2018 Scholarship Recipient

Jaskirat Kaur

2018 All-Star Scholarship Recipient

Tell me your age, where you’re going to school, and what you’re majoring in?

My name is Jaskirat Kaur. I’m 18 years old and I just started my first semester at UC Davis in September. I plan to major in biochemistry and molecular biology.

How did you find out about the All-Star Scholarship?

During my senior year of high school, one of my classes was called AVID. It was a class that focused on researching scholarships and what colleges are about – the goal was for us to apply for scholarships. In that class I landed on the UMPS CARE scholarship and thought it was a perfect fit.

Can you talk a bit about what this scholarship means to you and your education?

This scholarship means the world to me! It’s motivating for me to know that someone believes in me, someone believes in my future and my ability to get my degree. Someone is looking out for me, someone is there to help support me in my education in college. My true appreciation goes to all of people involved in UMPS CARE.

Without this scholarship I would be so stressed. I would not know if I could afford school – being someone that doesn’t have both their parents’ support is tough.

Why did you choose UC Davis? Did you look at different schools?

I really wanted to go to UC Davis so I applied last November. When they sent out the results, I did not get accepted. I was debating which other school to go to and settled on the University of Pacific in Stockton – which is private and a lot of money. I was scared because I didn’t know the school, didn’t know the city, didn’t know anyone.

I was really sad and wondered why I didn’t get into my dream school — what those other students had that I didn’t. My family suggested writing to the school to ask them to take another look at my application and to consider giving me a chance. They suggested I try and apply again and I said why not! I asked a lot of people in my life for letters of recommendation – from my lawyer, social worker, teachers, and volleyball coach to show the school who I am.

I kept emailing all of the UC Davis admissions staff, but I didn’t stop there. I emailed the whole Biology department telling them my desire to join their program. I wanted my message to be clear; my tactics may have been wrong but I wanted it so bad. Finally, a biology professor emailed me back and said they really loved my letter, that it was truly inspiring and courageous, so they were going to send it to the head of admissions. I finally got the answer I wanted on June 22. I looked at the email and I could barely believe it, I would be attending UC Davis this fall!

Tell me about your family… How old were you when you were adopted?

I have two younger brothers, who are sometimes annoying, but I love them and have always tried to protect them and help them be better. I told them I want to be a doctor and they like to mess with me by saying “Paging Doctor Kaur.”

I was 12 years old when I was removed from my home. There was abuse in my house and it was very hard for me. My mother downplayed it because that’s what we do in our culture — but I would not. I was the one who told my school and my social worker; I told them I wasn’t safe. I didn’t think that saying those words would get me removed from my house but I’m truly glad I did it. It’s very hard as a kid, deciding what is right and wrong and weighing the impact of that. My parents didn’t think we would go into a foster home, but we did.

My family loves each other and we are close with my extended family so it was hard for everyone. It was very hard for my younger brothers who didn’t understand. My brothers were crying because they missed my mom and didn’t like the foster care food and home — but I had to show them I was strong. Eventually, my mother’s sister adopted us and we lived with her and my grandparents. She didn’t care how far we had to drive to school, she put family first and it really helped in our healing. I have a relationship with my mom, but not my dad, not yet.

Do you feel that being adopted gives you a different perspective on life than your peers?

Definitely. Everyone has a background story. I now truly know you can’t judge a person by their appearance or any single interaction. You have to get to know the person and what they’ve been through. Never in my life did I think I would be in foster care and get adopted. I am not under my parents, I’m under my aunt. It was an adjustment, a shock. Not many kids get adopted either, which is the sad part.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your experience at school?

People need to understand that you should always keep fighting for what you want, keep pushing. Just because one door is shut doesn’t mean the other door will be shut. You should never ever give up on achieving your goals. In the end, I got into my dream school. My hard work paid off.

What is your plan to accomplish during school?

My first goal is to get used to college life! The biking community is huge and that is new to me. I now bike EVERYWHERE. I also want to make some friends and establish a sense of stability in my dorm and classes. I will apply for some clubs that interest me, that will help me move forward in my career, and help with my self care.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

I would like to hopefully be finishing my residency. I would like to become a doctor and work in a hospital. I was stuck on being a pharmacist when I started this process, but I realized I got into this school and got this scholarship because people believe in me. I should go to college and achieve my dream so — I said go big or go home. I want to be a doctor and directly help people.

My future dreams include buying a house for my mom and doing something big like creating a foundation or a scholarship, something out of my comfort zone.