Welcome to the RBC Students Leading Change Scholarship Recipient area. Below you’ll find information on the 15 RBC Students Leading Change Scholarship recipients for 2015. Each student received $10,000 towards their post-secondary tuition, and six of these students also received a unique, hands-on, Me to We Trip experience to Kenya, where they will volunteer with the international charity Free The Children.
Category 1 (Graduating High School or CEGEP)
Category 2 (First Undergraduate Degree or Diploma)
Category 3 (Second Degree or Diploma)
JiaLi (Betty) Wang
Surrey, British Columbia – Me to We trip recipient
As a passionate supporter of human rights, JiaLi has always been involved in humanitarian groups such as the Red Cross and Amnesty, making a difference through gender equality movements. JiaLi will be attending the University of Western Ontario this fall, where she will be studying Media and Information. She then plans to pursue a degree in Business Administration at the Ivey School of Business starting in her third year. In her program, JiaLi is looking forward to studying an area that is relevant to modern day society, to further her understanding of the workings of our fast-paced world, and to learn how to creatively tackle the problems in our community. She hopes one day to work for a marketing company with a humanitarian aim, volunteer for the United Nations and eventually lead her own non-profit organization that will bring solutions to human rights violations, both locally and globally. JiaLi is extremely grateful to be recognized as one of this year’s scholarship recipients, and is looking forward to participating in Free The Children’s Me to We trip to volunteer in a community overseas. She feels it will give her the opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on humanitarian experience.
Niagara Falls, Ontario - Me to We trip recipient
Teaching has always been Carleigh’s passion. What she loves best about it is she can teach about the importance of education, as she truly believes education is the future, and have a major impact on children’s lives. Carleigh already has plenty of teaching experience under her belt; she has taught in St. Croix, volunteered twice in Hong Kong teaching English as a second language and worked with the Mission of Hope in Haiti to help teach community children about hygiene. Carleigh will be attending Queen’s University this fall to pursue dual degrees in Honours English and Concurrent Education. Always up for an adventure, Carleigh hopes to teach abroad in the future and travel to multiple places to work with children and help them shape a successful future. She plans on working with the Mission of Hope teaching the many children in the community, or helping in African schools to promote the importance of learning. After gaining more experience teaching abroad, Carleigh plans on completing her master’s and doctorate degrees in education at Queen’s Graduate School. Carleigh truly appreciates that RBC is helping to build a path to her future, just as she one day hopes to do for others.
Grafton, New Brunswick
As a student, Katherine has taken action in many ways to create and promote change, but the one that stands out the most to her is a field trip she took to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Before embarking on the journey, her group completed many volunteer activities, the least of which included helping at soup kitchens, spending time at animal shelters and completing bottle drives, where they learned a sense of community and how amazing it feels to help people. She feels the visit to the Holocaust Museum was an unforgettable experience, and she will always be grateful to have been a part of it. Seeing the hurt that the victims went through, up close and personal, set her afire with a passion to help those in need around the world. The trip resulted in a group of students with changed hearts, seeing the world as a place to change for the better. Katherine will be attending St. Thomas University this fall to pursue a Bachelor of Education. She’s excited to take various language classes and learn about different cultures and languages, starting with French and Italian courses this fall. In the future, she envisions herself teaching at an elementary school and being very involved with her community. Katherine is a strong believer that learning about the past and the mistakes that have been made is the first step in creating a better future. She is very honoured to have been chosen for this scholarship, and she welcomes the opportunity to make a bigger change in the world with this financial aid.
Mirjana has taken part in many change-creating activities, from co-authoring a school research initiative to increase student involvement, to raising scholarship money for students in Cinquera, El Salvador. Her biggest challenge was when she vowed to raise enough money to build a house for a family in an impoverished country. She used her birthday to ask for donations and convinced others to do the same. Her family joined her efforts by holding a yard sale and a euchre party, selling a piece of art and joining her in the humbling task of begging for change. Finally, she took a vow of silence for 24 hours. This single act inspired others to make change, including joining her in silence in subsequent years. Although it took nearly a year, Mirjana raised enough money to pay for the construction of not merely one house in Asuncion, Paraguay, but a home for another family as well. The immense satisfaction that came from knowing she made a difference in someone’s life has enabled her to see that with enough effort, anything is possible – and, most importantly, that one person truly can make a difference. Mirjana will be studying English concurrently with Education at Queen’s University this fall, and may minor in French Studies. She hopes to one day teach at the high school level and possibly later work as a guidance counsellor as she loves working with children, developing a connection with them and having a positive impact on them that will last for the rest of their lives. Mirjana is honoured to have been chosen as a recipient of this year’s scholarship and feels this will bring her one step closer to attaining her diploma and pursuing a career in teaching − something she has dreamed about for years.
