Finding Your Path and Your People
Shaon Lahiri, TAISM Alumni
Shaon Lahiri, is a recent PHD Graduate in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health from George Washington University in Washington DC. He is also a music aficionado, and a TAISM alumni.
After graduating from TAISM in 2008, Shaon had his heart and mind set on studying psychology, which led him to pursue an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Michigan. Upon receiving his degree, Shaon took 6 months to figure out his next step. This led him back to Oman for a formative internship at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital which prompted his interest in Public Health. He went on to pursue his Master's in Public Health at Imperial College London. After earning his Master’s degree, he came back to Oman and worked at UNICEF for a year before moving to India where he worked for 2 and a half years, at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation after which he pursued his PHD. Today, Shaon is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Contemplating on how he got to where he is today, Shaon talked about an important life lesson for him was learning to let go of the life he had planned for himself.
"I had a very rigid plan in place. I thought I would go to college and then do my PHD in clinical psychology right after. I applied to 13 PHD schools and got rejected from each and every one. It crushed me at the time that the plan I had for myself was not going to work out. What really helped me was realizing that it didn’t have to go according to plan. I learned how to be open and adapt and that time in life saved me. I’m grateful for it because it launched me towards a whole new career in public health.”
We then asked Shaon about the part that TAISM played in his life, and he shared that what stood out to him was the international community, culture, fellowship, and experience of being in an international school. Shaon spoke about how his time at TAISM was so special and unique that only someone who experienced TAISM can truly understand it. He shared how he still keeps in touch with old friends, going back to 5th grade, because they have a bond through TAISM.
"TAISM was so special and unique that only someone who experienced TAISM can truly understand it.”
"It’s easy to feel rudderless and anchorless in life. I’ve always found staying connected to friends from TAISM to be grounding. These are people who have gone through similar experiences and probably the only people who truly understand what you’ve been through.”
Shaon shared how it can sometimes be challenging to make friends and find your people after school. What helped him was simply patience, and the realization that finding your people takes time and that’s okay. His time at TAISM taught him the important life skill of being able to befriend anyone no matter the differences in culture or upbringing. Shoan shared how even simply knowing words in different languages because of his friendships at TAISM, came in handy later on in life as a way to connect with people. “Whenever you meet someone from a new culture and volunteer even a few things you know about that culture it’s going to put people at ease. TAISM inculcated this ability within me to adapt, and helped me relate to almost anyone from anywhere.”
"be open to change and expect change to happen”
Looking back at his time at TAISM, Shaon's first memory is always Jamfest, an annual Band Festival by the TAISM high school.
"I clearly remember the outdoor amphitheater and being up on stage with my Band when I was in 10th grade. Somehow we won that year and I remember it being a moment of great triumph for me. I never got to perform like that again so it’s always a very special memory for me.”
At the end of our conversation, we asked Shaon what his advice would be to seniors graduating from TAISM and his response was, “to be open to change and expect change to happen. This was a recurring theme in my own life so I hope I can be an example to someone else.”