Amanda Rachmat is one of almost 150 students who have benefited from Close to Home Awards enabling them to study at the Surrey campus.

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Awards help students grow skills Close to Home

October 27, 2015
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Marianne Meadahl

A Simon Fraser University awards program that gives qualified high school graduates south of the Fraser the opportunity to take post-secondary studies close to home—at SFU’s Surrey campus—has helped nearly 150 students and raised almost $250,000 in funding.

The Close to Home Entrance Award, established in 2007, is at the heart of SFU’s annual President’s Gala, a fundraiser held at the Surrey campus on Oct. 22. The goal of these awards is to attract top students while raising awareness of the breadth of programs and degrees that SFU offers in Surrey.

They’ve helped students like Amanda Rachmat, a second-year student of world literature and international studies.

“The Close to Home award meant I could save hours commuting from Surrey to school every day and use my time where I need it most, transitioning to my university studies,” says Rachmat, who is spending a second semester in a co-op term with the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.

“It means I can spend time with my family and friends and stay connected to my community.”

Naina Grewal, a 2013 recipient, volunteers as a radio show host at Red 93.1 FM and is also a member of SFU’s student ambassador program. She says SFU is playing a huge role in helping to define her “as a person, a student and someone who is involved in making the community a better and more engaged place.”

Meanwhile alumnus Derek Toth, one of the first Close to Home award recipients, did co-op stints with Cooledge Lighting Inc. and Sierra Wireless before completing his bachelor of applied sciences degree, specializing in mechatronics. Earlier this year he landed a job as a junior mechanical designer at Surrey’s Bycar Engineering Ltd.  

Student Trisha Dulku, who is working with the Surrey Youth Engagement Conference and the SFU Surrey TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC), says studying in Surrey is desirable because as the local community continues to evolve, so do promising future opportunities.

“Many of the students who apply are already involved and rooted in their community,” says Dulku, who also works with the CEC’s Racing Readers literacy program at a local elementary school.

“Through the Close to Home awards we have the chance to learn new skills that will help ensure that we as young people can become change-makers, wherever the future takes us.”

Adds Steve Dooley, executive director of the SFU Surrey campus: “The Close to Home Awards are designed to do just that, help students to grow their post-secondary experiences right here in their community. And whether they take their newly acquired knowledge back to the community or go further afield to reap success, everyone wins.”