings for SoEx! If you would love to chat or get in touch with me, find me online at facebook.com/ayman.siraj or linkedin.com/in/aymansiraj