We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarina Krishnan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarina, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
As the daughter of two immigrants, my parents have told me about their personal struggles in creating a new life in the United States. Aside from the blatant racism and discrimination they faced, they also had to overcome the language and cultural barriers. Through hard work, perseverence, and following their morals, though, my parents were able to create a prosperous life for our family in San Diego. That said, I’m cognizant of the fact that this shouldn’t be the “status quo;” immigrants should not feel unwanted and unsupported in their new homes, and no one should have to experience the same hardships as my parents. After some preliminary research, I realized there was a pressing need for education and support services to help countless immigrants, refugees, and asylees in their transition to the United States. Thus, guided by my personal background and knowledge of the large Syrian, Congolese, and Somalian refugee populations in San Diego, I founded my 501(c)3 non-profit, Pathways to Assimilation, to help refugees, immigrants, and asylees better acclimatize to the United States.
I never imagined I would found my own non-profit, let alone grow it to the size it is today, especially considering we have helped over 1500 refugees. Ultimately, the true thought process that inspired me to fulfill this mission was a realization that I could not be apathetic to the refugee crisis in my community. It was my responsibility to both educate myself and take action for the social injustices around me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Pathways to Assimilation, that helps refugees, immigrants, and asylees of all backgrounds better acclimatize to the United States. My team and I offer tutoring services, specifically focusing on English grammar and language skills. Additionally, I partnered with the University of San Diego to host collaborative meetings between refugee youth and local police officers to foster harmony and mutual understanding between the two groups. Lastly, my team and I launched a phone app called Communities Connect to help refugees spark local friendships with other users from similar backgrounds.
I’ve connected and worked with over 1500 refugees, immigrants, and asylees since beginning my work at Pathways to Assimilation. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many incredible individuals from all walks of life and who hail from countries like Somalia, Syria, and Guatemala, just to name a few. I’ve also received over 2000 downloads on my app from users all over San Diego county which is wonderful to see. But the successes I value the most are when I’m working with someone for many many months and see them slowly grow more confident and secure in themselves. I’ve found that personal development and empowerment for the individuals we work with is a by-product of our efforts and this to me is an unquantifiable success.
Ultimately, I want to encourage others to take action when they see an injustice. It does not matter the scope of the issue, the contentiousness, or the difficulties in addressing it. It is our responsibility as compassionate human beings to educate ourselves and actively take steps to rectify these social justice issues that are rampant in our society. We cannot be apathetic to the problems around us, and I encourage everyone to play their part in working together to make our world a safer and united place for all.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the United States; thus, I always love spending time outside and exploring the gorgeous nature and sites around me.
I’d first start the day by getting an acai bowl at Nekter followed by a drive around La Jolla and its beaches. We could also walk around La Jolla Village, browse in a few shops, and later get lunch at Sushi on the Rock. Perhaps we could even go on a hike in Torrey Pines which has a beautiful view of the ocean. I’d also get dinner at Fidel’s in Solana Beach, as it is the go-to place for Mexican food, in my opinion. Finally, I’d end the night driving around Pacific Beach and get frozen yogurt or a frosty at a local shop.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank my family for supporting my endeavors; from driving me to social justice events to helping me create business cards, my parents and sister have been instrumental in Pathways to Assimilation’s success. Furthermore, my team members and peers have been crucial in expanding the scope of my work and truly making my ideas come to life. Finally, I want to thank my mentors and Board of Advisors for guiding me through the ups and downs of pioneering a non-profit. This was certainly no easy task but all these individuals have made the journey fulfilling and successful.
Facebook: Sarina Krishnan