HERE are the profiles of the 11 South Asians who figure in the 5th Annual Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards
The awards reception, an event that celebrates the incredible initiatives of Surrey’s youth 25 years old or younger, took place on Thursday.
The 25 winners were chosen based upon their business or community achievements, leadership ability, community involvement, professional achievements and uniqueness of their business or community projects.
The keynote speaker was Marco Ianuzzi, Harvard graduate, Grey Cup champion, investment advisor and philanthropist.
Amanbir Atwal, 19
Youth Transforming Society (YTS)
Why can’t the youth make an impact in the community? Try stopping Amanbir Atwal as she co-founded “Youth Transforming Society” (YTS). YTS is a student-run group that aims to raise awareness for global issues and encourage community volunteerism. Amanbir has helped fundraise $6,250 for four projects spanning from 2011-2013 for areas of the world in a crisis such as Haiti and West Africa. YTS has grown over the past 5 years, as the organization consists of 15 members and 100 volunteers; and they have prepared breakfast for over 600 homeless individuals in 2014 alone. In addition to helping YTS expand its initiative, she has also served more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service within the community. Amanbir also stayed focused in the classroom, setting an example for others by maintaining a 4.0 GPA at Seaquam Secondary, and is now at UBC working towards her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Physiology.
Deepak Sharma, 20
Simon Fraser Student Society / #WESAYYES FOR TRANSIT!
The Simon Fraser Student Society is an independent organization that represents over 26,000 undergraduate students at SFU. However, only a select few are able to stand out from the crowd and represent the organization with leadership and a clear sense of direction. Deepak Sharma is certainly one of these few individuals who has stepped up to the plate and taken on a great deal of responsibility. He was elected as a Board of Director and was also appointed to be the SFU Surrey Campus Liaison. In this role he worked extremely hard to create and maintain relationships with the City of Surrey, Surrey Board of Trade, SFU Surrey Administration, SFU Surrey Students, and Central City Safeway. While doing this, he advocated for the YES side in regards to the current Transit Plebiscite. One has to be vocal when representing an entire organization, and the board never doubted Deepak’s ability to take charge and pave the way for a remarkable campaign. He is very active within the community and can be seen attending stakeholder meetings with the City of Surrey, arranging Transit rallies and student fairs, as well as hosting meetings with student representatives from all parts of the Lower Mainland. Deepak has now been elected for a second term and will serve as Vice President. In this role he will continue to make a huge impact as one of his projects will be organizing the first ever TEDXSURREY conference.
Ekam Nagra, 21
Ball Don’t Stop Basketball
In a day and age where we are able to discover news around the world at our fingertips, the internet has become a powerful tool for many. It is always interesting to see what people can do with their creativity, and Ekam Nagra has done just that with his website known as “BallDontStop.com”; a website that specializes in reporting the latest news and events around the NBA (National Basketball Association). This passion for basketball came from an early age as he played the game himself at a high level on the high school stage. Aside from being the founder of this news outlet that has gained a following of over 17,000 followers on Facebook, he has also coached a basketball academy of over 150 students in the past year alone. It is of extreme importance for Ekum to give back to the community, and his passion and enthusiasm for the game touches the hearts of many young, aspiring players who hope to one day be like him. He has opened many doors for others to join his academy, as those who are willing to volunteer and share their knowledge of basketball are always welcome. His story is truly an inspiration all young South Asian boys in this community and he has built a base for many more to follow along in his footsteps.
Jaskirat Sahni, 17
A person is never too young to start their own movement if they know exactly what they need to do to accomplish their goals and dreams. Jaskirat Sahni founded an initiative known as “Girls Empowered” at the age of 15. This movement focuses on initiating local projects targeting many issues women face in their day-to-day lives including domestic violence, abuse and inequality, while assisting them in the local and global communities via fundraising and spreading awareness. With over 100 members, the group strives to work as a team to achieve goals and it has been an effective strategy. To date, the organization has sponsored 4 elementary school girls for a full year of education. “Girls Empowered” has caught the attention of Premier Christy Clark as well as the Mayor of Surrey, as these efforts certainly have not gone unnoticed. Jaskirat is now in grade 12 at Panorama Ridge Secondary and will be graduating in June to pursue a Bachelor of Science at UBC in the fall.
Kanwalnain K. Grewal, 20
It takes a great deal of responsibility to be a voice in the community that people will listen to and depend on- that is exactly who Kanwalnain is. She’s a passionate individual who has been provided with the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for discussing topics with others through a prominent radio station known as “Red” 93.1 FM on a show called “Sade Bache Sada Virsa.” She feels the community has been a significant factor in her development as a person and she would like to give back to ensure others are being heard. Kanwalnain discusses important topics such as academic success, bullying, environmental responsibility, community involvement, multiculturalism, and career planning. A key component of her program is acknowledging youth that have made contributions within the community and young guests are invited to the show to discuss what they have done so others can learn and perhaps follow along one day. She has spent over 1,000 hours dedicating her time to this show and her passion for it only continues to grow. Kanwalnain was also chosen to be a part of an international documentary project known as, “Shoot for the Moon.” It features her efforts to maintain multiculturalism in the community along with connecting with the youth. She is also currently studying at the Beedie School of Business (SFU) and is on the Dean’s Honour Roll.
