Beeta Ansari

Beeta is Ashoka U’s Exchange Director, the world’s largest global convening for social entrepreneurship education.

Changemaker of the Week: Surya Karki

“I work to provide free education to children in rural Nepal; to be a hope to the hopeless and an inspiration to the hopeful; to listen, act, and lead.” – Surya Karki

Surya Karki PhotoSurya Karki, student at College of the Atlantic, describes his work founding Maya Universe Academy, the first completely free private education institution in Nepal.

Surya Karki is being featured as part of Ashoka U’s new series, “Changemaker of the Week” which highlights extraordinary student changemakers in college and graduate programs around the country. Check the Ashoka U blog each week for a story of a new Changemaker of the Week!

What is Maya Universe Academy?
Maya Universe Academy (MUA) is the first completely free private education institution in Nepal. It’s currently operating in three districts of Nepal: Syangja District to the west, Tanahun in the center and Udaypur District in the east. We provide completely free quality education to the rural poor of Nepal in return for two days of volunteering at the school in operations or in the school farm.

How did you decide to start Maya Universe Academy?
I used to be one of the kids that I was going to serve, (poor, without enough resources for a quality education without placing burden). The desire to help children living my childhood motivated me in the founding of Maya Universe Academy. After completing my agriculture studies in Venezuela in 2011, I returned home to Nepal and teamed up with five other students; Manjil Rana, Shil Chu Yoon, Ian Blanchard, Asish Adhikary and Subhash Rana, to start Maya Universe Academy.

How has being a student changed the way you act as a changemaker?
College has provided me with the freedom and support to be a changemaker with a holistic view. My first step to changemaking started at Budhanilkantha School where in 1998 my mom, who has never received any formal education, said “You are the only person that can be the change you wish to be.” After establishing Maya Universe Academy, and keeping in mind what my mom had once said, I reached College of the Atlantic (COA) where the freedom to act has given me greater horizon to act as a changemaker in education, policy making at the United Nations, sustainable business planning in Germany and even committing to economic change in Nepal through coffee and fruit farming.

What’s the best part of working on your venture?
The best part of working on my venture is waking up and seeing the kids coming to school, playing, talking and screaming. The appreciation the kids show for what I do at MUA has kept my adrenaline and my motivation high, to continue to strive for a better future for the kids and for the country. Every day I am reminded that the investment that my team and I have made, and are making, on the future of these kids is worth more than the days that I have gone broke.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a student changemaker?
One piece of advice, simple as it is: “Believe in yourself, believe that you can do it, and believe that the first step is what you need to take. The second step will follow upon the first one. If you are thinking you are going to be alone in your journey, then you may be wrong because the place you are intending to serve will support you throughout.”

Or, take it this way, “College is a place to learn – to learn to pursue your dreams, but the most important thing to remember is that college is a place to be free to seek your dream, to put your changemaker adrenaline into action. Your move will be one of the most important steps to becoming the kind of person you wish to be.”

How has being at College of the Atlantic helped you as a changemaker?
There are hundreds of opportunities around, but without the immense help of my school I would not have had the opportunity to adjust within my course work. The school and my teachers have so far supported me by giving me a go-ahead for anything that interests me. They have given me the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) 2013 in St. Louis, Jacobus Business Challenge in Germany, 51st CSocD at the UN Headquarters in New York and a landscape economic study of Yucatan Peninsula. Trusting my abilities to act, the school also selected me as a grantee for one of the “100 Projects for Peace” to establish an organic coffee and fruit farm in Nepal to sustain my venture. This can only happen at College of the Atlantic.

For more about Surya’s work, check out his website at More information about Surya Karki will be featured on social media this week, so make sure to like Ashoka U on Twitter and Facebook! Check out Ashoka U’s blog each week to see new stories of phenomenal student changemakers making a difference in the world.