Burnaby School District’s Governor General Academic Medal recipients for 2013-14

FOR more than 125 years, a Governor General’s Academic Medal has been awarded at each secondary school in Canada to the graduating student who has the highest average. In Burnaby Schools, the Governor General’s Academic Medal recipients for the 2013-14 school year are:


Ecole Alpha – Mohammad Asadi Lari
Burnaby Central – Pasindu Muthukuda
Burnaby Mountain – Zahra Rajwani
Burnaby North – Nancy Lum
Burnaby South –  Anna Ye
Byrne Creek Secondary – Justin Lin
Ecole Cariboo Hill – Natasha Williams
Ecole Moscrop – Jenny Zhang


University of British Columbia, Science
“I believe that the most important part of Burnaby schools is the diverse, welcoming and cooperative environment. I experienced this first- hand when coming to Alpha in the middle of the year from Iran.”

Mohammad Asadi Lari came to Alpha from Iran and he is a student that is driven to excellence and has a superlative work ethic. During his time at École Alpha Secondary, Mohammad was very interested in sports and he excelled in academics, receiving the Senior Science Award in grade 12. He has been volunteering at Royal Columbian Hospital as well as teaching at the Iranian Cultural Centre where he has helped to revive the Iranian Ambassador program. Mohammad was also one of 50 people chosen to work with the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation, an organization that works to discover cures for inherited genetic disease

Mohammad received major entrance scholarships to the University of Alberta, McGill and Simon Fraser University. He is currently a student at the University of British Columbia where he is taking courses in the Faculty Science. He has a keen interest in Chemistry research and plans to go into medicine.


University of British Columbia, Engineering Science
I appreciated the academic opportunities afforded to me and the opportunity to develop a strong work ethic.”

As a student at Burnaby Central, Pasindu’s record of achievement was exceptional. He achieved 100% in 5 subjects (Physics 11 & 12, PreCalculus 11 &12 and Calculus 12) and the majority of his remaining grades were above 95%. Prior to enrolling in Calculus 12, Pasindu had already mastered the subject, and rather than give people the solutions to problems, he was always a patient and humble teacher. Pasindu also served as the co-president of the Math and Physics clubs and he enjoyed being part of Central’s team at the Vancouver Highschool Science Olympics.

In the community, Pasindu volunteered with FreeGeeks in Vancouver, recycling computers.
Pasindu also ranked in the top 5 in the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) prize exam and qualified to be on Canada’s team to participate in the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in Kazakhstan this past summer.

When asked about the secret to his academic success, Pasindu replied “I don’t know to what extent talent has to contribute, but regardless, without passion and motivation, success in academics would not come. To achieve, one must be intrinsically motivated to learn. You must have the courage and dedication to pursue your own interests. Without these traits, success resides nowhere. ”

Pasindu is currently studying Engineering at UBC and plans to pursue a PhD in Engineering. He hopes to generate positive change in the world in a dynamic and productive manner.


University of British Columbia, Health Sciences

During her time at Burnaby Mountain, Zahra excelled not only with high academic average of 98%, but also with intensive school involvement. She was a player on the Senior Girls Basketball Team, receiving a TELUS Basketball Classic Scholarship, and also helped coach elementary school girls in a Spring League Camp. As the President and Founder of the Canucks Autism Network Club at Burnaby Mountain, Zahra led the club to raise awareness and funds for autism.

Outside of school, Zahra has been a member and leader of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps and an ambassador for the World Partnership Walk. During the summer, she has enjoyed volunteering as a Counsellor at Camp Discovery. In addition, Zahra has also achieved the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Levels of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program. As a participant of the CIVIC organization, she has assisted with shoreline cleanups, anti-graffiti campaigns, food and clothes drives, and soup kitchens.

Currently a first year student attending UBC with numerous scholarships and awards, including a Chancellor’s scholar designation, the Roy Krutow scholarship, the L. J. Prior Award, the Academic Athlete of the year Award, and I-STAR Award for Academic Excellence, Zahra is studying Science with a plan to pursue a career in the Health Sciences.


Simon Fraser University, Kinesiology
“I appreciate the many opportunities and support I experienced in Burnaby schools that prepared me to take the next steps of my educational journey. “

During her five years at Burnaby North, Nancy Lum was an outstanding student who was involved in many extra-curricular activities. She displayed outstanding achievement in a broad range of courses including AP, Music, Leadership, Languages and Physical Education. Nancy was an executive member of Christmas Cheer for three years. She spent countless hours towards this charity which raised over $10 000 each year she was involved. Nancy was also the Chairperson for an 8-person executive group called Karing 4 Kids. It undertook many fundraising projects that help the community in many ways.

