Fulbright Scholar fulfills dream to study in U.S.

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A. Sue Weisler

As a Tibetan refugee, Kunsang Dorjee is neither a citizen nor has a country to call his own. But he received a Fulbright Scholarship to attend RIT and earn his MBA.

“Climb every mountain” could certainly describe Kunsang Dorjee’s life.

As a Tibetan refugee who hails from the high Himalayans in the city of Dharamsala, India—home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama— he is neither a citizen nor has a country to call his own.

Born to a peasant family in a struggling exiled community, Dorjee’s father died when he was 11, leaving behind a widow and three sons. A year later he “was on his own”—sent to a boarding school run by the Central Tibetan Administration.

But he always had a dream to study in America.

Dorjee said he “was greatly honored” to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to earn his MBA degree from RIT and will graduate with a 3.89 GPA from Saunders College of Business this May.

“I prepared very hard for this scholarship,” said Dorjee. “Living in a challenging situation, even the multiple of my family’s lifetime savings couldn’t afford me with such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at such an esteemed university as RIT.”

Dorjee also gives special thanks to his adviser Peggy Tirrell, senior associate director for graduate programs and admissions at Saunders College. “I am not as young as many other Fulbright students and I was pleased and honored she had faith in me. I wanted to live up to her expectations.”

Although Dorjee has been an active member of the Financial Management Association and Next Generation of Accountants, he said he most appreciates the faculty because of their real world experience, the diversity of students “who bring culture and friendship,” and the kindness of Saunders Visiting Lecturer Tom Traub who invited him to share a holiday with his family.

“My experience of that celebration was unforgettable,” said Dorjee. “I wish every country and culture had Thanksgiving Day to appreciate the kindness of our near and dear ones.”

In June, Dorjee will return home to a higher-ranking job within the Central Tibetan Administration, where he previously worked as chief protocol officer. His spiritual footpath includes supporting other refugee children to become professionals who can give back to the community—something he learned firsthand from the teachings of the Dalai Lama, whom he said “was like meeting with Jesus.”

“He taught me that helping others or giving happiness is the meaning of life,” said Dorjee. “When I was growing up, I could spend only two months a year with my mother, who never remarried, and my eldest brother, who is mentally and physically challenged. Now I will get to live in the same house and see them every day.

“For that, I am grateful. Thanks to RIT, my life has truly changed.”