Welcome!

Welcome to my professional portfolio!

I am a multicultural scholar and higher education professional with growing expertise in community college leadership, graduate student success, student affairs, internationalization, organizational management, branding, and entrepreneurship. I have successfully led strategic initiatives involving wide-ranging collaborations with multiple and diverse stakeholders. Some of my interest areas also include learning theories, organizational theories, change in higher education, global citizenship, community engagement, and economic development. I am particularly invested in the following –

  • the American community college and it’s international adaptations
  • global citizenship initiatives for students and scholars
  • entrepreneurship in higher education
  • organizational leadership,
  • student affairs, and
  • public policy.

I have also enjoyed counseling, advising, and teaching postsecondary level students. Please find a .pdf version of my CV here.

As a doctoral scholar at the University of Florida (UF), I promoted global engagement on campus as the Chair of International Committee at Graduate Student Council, promoted diversity as the Mayor of University Village, and co-founded the Nepal Team of Engineers Without Borders at UF. Before coming to Florida, I received second master’s degree under the Fulbright Program from the University of Pittsburgh, where I served the host community by volunteering for organizations such as A+Schools, Pittsburgh Regional International Student Ministries (PRISM), and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. I served in graduate student organizations including the Nepalese Student Association, which I led as president.

I served as Graduate Senator at UF’s Student Government and represented graduate and professional students from the Southeast region of United States at National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) as International Students Concerns Chair. I represent Nepali diaspora through United Florida Nepalese Association and Florida Association of Nepali Societies (United FNA-FANS) and Nepalese Association in Southeast America (NASeA). Back home in Nepal, I am deeply involved in the higher education sector of the country and currently serve as the Regional Director of International Relations in the Mid-Western University. I have had the privilege of leading the young men and women in the regions while serving as the president of JCI Birendranagar (2010) and chairing the Surkhet branch of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) in 2009 and 2010.

For any questions, comments, or suggestions, please use this contact form.

Thank you!

PS: I also blog on issues of my scholarly expertise/interest on this site, as you can see below. Thank you for visiting my website.

Three Keys to Engage Adult Learners

ACTIVATE

For learning to happen, it takes an “active” learner — not necessarily a “live” teacher.
Bring the whole self into the classroom.

  • Tell them the purpose. Adult learners are motivated by the real world benefits of what they are doing. It is a good idea to periodically remind why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Ask them to write. Give your students a few minutes to write on a related topic. You can give related question to answer, or just ask them to summarize  their thoughts on previously distributed learning materials. Or it could be about the main points from the last class. Writing process stimulates their brains and helps them transition from the outside world to the classroom. These few minutes may kickstart their writing regimen, the activity has a symbolic value and a focusing function.
  • What other ideas do you have for achieving student’s full attention (not just the habeas corpus)?

 

ENGAGE

Tap into students’ experiences

Do not assume “knowledge exists “out there.” Knowledge exists in each person’s mind and is shaped by individual experience. Learning happens only when students are able to make connections.

  • Pique on the treasure trove. The beauty of working with adults is that they have experiences and stories about various topics. Allowing one (or two NOT three or four!) of your students to tell their storie(s) makes learning real for the whole group. Caution: Make sure one person doesn’t steal the whole class into an irrelevant side conversation. Use your polished facilitation skills to keep the focus on topic.
  • Don’t “teach” give immediate “feedback.” Bring student experience into action by engaging the in problem based learning. Challenging learners do things on their own or in their groups reveals you where they are in terms of mastery of their skills. Such action opportunities invaluable opportunity to see exactly what they need. Those “teaching moments” are invaluable as they create a learning opportunity. While giving feedback, remember to be respectful. Students must feel that you are there to develop every student’s competencies and talents, not just to judge their performances and grade them.
  • Tell us your experience of successfully having done this in one of your classes.

 

LEVERAGE

Use the existing  culture, narratives, and controversies

Do not make your classroom an endeavor of transfer knowledge from faculty to students. You are the designer of environment to elicit student discovery and construction of knowledge.

