Recipients & Finalists 2020

A message from the 2020 scholarship selection committee.

Each year, the Young Scholar Award aims to recognize and celebrate the youth in our community who dedicate their time and lend their leadership skills to foster meaningful, long-term community awareness and action.

This year, we received a large number of applications from across Canada and we were impressed by the diversity of achievements we saw from young musicians, environmentalists, scientists, chefs, entrepreneurs, and more. After three rounds of careful review, we have decided to grant two scholarships this year for the first time. Congratulations to Christopher and David on being the 2020 Young Scholar Award recipients!

Thank you to all the applicants, finalists, and recipients for your efforts to create a better community. We certainly hope that reading their profiles will inspire you to take action and make a positive impact as well.

 

2020 Young Scholar Award Recipient

 
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David Pugh
School: Brantford Collegiate Institute & Vocational School 
Grade: 12


David Pugh is an 18-year-old whose passion for the human story drives his other-centered advocacy and service. Throughout his time in secondary school, David has volunteered with 14 local and national organizations, dedicating over 500 hours and raising over $36 000 for social causes. David helps refugee families resettle into community and recently spearheaded an accessibility initiative at his local library for differently-abled patrons. He champions youth development as an Early Years Teacher with The Meeting House, and Youth Advisor for the Brant Community Foundation, Brantford Public Library, Ontario Nature, and RCMP.

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David passionately leads his school’s War Portraits Project, sharing stories of local history as a keynote speaker and Vimy Pilgrimage Award Alumnus. He ardently advocates for mental wellbeing as a filmmaker, columnist, and Playwright of the award-winning Play, Saving Copetown (NTS Festival). David looks forward to deepening his understanding of the human story through York University’s Psychology program.

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Christopher Chong
School: David Thompson Secondary 
Grade: 12


Christopher is a 17-year-old environmentalist, entrepreneur, and innovator from Vancouver, British Columbia. He has always had a passion for not only understanding the physical world, but how to use that knowledge to improve life through technology. He created the patent-pending concept “Hydrofinity”, which dramatically reduces water-consumption in thermoelectric powerplants through electrostatics. Christopher is also an alumnus of the MIT LaunchX entrepreneurship program, where he co-founded “Stillae Droplets”, designed to offer an innovative plant-based alternative to the plastic-dominated shampoo market. He was also named as one of Starfish Canada’s Top 25 under 25 Environmentalists


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In 2018, Christopher founded the Canadian STEM Society, to make STEM opportunities more accessible to high-schoolers looking to innovate. Having been offered the Schulich Leader Scholarship to attend Dalhousie University and the University of New Brunswick, his post-secondary decision is still in deliberation, though he plans on pursuing a double major in Engineering and Business

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2020 Young Scholar Award Finalists

 
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Anjali Dhaliwal
Queen Elizabeth Secondary School 
Grade: 12


Anjali is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, mental health advocate, musician, and senior student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary. Through the Inter-A Leadership Program, she founded the program's first-ever Yearbook Committee 3 years ago, became President of her School Beautification Program, Vice-President of Student Government and was an integral part of fundraising $100,000 for local hospitals. In 2019, she single-handedly established a nation-wide non-profit organization called Youth Helping Youth (YHY). YHY's mission is supporting disenfranchised youth in low-income communities by providing opportunities (internships, conferences, workshops, etc.) through social media platforms. This organization also initiates events that don't currently exist in the community like Opportunity Fairs and Mental Wellness Workshops. Within the last year, YHY has reached over 700 youth in-person and over 20,000 weekly through social media. This fall, the Top 25 Under 25 Award Recipient plans to attend the University of British Columbia, studying for a Bachelors's degree in Commerce.

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Ayesha Khan
Lester B Pearson Collegiate institute  
Grade: 12


Ayesha is a passionate high-school senior who strives to take advantage of every opportunity available to make a difference. To date, she has facilitated numerous events on islamophobia, child abuse and mental health, through the roles of Team Captain in the student cabinet and the Secretary of MSA. She’s also represented her school and won the best speaker awards in debates and extempores on eye-opening issues. After moving to Canada, she joined Free The Children club where she ran collection drives and awareness programs to support the WE villages. As a certified peer tutor with License 2 Learn and a science mentor, she has been encouraging positivity and improving student engagement. Her love for STEM has also awarded her numerous merit awards and trophies in various competitions. To reach her full potential, she intends on studying Biomedical Engineering at Ryerson University and work in the medical device industry in the future.

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Caleb Wu
Steveston-London Secondary School
Grade: 10


Caleb makes custom-designed Lego kits with accompanying instructions for children in need through his community initiative, Project Lightbox. Project Lightbox aims to shine light into the darkness of children's lives, through donations of these handmade Lego kits to organizations like BC Children's Hospital, Richmond Hospital, and YMCA. At the YMCA kids club, Caleb also hosts Lego workshops and building sessions. In the summer of 2019, Caleb had the opportunity to participate on a mission trip to India with GAiN (Global Aid network). He served at the Pandita Ramabai Missions centre which uplifts and provides secure homes for destitute women and children. He has also delivered a Project Lightbox poster presentation to Ocean-wise and Duke of Edinburgh directors at a partnership event. Caleb is actively growing his community project, and looking for ways he can help others, and is pursuing a future in computer science and Information Technology. 


