For anyone, going to college can be a unique and sometimes overwhelming experience. Dealing with classes, professors, deadlines, as well as any of life’s other stresses can play its toll on that experience. Going to teach at a college can be a nerve-wracking experience in itself as well, especially when that College is in a different country.
This has been the life of the newest chemistry professor at Rappahannock Community College, Dr. Lekh Adhikari. A native of Nepal, Lekh grew up in a small village in Arghakhanchi district, moved to a nearby city for his higher education, then moved to a capital city to finish his master’s degree.
“I wanted to do some research … so I was applying for grad schools here in the United States,” he says. “I got acceptance from some schools, and I chose one of those, which was University of Nevada, Reno.”
After finishing his Ph.D. at the university, because of the opportunities, he chose to stay in the country. Soon he found jobs teaching at Reno’s community college, Truckee Meadows, as well as the University of Nevada where he graduated.
Eventually, Lekh found his way to RCC, where he now teaches Chemistry at the Warsaw Campus.
“It’s a huge change for me in so many ways,” he says of the differences between RCC and the other schools he taught at.
“I was teaching traditional college students at a land-grant university which had a large student population. There would be around 300 students in a class, and my office would be packed during the office hours because the students are out there all the time.”
In contrast to the other colleges, he says, “Demographics of the students is so different here [at RCC] … [they are] mostly returning students.”
In Nepal, the standard educational path ended when the student started work after college. “Until I started teaching the community college,” he says, “I was not that aware of that mixed group of people that are in the college. Normally people do not want to go back to college in their 30s or 40s [in Nepal].”
When he arrived at the College, Lekh was at first aware of another faculty member from Nepal at RCC.
“I contacted [accounting professor Pradeep Ghimire], even before coming to my first day here,” he says. “We did know some people in common, Nepal isn’t that big … there are some relations.”
And speaking of relations, Adhikari and his wife, Anu, welcomed a baby girl to their family. “I am very blessed to have a daughter in our family,” says Adhikari.
“I always want to be a responsible citizen of a community and am committed to contributing my share to the societies that I am associated with,” says Lekh. — Mary Ashley Wood