Surrey – On Thursday, April 24th, the Surrey Board of Trade hosted the 9th Annual Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards, recognizing business and community-minded youth under the age of 25, working in Surrey or working on a business or community project in/for Surrey. This inspirational event has recognized 225 future leaders since its inception.
Keynote speaker Dianne Watts, former Surrey Mayor and Member of Parliament, delighted the crowd with her stories of her roles in leadership, and challenged the crowd to think without the box. The sold-out event was standing room only and led by Master of Ceremonies Dan Burritt of CBC Vancouver.
The Honourary Health & Safety in the Workplace Award was presented to Khayla Almonte-Davila for her ideas on how employers can ensure all workers, young and old, feel empowered to speak up, ask questions, raise concerns, and suggest ways to improve health and safety in the workplace.
Co-Presenting Sponsors: Kwantlen Polytechnic University and SFU Beedie School of Business
Silver Sponsor: WorkSafeBC
Bronze Sponsors: Dhaliwal Banquet Hall and Futurpreneur Canada
Health & Safety Award Sponsor: Murray Latta Progressive Machine
Media Sponsors: 107.7 Pulse FM Radio, CBC Vancouver, Surrey NOW-Leader
Name: Khayla Almonte-Davila
Organization: REACH; Radius Refugee Livelihood Lab
After participating in a Health Change Lab, focusing her efforts on mental health for resettled refugees, Khayla Almonte-Davila co-founded REACH, a digital platform that houses resources for private sponsors, better equipping them to help their sponsored refugee families. This led to her involvement with RADIUS Refugee Livelihood Lab, a 3 year commitment with the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership and SFU International. Refugees, settlement workers and other contributors are brought together to use entrepreneurship and innovation tools to unpack opportunities and barriers for refugees. She is also the creator and manager of the RADIUS Internship program that matches SFU Co-op and the First Nations Technology Council students with entrepreneurs. Khayla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, with a major in Marketing. She is continuing her learning journey with two courses: the HarvardX course in Child Protection and the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training.
Name: Anjali Dhaliwal
Organization: Youth Helping Youth
Anjali Dhaliwal is the founder of Youth Helping Youth, a student-led, non-profit community organization that promotes opportunities for youth through social media. Anjali also co-founded a local high school business called Nutri Lip Balm, a 100% vegan and organic, eco-friendly handmade lip balm. 10% of their profits go towards locally planting new trees. She was recognized by the City of Surrey in 2018 for her outstanding contributions to the city’s community and recreation services. She was also awarded ‘Student of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Service of a Student’ at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School.
Name: Gurjevan Dhaliwal
Organization: Kids Play Youth Foundation
Gurjevan Dhaliwal is currently the Youth Executive Director at Kids Play Youth Foundation. He oversees all operations to involve high school students across the Lower Mainland. He provides opportunities to elementary and high school students through leadership seminars. He has impacted hundreds of students, helping them realize their potential and guiding them in becoming leaders. Aside from academic and leadership excellence, Gurjevan is also a provincial level wrestler who now competes nationally. Being a well-rounded student paved the way to being recognized as one of the top leaders by the Surrey NOW-Leader in 2018. He was also recognized by the National Kabaddi Federation for his efforts of connecting youth to the kabaddi sport and keeping them away from drugs, gangs and violence.
Name: Summin Dinsa
Organization: LUMEN Society
Summin Dinsa launched the LUMEN Society, a non-profit organization that supports people impacted by chronic health conditions including mental wellness barriers, auto-immune disease and learning disabilities. LUMEN’s goal is to provide a space for people to lift each other as a society by speaking the truth and embracing the fractured pieces of life we all carry to create a new meaning to invisible illnesses. LUMEN also offers scholarships to high school graduates who have been impacted by invisible illnesses. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the SFU Beedie School of Business with a major in Human Resource Management and Operations Management. She is also an SFU International Exchange Student at the University College in Dublin, Ireland.