Reid is a change leader who is passionate and proactive about making a difference. He championed his Student Council’s goal to build a school, proposing they attempt to raise $10,000 in order to build a school in Ecuador through the charity Free The Children. He was integral in planning, organizing and running events to raise funds towards their goal, and took on a leadership role for the events they ran, which included a coin collection fundraiser, a Rafiki bead sale and a school-wide dodgeball tournament. After one year, they had raised $9,000, and by the end of 2015 they will have achieved their goal. His school was rewarded with a stop on the We Create Change tour, where Reid was recognized as a leader and given the opportunity to be interviewed by a young activist. For his efforts, he also received the honour of attending Free The Children’s Evening of Champions to celebrate exceptional youth leaders. By taking this action, he hopes to impact hundreds of lives by helping to educate generations of students in Ecuador. Reid will be moving to B.C. this fall to attend University of British Columbia, where he will pursue his Bachelor of Applied Science in Biological and Chemical Engineering. Reid was drawn to this field of study so he could inspire positive change in the world and help others with life-changing medicine that could save lives. In the future, he aspires to have a career in Pharmaceutical Engineering, where he can design different medicines and innovative treatments. Reid’s family is extremely proud of him and happy his hard work and humanitarian efforts have paid off. He is incredibly grateful to RBC for providing him the opportunity to win this award and to further his education and activism. He feels it is a great honour to be recognized with this scholarship and vows to continue to make positive change in the world for years to come.
Edmonton, Alberta – Me to We trip recipient
Ramita is passionate about helping others realize their full potential, and is currently involved with programs catered to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and has organized anti-bullying rallies to create awareness about mental health. As a leader of the “Breaking Down the Walls” campaign, Ramita discussed deep issues surrounding mental illness, depression and internal struggles youth face on a daily basis. This campaign affected over 1,500 students and created a safe environment for students to express themselves and release any burdens they had been carrying on their shoulders. Ramita is currently enrolled at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Science, where she is majoring in Psychology. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to enrol in medical school to become a doctor, and take her skills and experience abroad to volunteer with organizations such as Doctors without Borders to contribute to developing countries. Ramita is fascinated by the medical world, specifically the critical thinking and dedication required to genuinely help other people. Ramita is overwhelmed with the amount of prestige that comes with being a recipient of this scholarship, and feels humbled to be a recipient of the Me to We trip in 2016. She is positive it will be a life-changing and eye-opening experience filled with adventure and learning.
Neal Zuberi Attard
Thornhill, Ontario - Me to We trip recipient
Neal is passionate about public policy and believes it can make a difference to the communities we live and work in. Neal currently is an executive with a non-profit organization, called FlightUnit, which specifically focuses on youth lifestyle and career success. Their mission is to connect youth to professionals and provide them with the resources needed to make their dreams a reality. In the future, he hopes to see this organization actively involved with various school boards across Canada in empowering students nationwide. Neal is motivated to assist youth in his community and feels if he has helped even one person actualize their dreams, it is enough for him to continue on this path. Neal is currently attending Carleton University, where he is majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Affairs and Policy Analysis. What he loves best about his field of study is learning how to make appropriate decisions on public policies. He wants to understand how to alleviate income inequalities, reduce unemployment rates and make better immigration policies for immigrants. He’s focused on addressing the root cause of an issue and aspires to work with the government to effectively resolve it. Along with his direct involvement with the community, Neal sees himself being a member of the local legislature with an inside-out look from the government’s perspective. He would like to contribute to or create at least one policy that contributes to long-term growth within our society. Winning this scholarship will help him help others, and is more than enough to encourage him to keep doing just that.
Aran is the co-president of his school’s Free The Children Club and organizes fundraising efforts and collaborates with other clubs to provide chances for other students to mobilize their desires to help others. Currently, his club is raising funds to adopt a village, serving meals at a nearby homeless shelter, working with a local women’s resource centre, and working to excite more students to take action by running a mini We Day event on campus. Aran is currently enrolled at the University of Alberta in medical studies. Although he’s still considering which speciality within medicine he wants to pursue, whether it is Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Medicine or a Neuroscience-related field, he is looking forward to a career where he can interact with and help patients face-to-face, helping them feel confident and comfortable both mentally and physically. Of particular interest to Aran is helping to progress society’s awareness and understanding of the importance of early childhood brain development, as it relates to many issues later in life such as mental health and addiction. Aran feels truly humbled and fortunate to have been selected as one of this year’s scholarship recipients and is looking forward to fulfilling this role over the coming years.
