Class of 2020: International relations major comes full circle in wanting to help others
As Sanskriti Neupane ends her senior year as an international relations major, she comes full circle with what she was doing before she started Virginia Tech: watching the evening news with her family in Falls Church, Virginia.
For the resident assistant of Slusher Hall, who expected to finish the rest of her time at Virginia Tech among her fellow students, helping them be accountable for their actions and being available for any assistance they might need, Neupane is back home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the news with her family reminds her why she chose international relations as a major with a minor in national security and foreign affairs.
“I come from a family that’s always been super interested in the news,” she said. “I was expected to know what was going on around the world, and I’ve always been interested in the legal side of events and the law, and how the law affects humans on an individual level.”
When she started at Virginia Tech three years ago, she had a notion that she might one day pursue a law degree, but she took a practical view of her potential future.
“International relations and political science are great ways to prepare for the law school track,” she said, “but I also was trying to think it through. Let’s say after spending several years in college I realize that law school isn’t for me — what major would I still be interested in and want to do afterward, even if ultimately law school isn’t the goal? I wanted to pursue something with a focus on global issues and the impact that politics can have on individuals, which led me to international relations.”
While she pondered her future, she was proactive in having a college experience that would increase her leadership skills. Neupane believes her most pivotal moments at the university happened while she in her first year, going through the First Year Leadership Experience (FLEX), a branch of the Virginia Tech Student Government Association that serves as a yearlong transition program that allows students to explore various leadership styles and perspectives.
“I remember the application process and going through the interview,” Neupane said. “There was a moment when I realized I had gotten into the program and that it was something that I could do. That was when I thought, ‘I’m actually here. I’m actually in college and this is happening. Everything is coming together.’”
Now she is chief of staff for the Student Government Association and manages the internal workings of the organization.
She also served as a managing editor for the Collegiate Times.
Neupane added more leadership opportunities to her resume by being a recruitment ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, where she also interns for the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
“When I received an email about the ambassador program, I had been trying to figure out how I could give back to the community and share my story of why I came to this university,” she said. “When I applied, I wasn’t sure Virginia Tech was a good fit for me, but it was only after talking to people and seeing for myself what truly makes it a community that I realized that this is where I belonged. As an ambassador, I can give that experience back and explain to people what a great place Virginia Tech is.”
To enhance her international relations degree, Neupane also completed an internship with the Ethiopian Community Development Council in Arlington, Virginia. She worked with refugees during their transition process from arrival in the United States to their post-90-day check, helping to ensure they completed governmental requirements. She also updated federal databases to reflect refugee stories, and she canvassed and advocated for refugee rights.
As Neupane reflects on her Virginia Tech experiences, she is confident in her choice of major and her extracurricular activities. Her studies, leadership experiences, and advocacy involvement have all helped verify her path upon graduation: She is applying to law school.
“It was very complicated trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in advocacy, in working to ensure that all people are afforded the same rights, that we all have the same basic dignity and respect in our lives. And being a lawyer just seems like the best way for me to make a difference in the world.”
Written by Leslie King