Shalaka Mangrulkar-Khasnis ’22 speaks on change, the pandemic, and experiences as an International Student

Quick Facts:

Program Name: Masters of Science in Finance

Year of Graduation:  Aug 2022

Program Schedule: Full Time

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.  Socrates said that many years ago, but it is amazing how relevant it is even in this day and age. Today, we live in a world where we have been forced to change our professional and personal lives in the face of a global catastrophe – in a way that both these lives tended to melt into one. Therefore, I want to share something that is happening on a global scale and is also close to my heart – Change.

To begin with, I would like to use this platform to call out and recognize all the international students who had seen their lives turn on its head when they moved here to the US. This is a change not just to the career paths, but also in the way of life. When I moved here just over 3 years ago, for the first few weeks I couldn’t even order a coffee without the accent just flying over my head! But one always has a choice – whether to meet change with inertia or to see it as a sense of opportunity. I was inspired to hear many such stories around me which eventually gave me the strength to take this challenge head-on.

We all know what happened in 2020. Disaster hit, and all plans came to a grinding stop. With all entrance examinations canceled or indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic, so many of us found ourselves at a juncture where we had to change our approaches towards our career goals and our lives in general. This was my situation as well, as I had too much time on my hands with very little that I could do. One could delve into frustration, but I sought inspiration from the folks around me, and looked at this situation in a different way – How often do you find yourself in a situation where you have legitimately nothing to do, and you can finally go back to the laundry list of things that you have always wanted to do and never found the time? I picked up the first item on my list, and in a few short months, I found myself a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt holder. Talk about a pandemic hobby!

Finally, I got the opportunity to come here to PSU to work towards a Master’s in Finance. By this time, the conventional ideas of classroom learning and working in a team had changed drastically. This was a new challenge, but my professors and mentors here at PSU made life so much easier. The way all the professors married the new teaching and learning methods with the old was nothing less than an inspiration for me. They have embraced this change in the methods and have reinvented learning as we know it. 

As an international student, who has left her family and her friends behind, PSU will always hold a special place in my heart. I am sure I am speaking for other international students here like me when I say that in all my teachers and mentors at PSU, I found my family and in all my colleagues and teammates, I found my friends. In addition to having a family back home in India, I now have a family here at PSU as well! That is the most welcome change that has happened in my life, and I shall be forever grateful for it. I have found many role models and have forged lasting friendships during my time here. The fact that many of these friendships started online is a testament to how well all of us have adapted to the changes that life has thrown at us. I have learned so much during my journey at PSU so far and am thankful and grateful to all those who have been a part of this ride. 

We now stand at a crossroads where we see things trying to go back to the way they were a couple of years ago. This looks like a daunting task, but from all that I have learned and experienced during my time at PSU, I am confident that I will be up for this new challenge! Today I behold this master’s degree as an acknowledgment towards a brighter future. Thanks to all those who stood firmly beside me, loving me and supporting me unconditionally throughout the journey.  

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