By Dianne L. Anderson
Priyanka Guragain is one of those young people who the Casey Foundation Foundation takes great pride in calling one of our scholarship recipients. She applied for a scholarship stipend in her freshman year in college to take an “Alternative Spring Break” trip, where she could spend the week working, being of service. She didn’t want one of those spring breaks trips to Cancun, to relax and “party”, even if she could have afforded it.
Now a sophomore sociology major, Priynaka came to this country from Nepal six years ago with her mother and younger brother to escape the misery of Prynaka’s father, who plagued the family with his substance abuse. In addition to a heavy course load, Priyanka works part time time throughout the school year and full time in the summer so that she can help to meet her needs and those of her younger brother. Priyanka’s mother, a single parent, considers Priyanka her “right hand” and second guardian to her younger brother. Leaving behind a career in Nepal, Priynanka’s ‘s mother struggles financially here, with half of her salary going to pay for Priynaka’s college tuition.
” I have felt the pressure of huge expectations and dreams that my mother carries for me. As I began college last fall, I used those dreams as my strength to get through college,” said Priyanka. “The struggle that I have seen my mother go through is my motivation to achieve my dreams,” she added.
The service trip that Priyanka chose was an environmental trip, working with the Catalina Island Conservancy in California, helping to protect and restore one of the world’s most magnificent islands. While there, Priyanka and a dozen or so other students from University of Colorado Boulder removed invasive plants, performed trail maintenance and removed fences on the steep hillsides surrounding parts of the island.
Priyanka chose this trip because of her appreciation of nature and the environment, and to learn more about environmental conservation, “I have seen the beautiful rural areas of Nepal, but unfortunately, because of its political turmoil, environmental conservation has not been a focus of the citizens there.” said Priyanka.
With what little extra time she has, Priynaka is involved in other student organizations on campus in addition to the Volunteer Resource Center, which organized the spring break trip. She also works with Community Health and Restorative Justice. stating that ,” I don’t want to let any opportunity pass by because I want to make college a journey of knowledge and great experience….College is everything I dreamed it would be.”
Priynaka speaks four languages, Nepali, Hindi, English and Spanish and is “very curious” to try a new one. As to her future plans, Priyanka has an interest in the Peace Corps and the United Nations.
” I am only seventeen and the accomplishments that Casey achieved with her passions encourages me to dream bigger,” stated Pryianka.
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Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down through blog for all articles)