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Six community leaders to watch
On September 13th I had the pleasure of attending the SFU Chancellor and President’s Awards Dinner to celebrate philanthropists Amyn and Shein Rajan, Surrey business leader Elizabeth Model, SFU student Kali Stierle, and founding members Henry Daniel and June Francis of SFU Black Caucus.
From supporting women in STEM fields to advancing Reconciliation and anti-Black racism, these six remarkable leaders are shaping a brighter future. Our honourees this year truly embody what it means to be a changemaker through their inspiring service, contributions, and vision for a better world.
To reflect on this special occasion, we asked our very own SFU alumnus, Amyn, to share a bit about why he and his wife Shein—our 2023 President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award recipients—are so dedicated to giving back.
What inspires you to give?
As followers of the Aga Khan who live by Shia Ismaili Muslim ethics, Shein and I are committed to contributing to the common good. We are very passionate about giving back time and resources to the place we call home by supporting SFU and many other important causes that help make the world a better place. One of our proudest accomplishments is being able to build three very successful technology businesses right here in Vancouver, where we were able to create new jobs and employ more than 300 people.
Is there a reason why you choose to give to SFU?
When I was in grade 12, I received a phone call that would change my life. My Dad and I were watching the news when I got the call. I was told I’d won the Gordon Shrum Entrance Scholarship for my studies at SFU. I was just so over the top, I went to tell my Dad and we were both jumping for joy.
It was difficult for my parents to put three kids through university, so receiving this scholarship really set me up for success. My family had lost our house the year I graduated from high school, and then our family business went bankrupt at the same time I graduated from SFU. This scholarship was just a beacon for us during tough times.
My two siblings also secured scholarships and went on to study and graduate from SFU.
Why is it important for you to support women in STEM?
When I began working in the technology sector, I was surprised to discover a lack of gender diversity. I remember thinking to myself, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Throughout my career, I’ve seen the under-representation of women in the field, despite a growing need for more skilled workers.
The solution seemed obvious: to bring more women into the field. This is why Shein and I have established several scholarships at SFU and other institutions to encourage more women to study computer science, including supporting SFU’s NSERC Chair for Women in Engineering, Science and Technology.
You look at how important technology is—how it’s transforming society, we need everyone involved in how it will shape our future.