~ By Sally Hartman, Sikh Coalition Legal Fellow
As my legal internship with the Sikh Coalition comes to a close, I have begun to reflect on my experience over the course of the past three months. I feel fortunate that my time with the Coalition has been characterized by a unique blend of a legal and cultural education. By getting to know the Coalition staff and hearing stories of victories in the community, I have come to realize the extent to which their lives truly embody the spirit of heartfelt advocacy.
I am mindful that none of this would have been possible without the generous support of the family of Dr. Puran Singh Bajwa. Through honoring the memory of Dr. Bajwa, they have opened the door for countless other future attorneys to explore the rewarding and uplifting field of Civil Rights law. This opportunity is consistent with the essence of Dr. Bajwa’s life.
As an Air Marshal in the Indian Army, Dr. Bajwa was noted throughout his career for his dignity and his proud practice of the Sikh faith, serving as an inspiration to many generations of military personnel who followed him. In his retirement, the advanced study and practice of Sikhism and teaching it to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was Dr. Bajwa’s chief pursuit in life. As a physician, highly decorated military officer, and community leader, Dr. Bajwa literally touched and made a lasting impact on tens of thousands of lives.
I am hopeful that my work this summer has, in some small way, been able to mimic the incredible dedication that characterized Dr. Bajwa’s life. I have been honored to work alongside our staff attorneys to educate both the government and private-sector employers as to the Civil Rights of Sikh men and woman who are being discriminated against. By familiarizing myself with the relevant legal context, honing my research skills, and drafting advocacy letters, I truly feel that I have taken a step forward in a promising direction. I hope to continue this journey as I go forward in my education, and make Civil Rights Law a central part of my future practice.
Thank you once again to the family of Dr. Bajwa. In helping make possible my experience this summer, you have honored his memory, established a meaningful opportunity for future lawyers, and bestowed a wonderful gift on the Sikh community.