Life School News

John Pathak

From Nepal to Life School, Back to Nepal - An Alum’s Journey to Success and Impact

When John Pathak’s parents moved him to Dallas from Nepal as a 10-year-old boy, it was only supposed to be for one year. But one year turned into two, and two turned into more than twenty. Now a principal at an architecture firm in Fort Worth, Pathak reflects on how his time as a student at Life School shaped his future, leading him to a fulfilling career that aligns with his personal and professional dreams.

John Pathak arrived in Dallas in 1998 with his parents, who studied at Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI). As a family in a new country, John’s parents were selective in finding the right school for their children. Thanks to a close-knit community of students and missionaries at CFNI, his parents learned of a new charter school called Life School that was opening in a nearby Oak Cliff neighborhood.

As a 5th grader, John was enrolled in the inaugural class at Life School. Beginning a new school in a foreign country while speaking a foreign language could have been daunting. However, due to the rigorous school he attended in Nepal, John could adapt quickly. Having studied English in school in Nepal, he had no trouble jumping in and keeping up, if not setting, the pace of his studies. 

As a small school, Life School immediately felt like family. Because John and his family lived on campus at CFNI along with many other families who sent their children to Life School, there was quickly an opportunity to develop community at home and school.

But the transition wasn’t without its challenges. At first, John wanted to return to Nepal.

“The rice didn’t taste the same, and the air was different,” recalls John. “In Dallas, we had to drive everywhere. I remember getting car sick a lot just driving around town.”

However, the move also brought positive changes. Unlike in Nepal, where after-school activities were limited due to safety concerns, John could now engage in sports and outdoor play with friends, enriching his social life and sense of community.

Life School, which initially served grades Kindergarten through 5th, added a new grade each year, allowing John to complete his entire high school education there. John always excelled as a student. He graduated as the Valedictorian of Life School's Class of 2006.

During his time at Life School, John was continually challenged academically. "The teachers and counselors always pushed us. Even for those who excelled, they created new opportunities for us to grow," he says.

As John considered his future, he was uncertain about following his parents into ministry but wanted to have a Kingdom-minded impact. Through discussions with the counselors at Life School, he discovered a passion for architecture.

“I think I’m both left and right-brained,” explained John. “Architecture was attractive to me because I really loved the idea of being able to use my analytical skills, but also utilize my artistic side as well.” He also dreamed of returning to Nepal one day to build much-needed churches and schools. 

John attended the University of Texas at Arlington, earning a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 2010 and a Master of Architecture in 2012. He then began working at an architecture firm in Fort Worth, focusing on church projects and gaining diverse practicum experience.

In 2017, after receiving his architect license, John was tagged in a social media post by a former Life School teacher about an urgent need for architects and engineers in Nepal. Seeing this as a calling, he returned to Nepal to learn about the efforts to rebuild structures devastated by the 2015 earthquake, particularly churches and schools.

Today, John is incredibly grateful for where Life has taken him. He is the Principal and partner of a Fort Worth-based architecture firm, Schwarz Hanson Architects, which has been doing work in the DFW Metroplex since 1995. He continues to work in Nepal through a partnership with Envision Builders and Ally Global, an organization fighting human trafficking in Nepal and Cambodia. They are currently working on a multi-phase project to house and educate rescued victims while providing a school for local children.

“Life School, with its incredible teachers, staff, and students, played a pivotal role in shaping my journey. It equipped me with the skills and confidence to pursue my dreams, and its impact on my personal and professional growth is immeasurable,” says John.

John Pathak's journey from a 9-year-old newcomer in Dallas to a successful architect and humanitarian demonstrates the power of influence that family, teachers, and community can have on an individual.


Life School is a tuition-free, public charter school with campuses in Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Mountain Creek, Red Oak, Oak Cliff and Waxahachie, TX. Life School develops leaders with life skills through strong academics, character training, and partnerships with parents and the community. Its mission is accomplished in part through the financial support of donors who provide scholarships and embrace making students ready to learn, ready to lead and ready for life.

Parents who are interested in enrollment can visit Partners who would like to support Life School financially can give online at

132 East Ovilla Road, Suite A, Red Oak, TX 75154 – 469.850.5433 – F: 469.850.5434

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