UBC has named ten gifted students from around the world as the Centennial Leaders award recipients.
These students have risen from challenging circumstances and have given back to the community through volunteering.
They will receive full scholarship covering everything from tuition to housing to food. The scholarship covers up to a value of $80,000 over the course of their studies at UBC.
“What is unique about our Centennial Leaders is that despite their own struggles, they all give their time volunteering for community causes – from helping feed the homeless to assisting physically challenged people with fitness training,” said Kate Ross, associate vice-president, enrolment services and registrar. Ross also said they are thrilled to help these remarkable young people in realizing their goals at UBC.
One of these award winners is Syrian-born, Surrey raised Christian Michel Francis. He graduated from high school this year with an exceptional average of 97.2 percent. Francis said receiving the award has changed everything for him.
“It was unbelievable. I couldn’t speak. I was so in shock. You could tell how relieved my father was and so sure he was I could be successful at UBC.”
He works at a part-time fast food job and volunteers at Fraser Health Authority where he assists disabled adults work out in a Surrey gym. His mother died in 2015 due to breast cancer and his father is unable to work owing to a rapidly advancing disease, Macular Degeneration. As a result Francis spent his education savings to support the family.
Another Centennial Leader is, Kara Froese from Cranbrook. Froese is committed to protecting the environment and wilderness.
She is a full-time second-year student at the College of the Rockies. Froese plays volleyball on the school’s team, volunteers for Cranbrook Search and Rescue and has a part-time lifeguarding job.
During her spare time she is in the mountains chasing her passion for the outdoors.
“A lot of the time I’m looking to unwind, shake off the stresses of the city. I’m not looking to “find myself”, but I do find a bit of an anchor point in wild places. It also allows me to notice the flowers, trees, birds etc. and I like the challenge of trying to identify species I’ve never encountered before,” she said.
Froese was inspired by the writings of Farley Mowat and David Suzuki leading her to seek her studies and career following a path in the wilderness.
“The first question my parents asked was: ‘How are you going to pay for it?’” she recalls.
The Centennial Leader Award will allow her to start her bachelor’s degree in forest sciences, in September.
“I would like to get an education that will further my understanding of the environment and help to protect the wild spaces around us,” she says. “This is the one world we have and it’s really important we take care of it.”
The Centennial Leaders are part of UBC’s Centennial Scholars Entrance Award Program. The program Supports academically qualified Canadian students who are financially unable to attend UBC.
UBC has doubled the number of awards from previous years.
This year it presented 100 one-time and renewable Centennial Scholar Awards.
The school provided $70.2 million in financial assistance and awards for over 13,500 students, in 2015/16.
2016 Centennial Leaders:
▪Giuseppe Cagliuso – Burnaby, B.C.
▪Christian Michel Francis – Surrey, B.C.
▪Kara Froese – Cranbrook, B.C.
▪Natasha Donika Jollymour – Savona, B.C.
▪Louisa Xiluva Hill – Maputo, Mozambique
▪Elina Kreuzberg – Ottawa, ON.Kenji Lai – Vancouver, B.C.
▪Regan Sander Oey – Vancouver, B.C.
▪Jared Eugene Sexsmith – Lumby, B.C.
▪Zachary Andrew Whynot – Camperdown, N.S.