From Bangladesh to Vermont: Mukta Mukta '13 Appears in New Kids, the UVM Summer Read for Honors College
- By CNHS
Mukta Mukta ‘13 loves the color green. She won’t say it’s THE reason she came to the University of Vermont and the Green Mountain State, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that she sees a little more of her favorite color here than in New York City, where her family now lives.
“When I first came here I thought it was so beautiful,” she said. “And the people are so nice.”
Now a rising senior in the nursing program at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, she’s bustles from the library to class to her clinical rotations at Fletcher Allen, a picture of the typical college student. Her journey to UVM, however, was anything but typical. In 2002, her family came to the United States from a rural village in Bangladesh. They first settled in Nebraska before moving to New York City. There, she attended the International High School at Prospect Heights, a school that enrolls students from more than 45 countries. For most students, Mukta included, English is a second language. The school prides itself on helping recent immigrants as they make the transition to life in America. It’s a huge undertaking: Some students are refugees from war-torn areas. Others arrive without family or support systems, while still more struggle with cultural differences and the need to support family members while attending school. Mukta says these nuances are not lost on the school’s faculty and staff.
“They look at our stories,” she says. “They look at our needs.” Teachers, guidance counselors and staff support students in all facets of their lives, from finding places to live and negotiating cultural barriers to dishing out advice about American pop culture.
From High School Student to Story Subject
Journalist Brooke Hauser first visited the International High School in 2008 to write a story for the New York Times. She wound up returning for a year to do research for a book titled New Kids, this year’s Summer Read for incoming first-year students in the Honors College. Mukta appears in the book with her classmates as they negotiate the end of high school and all of the excitement that comes with it.
Mukta participates in her friend Yasmeen’s traditional Muslim wedding; she goes to classes and activities; she attends prom, and she prepares for graduation.
She also struggles with her family’s faith and questions whether Islam is the right choice for her. New Kids touches on the debate she has with herself, her family and some of her classmates. In the end, it’s a time of self-discovery for Mukta, filled with realizations. She says she has come to a conclusion that now guides her: “Religion doesn’t come by blood. It comes by belief.”
New Kids also chronicles the excitement when five seniors at the school are awarded Seinfeld Scholarships, a significant achievement for the school. The scholarship program, founded by entertainer Jerry Seinfeld, pays for a full college education at a school of the student’s choosing. Students from across New York City write essays for a chance to win. Mukta was one of the scholarship winners, and New Kids captures her jubilant reaction.
“Mukta can’t stop grinning and clapping,” the book reads. “’This proves that International High School students can do anything!’ she squawks in the stairwell.”
The Next Phase of Life
Now wrapping up her third year at UVM, Mukta is looking forward to the next phase of her journey. At first hesitant to allow their daughter to go out of state for college, Mukta said her parents now couldn’t be more supportive.
“At first they were scared but now they are so proud of me,” she said. “It’s been a challenge, but a good challenge.”
She plans to return to New York City after graduation, but will not forget her time at CNHS, where she has made life-long friends and has started to build the foundation for a health care career.
“CNHS has been so supportive,” she said. “I found the right people.”
- Read more about New Kids author Brooke Hauser.