Urvi Maheshwari spent her high school years feeling like she was walking around numb. Though she attended one of the most prestigious schools in her home country, India, her education was focused on getting her to memorize and obtain outstanding grades on her 12th year exams. When the time came around to choose a university, she was looking for a 180º change. Urvi wanted to find a place where her curiosity was encouraged and her passion for learning could be recognized. She met Moustafa Ezz, one of Huron’s international recruiters, in a university fair and when he told her about the small classes, the psychology center, the research opportunities, and mentorship her decision was made. Urvi received her acceptance letter and prepared for her next adventure.
When she arrived at Huron Urvi was set on having the best university experience. She wanted to make friends from everywhere in the world, and in the process, she ended up distancing herself from other Indian students. She explained how all students when arriving at college seek familiarity and comfort to avoid feeling lost, especially those whose home is far away. International students tend to look for others from their own culture or country of origin, the same way local students stay with those they knew from high school. However, she expressed sometimes that prevents students from meeting new people and opening up to new experiences.
I made an active effort to step out of my comfort zone. I was aware that people generalized international students into an isolated group that didn’t interact with others and I didn’t want to be boxed into a stereotype. Looking back, maybe that was not a decision I had to make. I was just trying to escape a very restricted and inaccurate perception of who I was supposed to be.
Urvi shared she loves the group of friends that she has managed to build but wishes that creating a support system could be equally easy for other students in their first couple of years at college.
During her first year at Huron Urvi joined the Scholars Electives program and started a journey full of excitement and discovery.
It was the first time I was allowed to be truly curious. I came knowing exactly what I wanted to study and my professors, Christine Tsang and Deanne Van Tol, encouraged me to open up to other disciplines. This has helped me have an interdisciplinary approach to my education. In the program it doesn’t matter the methodology you use; all questions are just meant to make sense out of the world.
She is now in her third year pursuing an Honours Specialization in Psychology and a major in History, which she decided on after exploring the field in Scholar’s Electives.
Her second year was filled with activities and new academic experiences. She highlighted a history course where she got to learn about indigenous history and culture. Her and the other two students in the class got to do a field trip and understand the impact of settler colonialism in the community. The content of the course was shaped around what they wanted to explore and learn about, which was a unique component in an undergraduate setting.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit she had to go home unexpectedly and wrap up her second year of university in the midst of a global crisis. She spent four months over the summer teaching conversational English through the Joining Hands foundation. She explained that she joined the position with a set of plans and objectives for the students, but the situation was such that she had to modify her expectations to provide the best experience.
Most of them were using their phones and accessing the classes on data so I had to ditch the movies and videos and make it more accessible.
When asked about her expectations for the 2020-2021 academic year Urvi manifests she is excited. She is looking forward to her winter courses and other extracurricular components. She does remark missing in-person life. Though she expresses that sometimes Huron’s small community can feel a bit like high school, Urvi explains it also means people are invested in you personally. And that’s what leadership with heart is for her: coming together and helping each other grow.