  • Enter controversy. Let them take stand but as a facilitator, you should not take a side. Debates not only make classroom conversations interesting, but also enhance presentations skills and help students grow cognitive, rhetorical eloquence. Most magical aspect of debate is that students take ownership their learning because they have to “defend” their arguments. Among the many other benefits of debates are improvements in self-esteem, rigorous higher order and critical thinking skills, the ability to structure and organize thoughts, analytical, research and note-taking skills, and encouraging teamwork.
  • Fire up emotions. Absorption and retention is high for emotionally charged content. Use images, graphics, and written content that are relevant, and evoke certain feeling.
  • What else can you use? Sex, religion, and politics are some interesting topics that adults take interest in

Building a Global Community

Statements of most universities’ vision and mission for higher education today are abuzz with the need to help students cultivate the sense of global citizenship as well as achieve the goals of liberal arts education. This desire is a necessary response to the paradigm shifts in geopolitical power dynamics in the world, increasing economic and career challenges faced by universities and their students respectively, and radical advancements in information technologies that are transforming higher education. However, it is not easy to see what specific approaches and strategies that the universities are using for producing global citizens in the sense of well-rounded and productive graduates who are professionally competitive in the local and global markets (and not the cultivation of global citizenship as an intellectual ideal). As an international scholar who is passionate about learning and contributing ideas about how universities can achieve the goal of producing productive global citizens in response to the crises that higher education is facing around the word, I believe that students affairs are best positioned to take the lead in helping universities achieve this goal. The goal can be achieved by adopting a three-pronged approach that is frankly but surprisingly simpler than it may appear. In the rest of this short essay, I describe what that approach would look like focusing on how student affairs can take help universities fulfill this mission.

Redefine and Re-Sell the Mission of Global Citizenship

The idea of global citizenship as an educational goal was a part of the larger mission of liberal arts education in the United States, so it is by no means a new idea. What is new is that this mission has changed from being an intellectual ideal into a pragmatic necessity. Because of the globalization of trade, industry, and the service sector–and additionally because this globalization is radically intensified by globalized communication and information technologies–our students will practically need the skills for communicating and working with globally interconnected academic and professional markets. As a result, student affairs that take the leadership in promoting this education goal will no longer be promoting an ideal but educating and demonstrating to the university community practical benefits of developing in our students the sense of–and skills for–surviving and thriving in global professional market.

Provide Leadership, Promote the Mission

Universities already strive to achieve the goal of cultivating global citizenship among their students, but they normally do so through individual departments, initiatives, and programs. Student affairs are in the best position to provide leadership and promote the mission on university-wide scales. Also, universities spend tremendous amounts of resource in traditional programs like study abroad programs and international missions when in fact they already have global communities of international students and faculty right on campus, often from as many as a hundred different countries. If the ideas, experiences, expertise, and indeed outlooks of these members of the university are tapped into, student affairs can create “global education exchange” programs right on campus. However, this does not mean that they should replace the world with people who are “already here.”

Develop Global Learning Networks

As much as there are challenges, there are  opportunities in any field. It is possible to network to the learning or professional community literally across the world. For example, a physics student needs to understand the field of physics on a global level  because he/she will be working and indeed competing with a global community of physics scholars and professionals in the future. And then it’s possible to create personal learning networks as well as professional organizations and networks of the best minds in the field. Today, even while one is a student, students with leadership potentials can also start developing their own networks and leadership roles in their field on an international scope. This is not only doable because of the technology at our hands, it is becoming eminently practically necessary because of the challenges that every academic field is facing today.
In conclusion, as an international scholar who worked as a teacher and leader in secondary and postsecondary education in a developing country, who is involved in professionalization of the field in both at home and the United States, and as a scholar of student affairs who has a passion for leading in educational projects that have global scopes and missions, I strongly believe that scholars, researchers, and administrators in this field have an extremely important role to fulfill in the face of increasing challenges brought about by the internationalization of higher education. What can we do to turn these challenges as exciting opportunities? While examining the net effects of college scholars consistently suggest that college is the best time to develop globally minded and educated citizens because it is the time when students increase their civic and community involvement and become more open to diversity.

Time for Reverse Transfer

Between 2003 and 2013, about two million students transferred from community colleges to universities (i.e., without earning the associate degree) but did not go on to complete the college degree that they intended to. The fact that these students were enrolled for at least two years in college makes the data even more painful to study. Because transfer to college is an increasing pattern but completion from college is decreasing, it is time that college students who earn enough credit be awarded the associate degree.

And that is where the idea of reverse transfer comes in.

Beginner's Challenge

There are many benefits of reverse transfer. First, because completion of bachelor’s degree often takes five to six years or even more, a student who cannot reach all the way to the end of the four-year college programs is able to use credits earned to receive an associate degree (with 60 or more credits). That is, for students who have to drop out of college, the fallback option of intermediate degree.

Second, even if a student is making progress toward a four-year degree, the ability to use an associate degree after some time can make a big difference in their academic, and social lives.

