Two nights of inspiring creativity and passion for community engagement

April 16, 2018

The passion, creativity and ingenuity of SFU students continues to shine, exemplified yet again by the outstanding project presentations that took place at this year’s SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition final awards.

Two nights of inspiration showcased nine SFU student-led groups, who boldly outlined their plans for community engagement and social impact in both Surrey Centre and Burnaby.

On both nights, the judges had a hard, hard time picking winners (a great testament to the quality of all the presentations). After much deliberation, five deserving groups walked away with either $2,000 or $3,000 to put directly into the implementation of their project.

Which means: we’re only at the beginning of the impact these groups will have. We’re excited to follow their stories!

At the Surrey event, we were honoured with a welcome to the traditional territories of the Kwantlen First Nation by Chief Marilyn Gabriel, her husband Kevin Kelly and son Michael Kelly-Gabriel. They provided a meaningful foundation of respect, love and courage from which to listen to the night’s inspirational project presentations.

Both nights hosted a brave and inquisitive dialogue into Indigenization, thanks to Gary George, Community Relations Officer at the SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples.

“What would you do if you were to walk into a movie about a half hour into the story?”

Gary encouraged us to stay curious and respectful with this lovely prompt to think about what it means to step into an ongoing story long after its beginning, and to reflect on how each of us reacts based on our own stories, identities, feelings and beliefs.

We were also treated to a rare song, as Gary drummed along with a Ruffed Grouse from Maine (yes, the bird). Did you know that Grouse drum on logs with their wings? Thanks to Gary for connecting us to nature even in the midst of our urban environment.

This year’s SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition award winners

A total of $12,000 has been awarded to SFU student teams to directly assist them in the implementation of their ideas. Blackwood Partners – Central City provided two prizes totaling $5,000 for projects in Surrey City Centre, the City of Surrey provided a $2,000 Engagement prize, and SFU’s Community Engagement Initiative funded two additional prizes totaling $5,000 for projects in Burnaby.

In Surrey, the $3,000 grand prize was awarded to Saharsadat Jafari, Alireza Mogharrab, Jimmy Phung and Vicky Hung from SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) and Computing Science program for their project, Connecting Circle: Weekend Workshop Series, a weekend workshop series where new students in the field of communications, arts and technology are connected with representatives of Surrey’s local businesses and receive support and mentorship to do freelance projects for small businesses and community groups. 

In Burnaby, the $3,000 grand prize was awarded to Nazgul Chokmorova, Sadaf Haghdan, and Shantelle Medel, students in the SFU Master of Public Health program, for their project, We Are the World:  Seniors’ Stories of Resilience, a social innovation magazine that aims to foster resilience within seniors experiencing isolation through providing a platform to share their stories of resilience and celebrate their wisdom. 

The first engagement award of $2,000 was awarded to Michelle Davis (SFU Faculty of Education), Irina Kosoric (SFU Faculty of Education), and Neal Michael (UBC), for their project, Surrey Faces, a photo installation that honours the interconnectivity of individuals and their environments – it highlights how we shape the community and how the community shapes us. 

The second engagement award of $2,000 was awarded to Nicolas Pizarro and Sarah Jo, students in the Beedie School of Business, for their project, Startup Homes, a student-run program striving to instill financial literacy and employability skills in immigrant, refugee and Muslim women, who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

The third engagement award of $2,000 was awarded to Angela Ang (SFU Faculty of Education) and Zahra Haq (SFU Faculty of Health Sciences) for their project, Eco Endeavours, a after school program that develops intermediate elementary students’ knowledge about different areas of sustainability. Participants learn about sustainability through articles, videos, activities, discussion, guest speakers, and field trips. 

Congratulations to all winners! We look forward to seeing you implement your projects and hope to follow your stories as you do so that others can learn from your efforts.

All the finalist teams who presented their work deserve our admiration and respect. Learn more about Project S.A.V.E, Connecting Generations, Masculinity Dialogues and Surrey Centre: Mini Maker Faire on the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition website.

How to get involved

1. Offer support to an existing project. If you have expertise or capacity to give, please reach out to us – these projects are built on collaboration and engagement – we will strive to connect you with the teams you wish to help.

2. Explore ways the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition can help your organization or business. If you are interested in learning more about how you can connect with bright minds at SFU to help your business with its goals, we want to hear from you. Please fill out our quick contact form, or email us at

3. Are you an SFU student with a compelling idea? Get started! The SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition will start again next September. That gives you six whole months to test and refine your idea. Who knows? You could be one of the next Grand Prize Award winners!

Thanks again to everyone who took part in this year’s competition – you are an essential part of what makes SFU, and our communities, thrive.


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.