2019 – CALIFORNIA (SAN DIEGO REGION)
Sarina Krishnan is a junior at The Bishop's School in La Jolla. She is a San Diego native and loves the city's vastly diverse community of people with unique cultures, religions, and backgrounds. After learning of their often overlooked need for assistance, Sarina began working with newly arrived refugees. Many of the families she worked with struggled to acclimatize to the United States from their home countries, facing issues adjusting to the language, seeking employment opportunities, and completing day-to-day activities, due to discrimination and prejudice. Children were bullied and ridiculed at school for their identities as refugees. Hearing these stories inspired Sarina to found her own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Pathways to Assimilation, that strives to help refugees of all backgrounds acclimatize to the United States. Sarina and her team have tutored numerous families from many countries, from Syria to Uganda, and have helped them improve their English and build the confidence and skills to seek opportunities and connect with the community. Additionally, Sarina has encouraged over 250 refugee youth to embrace their identities and pursue opportunities to further their education. One of Sarina's most notable projects is a collaboration with the University of San Diego Institute for Peace and Justice, in which the partners organized meetings between refugee youth groups and police officers to foster better understanding and forge a more harmonious community relationship. Sarina hopes to expand the police and refugee meeting model to other major cities, such as Chicago and New York. Through this journey, Sarina has become a leader in her community and hopes to inspire youth, especially young girls, to understand that with persistence and passion, they too can make a positive impact in the lives of others.