Name: Donya Divsalar
Organization: SFU Aerospace
Donya Divsalar is a co-founder of SFU Aerospace, established in January 2019. Its membership consists of three space-based design teams based at SFU Surrey: SFU Team Guardian, SFU Satellite Design, and SFU Rocketry. Collectively they form a team of 140 students from Engineering Sciences, Mechatronic Systems Engineering, Computing Science, Physics, Business, Interactive Arts and Technology, and Health Sciences. As her list of achievements attest, Donya is a change-maker who has spearheaded multiple new initiatives and co-founded organizations at SFU. She also has significant leadership experience with Phi Delta Epsilon SFU, MedConnect, Music for the Hearts, and SFU’s Blood, Organ and Stem Cell Club.
Name: Adelaide Fuller
Organization: Easier to be Kind
Addie created a student-based kindness initiative program at Earl Marriott Secondary. Her ‘Easier to be Kind’ program was recently awarded the Shaw Kindness Sticks Grant. This program initially started in an Abbotsford kindergarten classroom at South Poplar Elementary. While she was volunteering, Addie noticed how all children in kindergarten were naturally kind, caring and non-judgemental. They operated in a joyful, cheerful and inclusive manner. Addie wondered how she could carry this over to her high school and potentially in other schools and businesses. This started the ‘Easier to be Kind’ initiative and the program has transformed into a contagious kindness program spreading to schools, businesses and post-secondary cohorts across Washington, Alberta and BC. The grant provided Addie $500 which she used to purchase stickers and T-shirts highlighting the ‘Easier to be Kind’ motto. Addie’s kindness motto is simple, easily attained and gives everyone a quick-focused message to sustain more joy and kindness in life.
Name: Ravneet Ghotra
Organization: OARxMentorship Program with SOAR Philanthropic Society
Ravneet Ghotra has set a great example in Surrey through her projects and business ventures. She has been involved with SOAR Philanthropic Society as a Director, providing scholarship and educational resources to local graduating high school students in Surrey and other regions. She has been vital in raising over $50,000 of scholarship funds to local youth, which have assisted many children from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend post-secondary school. She works at BC Children’s Hospital as a researcher on transcription, literary research, and the effects of physical activity on youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her passion for the field of sciences has resulted in great success, including being on the leadership team of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for Western Canada, assisting in organizing, managing, and raising funds for the program’s vision and mission.
Name: Karanvir Gill
Organization: Lifestream Sick Kids Awareness Society
Karanvir Gill is the founder and President of Lifestream Sick Kids Awareness Society, a non-profit organization operating from Surrey. Lifestream raises awareness and gathers support for a variety of research and healthcare institutes that improvise the lives of children battling illnesses. They raise awareness for childhood diseases by organizing educational events throughout the community, providing information on healthcare and treatment advances. They gather support by signing up blood donors for Canadian Blood Services, and fundraise for BC Children’s Hospital. Karanvir is a full-time, third year Bachelor of Science student at UBC with a major in Biology. His goal is to attend medical school to make a positive impact on the lives of people around him.
Name: Aruba Khan
Organization: Red Drops for Life in partnership with Canadian Blood Services
As the President of Red Drops for Life, Aruba Khan is responsible for organizing resources to help Canadian Blood Services recruit blood donors and potential community partners. Aruba has successfully booked recruitment events in her community, organized volunteers, participated in the recruitment event as well as connected with businesses to forge partnerships to help promote blood donation community events. Apart from Red Drops for Life, she also volunteers with the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, where she encourages her peers to volunteer their time for the cause. She is also part of MP Carla Qualtrough’s Delta Youth Council focused on improving public services in Delta and Surrey. She also volunteers and fundraises for Splendid Suns for Syria, an organization sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. In this role, she fundraises for Syrian refugees in different communities. She plans to pursue a career in Health Sciences and Medicine to serve vulnerable and underprivileged populations. She will be attending SFU soon to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Degree.
