Ignite 2019 motivates youth at Surrey’s Princess Margaret School

IGNITE presenters.
All photos by Adrian Kennedy (Princess Margaret Secondary School student)

OVER 1,300 students at Princess Margaret Secondary School took part in a career exploration event Princess Margaret School’s Ignite 2019; #WhatsYourDeal: different paths that lead people to their chosen careers on Wednesday.

The 6th annual Ignite career day event was all about professionals sharing what ignited a spark within them to their career path. This year’s IGNITE planning committee wanted presenters to share their unique and personal story.  By sharing experiences of the challenges, triumphs and the various people that helped along the way, the committee hoped students would learn firsthand of the possibilities for their future.

IGNITE Organizing committee & VPD Her Time: (L-R): Sandy Avelar, Catherine Hughes, Maggie Lee, Niki, Pam Sandhu, Harvey Kooner, Eboney, Marcel Deluca and Anisha Parhar.

The administration and staff of the school, along with the Association of South Asian Professionals of British Columbia (ASAP) and Surrey School District’s Safe School Department provided the students with an opportunity to hear from over 50 presenters from various organizations in over 25 breakout sessions for students from grades 10 to 12.

This year’s keynote speaker included Harv Puni aka ‘Hollywood Harv.’ The professional comedian shared his journey and struggles on how he pursued his dream career of comedy with senior students (grades 10-12).

Keynote speakers Hollywood Harv and VPD Her Time program members.

The only female gang frontline partnership in Canada, detectives Sandy Avelar and Anisha Parhar of the Vancouver Police Department, educated the audience on the risks of dating men involved in organized crime and the gang lifestyle with junior students (grades 8-9).

After listening to the keynote speakers, senior students attended different breakout sessions of their choice, with each session being 40 minutes in length with speakers from a variety of careers, including health, sciences, business / accounting, athletics / sports science, criminal justice, public safety, arts, graphic design, government, politics, law, media, and entertainment.

VPD Her Time

This event could not have been a success without all the organizations dedicating their time to take part, including Aarm Dental, Doctors Without Borders, Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital, Walmart Pharmacy, Keystone Environmental, Sandpiper Group, UBC, SEMO foundation, UFV Basketball program, Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, Canadian Border Services, VPD, Surrey RCMP, ICBC, TransLink and many others.  Principal Paulo Sarmento noted: “The keynote presentations and breakout sessions were very well received, this is a great opportunity for our students to get motivated for their future.  The presenters did an outstanding job engaging our students and opened their eyes to new avenues.”

Pam Sandhu, Career Development Facilitator, Princess Margaret Secondary and IGNITE Committee member said: “This is the 6th year that Princess Margaret Secondary has organized the IGNITE Student Career Conference.  The theme of IGNITE 2019 was #WhatsYourDeal. What I love most about IGNITE is that it gives our students the opportunity to connect with over 50 professionals from various sectors across the Lower Mainland.  It is an occasion for professionals to share their stories of struggles and triumph throughout their career journey.  Our hope is that this ignites students to take action and explore their future passions.”

Jindy Bhalla, President of ASAP, said:  “ASAP is once again very proud to have been a part of this annual IGNITE career exploration event.  This year the conference focused on different avenues that led people to their chosen professions and what ignited that spark within.  ASAP was formed so that passionate members of the community could channel their energy into positive projects.  We welcomed being involved in such an event that can inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

ASAP was formed in 2007 by a group of concerned South Asian professionals from various disciplines. They include lawyers, engineers, brokers, financiers, doctors, notaries, and media and local business people.  The vision of ASAP is to exhibit social responsibility through positive action in the general community, foster leadership by acting as role models and mentors, and advocate for social issues in British Columbia, all in a professional manner focusing solely on need.

The success of Princess Margaret School’s Ignite 2019 career exploration event was achieved with the collective teamwork of Princess Margaret administration, staff, student volunteers and ASAP who dedicated their time and experience.

If you are looking to make a difference and would like to be involved in this type of event, contact: Harvey Kooner, Association of South Asian Professionals of BC at harveykooner1@gmail.com or Pam Sandhu, Career Development Facilitator, Princess Margaret Secondary School at sandhu_p@surreyschools.ca