SUS entrance scholarship awarded in first year to science student

Student-funded award comes with high requirements, four years of financial aid



By Vanessa Broadbent (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 5, 2014

Sahil Chawla was awarded the newly created SUS entrance scholarship, now UFV’s largest award. (Image: TARAK Photography)

Starting this academic year, Student Union Society (SUS) is giving away an entrance scholarship valued at $40,000.

Although SUS is funding the scholarship, they do not choose the student to whom it is awarded. SUS’s governance committee makes a list of requirements that they want the winner to have, which is passed along to the UFV student awards committee.

One of the main requirements is high scholastic standing, but SUS president Ryan Petersen shares that SUS is more interested in the time an individual spends outside the classroom.

“High scholastics are very important and being dedicated to your school is great, but what we really want is people who are involved in their communities and volunteer a lot,” he says.

This year’s scholarship winner, Sahil Chawla, a bachelor of science student, explains that he was very involved in the community before winning the scholarship.

“In high school I started the key club. I was also volunteered with my dance group where I was the captain, and I do traditional Indian dance,” he says. “I was in the process of starting a Steps to Fitness program — the only thing that stopped it from happening was the weather. Before that, I was also volunteering at the city. We also did summer camps and spring camps as well.”

Petersen also explains that once the scholarship is awarded, there are expectations that a high level of involvement in the UFV community will continue from the student’s pre-university experience. “We [want] someone who would be engaged in the university community, primarily through SUS,” he says. “[But] if they [want] to work more in clubs and associations [we are all right with that],” he says. Chawla is currently volunteering at the BCSA and SUS. He is also starting the UFV Circle K Club, a branch of the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada.

The scholarship will continue to be given in increments of $10,000 on a yearly basis. Petersen explains that when a student is awarded the scholarship, it doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed the entire $40,000. The student needs to maintain a GPA of 3.5 in addition to their community and university involvement during the year, and an assessment follows at the end of the year to determine this.

“The award committee has two charts,” Petersen explains. “One is for what [the student] needs to get the award and the other is what they need to keep doing to keep the award. This isn’t just something that you get outright for the rest of your student career. You have to keep these high standards, otherwise you lose the award and somebody else gets it.”

It’s a lot of pressure for a first-year student, but Chawla says he became aware that these requirements were the same for every scholarship that he applied for, so he is trying his best to be prepared. “I was really nervous at first, but I [am making] sure to invest my time beforehand so it’s not just before exams that I’m studying,” he says. “I started volunteering with SUS [in August] so I could get used to how it would be when school started,” he adds. Chawla is trying his best to stay motivated while balancing a full-course load with his part-time job and volunteering.

“For me more than anything, it’s my dream of becoming a doctor,” he says. “I really want to become something and actually help people. That’s why I volunteer so much.”

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