Name: Hajira Khan
Organization: BeautyCon SFU, Creatorly and EmpowHer
Hajira has been working on her creative marketing company, Creatorly, for the past year. Despite being a new business, it showcases great results and return. Some of her clients include Tasty Indian Bistro, Salon Chez Pierre, Water St. Café, Fresh Prep, Original Joes, and Second Cup Coffee. She creates content that draws attention, increases business awareness and incorporates community members to encourage a collaborative environment. Her newest marketing endeavour is EmpowHER, a platform and event label that allows women in business or in the creative culture to come together and network. Most recently, Hajira had the opportunity to take her marketing experience to an international level as a creative director for Air Canada’s holiday commercial. The filming took place in Vancouver and Tokyo and the commercial aired in December 2018. It has since been viewed over 7 million times. Hajira is also the lead organizer of BeautyCon SFU in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart Canada, to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Surrey Hospital Foundation.
Name: Shilpa Lakshmy
Organization: Enactus SFU
Shilpa Lakshmy is the President of Enactus SFU, a student-run organization consisting of over 135 students dedicated to improving the world through entrepreneurial action. Enactus SFU utilizes business to create social, economic and environmental impact in the local community, with a goal of creating scalable initiatives. Shilpa was part of Refresh, a social enterprise aimed to tackle the problem of visually imperfect fruit discarded by local grocers. Shilpa continued her involvement with Enactus through Coast Cards, a social enterprise that sells eco-friendly greeting cards made by upcycling used coasters and scrap paper, while providing transitional employment to marginalized individuals. As Project Manager, Shilpa leads a team of 15 individuals, creating partnerships with 2 recovery centres: Together We Can Addiction Recovery Rehabilitation Centre, and the Vancouver Recovery Club; giving individuals the opportunity to build tangible skills in a creative setting. She also secured three additional retailers, enabling Coast Cards to generate over $6,600 in revenues since its inception.
Name: Tawanda Masawi
Organization: Simon Fraser Student Society
In Spring 2018, Tawanda was elected as Vice President of Student Life of the Simon Fraser Student Society, serving over 25,000 students at SFU. He is committed to making an impact through progressive initiatives to improve student life at SFU. During his first year he volunteered for SFU’s Welcome Week, Surrey Welcomes Refugees Event, and the UBC African Business Forum. Still as a first year student at Fraser International College, they recognized his high academic achievements and selected him to attend an all-expenses paid conference where he represented the college at SFU’s first Model NATO Conference. With his passion for celebrating African diversity and unity, Tawanda revived the dormant African Students Association. He acts as the Vice President for the organization, planning the African Decent Evening with over 150 students in attendance. Today, Tawanda continues to pioneer operational and project initiatives in his current capacity as Vice President of Student Life for the Simon Fraser Student Society.
Name: Chetanya Monga
Organization: SOARxMentorship Project with SOAR Philanthropic Society, MC Mortgages and Vera’s Burger Shack
At the age of 20, Chetanya Monga bought a location of Vera’s Burger Shack, which has grown to generate $500,000 annually. He founded Mortgage MC, a Mortgage Brokerage and within 5 months amassed over $1.5 million in sales, continuing to grow. He is a successful entrepreneur who has a strong educational background, which includes currently completing his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Simon Fraser University. He has used his education as an asset for his entrepreneurialism, resulting in strong sales and revenues. His work in the community has also provided him with personal growth, while giving back at the same time. Chetanya has been a volunteer for SOAR Philanthropic Society since 2015 and this year he was appointed as a Director of the organization, focusing on youth educational resources in Surrey and providing financial assistance to local high school students.
Name: Shawna Narayan
Organization: Empower the Future Association
Shawna established the Empower the Future Association, a non-profit organization that focuses on bridging unmet needs, such as financial literacy, networking and professionalism opportunities, and mental wellness education, to high school education through mentorship from post-secondary students. Shawna is also the Project Lead of “Women in STEM”, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The Women in STEM Project includes a series of workshops and mentorship activities with presentations, resource packages, and workbooks to encourage more young girls to study in STEM fields and bring awareness to outstanding female scientists and engineers. Shawna has a Bachelor of Science in Physics at UBC and is currently a UBC Experimental Medicine Graduate Student. Her goal is to investigate the use of e-mental health among ethnic individuals for anxiety and depressive disorders in Metro Vancouver.
