Navneet Bhargava is one of the 93 students who will receive our double Master’s degree in Public Policy and Human Development, issued jointly by Maastricht University and United Nations University. Navneet’s testimonial about her study year in Maastricht was a highlight of the closing ceremony of the MPP Class of 2013-2014 on 3 June 2014.
Dear fellow graduates, family and faculty,
I am extremely happy to be up here to share a student’s perspective in front of all of you. This is even more interesting for me as I recently came back into academia after being a professional for the past nine years. Being away from academia for such a long time frame, made it a bit challenging for me to be a student again. The challenge was not how to learn or making it to class but being back to playing one role and having only one objective. This is not academia’s intent but it comes with the territory. During my experience here I was fortunate enough to get to know most of you.
I was pleased to see that some of you trying to spend your time with much more balance of work, school and friends. For some this was not possible due to many reasons and then this is the only thing that defines your effort and abilities in a way. We are also our worst critic so to these students I say in the future, when you become special counselors, ambassadors, secretaries of state (hopefully not dictators) you will see that all of these assignments and experiences are just one piece of the greater puzzle of life.
This diversity in personal choices, in all our different cultures and background is a beautiful thing in this programme. My personal goal to come here was not necessarily just to get a degree but to learn to make a difference. I am very proud and happy to say that my fellow students in this cohort are extremely intelligent, positive thinkers and have very bright futures ahead of them. I have heard many of you talk about your wonderful future plans and realise there is uncertainty and fear but one thing I have learned in life is that these uncertainties and fears will never go away. They will change with time and circumstance but they will remain as this is part of human nature. Some people rely on luck and some on their own hard work to predict the outcome of their uncertainties and situations. But whatever it may be don’t let it stop you. This outcome could be a success or a failure and if it’s a failure then cherish it as well. Personally speaking I have learned more from failures because I have been too busy enjoying my successes when they happen instead of dissecting them.
One of the favorite practical quotes I came across was by Ruth Westheimer, or Dr. Ruth. She said her “favourite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.”
Many people subconsciously take risks only when it is a life/death situation scenario. It is a bit of a misinterpretation of risk along the lines of “Go Big, or go home”. I find this the most interesting and contradicting effect of all. In our lifetimes, most of the risks we take will not mean putting it all you have on stake.
I took my first biggest risk in life last year. I decided to finally pursue my childhood dream and when I took the first step of quitting my job I thought I was gambling it all. But now after almost finishing this journey I realise that I didn’t have to gamble it all. Things worked out for me! It was with a combination of hard work , luck and most of all with an immense amount of help from family, friends and my husband….. for whom this was as big a risk as mine!
So in the end our risks are not taken alone and our successes are not celebrated alone as the most important factors are the people in our lives. I am not sure if this endeavour has been a success or a failure for me but one thing I do know it has not been a regret.
So keep riding the wave of life and remember nothing is written in stone. Make sure you wear sunscreen and have a cold drink close by!