Passionate Advocate, Committed Leader, and a Force to be Reckoned With
When Hersheeta “Hershey” Kaur Suri was a young girl, her world was rocked when her best friend’s brother passed away from cancer at just seven years old. “I remember that day vividly,” recalled Hershey, who is now a freshman in college. “My best friend would not stop crying when I would meet her. Her parents looked distraught whenever someone would try to comfort them. My neighborhood did not give off a cheerful sensation, my life turned gloomy.” At such a young age, Hershey couldn’t understand why the situation couldn’t be fixed. “Years later, I still felt guilty, not because of what I didn’t do, but of what I couldn’t do,” she shared.
This incident stirred up a passion inside of Hershey so strong that she has since dedicated herself to raising awareness about cancer and doing what she can to help those affected by it. “I believe that if I have the time and resources to make a difference, then I am going to try my best and help those who need it,” Hershey said.
Hershey – who has lived in the Del Mar/Carmel Valley area since the age of four – attended Francis Parker School for middle and high school. “I made my lifelong friends, established important connections, and was fortunate to gain invaluable memories,” shared Hershey. It was while she was at Francis Parker that Hershey became passionate about giving back to those affected by cancer. “Francis Parker approached me with the opportunity to raise money for blood research,” she explained. “I immediately involved myself with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).”
Hershey went above and beyond with her fundraising efforts, earning the title of Student of the Year in 2015 for LLS, and competing the following two years. “Over the past three years, I have raised $40,000 through fundraising events, Jar Drives that I have labeled ‘Jars for Change,’ and furiously emailing and talking to anyone and everyone I met,” described Hershey. Whether it is approaching elementary schools, holding dinners, or speaking to people at conventions, Hershey is determined to educate people and spread awareness about LLS.
The most rewarding part about working with LLS, explained Hershey, was being a part of the community. “I knew each time I got another person who donated their time to listen to me speak about blood cancer research, I was being an advocate for someone suffering from these dreadful diseases.”
Hershey is no stranger to community involvement. She has been a part of many projects through her church and is the U.S. representative and international volunteer for UNFOLD, an organization that focuses on teaching adolescents living in the slums of India about body image, puberty, and sanitation. “I was an officer of my high school drama club, the co-captain of our mock trial team, and co-president of the Indian culture club,” added Hershey.
As she navigates her freshman year at Pomona College, Hershey looks forward to her future. “I want to be there for people who are unfairly treated by the evils living in our world – greed, jealousy, disease, death, and depression,” she said. “For a while I thought law school was the way to go in order to complete this goal, but now I realize my options are boundless.”
Name: Hersheeta Kaur Suri
Community: Del Mar/Carmel Valley
School: Pomona College
Hobbies & Interests: Singing, acting, dancing, public speaking, advocating
Name of Organization: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Mission: LLS exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.