Name: Arpit Pandher
Organization: Break the Divide and Project Poser
Arpit joined the non-profit Break the Divide (BTD) to enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to connect to tackle global issues. As Director of Operations, he created and provided youth with ‘BTD Toolkits’ and course work to start their own ‘Break The Divide’ chapters and host leadership events. In 2 years, BTD has expanded to 10 chapters in 3 countries. By providing students with tools and resources, they launch their own leadership initiatives for their schools and respective communities. BTD students have created initiatives such as mental health fundraisers, water crisis awareness videos, and have had NBA player Satnam Singh help raise funds for youth isolation in the Arctic. Arpit also created “Project POSER”, a project designed to battle the gang epidemic facing his community. He pitched his idea to the Head of RCMP Operations in Saskatchewan and developed connections with the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team (SGET). This year-long project focuses on educating youth about the dangers and realities of gang life. 30 high school students are trained by SGET to present to students at each feeder school in the community on a monthly basis to bring awareness to issues.
Name: Haleena Parmar
Organization: Kids Play Youth Foundation and Moving Forward Family Services
Haleena Parmar began volunteering in high school, developing into a young leader. She is heavily involved with Kids Play Youth Foundation and Moving Forward Family Services. Kids Play Youth Foundation is a non-profit working towards keeping kids safe and off the streets through education and sports. To date, with Haleena’s contributions, Kids Play has had over 50,000 youth go through their programs. Moving Forward Family Services is a non-profit that provides counselling services at low or no cost. Haleena has been a part of the organization for the last 2 years and gives free counselling to young kids and families every week. Currently, Haleena is a full-time student at Stenberg College, works with Fraser Health, and was recently recognized as a young mental health advocate by Drishti Magazine.
Name: Gaganjit Phulka
Organization: Vitality for the Vulnerable, Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization and Delirium Protocol Committee
Gaganjit Phulka is a Registered Nurse (RN) providing primary health care to the Stó:lō First Nations at the Seabird Island Indian Reserve. She also works with Fraser Health at Langley Memorial Hospital and is the Founder and President of a not-for-profit organization called ‘Vitality for the Vulnerable’. Founded in January 2018, this organization provides a platform to educate and empower women and young girls in the Lower Mainland suffering from homelessness or poverty, or those who are facing barriers to accessing health care due to their socioeconomic status, language, or cultural differences. Gaganjit was able to recruit 15 RNs, over 100 student nurses and 85 high school students from all over BC to spread awareness on topics of women’s health, such as breast care, mental health, HIV, STIs and ovarian and cervical cancer. Gaganjit is also a member of the Delirium Protocol Committee at Langley Memorial Hospital, where she works with physicians, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists to create health care protocols that would be beneficial to both staff nurses and patients.
Name: Ravneet Randhawa
Organization: Enactus SFU – Count on Me
Ravneet is currently the Project Manager of ‘Count on Me’, a hands-on program that teaches at-risk youth the fundamentals of financial literacy, employability skills, and healthy eating. Coming into her role with fresh ideas, Ravneet enabled ‘Count on Me’ to have its curriculum be accredited by G&F Financial Group, created partnerships with 3 school districts to teach the ‘Count on Me’ curriculum, making the program one step closer to being self-sustainable. Under Ravneet’s leadership, ‘Count on Me’ has impacted 34 youth to save over $3,700 for their futures. By expanding ‘Count on Me’ to high school classrooms and working with an additional 330 youth, it is projected that these youth will collectively save over $437,000 within a year of the program’s conclusion. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s of Business Administration with dual concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and Innovation at SFU. Ravneet currently works as a Customer Service Representative with the Bank of Montreal.
