Thomas Krammer, awarded the Simon Fraser Alumni Leadership Scholarship

Working on local farms during high school, every hay bale he stacked brought first-year SFU student Thomas Krammer a step closer to his dream: studying engineering at university.

“I’m not in a position where my parents can pay for school, so it was coming out of my own wallet,” says the quietly ambitious Langley-based student, who had been working since Grade 8 to save money for his college fund.

Then, in Grade 12, he received a phone call that left him “speechless.” “I was working in my father’s workshop when my phone rang – it was SFU calling to tell me I had been awarded the Simon Fraser Alumni Leadership Scholarship,” he says.  

The major entrance award, valued at $29,000, recognizes extraordinary leadership, community service, citizenship, and academic achievement.

“It was absolutely amazing and a great relief for me – like the weight of the world was off my shoulders,” says Thomas. Presciently, he was carving a foam model of a brain for a school project when he received the life-changing call.  “This scholarship was like a huge door that opened up a lot of opportunity for me,” he says.

With 29 high school academic awards already under his belt (the scholarship makes an even 30), it’s clear that Thomas pushed open the door through his outstanding ability and strong work ethic.

Amongst his many accolades, Thomas received the Governor General’s Academic Medal and the American Scholastic Mathematics Association’s award for highest scoring student.

When Thomas wasn’t excelling in the classroom, he was dedicating his time to helping others and developing community spirit. In Grade 12, Thomas redesigned the leadership structure and constitution of his high school’s student government to accommodate its diverse community.

“The original model wasn’t structured for student involvement as the student government included only two people – a president and a vice president,” says Thomas. Sensing the need to create a more inclusive system, Thomas rewrote the leadership constitution so students could make an impact, with up to nine people in the student government participating in all school aspects including social justice, sports and international affairs.

“Through meetings with students and supervising teachers, we organized events that raised thousands of dollars for charity,” he says. “The school is still using the same structure, even after I left, which is something I’m very proud of.”

The drive to help others is always top-of-mind for Thomas, who takes part in the Night Shift street ministry, preparing and serving food to those in need in Surrey, and coaching young athletes with British Columbia’s Special Olympics program.

It makes sense then that Thomas would choose a career that “revolves around the betterment of the human condition.” “A huge part of engineering is safety and ethics,” he says. “When you graduate you receive an iron ring that represents commitment to maintaining quality of work.”

Thomas’ long-term goal is to earn enough money to support a family, but also support the community and give back. Both Thomas and his family recognized how well this aligns with SFU’s vision of the engaged university.

“Mechatronics at SFU has a really strong sense of community,” says Thomas. “Students in the same courses instantly form friendships; in that way it still feels like high school because I recognize everyone in my course. I know the faculty members by name and they know me by name,” says Thomas.

“I’m so glad I made the decision to study here. My dream for the future is to continue bettering myself for others and building community, so mechatronics at SFU really is the perfect fit."