Whether it was living in or growing up in India or Nepal or going to school at Mississippi University for Women, Acharya has been exposed to different cultures and practices. Through his travels, Acharya has realized how much power an individual can have on another person.
“Everyone has their own personalities and their way of life,” Acharya said. “We can either be excited to learn about them, be indifferent or be intolerant toward them. All depends on our choices.”
On May 10, Acharya’s decision to attend The W was rewarded when he received his bachelor’s degree in psychology. Acharya feels he has grown up in many ways and that he still has many things to learn and to unlearn. That knowledge will motivate him to stay excited about new things and to be tolerant of other points of views.
Acharya admits that evolution hasn’t always been easy. He said his level of confidence changed when he arrived in the United States because not having his parents with him forced him to rely on himself. Still, he said it took him two years at The W to opt to learn about people and to help them. Acharya said his epiphany happened one night when he was doing an assignment for his Abnormal Psychology class. He started to think about all of the people around him who were struggling to ask for help because asking for help in mental health isn’t encouraged in many countries, including Nepal.
“I thought why can’t I at least try to be a person or professional who will try to listen or encourage people in struggles to speak and ask for help,” Acharya said. “I need to understand the specific and reasonable skills to be able to do that.”
That’s why Acharya said he plans to go to graduate school in clinical psychology or neuroscience. No matter which route he takes, Acharya will continue his pursuit to become a mental health professional and a “stigma-breaker.” Acharya believes he is better positioned to realize that goal because his time at The W taught him it is OK to feel socially vulnerable and to have shortcomings. Working in different jobs on campus and in a biology research lab encouraged him to focus on what’s important for him and not to get caught up in what he lacks. Acharya credits his peers, his professors and the professionals at the Campus Counseling Center for their assistance. The support and guidance of Dr. Ghanshyam Heda was pivotal in his maturation.
“While I was not able to give full dedication to lab, Dr. Heda was very compassionate and understanding and kept giving me chance to run projects and new experiments,” Acharya said. “I could not produce much data for about eight months, but during my final semester, my experiments were giving some rays of hope. Dr. Heda’s feedback was designed to help me to move forward. He helped me to learn how I should prioritize one thing over other. He encouraged me to be more professional on my work, my time and my words. He encouraged me to become a scientist, and maybe one day I will become one, too.”
That’s an exciting thought for Acharya considering how much he feels he has grown in his four years at The W – and how much further he still has to go.
“I think best outlook on life is not to be shameful to be vulnerable,” Acharya said. “Only the fighters have wounds, and one should be proud of those wounds.”