You might conceive the opportunity to pursue Postgraduate studies abroad in an Ivy League school as nothing more than a dream which will never manifest into reality. Even if you could, you probably think that thriving in your studies and scoring global-level achievements will never be in the cards for you. There is also a good chance that you might think that the only way for you to contribute to Indonesia’s wellbeing is from within – by staying put inside the comfort of your own home. Pradita Astarina graduated in 2015 with a Distinction from the MBA program of Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and she wants you to shed off the traces of your old mindset. She wants you to believe that each of you is special and strong enough to overcome any kind of limitations. She also wants you to share a new belief: that Indonesia can benefit from your ability to soar beyond your comfort zone and your territorial boundaries to raise the red and white flag on the global stage – as she did through her extensive achievements as a Cantabrigian.
My name is Pradita Astarina (Dita), and I’d like to share my experiences of pushing past my limitations to pursue post-graduate study in Cambridge and contribute to Indonesia in the process.
What Motivates Me to Go beyond My Comfort Zone?
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences” – Roosevelt
infinity |inˈfinitē| noun (pl. infinities)
Meaning: “the state or quality of being infinite: the infinity of space”
Infinity is the idea of something that has no end, described by the symbol “∞” in math.
Let’s approach the infinity. Imagine that your life is an empty canvas and that you are the artist responsible for its decoration. The liberty is yours to free your imagination and sketch a more rewarding life.
The Privileges of Becoming a Cantabrigian
In 2014, I obtained a full scholarship from the Jardine Foundation as the first Jardine Scholar to read business in Cambridge. I received two offers at that time: LPDP Presidential Scholarship and Jardine Scholarship, but eventually chose Jardine because I wanted to broaden my network.
Becoming a Cantabrigian offered me a set of privileges, especially in terms of fulfilling my intellectual curiosity. The city of Cambridge, as a part of an extraordinary university, facilitates vibrant interactions among different communities and is a melting pot of brilliant scholars from across the globe. For instance, I was amazed to find many young and talented doctoral candidates who were under 25! I was surrounded by high calibre individuals I have yet to encounter before – propelling me to exclaim “the People Power”! The Cambridge experience has transformed me personally. My surroundings conditioned me to stay ‘hungry’ and strengthened my inner-indomitable spirit. I am even grateful for the opportunities to encounter strangers in coffee shops or visit unexpected random places – they were great learning tools outside of my classroom walls. Furthermore, Cambridge also accorded me the opportunity to enjoy the amazing “Hogwarts Experience” – attending formal dinners in the old hall and immersing in the beauty of the ~800 years old university.
During my MBA, I was selected to represent Cambridge in the Women of Future Awards, specifically in The ‘MBA Star’ category. The award recognizes a female MBA student of ‘exceptional vision, talent and promise’ with the judges ‘looking to identify current or former MBA students with a compelling life-story and exciting visions for the future.’ In the finals, I presented my future aspiration to establish the Center for Women’s Leadership Advancement that will bring together an intellectually diverse group of scholars to provide new insights about the barriers to women’s advancement and propose workable solutions to advance gender equality. One of the proposals is an exchange program between UK and Indonesian young professionals to strengthen the two countries’ bilateral relationship. The nomination paved the way for me to represent Cambridge in a prestigious conference in London and obtain the honor to visit Buckingham Palace to attend a women leadership event. The selection process has also inspired me to go the ‘extra miles’ to advance gender equality. In the end, I graduated from Judge Business School as the top 10% performance of the overall MBA program (Director’s List/Distinction).
Be the Best Version of Yourself!
Indonesia has an estimated population of over 260 million people and is the world’s fourth most populous country. However, not many Indonesians could excel on the global stage and become role models for the younger generations, especially in the fields of education and professional work. This is partly because of the “old-fashioned mindset” which teaches young people to forever stay in their home country —- (Indonesia is a really comfortable place indeed!). If we compare Indonesians with Chinese and Indians – diasporas from the world’s first and second most populous countries, we could clearly see that not so many Indonesian diasporas could shine on the global stage and that our progress is still lacking behind.
To tackle this challenge, we have to cultivate the “achievement habit” and “dare to dream mindset”. If you have the opportunity to live abroad, either to study or work professionally, you should act as good Indonesian ambassadors. The true spirit of nationalism does not only manifest itself through physical presence in Indonesia as there are so many ways for those who live abroad to contribute back to our country.
So, Turn Your Can’t into Can and Your Dreams into Plans!
How to overcome challenges and hurdles? For me, it does not boil down to IQ, work experience, income or wealth. Instead, it comes down to whether you have GRIT. In psychology, grit is a non-intellectual trait of having undeniable belief and passion to pursue a long-term goal. It is a driving force stronger than perseverance, more powerful than motivation, and more sustainable than drive. Grit is basically having the heart to overcome something no matter what the obstacle or challenge is. For me, it is the synergy of passion and drive, guided by a clear set of objectives and timeframe. You don’t get GRIT by chugging special pills, nor inheriting it genetically from your parents. You have to discover and develop it.
I have special tips for you to navigate through and excel in your post-graduate study:
- Know your potentials and strengths. No one was instantly born more superior (genius people perhaps comprise only 1% of the world’s population!). I do believe that everyone has a special talent.
- Focus, focus and focus because “Practice makes perfect”.
- Build the action plans (timeline and milestones) of your life because you are the master of your own soul.
Our life is a continuous function called journey. There isn’t any function in mathematical formula to describe infinity or to make it counted. We can only approach it. For all you dreamers: keep dreaming big and aiming high whatever you are doing and wherever you are right now! May the universe always conspire to support you.
Pradita Astarina is a Cambridge MBA graduate. She was a member of Peterhouse and also the first Jardine Scholar who read an MBA degree in Cambridge. In 2017, she won a McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders Award. She was the only recipient from Indonesia. She had represented her country in Business and Finance Panel at the Harvard Project for Asia and International Relations for three consecutive years (2011-2013). Apart from academics, she was also the Youngest Winner of Young Caring Professional Awards Martha Tilaar 2011 and the receiver of La Femme Trophy–The Power of Women Award. Furthermore, she is also highly involved in youth leadership activities in Indonesia. She is the founder of Young Leaders for Indonesia (YLI) Alumni Community. YLI is an intensive leadership development program initiated by McKinsey Jakarta Office for high performing university students. She can be reached through her email: email@example.com.
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