Avneet Mehr Kaur receives 2024 Lisa Sansoucy Language Scholar Award

The 2024 Lisa Sansoucy Language Scholar Award was awarded to Avneet Mehr Kaur, a sophomore in Biology & Society who just completed two semesters of Punjabi as part of the Shared Course Initiative (SCI). The award is named in memory of our friend and colleague Lisa Sansoucy, who passed away in December of 2021. It recognizes a student who excels in learning a less commonly taught language as part of the SCI and who is passionate about language and culture.

Avneet grew up bilingually in rural Pennsylvania, speaking Punjabi at home and English at school. She chose Cornell in part to join a community of like-minded individuals, finding identity through learning about their language and culture. The SCI has created that space for her, to fall deeper in love with her culture and strengthen her identity. Avneet's professor at Columbia, Dr. Sandeep Singh Chohan, noted in his recommendation that Avneet always goes the extra mile, joining clubs and engaging in activities to get even better at languages (Avneet also speaks Hindi and Spanish). What Sandeep pointed out as "really awesome" is that she helps other students. "She shares what she knows and encourages them to do their best. She's like a friendly guide for everyone learning languages. Because she's so dedicated and helpful, Avneet is the perfect choice for the Language Scholar Award." We agree.

Avneet notes, "This award is a testament to not only my work in promoting Punjabi language and culture through this class and clubs on campus, but also Dr. Sandeep Singh Chohan's ability to enthusiastically nurture his students' interests in classes everyday. Aside from cultural affinity, the region of Punjab is a melting pot unique in its history. The geographical location of Punjab with relation to the rest of the sub-continent means that the area has witnessed invasions from the Greeks, Mongols, Mughals, British, and many other kingdoms. As such the region holds influences from Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean all throughout its culture and alphabet. Though Punjabi is spoken by approximately 113 million people and is recognized for its rich poetic history, the language had not been given much official recognition until the partition of India and Pakistan. Compared to other provincial languages, the standardization of Punjabi from overlapping local dialects has proven a lengthy process, especially as the large region has been split into multiple states. I believe that this heterogeneity, however, has allowed the uniqueness of each region to pervade in everyday dialogue. I am excited to use my skills in language learning to provide healthcare services to minoritized populations. Thank you to the Language Resource Center for making Punjabi available. I am extremely grateful for this honor."

Congratulations to Avneet!

If you are interested in contributing to this award, you can donate here:

Lisa Sansoucy Language Scholar Award contributions

More news

View all news
Avneet Mehr Kaur