SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

March 13, 2019

A warm hum of voices filled the air as the President’s Annual SFU Surrey Gala Dinner began on Friday March 1st at 6pm. Old and new friends and colleagues connected over the sweet taste of crushed fermented grapes. The sound of the highlands ushered guests up to the WestStone Group Grand Hall for dinner as members of the SFU pipe band played songs reminiscent of our origin history as an institution.

A welcome provided by Elder Margaret grounded the evening with a reminder of our privilege to be gathered on the traditional territory of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Katie, Kwikwetlem, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations. Among the items on the agenda was the recognition of the winners of this year’s SFU Student Community Engagement Competition.

From its early days, SFU has been a university of action and courage. In the face of today’s constant change, SFU students exemplify that bravery in the very act of coming to a university like SFU, where innovation and social impact are built into the DNA and where brave conversations are cultivated. Being an SFU student means accepting that you will be transformed. Thriving as an SFU student means directing that transformation, not just for yourself, but through engaging with the communities that welcome us.

Exemplifying that bravery are the six winning teams of this year’s SFU Student Community Engagement Competition.

Thanks to financial contributions by Blackwood Partners, SFU and the City of Surrey, a total of $17,000 has been awarded to fund these student-community engagement projects. These students came with dreams of working with their communities towards meaningful impact, they cultivated those dreams through three rounds of evaluation and vetting, and each team ultimately won funding put those dreams into action. Congratulations to this year’s winning teams!

Filling the Gap

A 24-hour social innovation challenge that brings together students from across a wide variety of disciplines to co-create meaningful projects to tackle food security in Surrey and Burnaby. Team members: Sumara Stroshein (Health Sciences), Naveed Hassanzadeh (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), Andrew Sheroubi (Chemical Engineering, UBC)


A series of full-day, free science workshops for children and families run in partnership with local community organizations to facilitate increased diversity in STEM through engaging and fun exposure to science. Team members: Payten Smith, Vienna Lam, Cassidy Smith, Tayler Schmidt, Naomi Zakimi, all from the School of Criminology.

Dreams of Humanity

Using photography to tell the diverse, intersectional stories of ten self-identified refugees living in Vancouver. Ayan Ismail, an SFU student in the International Studies program, positions the project to go beyond the sympathetic and disempowering mainstream media narratives that paint refugees as people needing to be saved.

Bridging the Gap

A project to bring together second-generation immigrant youth, family members and community stakeholders in a series of dialogues about unique stressors, mental health and wellbeing. Team members: Benta Cheng (BSc), Hussein ElHageHassan, Katrina Jang, Stephanie Lam, Janani Ravikularam, all from Health Sciences at SFU.

Zero Waste Fest

A half-day festival that aims to bring together regional sustainable businesses and engage the Burnaby community in sustainability and the Zero Waste Movement. Team members: Amanda Kan (Sustainable Business) and Christina Lei (Business).


A project to co-create a Surrey-inspired colouring book for refugee children ages 4 through 10, featuring the city’s diversity, showcasing its resources and amenities, and providing helpful information. Team member: Alanah Lam (Psychology), Adrian Genge (Health Sciences), Chris Samual (SIAT), Renmart Buhay (Biomedical Physiology)

And now comes the work. In the next few months, these teams will take the next steps in their projects, working with their community partners and audiences with authentic commitment to reciprocity and cocreation.

We are so excited to see what comes next!


Hey, students  – What would you  do with $3,000?

Up to $30,000* is available to fund SFU students who want to work with community partners to create meaningful impact. Register today – all you need is your name and a brief description of your idea.