During her time at Burnaby North it was easy to see Nancy’s dedication, reliability, and maturity towards any work that she undertook. In the Spring, Nancy was awarded the prestigious Schulich Award which is presented to an outstanding student who is interested in pursuing further education in STEM and able to combine an excellent academic record with community involvement.

Nancy is very deserving of the Governor General Academic Medal. She worked extremely hard to earn this honour. She is most proud of the work she accomplished through Christmas Cheer- through which the school was able to raise $16 000 for the Christmas Bureau in her senior year.


University of Toronto, Engineering Science
“What I valued most about my educational experience at Burnaby schools was the breadth of opportunities and abundance of resources available.”

Anna is a very friendly, dedicated and well-rounded young lady. She is incredibly intelligent but also an extremely hard worker. Anna is unique in that she excelled in all areas of her school life. Anna took 6 AP exams and scored 5 on all of them receiving AP National Scholar distinction. She was both our top Math and Science award winner and also excelled creatively winning top awards in English and French and was a member of our Senior Jazz Band.

Anna used her talents to serve others. She was on our student council for four years and was elected President in her grade 12 year. She volunteered over 500 hours to the school. She also volunteered as a member of the BC Youth Parliament. She was invited to participate in the CEMC workshop in computer science for young women at the U of Calgary. She was also invited to participate in the CMS National Math Camp at U of Toronto.

Anna’s hard work paid off when she was hired as a high school student to work on a marketing research internship with BC Diabetes Association. These jobs are reserved for university students but they hired Anna instead.

Anna told me that what she valued most about her educational experience in Burnaby was the breadth of opportunities and abundance of resources available. She said, the idea that has been most important to her intellectual development is knowing that grades don’t matter. Anna says that receiving an education involves learning to satisfy curiosity, and undertaking the study of any subject should root from pursuing one’s interest and not career.

Anna is currently studying Engineering Science at the University of Toronto. We wish her the best of luck.


University of Toronto, Engineering Science

In his time at Byrne Creek Justin exemplified hard work and academic achievement and represents all that is best about our school. Justin is currently pursuing a degree in engineering at the University of Toronto and there is no doubt whatsoever that this fine young man will continue to achieve success due to his work ethic and character.



Natasha is a gifted student and citizen of our community who inspires those around her to strive for their best. Natasha’s academic dedication and standing as a student is outstanding. What makes Natasha stand apart however is her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. Her passion in this way is contagious, inspiring others to work alongside her to transform their world. In her grade 12 year, Natasha was the Prime Minister of student government. In this role she led a group of passionate young people committed to creating a positive school community. Natasha was also chair of our student Youth Action Committee, a group that is deeply involved in initiatives that support the social needs of our local and global community. Most students would be challenged by assuming one of these roles however to assume both of these significant roles in her grade 12 year speaks to Natasha’s exemplary strengths as a leader. To do so while enrolled in the rigor of French Immersion and Advanced Placement coursework, her commitment as a student athlete and coach, her support of community groups that address social issues of poverty and homelessness is extraordinary.

Humanity, intelligence, passion, insight and integrity. Natasha Williams is going to change the world.


McGill University, Life Sciences

Jenny Zhang, a member of Moscrop Secondary School’s graduating class of 2014, exemplifies the academic excellence the Governor General’s Academic Medal is designed to honour. She and her family are extremely appreciative that she has been selected to receive this prestigious award. Hers is a story of determination, humility, and service.

Throughout Jenny’s five years at Moscrop Secondary, she strove to achieve her academic potential, earning honour roll status each term of each year, culminating in gold cord status at graduation. Jenny consistently sought to challenge herself throughout secondary school, achieving extremely high grades in an impressive five AP courses at the grade 12 level. Her interests transcended traditional faculty divisions of arts and sciences, as Jenny pursued excellence in liberal arts (with AP English Literature and AP Psychology courses), along with Math/Sciences (with AP Biology 12, AP Chemistry 12, and AP Calculus 12 courses).

In addition to her academic course work, Jenny demonstrated an aptitude for literary arts, fine arts and community service. At the school level, Jenny volunteered in the Library, assisted with the ESL reading club, served as a member of Moscrop’s Book Club, and was a writer for Moscrop’s student-led Newspaper, “The Prowler.” In the community, Jenny extended her time as a volunteer at the Willingdon Care Centre and at Burnaby’s Nikkei Centre. In addition, Jenny has been an instructor at “Pedalheads,” a long standing organization designed to teach young children the benefits of riding bicycles safely.

Maintaining these commitments reflects a high level of maturity, interpersonal adeptness, and time management. Jenny Zhang’s academic aptitude, organization, thoughtfulness, and gracious nature render her a worthy recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Award. She is currently pursuing a degree in Life Sciences at McGill University. We wish her continued success in her future endeavours.