An SFU student eying a career in biomedical engineering is the first recipient of a scholarship from Surrey firefighters created in honour of a former mayor of the city.
Samia Kamal received the $2,500 Dianne Watts Legacy Award Wednesday (Nov. 18), during a presentation by members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Association at South Surrey’s fire Hall 17.
“You should be really proud of yourself,” firefighter Matt Johnston told Kamal.
According to Johnston, 18-year-old Kamal was chosen from among 19 applicants for the inaugural award, which was developed to support inspiring female students who show leadership as well as a strong social conscience.
In the selection process, committee members considered not only applicants’ high academic achievements, but also their potential to contribute to Surrey in the future, Johnston said, noting it was “very apparent” Kamal fit the bill.
“We know that you’re going to be coming back in your mid-20s and making a difference,” he said.
The Princess Margaret Secondary grad came to Canada with her family from India in 2002. Her volunteer efforts have included time with the YMCA family and Connections programs, the latter of which focuses on helping new immigrants feel at home in Canada.
In Grade 11, Kamal helped in the UBC chemistry lab on a project that looked at how gases move. She is currently involved with SFU’s Women in Engineering Group (WEG), which aims to support and guide women as they study for and embark on an engineering career.
Kamal said she is interested in developing synthetic organs and improving prosthetic limbs.
Watts, who served three terms as Surrey’s mayor before leaving the role last year to run for a federal seat – which she secured last month, as MP for South Surrey-White Rock – was on hand for the presentation.
“I know you will do great things,” she told Kamal, later offering to connect Kamal with the Health Tech Innovation Foundation, for which Watts is chief executive director.
Kamal said the award brings the total she’s received in education funds to more than $17,000 – nearly half of what she’ll need to finish the SFU program over the next four years.
Firefighter Todd Schierling said the legacy award recognizes Watts’ 20-plus years of support for Surrey firefighters – including the Mayor’s Charity Ball – which has “opened the door for more donors to come to us.” The charitable association supports more than 50 community-based programs.