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Journey of Exploration: Next Genius Scholar's Pursuit of Environmental Sciences at Juniata College

Kiran Patil, a Next Genius Scholar is eagerly advancing towards her future plans.

At present, Kiran Patil is pursuing her graduation from Juniata College, Pennsylvania, with a major in Environmental Sciences and a minor in International Studies.

In her grade 12, while completing her schooling at Birla School, Mumbai, Kiran decided to apply for The Next Genius Scholarship Program, which is indeed life-changing. She is highly grateful to Next Genius because of her amazing experience during her journey, which made her feel special. She said, “It is not just about the scholarship, but about the entire journey, right from the day you apply to the program, till the day of your interviews.”

In an interview about her experience as a Next Genius Scholar at Juniata College, Kiran shared that she had not been on campus initially because of the COVID pandemic. She completed her first semester online, so initially it was difficult for her to connect with people, but as she progressed, she got used to it. She even said, “Seeing my friends on campus making the most out of everything while I was sitting back at home, was quite tough.” The huge difference in time zones often led her to attend classes or appear for tests when it was almost midnight in India. She was not getting to interact enough because she was not familiar with anybody. To resolve this, she approached her professors and classmates, who really supported her and encouraged her.

Kiran encountered various differences in the culture and education system there. She said, “In one of my classes called ‘Interventions', I discussed the contrasts between our cultures and the American culture with other international students, which helped me learn more and make more friends." She added, “The way in which they address professors, by calling them by their names, is something I can never do. Their pronunciations are also so different from ours that I get confused at times." Apart from this, coming from India, a country with a rigid education system, in the US, there were not just options to choose from in Juniata, but so many options that it became a task for her to select one.

Kiran further spoke about finding opportunities related to her major, inside and outside of the college. Kiran is eager to keep learning and has high ambitions. According to her, the best part was that she got to create her own major, which could be anything. Juniata is very flexible in this matter. There is a field station on the college campus, where students can stay for a semester and do research in environmental sciences; towards its end, they are given a project to indulge in some actual fieldwork. In that semester, they had to engage with the local community and the conservative districts, so she collaborated with a small NGO near her residence in Mumbai, as she was not on campus at that time.

For her plans after graduating, Kiran is interested in the Indian Civil Services. She plans to return to India and apply for the UPSC to work in the Indian Foreign Service. However, this field is more related to her minor than her major.

While concluding, she shared some advice for the future Next Genius Scholars who plan to attend Juniata College. According to her, “Before choosing your courses, give it deep thought. Try out all the available courses in your freshman year. Approach professors, they are very helpful. Be ready for an amazing journey because it is going to be exciting throughout. Just be confident and believe in yourself." To apply for the Next Genius Scholarship Program, visit


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