Name: Abhayjeet Sachal
Organization: Break the Divide and Operation Green
Abhay is a once-in-a-generation student whose transformative leadership approach to change has inspired many at an incredibly young age. Through ‘Operation Green’, he has organized a variety of community clean-ups and preservation initiatives, led fundraising campaigns, placed entries in several green challenges and competitions such as the BC Green Games, participated in the BC Hydro Energy Ambassador Conservation program and spent time volunteering for Environmental Awareness presentations in schools and universities. His involvement in environmental causes has led him to establish a foundation called ‘Break the Divide’, which creates global awareness about climate change and its impact on Canada’s indigenous populations to invoke collaboration, understanding and action. Abhay is also a gifted speaker. He has been a presenter at the 2018 South-Eastern Environmental Education Alliance conference, spoke at the World Religions Parliament in Toronto, and the Eco-Sikh Gala in Washington, DC. He was also invited to be a Science World TEDxKids presenter with his “Theory of Creativity”. In 2018, Abhay was recognized with Canada’s We Day Award.
Name: Brahmroop Sandhu
Organization: Surrey Crime Prevention Society, Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, Surrey RCMP and Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Brahmroop makes an impact to Surrey through his involvement with the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, the Surrey RCMP, Metro Vancouver Crimes Stoppers, Canadian Civil Liberties Association (Privacy Protector Project) and the Surrey School District. Brahmroop is a bemedaled youth. He has received recognitions and awards such as the City of Surrey Mayor’s Special Recognition Awards, Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Appreciation Awards, BC Community Service Dogwood Award, PAC Volunteer Award, Surrey Teachers Association Citizenship Award and the Bob & Dorothy Bonshor Community Service Award. One of his biggest achievements is being recognized as Surrey Crime Prevention’s Volunteer of the Year in 2016, the youngest in the 35 years history of the society, accumulating over 2,000 volunteer hours with this organization alone. He has been trained by Crime Stoppers, and delivers presentations at local high schools on the importance of reporting crime safely. Brahmroop is determined to be a law enforcer. Currently, he is completing his Law Enforcement Studies Diploma at the Justice Institute of BC and will commence his Bachelor’s Degree in September. Brahmroop is expecting to start a new role with the Canada Border Services Agency’s Student Border Services Program next month.
Name: Tanraj Sohal
Organization: Canadian Eyesight Global; Professional Chess Coach and Player
Tanraj is an ambassador with Canadian Eyesight Global, a registered Canadian charitable organization comprised of business leaders, doctors and volunteers concerned with global blindness. Canadian Eyesight Global has helped hundreds of British Columbians, particularly Surrey residents, to preserve their vision and prevent blindness by early diagnosis of preventable causes such as cataract, glaucoma and other eye diseases. Having volunteered with Canadian Eyesight for over 10 years, Tanraj organizes free eye care camps in various community centres and temples in Surrey. Aside from volunteering his time with Canadian Eyesight, Tanraj is also a chess coach and player. He is a member of the Chess Foundation of Canada, British Columbia Chess Federation of Canada, Chess and Math Association of Canada and US Chess Federation. He has been chosen as Captain of Team BC for the upcoming Canadian Chess Challenge in May. Presently, he is in the final year of his degree program. He is completing his Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree this month at SFU, with dual concentration in International Business and Entrepreneurship/Innovation, and plans to pursue his Master’s of Business Administration. He is also currently working on completing his Real Estate License from UBC.
Name: Branden Sorbo
Organization: Enactus SFU and Count on Me
Branden is the VP of External Relations and Finance at Enactus SFU. He has brought on several new community partners including Capital One, G&F Financial, and Community Savings Credit Union. He has gathered over $15,000 in grants and sponsorships for the organization through outreach efforts, and conducted a $25,000 sponsorship pitch for the university faculty Associate Dean, giving the Enactus SFU Presentation Competing Teams the chance to fly out to the Enactus Western Regionals Exposition in Calgary. Branden’s valuable efforts directly support the events and program operations of this organization, allowing Enactus SFU to continue impacting the community on a large scale. As Senior Co-Project Manager of ‘Count on Me’, one of the 8 programs of Enactus, Branden assisted in integrating ‘Count on Me’ as part of the BC Career Planning Course in 3 new partner secondary schools (Sir Charles Tupper, Princess Margaret, Seaquam), and accredited the curriculum through G&F Financial Group. As a result, ‘Count on Me’ is now empowering 364 high school youth with the knowledge of financial literacy, directly in their classroom environments as a course that enables youth to take control of their future.