Third, the student gains some self-efficacy toward the daunting journey of pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Let us think of an individual who transferred to a university from a community college where she earned about 40 credits. She has no degree that she can mention yet. Then, say she earns some 30 more credits at a university. At this point, if she wants to find a job (an increasing reality), what is the highest degree in her hand? High School. Some employers do have the check box “some college, no degree”; but even in this case, she is not yet able to mention a degree.

Finally, when a student is able to complete a degree by using reverse transfer, she can enjoy the earning premium (often referred to as “sheepskin” effect) of a credential at hand. In the context of dramatic tuition increase and students dropping out for financial reasons, an increased income can significantly increase the chance of completing college.

Reverse Transfer is the newest manifestation of a century-long Access Agenda (that more citizens have access to higher education and advanced professional skills) and also a means of a more specific national mission called the Completion Agenda (that more citizens complete college level degrees). According to Terry O’Banion, Completion Agenda has been the driving force for community colleges for more than a century. But while four-year college became more accessible and desirable for more people in the past few decades, the idea of lateral/forward transfer of community college credit became more and more popular. With the economic crisis and skyrocketing of student loan debt, the possibility of students falling through the cracks has become all too common. In this context, the idea of falling back to earn a lower degree has become a socially viable option.

There is another reason why reverse transfer has recently started drawing people’s attention. Community college graduates are gaining prestige in a number of areas in business and industry. According to Kelsey Sheehey,

Community college students juggle a lot of responsibilities. Most work at least part time, many have families to care for and homework doesn’t do itself. Successfully keeping all those balls in the air requires focus, determination and maturity – traits that hold a lot of weight with recruiters from businesses and four-year universities.

In a U.S. News article, Kelsey Seehey quotes Maureen Crawford Hentz, director of talent management for A.W. Chesterton Co., a global manufacturing corporation headquartered in Massachusetts: “If you can juggle family, working, homework, school, internships – I want you. It’s just as simple as that.” Hentz used a memorable metaphor to describe her preference for community college graduates (who were employees in a steel factory): “Both were great dancers, but Rogers did it backwards and in heels,” she says, reciting a famous quote. “Community college students do it backwards and in heels.”

Not many employers may agree with Hentz’s point of view, but this is evidently a significant trend.

In the face of a deteriorating economy–which rather paradoxically demands that more students graduate–the potential of reverse transfer to meet the Completion Agenda (notwithstanding its side effects) is huge. As indicated by President Obama’s 2020 Vision the Completion Agenda has become a national imperative, (more so than ever in its two decades long history). The alternative pathway for “completion” provided by reverse transfer is also associated with global competitiveness in terms of degree completion numbers and quality workforce.

Looking at this new opportunity of assisting students obtain college degrees, many states are asking institutions to coordinate to facilitate reverse transfer, which may have a significant impact towards increasing the number of college graduates in their states. Hawaii is leading this initiative and many states are following the suit including Maryland. “Hawaii may be the furthest ahead in statewide coordination,” Inside Higher Ed quoted Holly Zanville, a program director of Lumina Foundation, who have given a descriptive name to the phenomenon — “credit when it is due.”

Policy 3

To highlight the potential of significant contribution of reverse transfer toward Completion Agenda, Community College Futures Assembly, a national think tank, is organizing a National Policy Summit on reverse transfer in January 2015. Dr. David Pelham from the National Student Clearinghouse and Dr. Dale Campbell and Dr. Tina O’Daniels of the Futures Bellwether College Consortium discuss relevance and impact of reverse transfer in this podcast.

According to National Student Clearinghouse’s Research center, 45% of the students who complete degrees in four year institutions, have previously enrolled at two-year institutions for at least one semester. It is in the interest of students, parents, universities, and the nation at large to not let earned college credits to go to waste, just because our students didn’t get past an ultimately artificial finish line.

The mortar and gown may be important markers for our culture, but much more important for the economic and social health of the nation (as well as the dignity of our students and families) is that we do give credit for the hard earned education to our students–whether or not they walk across the podium wearing a gown!

