Vaishali Vakharia earned statewide recognition today for her accomplishments as a Highline College student. The Kent resident was honored as a member of the 2019 All-Washington Academic Team for her academic achievement.
Vakharia and other top scholars from the state’s 34 community and technical colleges attended today’s awards ceremony at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia.
Each college could nominate up to four students for the award. To qualify, students must apply for recognition and be members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Vakharia, 29, has a 3.84 GPA.
She was the first in her family to go beyond 10th grade in her birthplace of India. She earned top marks through 12th grade, especially notable because instruction switched to English from Gujarati after 10th grade, and went on to earn a three-year bachelor’s degree in India before getting married and moving to the U.S.
With a dream of becoming a CPA and a new 6-month-old son, Vakharia enrolled at Highline to finish prerequisites she would need to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at University of Washington Tacoma.
“My journey to the undergraduate transfer admissions for UW is a long tale full of many obstacles. I have worked through or around them though, not very different from how river water flows downstream despite obstacles along the way,” she says.
Those obstacles — attending college while caring for her baby, continuing to learn English and “working through the huge cultural differences between America and India” — makes Vakharia’s achievements all the more remarkable.
She notes that she was the first in her family to attend college and graduate.
“It was a very proud moment for me as well as for my parents. But, being a girl child is also disadvantage because we need to marry as we come to certain age.”
A Hindu, Vakharia followed this cultural practice rather than continue her studies in India.
“I got married and came to United States. But I was lucky enough to have in-laws who are supporting me in achieving my dream.”
The All-Washington Academic Team program is sponsored by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, Washington State Association of College Trustees and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.