Journeys of Success
Nima Kulkarni, State Representative for District 40
In 2018 Kulkarni became the first Indian-American elected as a state representative in Kentucky.
How Louisville Became Home of the First Indian-American State Representative in Kentucky.
My family and I moved to Louisville from India when I was six years old. We moved here primarily because of the DePaul School, so that my brother could receive the special education he needed. My parents chose to leave a comfortable life in India so that my brother and I could have every opportunity, and we learned firsthand that you can be what you want to be, through hard work and belief in yourself. My childhood really did embody the American Dream. I graduated from Atherton High School and got my BA in English Literature from the University of Louisville. I left Louisville for several years to attend law school in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Atlanta and California to gain experience as an immigration attorney. I decided to move back to my hometown in 2010 to start my own law practice and couldn’t be happier to call it home. My family felt like we belonged in the Louisville community from early on and have found ways to give back to it over the years. This influenced my decision to run for elected office, so that I could serve Louisville and Kentucky families in a larger capacity. I was incredibly humbled and honored when I was elected as the State Representative for District 40 in 2018, the first Indian and immigrant to do so in the history of the Kentucky legislature. I am incredibly proud of our city and look forward to many more years of seeing it thrive. My favorite thing to do in Louisville is to take advantage of the many parks and green spaces we have. Especially during the pandemic, I have been taking lots of walks in parks well cared for by our Metro Parks department, as well as the Olmsted Parks Conservatory. We are very lucky to have such amazing outdoor spaces in our city.
I started my law practice in Louisville so that I would have the support of my family and friends. It is a daunting prospect to start your own business. I had seen my father do it, and it seemed incredibly stressful. I found that it is a lot of work and stress, but it is rewarding as well. I can choose how and where I focus my time, and that is a luxury many people do not have. Many people have asked whether there is enough of a market for an immigration law practice in Kentucky, and the answer has always been YES! There are many businesses in Louisville and throughout Kentucky that rely on immigrants to succeed. There are many international students attending our colleges and universities who aspire to live and work here. There are also families that want to sponsor their spouses or parents. We are a very diverse state, and I am happy to be a part of helping it grow and flourish.
The main change that I have seen in our international community is its growth. Since 2000, immigrants have accounted for 20% of the entire population growth in Louisville. And we are more comfortable as a community in appreciating and sharing the multifaceted variety that makes up the international community. We are not able to have Worldfest like we normally would this year, but every day, there is usually a celebration of a particular culture or community happening around Louisville, and I am happy to see everyone—not just our immigrants—learn from and enjoy each other’s traditions, faiths, and cultures.
Community means fellowship to me. Being able to learn about and enjoy so many unique aspects of our city has been wonderful. From our museums to community centers to our restaurants, Louisville is a place that welcomes people to slow down and take a moment to look around at the many contributions that our international community has made to our city. I feel very lucky to live in a place that feels like a small town, but has so much to offer newcomers from all over the world.
Saul Garcia, Owner of Los Aztecas Mexican Grill
Los Aztecas has been open in Louisville since 1997 contribuiting to the City's food experience.
How Louisville Became Home of the Emblematic Restaurant "Los Aztecas"
I was a very young man when I first arrived in the United States. In fact, I started out my career as a field worker in Fresno, California. After a couple of years, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, with my brother where I worked in a Mexican restaurant as a bus boy, and soon after as a waiter. I was fortunate because in about 2 years, I was given an opportunity to be a manager for a Mexican restaurant in North Carolina. So, I moved there and worked as a manager for another 2 years before being presented with another great opportunity to help the owner of the El Nopal restaurants grow. At the time, when I moved to Louisville in 1992, there was only one El Nopal but he was looking to grow and expand. When I arrived, I fell in love with the city and I thought it was a perfect place to raise a family and run a business.
It didn’t take me long to open my own restaurant – I was convinced Louisville was a friendly city, and that it was a welcoming city that accepted diversity. Also, I really liked downtown when I first arrived here, but I knew it was missing something. So, it just felt perfect to open Los Aztecas.
Giving Back to the Community
I love helping the community and being part of the growth of the city. The community is very important to me not only because I am part of it but because it shows how united we can be. It is what makes Louisville such a great diverse city. Whenever there is someone in need, we all come together to help the cause, because we care about each other.
The Journey continue
When I moved to Louisville in 1992, there were no Hispanic stores, just a few Mexican restaurants. As years passed, I saw people from many countries come to Louisville and make this their home as well. Many people from all over the world have come here and started businesses too. I believe that Louisville is now one of the most diverse cities. In particular, the Hispanic community has grown a lot to how it was just 18 years ago. I am proud to have been part of the growth of the Hispanic community in Louisville. I have been part of the Hispanic Business Association, Latino Soccer League, Latino Citizens Police Academy, FBI Latino Academy, Greater Louisville Chamber Commerce, Downtown Development Business Committee, and I am still on the board of Better Business Bureau. It makes me happy to have been a part of these things because they unite the community and are all for the growth of our beautiful city.