From Nepal to Richmond

May 23, 2022

A generous gift made a Richmond education a reality for Keshav Jha, ’22.

It was around 1:30 a.m. in Kathmandu, Nepal, when Keshav Jha, ’22, got the email that changed his life: he had received a full tuition, room, and board scholarship to attend the University of Richmond.
 
Keshav had recently graduated high school from St. Xavier’s College, Maitighar, and was taking a gap year when he first heard about Richmond. He was one of only a handful of students in the country to be selected for assistance by EducationUSA, a U.S. Department of State network of international advising centers that provides higher education access and resources for meritorious high school students.
 
Keshav decided to apply to UR in the summer of 2017 after speaking with an undergraduate admissions representative at an international college fair sponsored by EducationUSA. A few months later, he was overjoyed to be notified of his acceptance, but there was only one problem – the financial commitment.
 
“I was a first-generation student and my family could not support my education whatsoever,” he said. “The fact of the matter was that if I didn’t get a full ride, the University of Richmond and the U.S. as a whole would have been out of my reach.”
 
Fortunately, Keshav got the news he was waiting for in May 2018. One evening, he was having a hard time falling asleep, so he decided to check his email. He noticed a new message from Tamara Lapman, former senior associate director of admission at UR, informing him that he had been awarded the Wellde Scholarship for International Students, offering Keshav the financial assistance he needed to fund his four years at the University.
 
“I just started bawling,” he said, laughing. “It was something I had waited so long for – almost a full year since my application. It was honestly one of the best moments of my life.”
 
Keshav, who had never traveled outside of Nepal before, arrived on campus in August 2018. He initially experienced culture shock being in the U.S., but he soon felt a sense of belonging.
                                                  
“I realized that there were other people on campus who were different,” he said. “I wasn’t alone. The friends I made on the first day of freshman orientation, I am still friends with today.”
 
A mathematical economics graduate, Keshav made the most of his time at UR by being highly involved on campus and in the community. He worked as a marketing promoter for Outdoor Adventure and Recreation (OAR), which offers students outdoor experiential learning opportunities. He served as an academic chair and mentor for Peer Advisors and Mentors (PAM), and he was a business development intern with the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce, on top of working part-time jobs at the Robins School of Business’ Lou’s Café, Boatwright Memorial Library, and the Weinstein Center for Recreation to build his savings.
 
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in spring 2020, Keshav was not able to return home to Nepal. Luckily, Donna Geer Willis, W’69 – grandmother of Keshav’s friend, Ashton Paige Willis, ’22 – graciously invited Keshav to live with her for four months until he could return to on-campus housing in the summer.
 
“I had nowhere to go, and she took me in,” he said. “It was amazing. She and Paige surprised me with a white chocolate chip cake on my birthday, and I got to go to the beach for the first time. It just shows that if you ask for help, people at Richmond are willing to help you.” 
 
As a new Spider alumnus, Keshav remains deeply grateful to the Wellde family for helping to fund his education, and he is excited to utilize his degree to pursue a career in financial management.
 
“I’m a kid from a third world country, halfway around the world, and someone was gracious enough to pay for my school, even though they had never met me and had never talked to me,” he said. “And they expect nothing in return. The Welldes made my education possible.”

Scholarships provide access and affordability to deserving students like Keshav. To learn more about supporting or creating a scholarship, please email donorrelations@richmond.edu