Turning dreams into a reality is what international student Vishal Siddharth Gaikwad is doing at the University of Arizona.
“I never thought that I could go to law school,” said Siddharth Gaikwad. “I never thought that I could go to higher education. Especially a U.S school I never thought about that.”
This weekend, he will be among the hundreds of students to walk across the stage and accept their diploma.
“It’s a great honor when you are the first person in your family generation to have a PhD in law,” he said.
Vishal is a member of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community, which he says are treated as outcasts in his home country of India.
He was focused and determined to advance his community’s human rights on an international level by empowering indigenous communities to establish their own human rights websites worldwide.
“Who am I? Am I indigenous according to international law?” he asked. “In my journey as a PhD student, I found that yes, my community is indeed indigenous.”
Although the Constitution of India does not recognize Vishal’s community as being indigenous, he says that during his time at the university, his goal was to gain that recognition by merging law and internet technologies.
Once the studies were completed, Vishal said he realized something special about the Old Pueblo.
“If you have to ask me if I have to settle anywhere in the world, Tucson would be my place,” he said.
All of Vishal’s thanks go to his mother, who wanted to get an education but couldn’t afford it.
“She promised herself that she would never compromise her children’s education,” he said. “That’s why I am here; that’s why I have completed my PhD.”