Education—an important value to many. But for Kiman Kaur, education has become the most vital piece to her life and to her family. Within education lies personal growth, opportunities, and change. It was at a very young age when Kaur’s parents stressed the importance of education and how it is the one thing that cannot be taken away.
Kaur was born in Taylorsville, Utah and grew up in a Punjabi, Sikh household. “Growing up in an immigrant family has a lot of different challenges associated with it, including finding a balance between the culture of your ancestors with this American culture,” said Kaur. As Kaur balanced her identities and culture, these same challenges became part of her educational journey.
Being a Sikh, woman of color while navigating a predominantly white high school, Kaur often times felt uncomfortable and out of place. Finding people who she could relate to was a challenge, while her peers seemed to have a sense of comradery with one another—a group that she was not part of because they pegged her as different.
Figuring out where my place was in school, out of school, and at home was always a challenge and remains a challenge today.
Kaur turned her challenges into motivation towards her academic work. She used her writing assignments as a form of self-care and resistance. She would take her projects and angle them to highlight social issues like body representation, current events and art.
In her college life at the U, Kaur learned several theoretical frameworks that she could apply to her lived experiences. She decided to major in Gender Studies and the subject that resonated the most with her work and worldview was reproductive justice. “Reproductive justice is all about intersectionality, and is literally grounded in fighting for folks who want to have kids, those who don’t want to have kids and those who want to raise children in safe and autonomous environments,” Kaur said. “Once we achieve that, we solve so many other problems. We solve problems related to environmental justice, we solve problems related to police brutality.”
Kaur is currently the president of the U’s Students for Choice organization—a coalition with the local Planned Parenthood clinic. Every year the student group hosts Sex Week to coincide with Valentine’s Day holiday. Under Kaur’s leadership, Students for Choice seek to destigmatize sex, a topic considered taboo by many in Utah. “This is unfortunate and sad because it just makes understanding your sexuality that much more complicated.” Because locally there are not many people who openly do work around reproductive justice, Kaur intentionally identifies people out of state to bring important perspectives to Utah.
To Kaur, Sex Week is a week to learn about sex, gender, and sexuality. The goal is to deconstruct reproductive oppression, and to advocate for all families and all lives by centering voices of those most marginalized.
Kaur is a senior graduating this spring 2018 with a double major in Gender Studies and Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Kaur will start law school in the fall with the goal to become an attorney and continue to center reproductive justice.
As long as I hold on to my education and I keep learning, I can continue to make change—real change—and no one can take that away from me.
To learn more about Sex Week events, please visit the Students for Choice Facebook page.