Graduating student Sharan Kaur leaves UAB with lifechanging experiences

UAB allowed Honors College student Sharan Kaur to showcase her culture and educate others through her role as co-president of the Indian Cultural Association, she says.

Kaur2Sharan KaurSharan Kaur learned more about herself, and her family’s cultural heritage, by attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Kaur, in the Honors College Global and Community Leadership Honors Program, is graduating this spring with High Distinguished Honors and a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Arts and Sciences in biology, with minors in public health, business administration and chemistry. While at UAB, she was a chemistry teaching assistant, a research assistant in the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Lab, a UAB Ambassador and an Honors College Ambassador, and a 2018 Ms. UAB finalist. She was president of Sigma Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc., and co-president of the Indian Cultural Association

She came to UAB because she liked the vibe and the city, as a girl raised in a small town: Ardmore, Tennessee, near the Alabama state line. It was a drastic — but good — change, she says, and by the end of freshman year, “I felt like I belonged here.”

While her family comes from two different Indian cultures, she says, she lived in a town that was predominantly white. She never encountered her culture unless it was through her parents or by traveling to attend events. Coming to UAB was refreshing, seeing other people who grew up like her, wanting to get invested in their cultures, Kaur says.  

“I joined the Indian Cultural Association, and the biggest event we hold is the Diwali show in the fall semester,” Kaur said. “That’s when a bunch of different Indian dancers and singers perform at the Alys Stephens Center. The dancing definitely is my favorite part. We give out food afterward so people can get a taste of the culture as well as seeing it. It’s a huge event. We always have roughly 2,000 people in attendance, with tickets sold out well in advance.”

Kaur says she is truly proud of all that she was able to accomplish at UAB. She became a servant leader and learned the importance of giving back to the same community that has given her so much.  

“As a UAB Ambassador, I was able to represent the university as an official hostess at events,” Kaur said. “UAB taught me the importance of a strong support system, and I was able to serve my support system as chapter president. I came to college without any knowledge about research, but thanks to the TRIP Lab, I was able to utilize my interests and present my findings on the national stage and be selected for highly competitive national and international conferences.

Kaur4“UAB allowed me to showcase my culture and educate others by being selected as co-president of the Indian Cultural Association. Never would I have imagined that I would be one of the lead organizers of a community event for so many people; but thanks to UAB, I was able to surpass my own expectations.” 

Amy Atkisson, director of Honors Advising and Retention and the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program, says she had the privilege of working with Kaur and watching her grow as a student and student leader, from being an active member of the GCL community to serving as an Honors Ambassador and presenting her research on the Honors College trip to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. 

“When I met her in my class, Sharan at first seemed quiet and even reserved,” Atkisson said. “As I got to know her, I realized she was someone who wants to do the work needed to help others —and doesn’t seek recognition for herself.”

As she became more comfortable and outspoken, she demonstrated how much she is a true servant leader. In addition to all of her official roles and organizations, Kaur is passionate about domestic violence awareness and advocacy, Atkisson says, and she has spent hundreds of hours with local nonprofits and organized others to serve and donate as well.

“She is also SUCH a Blazer,” Atkisson said. “I’m a UAB alumna and get very excited when students so clearly love UAB too. Sharan bleeds green and gold and has committed herself to representing the university well in every way. No matter the situation, you can feel her Blazer spirit.”

Besides the official titles, Kaur says, she leaves with a group of friends who have become family and fond memories of how much she gained at UAB.

“I know that I will always have memories to look back on, such as the feeling of walking down Legions Field as a Top Five candidate for Ms. UAB,” she said. “I know that I was scared to come to a place where I didn’t know anyone, but now I am leaving with a second home. And lastly, I know that I am leaving with the most important life skill — parallel parking. Ever faithful, ever loyal — go, Blazers!”

Kaur says she will continue to be in Birmingham for the next year. After graduation, she will work full time within the medical field before pursuing admission into medical school.