 
 
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Chenuka Lakwijaya
Fleetwood Park Secondary 
Grade: 12


Chenuka is a senior high school student and a highly involved musician in Vancouver and Surrey communities. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he is currently a member of the Vancouver Youth Choir and the Young People’s Opera Society of BC. He has represented Canada at the American Choral Directors Association Conference 2020 and performed lead roles in major operas such as L'elisir d'amore and Die Zauberflöte with his opera company. With enriching learning opportunities performing alongside Grammy-winning artists such as Take 6 and Chanticleer, he started mentorship positions as Percussion Studio Head for his school’s music program and has extended his support to the community through his involvement in arts and environmental initiatives such as the CAPA program at the Surrey Art Gallery and the Friends with the Forest program with the City of Surrey. He will attend McGill University in the fall for Studies in Classical Voice and Arts.


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Philia Zhang
Westminster Secondary School 
Grade: 12


Since discovering her passion for environmental conservation as a child, Philia strives to share her enthusiasm for sustainability amongst her community. As president of her school’s Environment Club, she organized a school-wide Climate Awareness Week and Adopt-a-Plant competition, as well as Meatless Mondays at the cafeteria. Additionally, Philia is a member of Force of Nature, an environmental organization aiming to create systemic change in her municipality. Furthermore, she co-founded the “SD40 For The Climate” campaign in which she successfully petitioned her school board to declare a climate emergency and implement climate education. Beyond her environmental activism, Philia is a long-time volunteer at a senior’s centre and animal shelter. She is also an executive of the Model United Nations club, a member of a local youth leadership group, and co-chair of her city’s Youth Advisory Council. She intends to pursue a study in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia.


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Dhruv Upadhyay
Anderson Collegiate and Vocational Institute 
Grade: 12


Dhruv has always strived to bring positive and constructive change in his school and community. Realizing the lack of various clubs at his school, he initiated a Math Club, Robotics Team, and a DECA Chapter at his school. As an avid advocate for environmental advocacy, he has charted and implemented a region-wide project to distribute pollinator friendly native seeds as a member of the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee. Finally, as a proud Air Cadet, he is a recipient of a flying scholarship and received his pilot’s license before he could drive. He has been recognized as one of the top cadet pilots for his flying, academic, and leadership skills. He credits his success to his parents, who have always supported and motivated him to go above and beyond. Dhruv will be studying Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo, with a vision of leveraging technology to create a sustainable future.


 
 
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Dmitry Kulakov
Upper Canada College 
Grade: 10


Dmitry is passionate about making a difference in his community. Over the past year, he started an anti-vaping campaign at his school, inviting speakers, creating a social media presence, hanging posters, and initiating informational events. In order to spread the campaign beyond his school, he attended the first-ever Minister’s Roundtable on Youth Vaping with Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Health Minister, where changes to Ontario’s legislation were initiated, and currently sits on the Toronto-St. Paul's Constituency Youth Council. Dmitry is also a competitive tennis player. His passion for tennis led him to create the UCC Tennis Open (www.uccopen.ca). The UCC Open is an annual Ontario Tennis Association sanctioned provincial level tennis tournament, sponsored by Head Canada and HSBC. In the future, Dmitry hopes to continue his existing initiatives and begin new ones, with the goal of bettering his community!


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Hudson James Stiver
Rockridge Secondary School 
Grade: 12


From a young age Hudson has always been passionate about cooking. After a runner-up placement on Food Network Canada's "Chopped Canada Junior", Hudson set his sights to making an impact within his local community through food. His self-founded project "Stiver Catering", serves community members who are going through tough times and need aid. Additionally, Hudson shares his passion of food with the youth of his community through spearheading cooking classes at his local Youth Center, and being a volunteer-assistant in his school's Foods and Nutrition 9 class. Hudson was a founding member of the Open Minds Club - a club centered on giving back to the environment on a local and global scale. His hobbies include soccer, photography, and creative writing - for each of which he has received recognition. Hudson is committed to giving back to people of all ages, which he hopes to continue through a teaching or business degree.


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Isabella Farbahi
Kitsilano Secondary School
Grade: 12


Isabella is a 17-year-old Canadian who is a firm believer in providing students opportunities for education and leadership can facilitate constructive communal change. For the past three years, Isabella has coached the Junior Ultimate Team at Kitsilano Secondary as well as being a Senior coach since January 2020. She is also one of the founding members of the Kitsilano Community Centre Youth Council, planning accessible events for children of varying ages, endorsing environmental action through community clean-ups and creating youth-oriented programs. After attending her first international conference in May 2019, Isabella found a passion for solving and debating pertinent issues within Model UN. This led to her becoming the Vice-president and Delegate Affairs of Kitsilano Model UN, organizing two multi-district regional conferences accessible to students across Vancouver. Next year, Isabella will be attending the UBC-Sciences Po Dual Degree Program in hopes to pursue a career in law or international relations.