Learning how to Learn

Hiral Dutia, TAISM Alumni

Hiral and her friends gather between classes.

When Hiral Dutia looks back on her time at TAISM, her first memories are not of classes and tests. Instead, she recalls visiting the mountains of Oman, traveling with her friends for Model UN, and a warm sense of community.

“It’s a rich environment,” says Dutia of the broad experiences available at TAISM. She advises today’s TAISM eagles to try new things while in school. 

“You have to explore all your interests to see what could be the next step. There are so many opportunities.”

Dutia, who was born in India and graduated from TAISM in 2008, followed her own advice and pursued two degrees as an undergraduate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the US: one in Biology and Biotechnology, and the other in Society, Technology, and Policy. She then completed her master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Science at Northeastern University. 

Today, Dutia combines her passions for science, technology, and policy as a Regulatory Affairs Manager at Third Pole Therapeutics in Boston, where she focuses on regulatory strategy and planning for electromechanical medical devices.

“I took the broadest variety of classes I could at TAISM,” says Dutia, who credits the critical thinking skills she learned at TAISM with her success. “I learned skills I now apply in negotiations and discussions, like persuasive writing and how to collaborate with others. These soft skills have been really important with my career.”

The global perspective Dutia learned while at TAISM has also helped her in life after school. “TAISM gave me an awareness of how interconnected we are at an early age. Especially during COVID when things have gone remote, it’s helpful to understand the cultural differences among people we work with, particularly when I’m working with international offices. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you have a global background.”

While Dutia is based in Boston today, her family still lives in Oman, and she travels to Muscat frequently to see them. Though her family was active in her childhood and often traveled around the region, she says the Discover Oman program was still extraordinarily impactful.

“I felt — and still feel — very connected to Oman. We had Discover Oman in every grade, and it allowed me to experience parts of Oman that I wouldn’t have otherwise. We went to the mountains and the sea. Experiencing that with my peers and teachers was different than traveling with family. We got to interact with Omani people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and it was enriching.”

Hiral in Bejing for an MUN event.

In addition to Discover Oman, Dutia attributes her international perspective and communication skills to her co-curricular activities, specifically Model UN. “I was most engaged there,” says Dutia. “We traveled to Ireland and China. It was a wonderful experience.”

“We had so much going on,” Dutia says of her time at TAISM. “It wasn’t just a school. It was a community because we were so involved in life outside of classes. It was easy to make connections. People were willing to become part of the community.” 

TAISM taught me to be self-sufficient and persistent. I became used to academic challenges at a young age. We didn’t just go to school. We learned how to learn.

Today, Dutia still enjoys connections she made at TAISM and stays in touch with friends from school, even though they are spread across the globe. When she looks back on her time at TAISM, it is with fondness and gratitude.

To current TAISM students, Dutia offers simple advice: “Savor the experience. It doesn’t come again.”