media release

Community engagement nets student award

November 19, 2013

Deven Azevedo, 778.878.8536 (cell),
Andy Zeng, 604.868.9836 (cell),
Manoj Bhakthan, SFU Financial Aid and Awards, 778.782.4275,
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,


Two fresh-out-of-high school Simon Fraser University undergraduates can maintain their high level of community engagement thanks to a lucrative national scholarship that they scored largely because of that engagement.

Eighteen-year-old Deven Azevedo and 17-year-old Andy Zeng are among 40 new undergrads nationally to receive 2013 Schulich Leader Scholarships.

Seymour Schulich, a Montreal-born Jewish Canadian business leader and philanthropist, created the annual awards program two years ago to cultivate next-generation pioneers of global scientific research and innovation in Canada and Israel.

Managed by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto in Canada, the awards go to two promising high school graduates entering 20 selected universities. They must demonstrate two of three attributes: academic excellence, social and/or business leadership and financial need.

Schulich leaders receive their $60,000 awards in eight installments over four years. They must study one of the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering or mathematics—during their undergrad years.

Azevedo, a Langley Fine Arts School graduate, and Zeng, a Centennial School graduate, were among 966 high school nominees across Canada.

Azevedo, a local indie-rock musician who dreams of becoming an environmental lawyer and writing groundbreaking environmental legislation, is in the Faculty of Environment, studying environmental science. Zeng, who is fascinated by human physiology and genetics, is studying biomedical physiology in the Faculty of Science. He hopes to leverage his university studies to pursue clinical work and medical research globally.

Azevedo and Zeng were science stars in high school, but it was their heavy involvement in community engagement that netted them their Schulich scholarships.

In Grade 11, Azevedo founded a composting system at his high school that the Langley School District adopted last year. He also established a 40-bed community garden in Fort Langley, his hometown.

He recruited 20 students and 11 community members to raise $45,000 to build the garden, where Fort Langley residents can grow their own food.

Zeng is passionate about tutoring fellow students in science and fostering community awareness about social and environmental issues.

The co-founder of the new SFU Red Cross Club, Zeng coordinated fundraisers and did volunteer work on behalf of the homeless as co-president of his high school’s Red Cross Club.

He co-founded the School District 43 Water Well Initiative, a network of humanitarian clubs that taught more than a thousand elementary and middle school children about water security. It also raised more than $5,000 to construct a well in Kenya.

A certified lifeguard and water safety instructor, Zeng is also an avid martial arts competitor. He won a gold medal in the Junior Muay Thai category during the Can-Am International Championships in 2011.

Azevedo and Zeng credit their Schulich funding with enabling them to maintain a level of community engagement that they see as crucial to their evolution as global agents of positive change.

“In order for me to fulfill my goal of helping as best I can to solve the world’s environmental crisis, I believe I must gain a wide range of experiences,” says Azevedo.

“The Schulich Leader scholarship is what allows me to fully immerse myself in my studies and extracurricular activities that are making a community difference, without any financial concerns,” adds Zeng.

The UJA federation is accepting nominee applications for the 2014 Schulich Leader Scholarships until Feb. 24, 2014.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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