Ikonkar Khalsa embraces her heritage, town diversity


2017 Lindsay Female Youth of the Year Ikonkar Khalsa finds acceptance as Sikh in her Hispanic town

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

LINDSAY – Here in the 21st century, society is as diverse as ever. Classrooms are revolutionizing with new ways of learning, and different cultures are being integrated. One Lindsay High School student understands this more than most and is embracing the change is Ikonkar Khalsa, who received the 2017 Lindsay Female Youth of the Year award.

“This is a great honor to receive this award,” Khalsa said. “Usually you don’t hear about this as much in a small town.”

Khalsa is a Sikh-American which is not prevalent in the largely Hispanic community of Lindsay. In her sophomore year she embraced her diversity when she decided to begin wearing a turban to school. That first day during orientation was an eye opening experience.

“Everyone welcomed me the same way,” Khalsa said.

Khalsa began to realize the importance of diversity before she wore a turban. During her freshman year Khalsa was encouraged by a group to try out a variety of clubs. She did not shy away from the opportunity. While she sat in the various meetings she began to see how each one offered something different, and how important her different outlook could be beneficial.

“I noticed that I can be very versatile in what I can do,” Khalsa said.

As the meetings progressed she began to get involved in the clubs that enjoyed the most. Among them were Mock Trial, American Sign Language, My Voice, Book Blub, and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). The basic skills Khalsa learned such as multi-tasking, communication skills, and public speaking, have been present in all clubs.

“These are the main skills that you are going to need for college,” Khalsa said.

Khalsa has gone on to hold officer positions in some of the clubs, and competed in competitions. At the 2016 FBLA State Conference she received a Future Business Achievement, and a Financial Literacy award.

For Khalsa everything that she has done in her four years at Lindsay High School has been an attempt to make change. As she says, “you take a step in a direction that you are working for change.”

“This award was a surprise,” Khalsa said. “But to see all the hard work is paying off, and that people are actually seeing what I am doing, that’s special.”

While at Lindsay Khalsa has seen one of the biggest changes take effect. A change in the curriculum from traditional to performance based learning. She believes this change will help better prepare students for college. Before the switch fights, and gang activity were an everyday occurrence. Now it is the exact opposite as more students begin to support each other, even from different beliefs.

“This is going to help prepare us for working with different cultures, and everything,” Khalsa said.

After high school Khalsa plans on attending University California at Irvine, or go back east for college. She plans on majoring in criminal justice and psychology in order to get into law enforcement.

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