A test score earns a Fulbright and freedom
In 2013, Diwas Puri ‘17 (Thimphu, Bhutan) took a test that would not only change his life, but alter the fortunes of his family forever. The test would qualify him for citizenship in Bhutan, which he needed to be eligible for a Fulbright scholarship, awarded once every two years to a Bhutanese student.
Puri scored so high on the test that it came to the attention of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan. Puri told the king of his desire to attain citizenship so he could attend college in the United States. While the king was researching his case, something caught his attention.
Puri’s parents were imprisoned more than 10 years earlier for unauthorized political activities. Puri was raised by relatives, and traveled cross-country to see his parents in prison whenever he had the chance.
"Bryant is such a tight-knit community and it brings people from many different countries together."
Soon after Puri received his Fulbright scholarship and arrived at Bryant, the King granted his parents their release from prison.
“They were so proud of me for scoring so high on that test,” he says.
Puri has not seen his parents in person since they were released. He talks to them frequently over Skype, but has not been back to Bhutan since he began his studies at Bryant.
“I plan to go back there shortly after I graduate,” he says.
He continues to make his parents proud by integrating himself into the Bryant community. He is a member of the Model United Nations Club and hosted a Global Community Hour that introduced faculty, students and staff to his native country.
He remembers that when he arrived at Bryant, he wasn’t sure how he’d fit in.
“I had a huge cultural shock when I came here,” he says. “It was my first time in the United States and all I had was what I could fit in two suitcases.”
Puri credits Bryant’s Office For International Students and Scholars to helping him make his transition as smooth as possible.
“Bryant is such a tight-knit community and it brings people from many different countries together, while helping us assimilate into the American culture,” he says.
Puri, an Actuarial Mathematics major, says his eventual goal is to be a Bhutanese ambassador to another country. Once he graduates, he aspires to enter a training program, offered through another Fulbright program, which will enhance his math skills.