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October 8, 2021

International student finds her place at JCCC

Astha Thapa’s journey to Johnson County Community College (JCCC) has been a long but rewarding one. The international student hails from Nepal, a country nestled in the Himalayas of South Asia. Its diverse terrain includes hills, plains and some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest.

So how did a student from Nepal end up in America’s Heartland? She followed her dreams.

A Bold Move Toward Education

As a young girl, Astha knew a quality college education would be her ticket to success. She explained she came from a society where women who voiced their opinions were often considered bossy or extreme. For that reason, she felt compelled to make her move.

“I decided to leave home — the nest I was so comfortable in — to chase a dream. I came to the United States hungry to learn, lead, grow and excel,” she said.

Astha’s educational journey began at another Midwestern college, yet she did not feel a sense of belonging there. “I was uprooted and tussling against the cultural shocks,” she said. “I wanted to belong and was searching for an inclusive environment where I could feel powerful, where I didn’t have to blend in.”

So she followed advice from her brother Ashish, a Cavalier graduate, and transferred to JCCC.

Finding a Path Through Clubs & Orgs

Her decision really paid off.  The College made her feel welcome from the start — as a student, as a Student Ambassador and as a member of the Student Senate Executive Board.

“I have found my voice here and I feel seen, heard and taken care of,” she said.

" I have found my voice here and I feel seen, heard and taken care of."— Astha T., JCCC student

Astha was eager to get involved in the JCCC community, even during a pandemic. She learned about Student Senate from a campus flyer and applied mid-semester. She is now Student Senate Vice President and serves as co-chair of Inter-Club Council, an organization that provides club leaders with training and assistance.

As a Student Life Ambassador, Astha works in the Student Lounge, COM 322, helping her peers make friends and feel at home. She also assists in the Student Basic Needs Center, COM 319, and serves on two campus teams — the Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Resource Team (DART).

Sharing a View From the Student Perspective

Astha said she joined the Executive Board of Student Senate primarily to advocate for mental health resources on campus. “College is hard and there are times we burn out,” she said. 

She shared her ideas on the subject at a Board of Trustees meeting and feels confident the College will work toward providing students with on-campus mental health counselors.

Once she graduates from JCCC, Astha plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. But her dreams don’t stop there.

“My goal is to join public service and work at the United States Embassy in Nepal,” she said. “I also dream of working in the Oval Office someday.”

Involvement Takes You to New Heights

If you want to get involved, develop leadership skills and form lasting friendships, check out the 50+ clubs and organizations offered at JCCC. Like Astha, you can make connections, let your voice be heard and truly make a difference.