Of the more than 350 applications submitted by graduating secondary school students throughout British Columbia, four eventually rose to the top and were selected as $2,500 scholarship winners.
Parys Liu was one of the winners, chosen for having maintained great academic standing and demonstrated exceptional leadership through a commitment to affecting positive change in her community, among other exceptional qualities.
Liu, an 18-year-old Vancouverite who will be attending Capilano University to take kinesiology this fall, remembers the exact moment her life became less about herself and more about others.
Twelve years ago Parys’ younger brother Colton, who was two at the time, was involved in a freak accident that had him suffer major injuries, which prevented him from fully developing as a child.
“I grew up in an instant,” said Liu, sitting in Chris Tanev’s stall in the Canucks dressing room at Rogers Arena last week. “I was really happy-go-lucky then, like nothing could ever happen to me or my family. After Colton was injured, I realized stuff can happen to you. Life is precious and you have to keep a positive outlook on everything and help others.”
Liu turned to philanthropy as a way to help others and never looked back. The graduating student from David Thompson Secondary School founded K.A.R.E (Kids Actions Really Energize) Power when she was 11 years old. Under the K.A.R.E. umbrella, Liu has spearheaded countless grassroots projects, including anti-bullying, animal rights and homelessness initiatives, as well as created opportunities for kids to involve themselves in physical activity and community gardening.
In addition to her humanitarian efforts, including her most immediate project, “A Night in Harmony,” a multi-school event aimed at tackling bullying through arts and entertainment, Liu maintained honour roll status at her school, while captaining her provincial and school volleyball teams.
For her amazing efforts, Liu, alongside fellow winners of the fifth annual Trevor Linden Community Spirit Scholarship Angad Manku, Nathalie Mila and Shelby Wurmlinger, joined Linden at Rogers Arena for a VIP morning of TV appearances, media availability, breakfast in the players’ lounge, plus an exclusive tour of the dressing room and arena.
“I’m actually relaxed right now,” smiled Liu. “It’s amazing, seeing this place, meeting Trevor, being on TV and experiences what the team does, kind of. This has all been so overwhelming.
That’s exactly the word Linden used when describing this year’s winners. He was overwhelmed with their grades, their leadership and their scholarship applications, and he was overwhelmed meeting them in person.
Angad Manku, a graduating student from Tamanawis Secondary School in Surrey, immitgrated to Canada with his family six years ago and has since immersed himself in a variety of community-enhancing projects, including founding the Mentorship Program and organizing a Christmas dinner for underprivileged families at his school. Manku aims to secure a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Physics at UBC.
Nathalie Mila, a graduating student from Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver is an active resident of the Downtown Eastside community, dedicating much of her time to extracurricular time to two not-for-profit organizations: Saint James Music Academy and Union Gospel Mission. Upon graduation, Mila hopes to complete either the Bachelor’s of Science or Midwifery Program at UBC.
Shelby Wurmlinger, a graduating student from Elkford Secondary School in Elkford, BC, is a tireless community contributor at her school, she serves as a volleyball coach for younger grades while also representing her peers on Student Council and the Safe Schools committee as a student representative for anti-bullying. Academically, Wurmlinger aspires to complete a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Lethbridge.
“These kids are so inspirational,” said Linden. “When I think back to when I was in high school and what I was doing, it certainly wasn’t anything like what they’ve accomplished. Their ability to not only excel in the classroom, but also take the initiative to do great things in the community, is really impressive. It’s really overwhelming.
“The final selection process is always difficult for these scholarships, but I feel like I know all these kids, they’re amazing, and they’re going to achieve great things.”
Over five years of scholarships being awarded, the Canucks For Kids Fund has granted $50,000 to deserving students.