Kulbir Sidhu originally decided to pursue law because of his family history. “I wanted to pursue medicine or sports science, but I changed my path in my senior year of high school after hearing about my great-grandfather who was an attorney in Lahore, India – now known as Pakistan. During the 1940s, the partition of India split the state Punjab into two and religious tensions ensued in the region which ultimately took the life of my great-grandfather alongside countless others,” he says.
Growing up, Sidhu was not your typical aspiring lawyer – he was more of a troublemaker than a rule-abiding kid. He once put a VCR remote in a filled bathtub to check if it would float – the remote never worked again much to anyone’s surprise.
Today, the reformed rebel is an LLB graduate from the University of Buckingham, carrying on on his great-grandfather’s legacy as the first person in his family since 1947 to have a legal career. In an interview with Study International, the Canadian takes us through his education journey and how his studies in England helped shaped his career now:
Tell us about yourself and your decision to study abroad in 2014.
I was raised in a village called Malton, located in the Peel Region of Ontario. Growing up, I played various team sports – my favourite being baseball and basketball. Despite this, getting a degree was always something that was strongly encouraged in my household.
My parents worked blue-collar jobs and always reminded my brother and I of going to university. After looking for an opportunity to expand my education and seek opportunities that would help me grow, I finally decided to study abroad in my mid-20s – which was the greatest decision of my life!
The application process for the University of Buckingham was online and super convenient. Each institution has specific prerequisites for international students that’s different from their domestic ones. I provided a writing sample in regards to why I chose law. I believe in the law being equitable for all, meaning it should be impartial, fair, and unbiased.
Why did you choose England?
Having never visited England or any other part of the UK before moving there, I was excited and nervous to see what life looked like on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Would I understand the Brits and their slangs? Would I be able to find my way around? Is it all really tea and crumpets?
Another question I had in mind was if basketball in England was a thing. Curiosity got the better of me as all these questions guided me into keeping an open mind. Now I consider England as my second home, and still very connected to many of my peers and classmates. Whenever I travel back to the UK, it always feels like a mini family reunion.
Tell us more about what you’re currently doing, and give us more detail on the “Malton Sting” programme helping young students!
Right now, I am currently pursuing a career in law, specifically, in immigration law.
The Malton Sting Basketball Club co-founded by me and my former colleague began as a passion project and now has become a staple for basketball programming in the community and is based on the principle of elevating the student-athlete. We noticed that low academic scoring adversely deters young athletes from playing high-level sports after high school, so we sought to bridge this gap by offering mentorship (tutoring in math and science), and a networking programme.
In addition to our competitive team programme, we also provide basketball skills training to boys and girls. To add to this, through sales on our online store, we raise funds for our team where a percentage of proceeds goes toward other programmes that serve the neighbourhood of Malton.
A great example of this, during our inaugural month, our online store raised over 700 Canadian dollars worth of food for Seva Food Bank Malton, and more recently we have raised over CA$1,200 for the Malton Black Development Association Youth Scholarship fund. As Malton Sting continues to grow, we strive to give back to our community at large through this social enterprise model.
What does your work experience look like so far?
I still pursue law as a career, but my previous experiences include working for the federal government of Canada in various roles, and working closely with the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada. This valuable experience led me to specialise in a private sector, specifically immigration law. The Malton Sting Basketball Club began as a passion project and now has become a staple for the basketball programming in the community.
What advice would you give young students looking to study abroad?
I have made friends from all over the world during my time at Buckingham. From the UK, to Africa, to the US, to South America, I stay connected with these friends and always make it a point to see them when I travel to their home countries.
I would advise others to be open-minded about meeting new people – and to network! Don’t hang out with students from your own country because it’s “comfortable.” Get to know others from around the world, I guarantee that you will see how similar your goals, aspirations, stresses, and joys are.
Not many have the chance to study abroad, don’t make it a point to only study. Take time to enjoy yourself, see the sights as the new country you are in has lots to offer, broaden your perspective, and immerse yourself in new cultures!