I woke up one day to an e-mail from Minerva School at KGI—a highly selective university that offers a brand new thought in higher education. I am granted with financial aid that covers almost everything, but I need $3500 to cover the rest of the cost to attend, security deposit (which is refundable after I graduate), health insurance, visa and airplane ticket from Jakarta, Indonesia to San Francisco.
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Ever since I was 14, I was forced by situation to think about my education by myself. I was not in custody of my father and lived away from him, but at the same time, my mother left me to work abroad and for some reasons, was unable to support me in any ways. My world started crumbling and I thought I was in a dead end. Until one day, in my school library, I found a red-covered book that saved my life, The 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens. The idea of putting principles as centers in life instead of anything else, grew in my mind. I was consumed by the idea of being proactive and taking control of my life.
Learning that I was not defined by my background or situations, I was empowered to create the future that I wanted by making consequential decisions. I have and will always been taking active role in my education and my life. I am glad to say that I earned financial assistance in a boarding high school that was filled by exceptionally talented students from all over Indonesia. I have been thankful as well that I got the opportunity to go to the United States for a fully funded exchange program. Upon my return, I was honoured to initiate and run a community service project called Environmental Action, a 5 month-long project of environmental education for children, environmental short movie competition for high school students, and environmental talk show and bazaar for public.
As an individual, I tend to explain longer for the question of “what do you want to be in the future.” Not only that education here does not really introduce a wide range of professions, but I know for sure that I am in the era where only wanting a profession merely as a job for oneself to earn a living and have something to do is not adequate for the present and the future. Coming from a humble background and being the first generation who attends college surely make getting one decent job appears as an achievement. A chance to break the vicious cycle of poverty for myself and alleviate the life of my parents and my brothers. However, exactly because how rare the chance is and how far I have came, I know that I shall have a bigger purpose in life.
We are in the age when problems are meant to be solved together. Technology advancement has made us more connected than ever and so is our problems. Therefore, I believe that knowledge is not compartmentalized anymore and it is important for anyone to gain mastery in the field he or she is passionate about and explore broadly. To me, it is frustrating to experience and see others struggling only to acquire basic needs. The urge to eradicate poverty and to create a more liveable world for all of us made me excited to be a social entrepreneur. However, learning about economy and business studies alone will not instantly help me to be social entrepreneur in the field I am concerned about.
For generations before me, farming was the way to earn a living, but it is not anymore. My father gave up our land to open a small traditional grocery store in our village and my big brother keeps looking for a low paid job in the city with his high school diploma. A younger me would not understand why, but now I learn that at least 18 million smallholders farmers in Indonesia living below the global poverty line. It is unfortunate in two ways, first that even leaving farming does not make any better on my family conditions, and second, the very people who work to provide foods for us have to struggle to feed their own family. Even if this happens in village, poverty and its relation to agriculture have become our worldwide problem and put any of us at risk, to name a few: the mobilization of people leaving this field and looking for job in the cities, slow innovation on agriculture and on addressing food loss. Jumping to agriculture directly would less likely to enable me to create a better situation. I need to equip myself with profound understanding of other fields would help me to tackle its complexities.
Minerva School at KGI would be a perfect place in the world that allows me to achieve my goal, it is a non-traditional university that offers a purpose-driven education. A university that has no physical campus, instead, it requires the students to deeply engage in 7 different cities around the world and make those cities as the campus. It is the path that emphasize experiential learning to gain critical skills and a multidisciplinary approach in education that would help me to see a problem comprehensively. It is the time for you and I to tackle complex challenges in poverty, agriculture, and food problem in order to improve our future collectively and feed the generation to come.
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More About Minerva School at KGI
Official video from Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship
Actual Cost to Attend (The cost I need to cover after accepting the financial aid): $500
Security Deposit: $1000 [It is a residential deposit that is fully refundable after I graduate as long as I do not damage residence halls which would be the least thing I want to do :) and it is due by end of June]
Health Insurance: $1000 (I need to have it before I go, therefore, I am expected to have it by August)
Cost to Travel: $1000 (Airplane Ticket and Visa)
Therefore, the total is $3500. :)
Minerva on Press
“The Future of College?”The Atlantic, September 2014
“Harvard, Stanford, and Minerva? The Next Elite University at Half the Price,”LinkedIn, April 2015
“Extreme Study Abroad: The World Is Their Campus,”The New York Times, October 2015
“With virtual seminars and lower tuition, Minerva Schools offers online alternative to college,”PBS NewsHour
“Students Aren’t Going To College To Learn, They’re Going To Network,”Forbes, April 2016