Krishna Bajgai provided a lesson in success for Westerville Central High School students recently when Western Governors University Ohio Chancellor Rebecca Watts and Westerville Central Principal Thomas Lanier entered the classroom to surprise him with the WGU Community College Partner Scholarship.
Bajgai, originally from Nepal, is an instructional aide for English learners at Westerville Central.
He said he was shocked when Lanier and Watts showed up Aug. 31 with a large scholarship check for $2,000.
"This scholarship means a lot to me," he said. "As a head of the household, I am struggling with my school payments on top of my bills. It is not a lot, but it has helped me a lot financially for my current financial needs."
Bajgai, 32, called the event "the most life-changing, motivational surprise" he has ever experienced, and he's eager to use the money to further his studies.
He said the best thing about the scholarship was the surprise event at Central in front of the English as a Second Language students.
"I felt proud to answer the questions after the event to those students who were interested to know, and advising them the ways to achieve it."
The Reynoldsburg resident said his own young children were interested in learning what that big check was about.
"It was so wonderful to explain and bet with them (about) achieving better than that in the future," Bajgai said.
Lanier said Bajgai is a critical liaison with Westerville Central's Nepali community and works tirelessly to advocate for all English language students in the building.
"He was instrumental in putting together a help session for Nepali parents (recently) in the Media Center where families were supported in learning how to access PowerSchool, talk to teachers and get familiar with Westerville Central," Lanier said.
Bajgai said he not only works as a school instructional aide, but he helps the Westerville school district with the Nepali language.
"I work directly with the ESL students, parents, and the whole Bhutanese/Nepali refugee community in Westerville being a bilingual in that position," he said.
The WGU Community College Partner Scholarship was recently made available to Ohio residents who have earned an associate degree at a partner college and is available to individuals looking to earn a WGU bachelor's or master's degree.
"WGU Ohio is honored to recognize individuals like Mr. Bajgai who are making positive contributions to our community and who are committed to furthering their education," Watts said. "All students, regardless of their income, should have access to high quality, affordable education."
Bajgai completed his associate degree at Columbus State Community College and plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree through the WGU Teachers College within two years.
Bajgai said he wants to teach mathematics at the secondary level in Ohio and eventually calculus in college.
WGU Ohio was established earlier this year as a partnership between Western Governors University and the state of Ohio with a mission to help Ohioans obtain a quality education.
The university, which is nonprofit and self-sustaining on flat-rate tuition, has affiliate locations in seven other states and more than 100,000 active students nationwide.