Justice is one of Jessica’s passions and she is an active executive member of her university’s Amnesty International Club. Throughout the year, Jessica helps raise awareness about current platforms and cases that are being disputed, collects signatures for petitions, organizes host speakers and collaborates with other committees to be impactful. Most recently the club’s topics included Stop Torture, Stolen Sisters and Write for Rights. Jessica feels Amnesty International is a brilliant example of communities working together to create change as they have been very successful at helping to free many political prisoners, changing human rights practices and altering government policies worldwide. Jessica is currently attending the University of Western Ontario, where she is pursuing an Honours in Management and Organizational Studies with a specialization in Human Resource Management. In addition, she is in the process of completing a French Business Certificate. What Jessica loves about business is the freedom and inherent adventure that the field offers. Individuals are given the opportunity to grow their passions into viable careers that are imaginative and innovative, and to contribute to a larger positive influence on our communities as a whole. After graduation, her goal is to pursue a management or marketing position within the fashion industry, with the ultimate focus on eliminating the environmental harm used in the creation of garments while promoting a healthy body image for women. Jessica would love one day to own her own business where she could mentor young women and encourage excellence within business practices. What she appreciates the most about being a contributor is that it really demonstrates how small efforts made by many different people result in big change. She feels she has developed a humbler view of life and has become more grateful for all of the opportunities presented to her. Jessica is overjoyed and very grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the RBC Students Leading Change Scholarship. She says she could not stop smiling after receiving the news. She feels incredibly honoured to have been given this wonderful opportunity and intends on continuing to be an active leader in her community.
Roxane is an active leader in the pro-bono legal program at her school. This program offers free legal services to organizations and individuals from under privileged areas in Canada. Roxane also works with ACEF Estrie, an organization that strives to protect the rights and interests of consumers, especially those of low income. Roxane helps with research and writes informational materials for small claims court. It’s extremely gratifying for her to see her research making a difference and helping individuals prepare themselves to defend their rights. Thanks to her work, they have a much better understanding of the justice system and are better equipped to plead their cases in front of a judge. Roxane is currently enrolled at the University of Sherbrooke, where she is earning her Law degree. She chose to study Law because she believes justice and the fundamentals of law are in place to be beneficial to all people. She wants to have a real and concrete impact on the lives of others and to be able to create change in the world. Roxane is particularly interested in penal law, constitutional law and human rights. In the future, she aims to work in one of these fields, either for the director of criminal and penal prosecution or the criminal section of legal aid as part of the defence. As a lawyer, she would also like to be involved in pro-bono cases in order to help those in need, which would allow her to give back to her community. Roxane is proud and overjoyed to have been selected as a recipient of this scholarship and is grateful both she and her parents will benefit from this financial aid.
West Kelowna, British Columbia - Me to We trip recipient
Jillian is a dedicated and long-time volunteer of Making Waves, where she provides swimming lessons to children with disabilities. Jillian is now establishing a new local chapter close to her school, which will be the 14th created across Canada. She also sits on a committee for Making Waves Canada, where she mentors students at universities across the country in initiating and developing their own local chapters. Jillian feels through engagement of the student population, they are able to provide children with an invaluable skill and, more importantly, promote inclusion within our communities. With a Bachelor of Science in Honours Biochemistry under her belt, Jillian is currently enrolled at the University of Northern British Columbia, where she is working towards her second Bachelor’s degree in Health Science. Her current program is Community Populations, with a specific focus on Rural and Aboriginal Health, and she plans on attending medical school in the future, hoping to become a doctor in a smaller community in British Columbia. Jillian loves the perspective her program has given her on how healthcare is managed, accessed and distributed. She also really appreciates the program for the awareness and education it provides regarding challenges facing rural and Aboriginal populations in healthcare settings. Jillian is so grateful to be recognized as a student leading change and believes post-secondary education is about so much more than just taking classes and earning a degree; it’s a chance for students to learn what they’re passionate about. This award will allow her to further her education in an area she’s incredibly passionate about, while she continues to give back to the community in a way that promotes positive change.
