Kelvin Bagthariya: Generating positive change with resilience | Aga Khan Academies

Kelvin Bagthariya: Generating positive change with resilience

Kelvin Bagthariya, a second-year Diploma student at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad, believes that his time at the Academy has taught him one thing in particular: resilience. Kelvin joined the Academy in year 9, and having come from a small town in Gujarat, it was a completely different environment. He believes the Academy has changed his mindset, teaching him to become independent, improving his self-esteem and allowing him to pursue his passion to make a change in his community.

“It was hard for me in the ninth grade as I grew up in a conservative society where people had closed mentalities and viewed life with confined perspectives – it was totally opposite when I came [to the Academy]. I was surrounded by people from diverse communities, with different perceptions and different approaches towards learning. Coming here to the Academy made me adapt to the pluralistic environment, helped me overcome new challenges and integrate [His Highness’s] vision towards my learning.” 

For Kelvin, the attitude and assistance of the staff, teachers and his peers at the Academy were the reasons behind his resilience through this tough transition, especially in adjusting to a new way of learning and thinking. They were extremely encouraging towards Kelvin, which empowered him to take responsibility, get involved in enrichment activities and take on leadership roles.

“The journey has [inspired] many transformations in me since I joined. If I recall my first day [at the Academy], everything was new to me. I felt I wouldn’t be comfortable or accepted, and the first few months were lonely. But what the Academy has taught me is that you have to be independent. The Academy offers various opportunities from sports, service projects and various events. …Throughout my journey, being part of the school cricket team, participating and leading various service projects, being head of logistics in Model United Nations, summer internships, school trips and participating in cultural events has shaped me as an individual. It is very different from other schools. The journey wasn’t easy and couldn’t have been possible without my peers, teachers and assistance staff. After four years, if I look at myself, it is a proud moment for me.”

During his four years at the Academy, Kelvin has particularly enjoyed being part of the cricket team, Model United Nations, initiating the organic farming project at the Academy and doing a summer internship with the Aga Khan Foundation. Kelvin explains, “Enrichment activities give you a taste of real life and how it works.” 

Through these enrichment activities and involvement in the community at the Academy, Kelvin was encouraged to contribute to the community in his hometown. “I am very passionate about bringing change in the society. When I see a problem, I want to make a change. I have the passion to be a leader and take responsibility. I always want to take initiative.” 

Kelvin has taken initiative on an issue close to his heart and one of most pressing public health issues in his hometown: tobacco addiction. Kelvin lost a close friend to tobacco addiction, so he decided to partner with institutions in the Ismaili community such as the Aga Khan Education Board and the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board to run a campaign to inform people about the consequences of addiction through a short movie that he scripted and acted in. He also created a youth group, worked with families struggling with addiction, visited schools and vulnerable areas, and organized health checkups. The project even received an award from the local government for its effort to mitigate tobacco addiction.

“I felt proud when 15-20 people came to me and said they are no longer addicted,” Kelvin shares.

Kelvin owes his enthusiasm to take initiative to the Academy, where he had always been motivated to do the same through his CAS and enrichment activities.

After graduating from the Academy, Kelvin wishes to pursue a degree in computer science in Canada. He hopes to use his education to work for the good of society, in particular for the Aga Khan Development Network and in the direction of His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision of improving the quality of life of people.

“His Highness says when you leave the Academy, you should be working for change in your own community. I have the responsibility as a global citizen to make a change””

By Inaara Gangji