Kiran Toor, 20
Those who understand that with a higher level of maturity comes a higher level of responsibility excel in life. Kiran Toor is the Founder and Executive Director of KidsPlay, which is an organization led towards providing opportunities for youth in the community. After acknowledging the high level of gangs, violence, and drugs that exists in Surrey, she decided to take action and created the program for youth to take part in sports activities and community projects- essentially components of one’s life that would keep them busy and prevent them from straying away to a darker path. Her initiative is being recognized as members of the Surrey RCMP and leaders from the local community are also offering their support. Today, the organization boasts over 100 volunteers, along with over 1,000 participants attending the latest event. Through her efforts, she has helped raise over $100,000 for various causes and has dedicated much of her life towards volunteering. After graduating from Semiahmoo Secondary, Kiran is now attending KPU working towards her Bachelor’s of Arts, however, she will be transferring to SFU this upcoming fall to complete her degree.
Lourence Singh, 20
SOAR Philanthropic Society
Having achieved success and recognition from a young age, Lourence Singh is a true ambassador for the youth in our community. He received the Governor General’s Academic Medal for graduating at the top of his high school class. He is also a recipient of the Simon Fraser University Academic Excellence scholarship. He took school seriously, and worked hard to ensure that his coursework would prepare him one day when he started a job and ultimately his career. Skipping the forward button to the present day, he is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business and has been working in the financial department of SOAR Philanthropic Society as “Executive Sponsorship Specialist.” He advocates on behalf of the organization to form partnerships and receive sponsorships to provide students with the opportunity to receive scholarships and other forms of financial aid in order for them to attend a post secondary institution. Lourence truly understands the value of education and has always been passionate and dedicated towards this initiative. Aside from giving his time to the community, he is a young entrepreneur who has an importing business known as, “LorCorp Canada.” He also has generously given his time to serving as executive with “SoapForHope”, which is a local organization that works on providing innovative hand soap to local restaurants at a lower price in comparison to the competition.
Puneet Sooch, 22
Posh Makeup Studios / Various volunteer roles
Being a stellar student and making an impact in the classroom is one factor, however, taking the knowledge one has learned into the community can be a powerful asset. She pursued her career goals by attending university during the weekdays, and she also pursued her hobby in makeup during the weekends. Along with this, she has served time with Kid Start, PLEA Community Services of BC, the City of Surrey, and KPU’s History Students Society. To highlight just one of her many achievements, she is mentoring twelve year old girl who has gone through hardship and happens to be a foster child. Children who are brought the Kid Start program are at high risk, vulnerable, and facing emotional trauma- the level of responsibility required is of the highest standards and Puneet has always stepped up to the challenge. She spends at least 3 hours a week to encourage the child to make positive choices and develop her interests. Puneet has now graduated from KPU with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History, and minoring in Asian Studies.
Rajan Dhaliwal, 23
Matcon Canada / The Child Development Foundation of BC / Canasia Forest Industries
Students have the ability to learn the most at the post secondary level, given the resources and instructors they have been provided with, but few rise up to the challenge and take on more responsibilities after studying for courses. Rajan Dhaliwal was an active student at the University of Victoria, having been elected as a director-at-large for the institution for the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS). A student population of over 20,000 chose him to represent the society and he took the reins with unquestionable effort and enthusiasm. Rajan was responsible for serving as a dual role service provider and advocacy organization. Rajan was involved and responsible for bringing students’ ideas to justice such as lowering fees and improving public transit. He also simultaneously chaired three golfing tournaments that raised over $120,000 for local charities. Rajan has now completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria in Political Science. In the future he plans on returning to school to complete an MBA, but would like to gain relevant work experience prior to doing so.
Rick Kumar, 22
Frontiers Poetics: KPU’s Rap Outreach Project
Sometimes all you need is a little bit of rap in your life. That’s the message that Rick “Big Love” Kumar is trying to spread to those with an open ear and an honest heart. With sponsorships from Coca-Cola and the Faculty of Arts from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), him and a friend (Calvin “Kalvonix” Tiu) embarked on a four-month outreach program to assist adolescents by finding a voice in writing and promoting KPU Arts. Rick took this interactive workshop to 16 high schools throughout Surrey, Langley, and Richmond to share their message about the power of language, the written word, anti-bullying, peer mentorship, lifelong friendship, and community building through creativity. Rick has always been very active, serving as the President of two university associations: the Kwantlen English Commons and the Kwantlen Film club. He also expands his time into the broader community by advocating to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention on behalf of MLA Sue Hammell. If this isn’t enough, Rick decided to fund a bursary along with his partner Calvin, with the proceeds from a CD they made being put to use for a struggling Arts student. He also delivered the valedictorian speech at his convocation and has graduated with an Arts degree from KPU.
Rizwan Qaiser, 24
SFU’s Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Association (IdEA)
Students attend university to learn and expand their knowledge, but it is those who dare to also act on what they have learned that truly make a difference. Rizwan Qaiser is a fourth year Management Informations Systems and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Student at SFU Surrey. During his time there, he has recognized the need for students to work across disciplines and is a founding member of SFU’s Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Association (IdEA). He has also assisted in the design and facilitation of innovation courses from the role of a Teaching Assistant and a Curriculum Development Assistant. Rizwan has made quite the impact as a teaching assistant, assisting in the development and facilitation of curriculum and activities for SFU’s first entrepreneurship and innovation class offered to all students representing any faculty of the university. He also participated in Beedie’s first Semester In Innovation with exchange students from Grenoble Ecole de Management and continually finds a way to manage all of his extra curricular activities along with his responsibilities outside of being a student. Many students have gone on to become teaching assistants, but very few have been as innovative and responsible in helping assist their school to a trendy, new direction. Rizwan will be graduating with a BBA from SFU in October 2015 with concentrations in Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, along with a certificate in Business Technology Management.