Petawawa, Ontario - Me to We trip recipient
Caroline was inspired to create change when she saw a need for increased access to social services in her region. Caroline wondered how victim support groups could serve people in a more modern way. In response, she developed an online safety program for victims of violence, identity theft and cyber-bullying. Caroline took it a step further when she researched the issue and discovered that most people reach out to Victim Services online as the first point of contact. This proved to be a challenge for social workers who were very concerned about privacy and protecting the identity of their clients. Caroline worked to help Victim Services groups across Canada develop online contact best practices to improve this issue. With the help of social services experts, Caroline developed a system for regional services that allows professionals to feel comfortable with online first contacts. Her work also led her to co-found a victim support centre that provides free interviews, resume writing, nutritional and cooking classes, helping hundreds of victims of violence protect themselves and improve their lives. Caroline is enrolled at Royal Roads University, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Management. She feels this field of study is incredibly relevant and versatile as it is an important aspect of so many fields and professions, and can help prepare her and others for strategic negotiations. She looks forward to the possibilities it will bring in the future. Caroline hopes one day to be working for an organization that supports global growth and the development of emerging economies, and that has a positive impact on Canadians and Canadian businesses. Caroline couldn’t be more grateful to RBC for this chance of a lifetime, and feels that RBC Students Leading Change Scholarship gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of global affairs and highlight their hard work in the community.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Alana is a student who is committed to empowering others. The most important step she’s taken to lead change has been to establish the Fine Arts Club at her school. She feels the field of Visual Arts offers a distinct opportunity to explore and communicate complex ideas about our social condition and extends an invitation to engage with concepts from a playful position, which can lead to new perspectives about our world and the possibility of change. Alana has worked tirelessly to find faculty sponsorship and gather enough signatures in order to host an art exhibit at her school, providing her peers with a trusted environment for open expression and ensuring that emerging student artists are noticed in the art world. In the future, she plans to establish an artistic practice that incorporates studio work, collaboration with other artists and teaching to continue an exchange of perspectives. Through connections with the greater community, she would like to develop works that encourage dialogue and a desire to participate. Alana is enrolled at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in the Visual Arts program, where her studio work concentrates on painting and sculpture. She would like to eventually teach multidisciplinary courses, drawing upon current cultural theories to challenge young artists in exploring the materialization of their unique perspectives. Within Visual Arts, Alana is working in a field that encourages the exploration of limits; and with the support of the RBC Students Leading Change Scholarship, she now has the opportunity to do just that and to contribute to a greater awareness of important issues in our world today.
Ghassan Awad Elkarim
As a leader of change, Ghassan works as a KidCoach for Future Possibilities for Kids (FPK), an organization working to inspire and empower kids in underserved communities to develop their own aspirations through leadership training and possibility thinking. This is then put into action through the development and delivery of community action projects. He feels working with children through the process of goal development and implementation empowers and teaches them invaluable skills to prepare them to lead future projects. Ghassan is pursuing medical studies at the University of Toronto and is planning on specializing in Neurosurgery. He feels practicing medicine is a privilege and a life-long commitment to both his professional and personal growth. He enjoys working with colleagues from different professions to provide the best patient-centred care possible. For the future, Ghassan is keeping his options open as to whether he wishes to complete a research degree, pursue a clinical fellowship or find a staff position. Whichever path he chooses, he wants to first and foremost become an excellent neurosurgeon who performs high-quality operations on both common and complex cases. Ghassan is extremely thankful to be recognized as one of the students leading change and feels it is both an honour and a source of motivation to continue his community work.
Tabusintac, New Brunswick
To create positive change, Robyn began visiting elementary, middle and high schools to speak with students about the importance of pollinators on food production. She taught students how to plant seeds and how to grow pollinator-friendly gardens, as well as showed pictures of foods we would not have without pollinators. Robyn also began visiting local garden clubs to speak about pollinator-friendly gardens, bee identification and the role of pollinators in food production. Conducting outreach education and activities is the most important action she’s undertaken to create change. In the future, Robyn would like to develop an agricultural education program for schools in New Brunswick. This would allow her to promote good news stories about the industry and educating others about where their food comes from. Since she enjoys interacting with producers and working in the field, she hopes agricultural consulting or hands-on research will be part of her future as well. Robyn is enrolled in the second year of her PhD at Dalhousie University, majoring in Agricultural Ecology. Her thesis examines conservation biology techniques to enhance agroecosystems, specifically wild blueberry systems, for pollinators and natural enemies, which she finds to be a great combination of conservation biology and agriculture. Her goal is to become “The Bee Doc” in Atlantic Canada, to travel to farms to enhance agroecosystems for pollinators and, of course, to be able to farm more diverse crops on her own. Robyn sincerely appreciates the financial aid this award provides and will be using this money to help pay for her student loan. This award has encouraged her to continue engaging within her community and working to make a positive difference around her. It is such a morale boost to receive this award, and she’s truly thankful for everything it entails.