13 of this year’s Top 25 Under 25 awards were presented to SFU students and alumni by the Surrey Board of Trade. The annual awards recognize youth for their business and community involvements. This year’s award ceremony was held at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel on April 26.
The Peak reached out via email to talk to award recipients about their projects, their experiences at SFU, and what the award means to them. We were unable to contact all of the award recipients by the time of publication. Profiles for the students and alumni we were unable to contact were put together using available information from the SFU News story on this topic.
Larissa Chen, a former Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) president, is also a 2018 fellow at RADIUS SFU, a hub for social innovation, and co-founder of Böues. Böues, a beauty company that utilizes locally-sourced organic ingredients, won first place at the 2017 #MadeBySFU competition.
When asked what achievement she is most proud of, Chen responded that it was “the person [she’s] evolved into through hardships.”
“I’ve grown to approach challenges with a sense of curiosity and collaboration, rather than paralysis and apathy. [. . .] Now, when assigned responsibilities outside of my expertise, I seek practices and try. Even when faced with moments of disturbance and apprehension, I inquire about what I feel and why” – Larissa Chen
Gurneet Dhatt graduated from SFU with a degree in criminology. She went on to found Fast Lane Traffic Mangement Ltd, a company that provides traffic control services and training. She has expanded the business to several municipalities, making over $1 million in sales. Her future hopes include growing her employee base.
Prabh Dhillon founded SFU’s Students for Humanity — a humanitarian organization which strives to “welcome anyone and everyone,” according to their club profile on the SFSS website. Events hosted by the organization include Paint your World, an art night for mental health awareness, as well as blood drives.
Dhillon wrote about how starting the organization changed his life in many respects.
“The people I have connected with, the friends I have made, and the lives we have impacted as a team are some invaluable things that came as a result of Students for Humanity. It has opened so many doors, not only for me but also for those who are members of the executive team and for those who volunteer alongside us.” – Prabh Dhillon
Stefanie Huffman is a member of the Enactus SFU team, a student-run organization that executes initiatives to help communities and help students build leadership and business skills. Within the organization, she acts as program manager for Axis Consulting, a program that provides pro bono student consulting services to companies that make a positive impact in the community. Inspired by her involvement in Enactus SFU’s Hunger Actions, which helped mothers learn more about finances through meal-planning, Huffman developed Refresh, a brand of jam which utilizes bruised fruit.
Huffman is also a certified figure skating coach.
Harleen Jagpal is a Beedie alumni who went on to found Cambridge Doors Ltd, and currently leads over fifteen employees. She also participates in health care initiatives with Fraser Health and the Cancer Society of B.C.
Cody de Leijer
Cody de Leijer is currently the president of Enactus SFU. He calls his decision to apply for the president position of Enactus SFU “one of [his] life-altering moments.”
“There will always be and always have been people who doubt you. I strongly believe in respecting other’s opinions but at the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself. ” – Cody Leijer
De Leijer has worked with SFU Innovates, RADIUS SFU, and Coast Savings Venture. When he’s not working, his favorite place to hang out on campus is the red couches in West Mall Centre, since they’re close to both Tim Hortons and Starbucks.
Shilpa Narayan is involved with Enactus SFU’s Coast Cards, which upcycles used restaurant coasters into greeting cards. The goal of the initiative is to provide employment opportunities for individuals who have overcome addiction.
Other initiatives Narayan is involved in include Youth for a Change, the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, and the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.
Dorothy Ng is currently involved with Enactus SFU as program manager for Axis Consulting, and was previously the director of marketing for Soap for Hope, a project that upcycles slightly used bar soap from hotels into liquid soap which is sold to vendors throughout downtown Vancouver. The profits from the liquid soap sales are used to pay the wages of the individuals who volunteer in the Mission Possible Recycling program as they help produce the liquid soap.
Ng also spent eight months last year as a project management intern at Blackberry.
John Nguyen co-founded and is currently the president of Technovus SFU, a group that aims to create a welcoming community for students to collaborate on creative technical projects. Technovus has hosted 15 community events, including its annual Mechathon which attracts over 100 competitors.
Ongoing projects Technovus members are working on include Swarmbots, a cluster of bots which will be programmed to work in unison using computer vision; and Biped, a pair of robot legs.
Chirag Patel graduated with a business degree from SFU, and is now pursuing his Certified Public Accountant license while he runs the janitorial service he founded, Lower Mainland Building Maintenance, and works for the accounting firm PwC. Patel is also the director of finance for SOAR Philanthropic Society, a non-profit that works to provide resources for youth in the Lower Mainland to help them obtain access to post-secondary education and achieve their full potentials.
“Believing in my ability that I could and can make a positive difference among like-minded individuals was the most important decision that I feel led me here.” – Chirag Patel
“When we think community leadership, we often immediately assume having to make a difference to a large group of individuals — this can honestly become very overwhelming. However, I am a strong believer that bringing positive change to just one person is as powerful as contributing to the greater good of the community.”
Gerogiy Sekretaryuk is a computer science student at SFU who co-founded Cering Technology, a company which produces wearable technology that allows wearers to discreetly signal for help. The jewelry line was aimed at female wearers to provide them with greater security. The company is now partnering with local jewelry designers, as well as smart gem technology designers in China to continue developing the brand.
“It’s hard to pinpoint the one pivotal decision that has led me to where I am today because there simply isn’t one.” –Gerogiy Sekretaryuk
Sekretaryuk attributes his success so far to his self-discipline when working towards his goals: “I believe that my relative success so far has been the result of many small decisions made on a daily basis. Every day I make small choices that help me work towards my goals — my days are scheduled, I exercise daily, eat a fixed diet, network, set aside time to do work and learn, and most importantly, look for and take on new opportunities to help me grow.”
Tony Jure Vukasovic
Tony Jure Vukasovic is a SFU business student who co-founded Smart Parks Canada, a platform that enables monitoring of parks and facility usage through sensors. The cloud-based platform utilizes proprietary technology, which is currently being trialed by the City of Surrey.
Vukasovic developed his Smart Parks Canada during his time as a co-op student at SFU’s Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, a hub for innovation at SFU that encourages collaboration between students, faculty, community members, and researchers. The Institute offers various programs from pre-university to graduate level, including Change Lab and TechnologyEntrepreneurship@SFU.
Marco Zenone is a SFU health sciences student who co-leads the SFU Student Health Advisory Committee, which takes a campus-wide approach to create conditions on campus that promote well-being.
Zenone is also the youth engagement lead for the Bridge for Health Initiative, an initiative that was founded by SFU health science lecturer Paola Ardiles in 2013 as a volunteer network. Bridge for Health promotes collaboration and community engagement to address health issues from various spectres such as spirituality, economics, and environmental dimensions. In 2017, Bridge for Health received SFU’s Coast Capital Savings-Social Impact Venture Award.