An Interview with Clark Alum Deviyani Dixit

A particularly hot and balmy summer afternoon found me at the doorstep of Deviyani Dixit, a veritable Clark celebrity. We were to meet at Acoustic Java, but she called me out of the blue to invite me to her apartment. Later, she told me that she felt more comfortable in her home. That the Belgium vs. U.S. FIFA World Cup match was on at that same time was a pure coincidence…

As I awkwardly hovered outside her door, I saw a figure in a loose summer dress come bounding down the stairs. Deviyani opened the door to her beaming face and immediately set me at ease by launching on her customary chatter. We made our way up to her living room, which was swelteringly hot, and Deviyani offered me soda, water and food before collapsing into her sofa before the TV, which was tuned on to the soccer game. The interview that ensued was conducted in the most casual and natural manner, with the two of us splitting our attention between Deviyani’s fascinating life experiences and the action on screen.

Give our readers a quick introduction of yourself

Deviyani Dixit at Clark Graduation

Deviyani Dixit at Clark Graduation

“Well, I’m originally from Nepal. I spent the past five years at Clark, first as an undergrad with a double major in Economics and International Development & Social Change (IDSC), and then in the 5th Year program in IDSC. I worked closely with the International Students and Scholars Office, mainly with programing around the Global Scholars program. I was a Resident Advisor for three years, as well as an Administrative Resident Advisor during my senior year. I did a stint at EMS for a while too. Last year, as a 5th Year student I served as the Grad Representative for the South Asian Students Association. Is that enough?” (she breaks off into laughter)

How did you end up at Clark, of all places?

“I went to the American International School in Nepal, where Clark’s reputation as one of the 40 colleges that changes lives was known. One of my teachers, who was also the soccer coach, had gone to WPI, and his sister had studied at Clark. He said that it would be a perfect fit for me. I visited during my junior year and remember being really impressed with everything that I saw. Not too many international students get the opportunity to visit colleges, so I’m incredibly thankful for my good fortune.”

What drew you to Clark?

“One thing that stood out to me was how friendly and helpful everyone was. I loved that it’s a small school—I had no intention of getting lost in the crowd in a bigger college. I wanted to be in a place where I was heard and could have an impact on the community. It also helped that Clark made me the best financial aid offer. I’m lucky to have benefitted from the less competitive, more liberal admissions policies of the past. That is one concern that I have, that as Clark draws more interest that its identity may face the risk of changing.”

What made your time at Clark meaningful?

“I am so thankful for having friends in different aspects of my life. For example, the professors in IDSC weren’t simply my teachers, they were my friends. They’d invite me over for lunch or dinner, and we would have a good old time talking about all sort of topics. Patty at ISSO is a very close friend, she made Clark seem like a second home to me. The older students I knew would invite me over to their homes, which made me feel included and connected. That’s what I love about being in a small school, how you get the opportunity to build real relationships.”

(At this point Deviyani springs up from her chair and starts shouting wildly. Given my ignorance of anything sports related, she has to explain to me once she has calmed down that Belgium scored a goal that would set them up for the win. It takes a few minutes for her to resume her previous train of thought)

“I love living in Main South. It’s diverse, cheap, and accessible. The experience of living here is completely what you make of it. It’s a melting pot of culture, which made it seem so welcoming. Worcester is my new home. It’s funny, I get so excited when I’m flying home to Nepal and I see the mountains in the distance. And then I take the train back to Worcester and the sight of the Polar Express sign would excite me as much. I really am lucky to have two homes”

What was your experience as an international student?

“I definitely ventured beyond the circle of international students. As a result, I had a lot of American and ALANA friends, for which I’m ever so grateful. It was hard to get to that point at first because you feel so comfortable around other internationals, you bond over living far away from home. But I realized that I needed to step out of my comfort zone. Being involved in different activities helped. Being an RA, my classes, and extracurriculars helped me meet people who I related to on an intellectual capacity over where they came from”

Where has life lead you? What does the future hold in store?

“I thought I wanted to work for Save the Children or WWF, but after interning there I realized that I didn’t fit in at a big organization. I wanted to be in a place where I could feel the impact that my work had. I’m now working at Applied Interactive, a strategic web design company. I’m currently working on a project for the Worcester Economic Club, which was started by Clark’s President Atwood in 1910. It’s amazing how prestigious it is—Winston Churchill was a guest speaker at one point! As for the future, I’m planning on going to Europe after working for the next 1-2 years, to be with my family and boyfriend. I’m planning on doing my PhD and pursuing my interest in vulnerable populations in conflict situations and natural disasters, especially pertaining to gender dynamics and sexual health.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“I believe very strongly in karma. When you do good, good will come your way. Positive energy is what sets you up for success. That’s something I try to live by every day. But I think the best advice I’ve ever been given was from my dad. He would tell me to never be mediocre in life, to always try to be the best you can be in what you do. I’ve taken this to heart, and I have a lot to be thankful for as a result.”

– Themal Ellawala

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