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IN FOCUS MEMBER Paramjeet Kaur

Paramjeet Kaur

She’s living a life of passion and purpose – with a little help from above

By Nicole Krueger

Photography by Hope Harris

Paramjeet Kaur firmly believes she wouldn’t be where she is today without divine intervention.

In her case, the divine help arrived in the form of chickenpox a few days before her school exams.

As a student in India, her score on exams would determine which field of study she qualified for. An A grade would open the door to a science-based career, such as medicine or engineering. A B grade would gain her admission into the world of commerce as an accountant or economist.

Back then, Kaur’s parents expected her to pursue her career in science. But she had a passion for numbers and wanted to work in accounting.

“Numbers have been my passion since the beginning, as long as I can remember,” she says. “But I was worried I was an A student.”

Then the chicken pox hit her a day before her exam. Isolated from the rest of the students, Kaur had to take her exams in a separate room. As her symptoms arose, she had trouble focusing during the test and ended up with a B. That grade set her on the path toward the career she coveted – and her current job as coordinator of internal business services for the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools. “I wanted to work in education,” says Kaur, whose father spent every penny he had to put his four daughters through higher education. “Education is the most powerful weapon. I think education is the foundation for a better world.”

Despite having a master’s degree in accounting, Kaur didn’t land a district/county job right away. She worked as an accountant in the private sector for a decade before joining the staff at Sutter County.

“God helped me with that,” the CASBO member says of her career path. But that wasn’t the last time Kaur, a Sikh, would perceive God’s hand on the steering wheel.

Her next blessing had to do with her second passion: Punjabi folk dance. Her parents, who wanted her to focus on her studies, didn’t allow her to dance while she was in school. But Kaur pursued the hobby anyway, participating in college-level competitions.

After completing her education, Kaur left India in 2001 to be with her husband, Harjeet Singh, who was living in the U.S..

Back then, arranged marriages were normal. Kaur had faith her parents would find her a good man, but deep down she was hoping for a husband who would not only let her pursue her passions in life, but would also share them with her.

“I remember meeting my husband for the first time, and the very first question he asked me was if I knew how to dance.” Kaur recalls. “After hearing those words, I felt immensely grateful and happy.”

Fast forward to the future, Kaur and her husband have been teaching Bhangra, a traditional Punjabi folk dance, in the greater Sacramento area for 20-plus years.

“I feel so lucky. I get to share my passion with my husband and continue teaching the younger generations about our culture and traditions.” Kaur says. A few years ago, they were featured in a Sacramento PBS TV station’s documentary about Central Valley artists who have continued the traditions of their homelands.

“We enjoy doing this. Working with and for the community gives us the importance of humility and selfless service.” z z z