SFU Surrey students changing the world in 2019

December 13, 2019

T’is the season when we’ll soon find ourselves reflecting on the past year, counting our blessings and hopefully, thinking of others and how we can make a difference. As we round this year I’m particularly moved by how many SFU students have gone beyond thinking and are truly walking the talk of engaging with our community. These young solution seekers have already found ways to touch lives around them.

I connected recently with Alanah Lam, one of five students on a team from SFU’s Health Change Lab. The course encourages students to focus on social innovation within their community.

Since taking the course last spring, the team decided to run with its idea to help refugees assimilate in the city. They connected with refugee support systems, hosts, and refugee families, and came up with a simple, ‘no-tech’ solution. Their colouring book, Welcome to Surrey, written in English and Arabic, was launched at the recent #madebySFU marketplace. Since then, 400 copies have been distributed throughout the community, and the feedback has been positive. Plans are now in the works to expand on the idea.

Students in this past fall semester’s Health Change Lab came up with other ways to address issues related to local refugee settlement, conceiving ideas for high school transition mentoring and a mothers’ meetup to knit and sell wool blankets. Another team created an activity package aimed at addressing social isolation among seniors.

Earlier this year we celebrated students who were recognized with the Surrey Board of Trade’s annual Top 25 Under 25 awards. Over half were from SFU. Since the awards began nine years ago nearly 100 awards have gone to SFU students, great examples of the next generation of leaders in our community.

Among those great examples is Rochelle Prasad, a 2018 winner. Just 20 years old, Rochelle has already made a significant mark in doing humanitarian work globally, and spent the past summer working for the United Nations. She founded Camp We Empower to train youth to become leaders. Most impressively, she wrote and published a novella—currently selling on Amazon and at Indigo—that reflects her journey to become a changemaker, Because We Can (2019). The book is meant to encourage youth to work towards a brighter future.

It would seem the future couldn’t be brighter with such glowing examples of students like these, right here at the SFU Surrey campus. As I look forward to the new year, I know that I will be continually blown away by our amazing students, who really do step up and engage the world.