Meet Rajeev Thapa, who was born in Pokhara, Nepal, and moved to the US at the age of 17 to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Technology. Rajeev has come a long way since the age of 17 and has learned a lot about how he wants to live his life. Learn more about his journey to find himself, how it led him to MIU’s Master’s in Software Development (MSD), and why he felt MSD was a better choice than boot camps or an entry-level job.
“I realized that life has a bigger purpose, bigger than just sleeping, eating, and going to work… I looked at the MSD website and the block system with one course at a time, and the meditation approach that helps us with our studies, and it resonated with me. In my life, it is important to grow as a human being in addition to being successful as a husband, father, and provider. I want to make a significant and positive difference in the world. I was inspired because MIU provides the knowledge and skills for a great career but also addresses inner growth.”
~ Rajeev Thapa
Interview by Christine Albers (CA)
CA: What do you consider your greatest achievement since arriving in America at such a young age?
Rajeev: My greatest achievement so far has been earning my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho, despite many challenges along the way. When I came to the US, I had no friends here. I did not know anyone. I had just enough money for one semester of tuition and had to work full-time while attending college. It wasn’t easy, but I am very proud of what I accomplished. Another achievement was working on multiple IT projects for 12 years and adding tremendous value to the company where I was employed.
CA: Tell us about your experience after graduating from Brigham Young.
Rajeev: After graduation, I worked as a Software Test Engineer at a small company in Minneapolis for 12 years. During this time, I worked on many different IT projects and had the opportunity to travel to many countries around the world.
I moved to Alabama in 2017 because I liked the warmer climate and my sister and brother-in-law live there. I continued working for the same company remotely. That’s where I met my wife. We married in 2017 and our son was born in 2021.
CA: Were you happy with your job?
Rajeev: At first, I was happy, but after 12 years of working for the same company, I quit because I hadn’t learned any new skills and wasn’t advancing professionally.
CA: It was brave to quit a job that you felt was going nowhere. What did you do next?
Rajeev: I spent very little time in Nepal since I moved to the United States when I was 17, and I wanted to reconnect with my roots, my culture, and my parents, so I took my family, and we spent seven months in Nepal. My wife had just given birth to our son and wanted good self-care, which was easier to receive while staying with her parents in Nepal. Because I didn’t have the pressure of a job, I could spend quality time with my family and both of our parents.
Also, while we were in Nepal, I fulfilled my desire to take a long trek to the Himalayas. My wife and son stayed with her parents, which gave me the freedom to travel solo up to Mount Everest and the Annapurna range, for 2 to 3 months. My wife was supportive because she knew I needed time to reflect on my life and figure out what direction I should take. She understood that I needed clarity, and it was a perfect opportunity to take time to be on my own and know myself more deeply.
CA: What did you learn from your trek in the mountains?
Rajeev: I saw the beauty of Nepal, with its diverse landscape, culture, and people. To be surrounded by some of the highest and most majestic mountains in the world and experience how tiny I was compared to those giants was a humbling experience. To see porters carrying 100-200 pounds of weight on their backs while climbing 20,000 feet up the mountains made me reflect on how easy my life is compared to others.
I realized life is full of adventure, and sometimes I need to go outside of my comfort zone to discover new possibilities and opportunities. Life can also be full of hardships, and I was reminded to be grateful and kind.
CA: What happened after your trip to Nepal? Did you look for a new job?
Rajeev: We stayed in Nepal for 7 months and returned to the USA in October 2022. I had a kid and a mortgage to pay, and we were living off our savings, so I had to find a job, but I didn’t want to work in software testing anymore. I wanted to get into software development but didn’t have the skills. Even though I studied IT at Brigham Young, it had been 12 years since I did any software development work. My options were to do a boot camp or get an entry-level job with some company, and if I was lucky, they would train me in software development.
I researched boot camps and saw how they throw everything at you in 3 to 6 months and I didn’t think I could retain that much information in such a short amount of time. Plus, I heard about some people’s experience in boot camps, and it wasn’t inspiring. Starting from scratch with an entry-level position would take much longer to find a good job and I would have to put time into studying after work, which was challenging since I have a family and newborn son.
CA: It sounds like you were in a quandary. What happened next?
Rajeev: I heard about (MSD) through a friend who graduated from ComPro (MIU’s MS in Computer Science program). One of my main reasons for choosing MSD was the opportunity to develop new skills and grow professionally. I have always been passionate about developing software applications, and I was looking for a program that would take my career to the next level.
My wife knew how badly I wanted to grow in my profession and as a person, and supported me to apply for this program. I knew there was no time to wait for some perfect opportunity. I had to act right away.
CA: What inspired you to move quickly to join MSD?
Rajeev: I looked at the MSD website and the block system with one course at a time, and the meditation approach that helps us with our studies, and it resonated with me. In my life, it is important to grow as a human being in addition to being successful as a husband, father, and provider. I want to make a significant and positive difference in the world. I was inspired because MIU provides the knowledge and skills for a great career but also addresses inner growth.
I saw the video of the founder of MIU, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where he mentioned that we are always pursuing external knowledge but never looking inside. Every other school system is about filling the mind with information. Focusing on outer knowledge is necessary, but we need to expand the inner container in order to gain outer knowledge. The more you expand your mind, the more you can take in, and as you grow, you can give more to your family and society, and that’s a formula for happiness.
This approach to education will help me develop as a joyful, peaceful, resilient person and have a great career, all at the same time.
CA: How does becoming a software developer fulfill your desire to make positive changes in the world?
Rajeev: Positive change would come by working with a company that values using technology for the enhancement of human potential. This may mean facilitating encrypted communication or using technology to make someone’s job easier or improving lives by making technology available for people from all walks of life. As developers, we dictate how the technology operates and it should be used for the right purpose.
My ability to make a difference in the world will come from developing my own level of perception and consciousness. I need to make sure I am working from a place of clarity, joy, and compassion. As Gandhi taught, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. That requires working on myself every day to align with my inner values, such as kindness, humility, and gratitude; and working on my mind, body, and spirit through meditation, yoga, reading, exercise, and surrounding myself with incredible people. As my mind becomes clearer and more expansive my work as a software developer will be more successful. By recognizing that everything is connected and that I am part of everything, my actions, and goals are naturally for the greatest good.
Rajeev: I would tell them, if you join MSD, you need to be motivated and willing to adapt. The pace is fast, and you must keep up, so stay focused. If you have any problems, reach out to the professor right away. You made the choice, and once you are here, don’t look back. It’s a calm, peaceful place to study and focus, away from the hustle and bustle. For me, the best part is learning to invest time in myself as well as my studies and that is what I will take from here. That’s what makes this university unique. They teach us how to have a healthy lifestyle to become successful. Take advantage of the daily TM, get regular exercise and plenty of rest, and it will help you succeed in this program and ultimately perform your best in your new career.