Stories

Celebrating, Keerti!

“Just Because” – A mini-series that celebrates some of the everyday heroes in my life ❤️ (Part 1/3)


When I sat down to write about Keerti, I didn’t know where to begin. There is so much that I admire and appreciate about her: Academic excellence, natural sportsmanship, work ethic, and unwavering friendship of over 2 decades. But above all I love her for the pure soul that she is!

Keerti-1

An Architect, a Software Engineer, and now a certified Children’s Book Illustrator with the goal of becoming a published author/illustrator one day; her professional pursuits are as varied as her many achievements and interests that she follows passionately.

From winning medals for track & field and badminton (Gold Medalist, KV School Nationals – India), to competing in USTA leagues and Running in/around San Diego. (7 half-marathons, 2 10-mile races, 3 10K races and more!)

From working towards her motorcycle license to making time for art classes at UCSD.

From volunteering at a hospice center and the Polinsky Foster Care Center, to being a judge at FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) San Diego (for the past 4 years), and balancing it all with the single biggest priority of her life – her son, Yuvi.

“Life is a balancing act and I have never lost sight of the fact that being a mother is the primary focus of my life, and that is one job I never want to fail at.” – Keerti

Keerti lives her life with intention and she gives with intention to those around her. Over the years two stories (among so many!) have touched my heart the most:


She first heard about baby Izaiah on the radio.

He was paralyzed from the waist down and injured his neck, spine and head when he was hit by a drunk driver while his Grandma was walking him in a stroller on the sidewalk in 2010.

Keerti-Baby Izaiah
Visiting Baby Izaiah in 2010

She visited him in the Children’s hospital once he was allowed to have visitors. 10 months later Keerti, along with her friend Kamala, organized a Golf fundraiser where they invited celebrities from different fields to pair up with people who registered to play golf. All proceeds and donations made by celebrities and guests were directed towards Izaiah’s treatment and rehab!

My second favorite story is when Keerti followed through on her instincts to help a very deserving student secure a brighter future!

Here is the story in Keerti’s own words:
“In 2017 I was one of the 3 judges interviewing high school student representatives for the Dean’s List Award at the FIRST Robotics Competition Regionals at San Diego. 2 shortlisted candidates would stand to win $10,000 and an endorsement letter from Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST Robotics!

The process:
The high school team mentors submit an essay for each student, who then has 7-10 minutes to speak with/answer questions asked by the judges. The judges then rate the students based on achievements, contribution to robotics competition, team spirit, attitude, dedication to FIRST and how each student has made a difference to the community. 

The judges then write a NEW essay for their 2 shortlisted candidates (out of about 20 at the Regionals), to be submitted for the FRC World Championship.”

 

(Here is a glimpse from the FRC World – San Diego Regionals)


That night when Keerti went home her instincts told her the Judges’ essay was missing something; that it was not doing justice to the breadth of experiences they had heard in Xavier’s interview. So at 4 AM she re-wrote the essay, then called her fellow judges to request a meeting before the FRC day began at 7 AM.

They agreed with the updates and that essay was instrumental in Xavier being one of 10 award recipients at the 2017 FRC World Championship!

Xavier is now doing a double major at Berkeley. (In Computer Science and on a full scholarship)

Xavier
With Xavier in 2018

He keeps in regular touch with Keerti and here is an update she shared:

“He is teaching at different universities during summer and running a huge program in Mexico where he runs a robotics expo every year and invites big companies to sponsor high schools from Mexico for FRC Regionals. He also makes time to remotely coach other high school teams in Mexico.”

Keerti, the first thing I remember about you from college is the confidence and ease with which you always carried yourself.

While I know that life has been fraught with struggle after struggle, I know you will carry yourself through them all, sometimes with ease and sometimes with that dogged determination of yours.

 

Through it all, just know how much you are loved and admired by so many. We see what you give back to your world. Thank you!

 

If you feel inspired to leave Keerti a note, tell her something uplifting… Just Because

*Click on the link above to read about the Mini-Series: “Just Because”

**To connect with Keerti’s children’s book illustrator/author journey, check out:
http://www.keertisharmabooks.com/

 

 

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