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Banipal Drawn to Florissant Valley Athletics

May 16, 2008

Harmeet "Menka" Banipal

Harmeet "Menka" Banipal came to St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley via Calgary, Alberta, Canada, following a semester-long stop at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.

"I went to Graceland on a basketball scholarship, but decided it wasn’t for me," Banipal said.

A teammate at Graceland who also was an alumna of STLCC-Florissant Valley suggested that she consider transferring. Banipal later was recruited to attend Florissant Valley on an athletic scholarship.

"I have definitely not regretted it," Banipal said of her decision to transfer. "I knew I would be successful academically anywhere, but as far as athletic programs, I knew that at a two-year college I would have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and court experience through playing time."

A dedicated athlete, Banipal also is an accomplished scholar. She is a member of campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year institutions, and holds the office of vice president of scholarship. This spring, she was named to the Missouri Community College/Phi Theta Kappa All-Missouri Academic First Team. As one of the top 10 students in Missouri, Banipal received a $500 cash award.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Banipal enjoys the diversity of Florissant Valley and says that the emphasis on cultural awareness at the campus is wonderful. She said the Caribbean Festival, an intercultural gathering that featured India this year, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration have been among her favorite events.

She thinks activities such as those, as well as caring instructors, have made her feel very comfortable at Florissant Valley.

"I have had so many supportive teachers," she said, citing Harold Nance as one of her favorites.

"He was my criminal justice teacher," said Banipal. "He used to be a police officer and he’s hilarious. Terry Freeman (engineering), along with my PTK advisers Sharon Fox and Carol Lupardis also have been wonderful. Sharon and Carol are the greatest advisors. Being in the Pi Kappa chapter here has been one of the best experiences of my life."

While growing up in Calgary, Banipal volunteered at the local children’s hospital and was involved in East Indian dancing competitions and the annual Nagar Kirtan, a religious parade for East Indians. She plans to spend the summer with her mother and siblings in Canada and will attend the University of Texas-Permian Basis in the fall.

Her future goals include attending medical school to earn a Ph.D. or M.D.  and playing professional women’s basketball in Europe. She would also like to become a permanent U.S. resident. Banipal said she will miss Florissant Valley but is looking forward to her future with many more years of college, medical school and is ready for whatever life brings her.