Make Your Mark

by Bridget Locke, Director of Strategic Communications, April 2020

Manika Karki, Park U freshman, enjoys the view from atop the stairs of Mackay Hall.

In August 2019, just as criminal justice major Manika Karki arrived in the United States for her freshman year at Park University, an article published in the Himalayan Times confirmed what she always believed about law enforcement in her native Nepal: women are not well-represented in the field.

But Manika won’t be deterred and has already charted the course for her life after graduation: she intends to become the first female chief of police in her home country. Manika is ready to make her mark.

It began with a plan
Before coming to Parkville, Manika had already begun studying law at the Central Law College of Nepal. Once she heard more about Park at a United States Education Foundation (USEF) event in Kathmandu, she reconsidered her strategy.

“I almost devoted eight months to study for the admission exam and after graduation applying for police officer was my goal. Deep down, I also felt that an education abroad could give me a level of independence and confidence that I could not achieve at home,” Manika said.

While the thought of moving to the U.S. to study was invigorating, it took a while for Manika to share these dreams with her family. She knew her parents would have reservations about sending their only daughter to America alone.

That’s where Kevin Vicker, Senior Director of International Education, and Lora Zaidarhzauva, Associate Director of International Recruitment, stepped in. Kevin and Lora made contact with Manika after her initial inquiry and became extremely helpful during the enrollment process. They translated information from Park’s website, assisted Manika with student visa paperwork, and even offered to help communicate with her parents, who were — as she predicted — very skeptical, initially.

Manika, proud to share the culture of Nepal, at Park’s International Festival, Nov. 2019. Photo credit: Matilda Kudaya.

“I have relatives in Los Angeles, but Park is nowhere close to them, so my parents were very worried,” Manika said. “I was able to convince them myself that I would be fine, but Lora offered to host a video chat with my parents to ease their concerns, if needed. I appreciate how supportive Lora and Kevin have been along the way.”

Now that she’s finishing up her first year, Manika realizes she has grown a lot, just like she predicted—even when it was challenging.

“The first few weeks were rough,” she reflected. “Just before I left, I found out that my wisdom teeth were impacted, so I was healing from dental surgery. I was also sick for two weeks, because I needed to adjust to American food.”

And then there was the weather.

While Manika was at first thrilled to experience snow, her excitement quickly waned as the Midwest winter trudged on and on …

“I’m very glad to see spring,” she laughed.

Global perspective and a growing network
Manika has several examples to pattern her career aspirations after: her grandfather and father, who both served as officers in Nepal, and now her professors at Park, who also have real-world experience as probation and police officers.

Manika on the steps of Herr House, eager for warm spring weather.

She’s also grateful for what she’s learning outside of the classroom.

“My university experiences have been amazing. I have learned so many new things in such a short period of time, and it has gone by so fast,” Manika said. “I am exploring more about myself every day. I have learned that it’s important to socialize and meet new people. Making the decision about studying abroad was a huge step for me; I had never been away from my family for more than 10 days from my family, but believed I would gain a global perspective and create a huge network of ideas and friends. My friends have become like family from different parts of the world.”

But no matter what she learns or where she studies, it is important to Manika to remember what her parents have instilled in her.

“My parents have played a very important role in shaping my personality and helping me to become who I am. My father often reminds me, ‘You are not there to follow others. Make your mark.’ So, that’s what I intend to do while studying at Park. I will find my voice and make a mark.”