Refugee Transitions (RT) is proud to announce that its Development and Program Associate, Jyoti Gurung, has received a 2017 Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Award for Youth Leadership. The Heritage Awards which kick off the APA Heritage Month, recognize exemplary youth leaders who have made a distinct impact in the community and serve as inspirational models for youth.

The award was presented to Jyoti at the APA Heritage Award Ceremony held at the San Francisco War Memorial on May 1. Her award was announced at the APA Heritage Month Press Conference on April 26. 


L-R: Co-Chair of the APA Heritage Awards Committee Mary Nicely; APA Heritage Foundation President Claudine Cheng; San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee; Jyoti Gurung; RT Board Member Ko Ko Lay. Photo credit: Frank Jang

Jyoti, 24 was born in a small village in Bhutan. As an infant, her family was forced to flee the country when the government of Bhutan began its ethnic-cleansing strategy to purge individuals of Nepali descent. She grew up in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, eventually securing permission to enter the U.S. as a refugee with her family in 2009. The family's journey as refugees was fraught with fear, uncertainty, and enormous hardship, but also hope. Once in the U.S., Jyoti attended Oakland International High School, where she excelled in her studies. During her tenure, she made time to help other students as a Refugee Transitions Peer Tutor. She continued her studies at San Francisco State University, ultimately earning a B.S. degree in Business Management. Jyoti continued her work with RT as an Alumni Tutor and Intern. She subsequently joined the Agency as full-time Development and Program Associate.

Jyoti is a founding member of the new nonprofit, Foundation for Conscious Activism

jyoti with award stage.jpg

L-R: Alex Randolph (City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees); Jyoti Gurung with award; Co-Chair of the APA Heritage Awards Committee Mary Nicely; APA Heritage Foundation President Claudine Cheng. 

RT Executive Director, Laura Vaudreuil, noted: "We're so proud of Jyoti. She exemplifies the qualities we see in the families and individuals RT serves every day. Beyond their determination to adjust to their new lives in the U.S. and become engaged in their new communities, there is invariably a sincere desire to give back. Jyoti is a strong and generous role model. We are fortunate to have her on our team, and we're so pleased to see her recognized by this prominent organization."

"It is an honor to receive this award, and I am so inspired to do more in my community," said Jyoti. "Working with youth as a peer tutor, alumni tutor, mentor, interpreter, and dance choreographer has been a fun and rewarding learning experience. I'm grateful also to Refugee Transitions which provided me with a platform to work with youth and community members." 

Follow Jyoti's journey in Pursuing Dreams, a documentary film and story series produced by Refugee Transitions.


Jyoti's win is a true refugee success story and triumph of human spirit. Follow this link to support more youth like Jyoti as they follow their dreams: 

AuthorAndrew Bogrand
CategoriesRT News