Q&A: Ridgeview High student works towards raising awareness of Sikh community and giving students more opportunity

May 22, 2019 /

Ridgeview High senior Harvin Kaur has been elected President of the Sikh Honors and Service Society and the class Vice President.

Kaur has big plans for both clubs, but most of all, she wants to raise awareness and educate her fellow classmates on the Sikh community.

She plans to uplift and highlight the Sikh voice on campus and emphasize the importance of civic engagement.

The California Endowment said on Instagram, “Diversity and representation in positions of leadership are key to healthy and happy communities.”

South Kern Sol’s Jessica Manzo sat down with Kaur to discuss her goals for the next school year.

Q: What are your priorities as the senior class Vice President? What do you hope to accomplish?

A:  I’m basically allowed to bring anything to SHSS. I can better communicate with Associated Student Body (ASB) to set up events. Before me, we did not really have representations with ASB at all. I help set up events, such as community service events, panels on social and mental issues, forums where we can educate the community who don’t know about us, and especially promote youth empowerment because we are the future, and we want them to know that. I’m really looking forward to bringing our voice to the table.

Q: What are you plans at Ridgeview High to highlight the Sikh student body?

A: I would like to set up Vaiksakhi, or in other words, Sikh awareness week. A lot of people don’t know who we are and people generalize us as Muslim. Bringing awareness would be ideal for next year because we weren’t able to do so this year.

Q: Can you say a bit more about Vaisakhi? What will that week entail?

A: Vaiksakhi is basically a Sikh Holiday that is celebrated to honor our tenth guru’s creation of Amrit sanchar (which is Sikh baptism). The week will entail our club introducing and educating the school about the Sikh identity, hopefully and idealistically through a spirit week.

Q: What inspired you to run for President?

A: Elections are every year, and actually my friends told me to run. At first I thought, “No” because I did not think I had a chance but once doing a bit more research, it was impulsive. I realized what my motives actually were. My main focus is to really bring awareness and incorporating that into ASB. Once being in ASB, it gives you priorities to speak about topics and allows for me to be a representative at the table for our small minority club because we aren’t addressed enough for who we are so I thought maybe we will be able to get that done here.

Q: Do you have any advice for populations and individuals who feel underrepresented, whether that be in their schools or in society?

A: Populations and individuals that usually feel underrepresented in a school or campus usually have a weak support environment. The best thing to do in that situation is to ground yourself and make your way towards success. Never allow yourself to lose your identity and your cause.

Q: How do you hope to inspire your younger classmates as the class Vice President and SHSS President?

A: As the SHSS President and now the Senior Class Vice President, I believe I’m representing the idealistic colored leader. Not only am I in leadership ethnically, but now I hold a position where I can bring a lot more to the table and allow students to really learn from my mistakes and what I accomplish in my years.

Q: Of the projects and events you have started, which do you hope will continue once your time at Ridgeview High comes to an end?

A: Projects I’ve started that I don’t want to come to an end are in the course of academic competition. I helped create the science bowl team, and next year, I’ll be efficiently working to create a Calculus team, if possible. I believe being academically inclined is one of the best things you can do while you’re in school.

South Kern Sol is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, youth reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.

Jessica Manzo

Jessica Manzo

Jessica Manzo is a youth reporter for South Kern Sol and a student at Cal State Bakersfield.