Princess Margaret School’s Ignite 2018 inspires youth

Organizing committee: (L-R): Sandi Hogg, Catherine Hughes, Paulo Sarmento, Marcel Deluca, Maggie Lee & Harvey Kooner

OVER 1,300 students at Princess Margaret Secondary School took part in a career exploration event “Princess Margaret School’s Ignite 2018; Networking 101: The Value of Relationships and Mentorships” on Tuesday.

The 5th annual Ignite career day event was all about learning the value of networking.  This year the planning committee wanted to focus on how students can foster relationships in their network and how impactful mentorship can be.  The administration and staff of the school, along with the Association of South Asian Professionals of British Columbia (ASAPBC) and Surrey School District’s Safe School Department provided the students with an opportunity to hear from over 60 presenters from various organizations in 23 breakout sessions for students from grades 10 to 12.

The presenters

This year’s keynote speakers were Jordan Buna, ex-gangster who shared his story about how he turned his life around with senior students (grades 10-12).

Manny Bahia who founded the Daily Hive website, shared his story of how he and his childhood friend created a successful business from a basement suite with junior students (grades 8-9).

After listening to the keynote speakers, senior students attended three different breakout sessions of their choice, with each session being 30 minutes in length with speakers from a variety of careers including: policing, business, entrepreneurs, law, medicine, media, event management, non-profits and arts. 

Local and international organizations took part as presenters, talking about their work lives and the journey that led them to their careers.  For many organizations, this marked multiple times they have presented at IGNITE events including: Surrey RCMP, Vancouver Police Department, Coast Capital Savings, Kids Play, League of Innovators, SOAR, Dream Group Productions, Elephanatics, Youth 4 A Change, Habitat for Humanity, Strive Recruitment and many others.

Principal Paulo Sarmento noted: “The keynote presentations and breakout sessions went really well. This is a great opportunity for our students to learn of various career paths. The presenters did an excellent job engaging our students in interesting topics.”

Sandi Hogg, Acting Vice Principal at Princess Margaret and IGNITE Committee member, said: “This is our 5th year of our IGNITE Student Career Conference here at Princess Margaret, and this year’s theme is “Networking 101: the Value of Relationships and Mentorships”.  In conjunction with the Association of South Asian Professionals (ASAP) and the Be Your Own Best Friend (BYOBF) Network, we have approximately 60 professionals and organizations from the surrounding community coming in to share with our grade 10-12 students. The beauty of the event is that the students get to sign-up for sessions that interest them and the speakers get to connect with youth in their areas of specialties. So it is a passion-driven event.”

Jindy Bhalla, President of ASAP, said: “ASAP is once again very proud to have been a part of IGNITE 2018.  This time around the focus was on Networking 101:  The Value of Relationships and Mentorships.  Learning the basics of networking allows students to pursue success by engaging with others for the benefit of all. ASAP was formed in recognition of the importance of relationships in work and personal life and welcomed the opportunity to engage with students in ways which can lead to positive change locally and beyond through student involvement.”

ASAP was formed in 2007 by a group of concerned South Asian professionals from various disciplines and includes 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 2018 event was achieved with the collaboration and teamwork of Princess Margaret administration, staff, student volunteers and ASAPBC 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, please contact: Harvey Kooner, Association of South Asian Professionals of BC at or Acting Vice Principal Sandra Hogg, Princess Margaret Secondary School, at

Photos by Jonathan Stolzle (Princess Margaret Grade 12 Student)