Giving to receive
Selina Shivji is looking forward to becoming a plastic surgeon and travelling to Third World countries to perform corrective surgery on patients with physical abnormalities.
“I want to help people that were born a certain way and need to be changed to lead a healthier life.”
While the aspiration is honourable, it’s even more impressive considering Selina is just 12 years old.
And the career goal isn’t her only pursuit worth noting.
The Semiahmoo Trail Elementary student has already become an active force in the community by volunteering with a number of local projects and causes.
Her dedication and selflessness helped earn her a Youth Recognition Award from the City of Surrey earlier this month.
Selina, who was recognized in the Junior Achievement category, was nominated by her Grade 7 teacher, Johanna Rose.
“I saw the pamphlet and Selina immediately came to mind,” she said. “She very quietly stands out. It took me a while to get to know what Selina does because everything she does, she does quietly.
“She doesn’t do it for recognition.”
Selina not only helped publish her school’s first newspaper, Cody’s Tails – named after Semiahmoo Trail’s mascot – this year, but has also actively promoted physical activity.
She encourages students to engage in 15 minutes of daily exercise and participates in the school’s weekly community run.
“You have to fit in physical activity somewhere to have a balanced lifestyle,” she said.
Selina also enjoys volunteering in seniors’ homes with other Grade 7s, and getting to know a demographic she doesn’t often have the opportunity to interact with.
“(Seniors) really like it when we’re there,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to get to know each other because they’re not so far away but we never really see each other.”
Outside of school, Selina is a Leading Air Cadet with the local 907 squadron, and has fundraised with the Remembrance Day poppy campaign. She also placed first in the group’s speech contest, and went on to win bronze in the regional competition.
She later presented her speech, Community Service – It’s in Giving that We Receive, to her school.
“It was a great message,” principal Colleen White said.
Selina further volunteers with the Fraser Valley Jamatkhana, where she assists seniors, takes part in garbage and graffiti cleanups and helps out at food banks.
Her current focus, however, is on the upcoming World Partnership Walk in Vancouver, which aims to raise awareness and funds for the fight against global poverty.
Selina plans to participate, as well as volunteer at the May 29 event.
“It’s not only about walking... but we can get together with the community and have a good time.”
Despite a busy schedule, Selina said she manages to juggle all her commitments.
“I find a way every time. I don’t find it hard. I like giving back. I do it because I love it, so if it’s taking up my time, then that’s OK I guess.”
For her efforts, Selina received a certificate and a lantern with her name on it at the Youth Recognition Awards Ceremony May 6 at the Surrey Arts Centre, both of which can now be seen in Semiahmoo Trail’s display case. She was also given a cheque for $500, which she has put towards her post-secondary goal of attending Stanford University.
Selina – who was chosen from 15 nominees in the newly created category – said she was “ecstatic” to hear her name called as the winner.
“I was really shocked at first and then I was like ‘wait, that’s me, that’s me!’”
Rose said Selina’s classmates “jumped out of their seats” upon learning of her achievement.
“Her classmates were so genuinely thrilled for her,” Rose said.
“She got a huge round of applause from her classmates because they were so happy for her.”
Selina said it’s important to get to know one’s community, as well as to give back to it, even if it’s just by giving a smile to a stranger.
“It’s just that feeling you get when you give back to someone that makes you want to keep doing it.”