INDIAN-ORIGIN IN CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
New York: Indian-origin Sikh community leader and Kern County businesswoman, Raji Brar has been appointed to the California State University Board (CSUB) of Trustees, a powerful leadership post at the US’s largest system of public higher education.
Brar, a California State University (CSU), Bakersfield double alumna, will be welcomed on board at its meeting in Long Beach in May. The CSU is so special because your professors get to know you,” she said in a university statement.
“They help open doors for you and mentor you at a level that you can’t get at a UC. Many folks that do end up going to a CSU need a mentor, and I was blessed to get that at CSUB. I felt so confident after having a degree and a master’s, and there’s a gazillion stories like mine, of students who have obstacles to overcome.”
Owner and chief operations officer of Countryside Corporation since 2003, Brar also holds many leadership positions in Kern County and is co-founder of the Bakersfield Sikh Women’s Association. She earned a bachelor of science degree in biology and a master of science degree in health care from CSUB and is a member of the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame.
A first-generation American, Brar is the oldest child of Sikhs from Punjab who came to the US with nothing in the mid-1970s and first raised their children in Central Valley farm labor camps. Her mother only got as far as the fifth grade and can’t read or write, according to Brar.
“They said, ‘What’s the point? You’re a girl’,” she said. “My mom felt so limited in her opportunities. She worked in the fields and at Burger King, which is the only fast-food place she could work because you would say the orders into the mic, and not have to read the screen. She would tell me in Punjabi all the time, ‘You have to get an education. It’s your life partner, it will never leave you and no one can take it from you’.”
Brar attended CSUB because it was close to home, affordable and accessible, a top priority for the new trustee. “There is a light inside Raji that she shares with our entire community through her many acts of kindness and tireless commitment to public service,” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said.
“She will bring a unique perspective to the Board of Trustees, and this Valley that we love will be well-represented through her voice.