Horse that Doesn’t Drink Water

In a recent graduate course on Higher Education Policy Development, one of my classmates metaphorically gave up, his hands up in the air: You can take the horse to water but you cannot make him drink. We were talking about why certain students or student groups perform chronically poorly. We have similar problems in our country, but before I get to the issue of education itself, let me share my confusion about the horse itself? If we take a thirsty horse to the source of water, why wouldn’t it drink? Is there anything that prevents a horse from drinking even if it is thirsty?

hourse

Your horse actually is the animal that carries your loads and does all the hard work for you. So it should naturally crave for food and drink. It would rather make more sense if your horse asked for more food and may be more water – it has done hard work after all. But – according to the saying, you can take the horse to the water but you cannot “make” him drink—if he himself is not willing to drink it. Coming from where I do, the metaphorical horse that doesn’t want to drink from the opportunity of education at first seemed absurd for me.

After a little research, what I found was shocking. Why horse doesn’t drink water is actually complicated. Even though water is the most important nutrient that a horse needs to keep itself going, it is likely to get dehydrated due to lack of water consumption, excessive sweating, and overwork in course of a long work, particularly in a hot day. Dehydration complicates the horse’s bodily functions so the body stops sending message to the brain that it is thirsty. It is a strange coping mechanism that the horse’s body is “equipped” with in such a way that it has an ability to keep going without drinking water. What happens is that early in dehydration, the horse can cope well with the fluid loss.  As dehydration progresses, the heart rate will rise, because there will be less fluid in the blood vessels, so the heart has to pump the blood around faster to achieve the same effect. If the fluid deficit continues, then the body will begin to pull the fluids from surrounding tissues to help support the blood volume. To help conserve fluids even further, urination will decrease. Once this “suicidal” course of action starts, your house won’t drink water because of the mismatch of communication between the body and brain and it no longer “feels” thirsty.

This also reminded me of one of our neighbors’ child that refused to eat anything. The parents were so much worried that they always did something to get their child to eat. Finally, they took the child to a children’s hospital, where a team of nutritionists and pediatricians diagnosed that the child was not given food in a structure and as a consequence she developed an aversion toward food. They said that it wouldn’t be possible for the child to come back to normal eating regime, unless the child was admitted to hospital for a few months. From what I know at this point, the child is back to normal now. And from my research in the same line, I have also found that it is possible to make the horse drink water as well. What it takes is some time, energy, patience, and some expert consultation and probably some money.

baby

The context of discussion in the class was the education attainment data of various demographic groups in the USA. Our attention was caught by the low academic attainment rates of the minority students such as African American and Hispanic students. Even though it was not too surprising that African American and Hispanics had lower attainment rates as compared to Whites, what was more disappointing was the trend of the last decades (data from 1990 to 2012) that showed that the gaps of education attainment between Whites and Blacks and between Whites and Hispanics were continuously widening. Probably to explain this with his witticism, one of my fellow classmates (I respect him otherwise) quipped out the tired proverb: You can lead the horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

If a horse doesn’t drink, if your child refused to eat, or if a certain segment of population is not “attaining” enough education, it is a problem. So when you have a problem, you should not make a hammock out of the rotten proverbs and relax in it– not at all particularly if you are in the field of education. You should take an approach to find a solution. And once you take the latter approach, solution is out there.

If we go out of the USA and look at the global scenario, the problem is even worse. There are historically deprived populations all over the world. Most ironically, these populations happen to have made great contribution in building their nations (as the African Americans and Hispanics in the USA). There are Dalits and Janajatis, Rohingyas and Harijans, immigrants and refugees all over the world that are overworked and neglected like the dehydrated horse and there are populations that are continuously pampered with all attention.  As it is up to the parents and horse owners to ensure that their kids and horses eat and drink, so is it the responsibility of education policy makers to take steps (even if it is costly) to ensure all segments of their populations receive palatable education.

What problems do you consider tricky like the thirsty horse not drinking water in the education system of Nepal? What do you think we should do about them? I would love to hear your stories and reflections. Thanks in advance!

Nepal Earthquake

Nepal underwent two devastating earthquakes in three weeks since April 25, 2015. A series of aftershocks have wreaked havoc among men, women, and children. As our hearts go out to the people suffering at this time, we are praying for the people in Nepal and trying our best to help as much as possible in various ways. The most humbling and comforting is the fact that many of our friends from around the globe are reaching out and asking, “How can we help?” We are trying to find most creative and least intrusive ways that we can ask these wonderfully generous people to do to support the humanitarian crisis in the Himalayan country.

