When Pratima Sherpa graduated from Cal State LA in May, it was the culmination of a long journey many never believed was possible.
Growing up, Sherpa lived in a maintenance shed with her parents behind the third green of the Royal Nepal Golf Club. She took to golf when she was 11, after her father fashioned her a wooden club from a tree branch on the course. After hitting balls around the course with the wooden club, members of the golf club gifted Sherpa a bag of mixed clubs. Three months later, she played in and won her first ever tournament.
By the time she was 17, she had won 33 tournaments, including two junior international events. Now at 23, she is recognized as Nepal’s top women’s golfer.
Sherpa graduated from the College of Business and Economics with a 3.5 GPA and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an option in management. She celebrated her achievement last month with fellow graduates during Commencement 2023, which took place during the culmination of Cal State LA’s 75th anniversary.
“There were people who would say there’s no way she can study in America, it’s going to be hard,” Sherpa said about the beginning of her collegiate journey in the United States. “Now I’m proving people wrong and changing minds.”
Golf has afforded Sherpa many opportunities, including a chance to study in the United States. After playing at Santa Barbara City College, the student-athlete was recruited by Cal State LA head coach Hans Kersting to play for the Golden Eagles.
“We’ve been very lucky to have her here,” Kersting said. “She’s a remarkable person, a great representative for our school, and she’s also just an ideal teammate.”
Sherpa has excelled both on the golf course and in the classroom, collecting academic honors at the university, conference and regional levels during her time at Cal State LA.
As a business administration major, Sherpa recalls impactful classes like Professor Brandon Shamim’s “Managerial Leadership,” which helped her realize how to accomplish her long-term goals through a series of short-term steps. The class helped Sherpa better understand her own personality, develop stronger communication skills, and focus her priority on helping girls and women in Nepal and around the world find success through golf.
“It’s so easy to say, ‘I want to be a leader,’ or ‘I want to inspire people,’ but there’s so many processes to have to think about to actually make an impact,” Sherpa said.
As she worked toward her goals at Cal State LA, Sherpa consistently communicated with players and coaches more than 7,800 miles away, often texting and using social media to share new skills she learned while with the Golden Eagles.
Sherpa often dreamed of hosting a women’s golf tournament in her home country of Nepal, and in the summer of 2022, she made her dream a reality. Alongside a pair of friends, she helped organize the country’s first all-women’s tournament at the Royal Nepal Golf Club, which featured 47 golfers and special guests, including Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
During the tournament, Sherpa shared stories of growing up at the Royal Nepal Golf Club, her experiences playing the sport, and how her parents met at the golf club years ago.
Having her parents in the crowd as she addressed the tournament’s guests, including Nepal’s first woman president, made the moment even more special for Sherpa.
“I was so proud to show everyone that it’s possible to help women’s golfers,” Sherpa said.
Following graduation, Sherpa plans to continue teaching and mentoring youth golfers and organizing tournaments as a program coordinator for the Southern California Golf Association. In the future, she envisions founding her own namesake golf academy to empower golfers worldwide.
As she imagined crossing the stage ahead of Commencement, tears came to Sherpa’s eyes. The accomplishment is the realization of yet another dream others once told her was impossible. For Sherpa, graduating represented more than her accomplishment alone.
“It’s my dream, it’s my parents’ dream, but I’m also representing Nepal because so many people are following me,” she said.
“It’s proving nothing is impossible.”
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