Akshay Nanavati (Class of 2009)
Historians often study explorers, but Akshay has decided to become one.
I am currently in the process of starting an adventure company and becoming a professional explorer. By that I mean engaging with nature, interacting with different cultures and pushing my limits in order to gain a greater appreciation for the human condition.
While completing my history degree at Southwestern University, I spent my vacations mountaineering all over the world. Throughout my time in college, I also served in the US Marines. After my junior year, I had to withdraw from Southwestern and leave for Iraq.
Upon returning from the war one year later, I decided to obtain a master’s degree in journalism. I felt a responsibility to share with the outside world the degree to which local Iraqi’s wished for freedom from tyranny and the personal sacrifices they made to earn it.
In July 2010, I completed my master’s in journalism from Syracuse University. Since graduating, I have walked through a leper colony in India, climbed in Nepal, scuba dived in the Maldives and become a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey. I am now training for a ski crossing of Greenland and pursuing opportunities to work in post conflict zones. You can read more about me on my website: www.akshaynanavati.com.
My history degree from Southwestern set the stage for my life as an explorer. It nurtured my interest in studying various cultures and inspired me to cultivate my understanding of the human experience. During my time in Iraq, I connected with the local people on a personal level because I made an extra effort to study their past and their culture. An awareness of their history proved to be the most powerful weapon in the war. It gave us the means to win the people and not only save our own lives, but also improve the lives of the Iraqi people.
The classes I took at Southwestern further reinforced that the standards we have set in our past are milestones to strive toward and barriers to break. History sheds light on the human condition by exposing the best and the worst of humanity along with everything in the middle. I have traveled to six of the seven continents and become an explorer to build on that knowledge, take what I must from the past and use it to better the planet and myself. Through my history degree, I have built the foundation from which I now wander the world.