FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Six students were chosen to receive the Janessa Ramirez Scholarship from the Foundation at Central Schools. Today, we feature Sukhman Tiwana, one of the extraordinary students receiving the award in remembrance of Janessa Ramirez.
The fallen 9-year-old was struck in 2015 by a stray bullet from gang violence occurring as she stood out front of a laundromat in West Central Fresno. The tragedy sparked an annual scholarship in her name.
“I am Punjabi and I am proud to be a Sikh in a community that is so diverse. The Janessa Ramirez scholarship means to me–I will be able to carry on this person’s legacy which is very important to me and it holds a really deep meaning in my life and will be part of me,” said Sukhman Tiwana, a senior in the Central Unified School District.
Sukhman is the oldest of three and finds herself feeling she needs to set a good example. Through hard work and many hours volunteering, she’s finding her way.
“Volunteering at a nursing home has really changed the person who I am today because I’ve gained the passion and motivation through helping others as well and that’s made me go as a person at the end of the day.”
A list of nearly 20 in awards and honors, involvements in extracurricular activities and community programs, Sukhman, thinking of her family says the scholarship will help take off some pressure.
“I won’t be such a burden on my parents, as well it will help me at the end of the day and I won’t take this for granted.”
The scholarship awards $2,500 to students based on financial need, academic achievement and leadership. Joe Doyland of the Foundation for Central Schools says it’s been a long process with more than 50 applications for the scholarship with Sukhman’s standing out.
“So, congratulations and we’re very very happy for you and well deserved. Your application was very good and we were quite impressed with that.”
Sukhman will attend University of California, Santa Barbara to study biology with plans of coming back to her home here in Fresno.
“I do want to come back to Fresno at the end of the day and help the unfortunate and the people that aren’t as fortunate as others here in the Central Valley.”
This is the fourth year that scholarships are awarded in honor of Janessa Ramirez.