My Speech at the Vigil Addressing University of Florida Community 

Dear Members of the Gator Nation,

Last Saturday, on April 25th, 2015, a massive earthquake rattled our homeland Nepal. This devastating blow followed by nearly 100 aftershocks wrecked havoc on Nepal and resulted in over 7,000 deaths, rendering more than 15,000 injured and damaged above 150,000 homes leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Uttam Giving Speech

(Photo credit: Photojournalist Andres Leiva, the Independent Florida Alligator)

Nepal is historically and culturally popular Himalayan nation. Now everybody knows the geographic and political situation of the country so I will share with you an interesting geological fact. Geologically speaking, the tiny country stands on a tectonic plates that is between two gigantic tectonic plates that constantly squeeze it .

This is not a normal earthquake. The epicenter village called Barpark had about 1200 household and only less than 50 remain standing. Traditional Nepali homes do not usually fall. Mountains were dancing. I have heard from one source (yet to be verified), Kathmandu has been dislocated on the earth – about 10 feet to the south and 10 feet up vertically.

Hardest hit are the most vulnerable ones: the poor and vulnerable – it seemed like extreme injustice intensified by nature. We don’t know. Schools have been damaged. Too many children have lost their parents.

What does it mean for us? We are learning about survival and revival. We are learning about the extremely resilient people, who are able to come together and do amazing thing in the world. A recent new story highlight a single survivor from his 18-member family. And the one person who is alive is helping others actively. He goes on to rescue a 101 year old man buried in the rubble for the last 8 days.

Many of our wonderful friends here in Gainesville (and many from around the globe) asked us: how can we help? These members of the Gator Nation broaden the meaning and function of education as members of a global community of interconnected humans. At a time when another part of the world can use some support from people on the other side the globe. And I do want to take out one moment to talk about this very amazing university. The president is here, the administrators are here, the faculty and staff are here today, coming together to stand with the Nepali people. Not only because they see a few Nepali students in the university, but because they really care about the world. UF is a public institution, which is globally engaged in the true sense. This is incredible and I have no words to describe the profundity of gratitude I feel today.

As Native Nepalese and now proud citizens of the Gators Nation, we ask you, fellow Gators, for three things today. Three things: Donate, Communicate, and Pray.

  1. Donate: Please donate what you can, when you can. Every dime and dollar make a difference. Give your gift to the people collecting money. Our treasurer Dev himself is holding a box. Alternatively, donate via charity organizations. We personally donated via Help Nepal Network USA. But there are others such as the American Red Cross, Oxfam, There’s more information on the Facebook page #GatorsHelpNepal

How is money being used? Very smart people on ground are helping. Rosha Pokharel, the former vice president of Nepalese Student Association, is actually at the ground zero of the impact, where she is working with a team of doctors and nurses to provide the most essential relief to the wounded, vulnerable, and bereaved.

  1. Communicate: Tell your friends you donated. Use the hashtag #GotorsHelpNepal or #GatorsWithNepal and @GatorsHelpNepal
  1. Finally, please keep Nepal in your prayers.  

We thank you on behalf of our families and friends here, and in Nepal.


( This speech was addressed to the UF community on May 4, 2015 at University of Florida’s Turlington Plaza)


Was covered by Independent Florida Alligator

http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_129e2c70-f2d9-11e4-96d8-2b7e54d04db3.html


If you are willing to donate, here are some recommended organizations you can donate to:

Action Works Nepal

United Florida Nepal Association – Florida Association of Nepalese Societies

Himalyan Healthcare

Help Nepal Network

Stories of Nepal

American Red Cross

ANMF: American Nepal Medical Foundation

Brother’s Brother Foundation

Oxfam America

World Vision

Dorm Nepal

Want to know more?

UF News

Engineers Without Borders

Local News TV20

Gainesville Sun May 12

Gainesville Sun April 29

Best time to bloom as leader – while in college

Researchers in higher education say that the college years are crucial for an individual to grow as a leader. It is during this time that consistent cognitive, attitudinal, value and psycho-social changes take place among colleges students.

While examining the net effects of college, Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) also concluded that it is the time when students increase “their civic and community involvement and become more open to diversity” (p. 581). All findings indicate that college is the best time to develop globally minded and educated citizens.

Student affairs professionals, therefore, have a unique opportunity to offer students co-curricular learning opportunities that complement global education in the classroom. Traditionally, this has been accomplished by relying on international “exchanges” (more recently known as “study abroad”) as the mechanism to create global awareness.

With the rapidly changing world however, the challenge for student affairs professionals is to look beyond study abroad programs and create meaningful cross cultural programming on campus or in the local community.


If you are a college student and want to learn how you can develop as a leader on campus, please read my post at Translating Success by following the link below.

http://translatingsuccess.org/expert-post/take-initiative-get-connected-get-involved/