Name: Harjot Takhar
Organization: One Blood For Life Foundation & Project Blue Hands Society
Harjot mentors Surrey youth to spearhead provincial projects and represent his organization at national conferences. His impact reaches far beyond his role as a Director with the One Blood For Life Foundation (OBFL) and Project Blue Hands Society (PBHS), encompassing numerous organizations and companies throughout Surrey and the Lower Mainland. Having needed blood transfusions himself after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2015, Harjot understands what it means to be on the receiving end of these life-saving donations. He leads committees in the formation of a province-wide youth council with 27 high school representatives from 6 different cities, which are set to be implemented nationally. Through PBHS, he takes to the streets to learn the stories of the homeless residents of the Downtown East Side by preparing/serving food and providing winter clothing. To address the unmet needs he witnessed, he helped organize 4 events, facilitated partnerships, and helped establish a new long-term program for re-employment starting this year. Harjot is also a youth project coordinator with Jivana Organ Donation Society, where he has played a vital role in helping recruit potential organ donors. Harjot is currently enrolled in the General Business Program at Douglas College and is set to receive his Business Diploma, along with a degree in marketing.
Name: Richard Tichelman
Organization: Richard Tichelman Music
Richard, has been actively pursuing a music career since the age of 14. He is influenced by the classics in many genres, which is why his own sound shares flavours such as folk, pop, country and a bit of rock ’n roll. He takes great care in making his audiences happy by mastering an enjoyable setlist catering to his listeners each time he prepares for a show. From the Roxy Night Club to the Surrey Children’s Festival, he has been hand selecting his covers and originals to deliver enjoyable shows for his audience. Over 5 years, Richard has won awards, received scholarships and travelled across Canada and in the USA to perform and follow the path that his art leads him. Among his most recent achievements is the Don Welden Memorial Awards at the Calgary Stampede, receiving $3,000. Richard has been accepted in the CBC Searchlight Competition, released two EPs which included 7 new songs on Spotify and iTunes, recorded 3 new songs in Los Angeles with producers ‘The Trackheads’, and was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition in 3 categories, and a recipient of the Peninsula Arts Foundation scholarship. Richard also mentors youth and teaches guitar lessons.
Name: Peyton Winslade
Organization: Media Minds at Enactus SFU, 25toLife Partnership with SFU Beedie School of Business and Canadian Cancer Society
Peyton is the External Manager for Media Minds at Enactus SFU where she builds new relationships for the program, increases Media Mind’s presence in the community, and brings in new sponsors. She works directly with students as a workshop coordinator, mentoring students ages 11-13 to grow their communications skills, confidence, and leadership abilities. As a volunteer with 25toLife, a Surrey-based community partner of the Canadian Cancer Society, her team has raised over $3,500 through persistence and dedication. This was the largest contribution by any of the nine teams in their class. Peyton has also served as Director of Logistics (2018) and the Vice Chair (2019) of CaseIT MIS International Case Competition, a competition hosted by SFU students that brings together 64 competitors from top universities around the world to compete in Vancouver for a week. She was responsible for executing the event plan for the 6 day competition and managing the event experience for the 300 participants. Her proudest moment at SFU was when she represented Beedie as a case competitor internationally in Serbia and nationally at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition where her team brought home a first place trophy in the marketing event. Peyton graduated from her high school as Valedictorian, and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s of Business Administration at SFU with honours designation and a dual concentration in Marketing and Management Information Systems.