University of New Mexico student Rakshya Ghimire, from Nepal, was recently awarded an International Peace Scholarship of $10,000. She is the first person from the UNM School of Planning and Architecture to receive this very competitive scholarship.

The International Peace Scholarship Fund was established in 1949 to provide scholarships to select women from around the world for graduate study in the United States and Canada. The belief behind the fund is that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding.

In her application essay Ghimire wrote, “Growing up in a male dominant society was not easy, but my mom has always been a huge source of inspiration to me, teaching me lessons like hard-work, persistence, loyalty and above all, being a woman of dignity. This shaped my thinking in a very different way, and so did my habits, which helped me counter problems caused by patriarchal superiority during my early career.”

Ghimire, a second year graduate student in landscape architecture, is relieved that her family in Katmandu wasn’t hurt in Nepal’s recent earthquake, but is apprehensive because of the many aftershocks. She is also concerned for other Nepalese and wants to go home this summer to help.

Eric Bernard, director, landscape architecture program, said, “I am trying to get her on some of the teams that are going there to map and to plan for the future in the rebuild process.” Ghimire has GIS mapping skills, he said.

Ghimire came to UNM after earning an undergraduate degree in architecture in Nepal.

“It doesn’t surprise me that while in Nepal she found New Mexico and UNM. While here, she is developing her vision to inspire and build bridges to span the cultural gaps,” said Geraldine Forbes Isais, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

“She was a good student from her previous institution. She had good experience in Nepal and was excited about what she could do with landscape architecture here and in Nepal. We admitted her based upon her strong portfolio and that she wanted to put her talents to work at home,” Bernard said.

Alf Simon, professor and associate dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, said, “Rakshya’s goal is to gain the skills and knowledge to be a ‘complete’ environmental designer – to understand the design of places in a way that integrates built and natural worlds, and results in responsible and resilient places that are culturally and environmentally sustainable. This is truly a commendable goal.”

Ghimire applied to the UNM landscape architecture program because of its location in New Mexico with its “nature and beauty,” and because she wants “to contribute through both the natural and built environments.” “It is a good program for me,” she said.

Her inspiration comes from people, patterns and places. She wrote, “I feel that world should be a harmonious place to live with people connecting, helping and loving each other. Although the world has developed significantly, there is still a huge cultural, social and geographical gap among the people. As a landscape designer I hope to bridge the gap by contributing as much and possible.”

She added, “I am confident that I will be able to contribute in bridging the cultural gap in the world and inspiring a lot of women, especially from the South Asian region.”

Forbes Isais said, “Rakshya looks around her and doesn’t necessarily see the boundaries of the world. She thinks about what the world can and should be, while also considering how to redesign the environment to achieve her new vision. She is an inspirational visionary and peacemaker. We are proud to have her.”