My Admin

Vancouver – 2024 Community Service Awards

Branch News |

Congratulations to our Community Service Award Recipients for 2024

We are pleased that this year we have been able to present four awards from our branch. We had a large number of applications, and our team was unanimous that these were the cream of the crop.

What they all have in common is a strong sense of community, and the initiative and leadership to create ways to serve the needs they identify. They all show academic excellence and are deeply involved in their school community as well as the wider world.

Diane Kikkert, CSA committee; Pat Moschenross, CSA committee; Rhea Zhu, Brandon Wu, Julia Bohnen, Elizabeth Zou, Barbara Conrad, CSA committee

These are simply in alphabetical order, not in a ranked order.

* * * * *

Julia Bohnen – West Point Grey Academy, Vancouver

We were impressed with Julia’s essay, outlining her involvement in her school and outside volunteer activities. But then the glowing reference letters showed this mature, charismatic leader to be modest and understated in her own behalf. Her head of school calls her “one of the finest, most service-oriented young leaders of exceptional character….” and “committed to serving others.” She holds the highest student leadership role in her school, as the elected senior school co-captain and valedictorian. She began a project to promote balance and joy in school life, increasing connection within the student body. She is a Youth Council member with the Adam’s Apples Foundation, a non-profit organization with the mandate of improving adolescent mental health and well-being in B.C. She took training to become a youth facilitator and teaches a free mental health and wellness program for high-school students. She has completed all the certification to lead a team of first responders, attending to medical calls at school and in the community, and volunteering at sporting events and community gatherings.

In the wider world, Julia leads a club that supports a home for abandoned girls in Peru. She has spoken at community events, taught online weekly evening English lessons, organized awareness events, created promotional material, fundraised, and more. Her essay concludes: I strive to be a servant leader in hopes that every contribution can make a positive impact and enrich the lives of others.

* * * * *

Brandon Wu – Vancouver Technical Secondary, Vancouver

As one of Brandon’s references says, he has a helping attitude and a community mindset. Recognizing an unmet need, he became a mental health facilitator with the Here4Peers student support group. The group organized and facilitated mental health workshops at over ten local elementary schools. He became the first volunteer of Frog Hollow’s pilot digital literacy program for seniors. After his father fell victim to a tech support scam, he created and hosted a bilingual cybersecurity workshop for 22 seniors. In grade 10 he founded his school’s STEM club (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), to empower members from grades 8 to 12 to become the next generation of innovators. Last year he organized the school’s first school-wide science fair, paving the path for one team to achieve Bronze at the national fair.

Brandon is also involved with Air Cadets. As a squad commander, he has organized events, instructed classes, served as a role model for over 50 junior cadets, and achieved third place in a speaking contest with over 15 competitors. He has held leadership positions in the school’s coding club, student council, and string orchestra. He has also earned the Duke of Edinburgh Silver award, his level 10 conservatory in piano, and a blue belt in Taekwondo, as well as doing part-time work. One reference letter concludes, “…he has demonstrated his uncanny time management and organizational abilities in balancing his many employment, volunteering and extracurricular obligations.”

* * * * *

Rhea Zhu – UBC University Transition Program, Vancouver

Rhea is committed to promoting quality, equitable learning for everyone and strengthening social equity and inclusion. To address the lack of enrichment experiences for underprivileged students, she and three peers launched Stemming from STEAM, a non-profit providing children in lower-income areas opportunities to explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). They host free education programs across Vancouver, and have delivered camps and workshops to over 130 children. As co-founder of the group, Rhea oversees all aspects of managing an organization: teaching, promotion, applying for community funding, planning curriculum, designing a website, and budgeting expenses. In this role she has been a positive role model for children and a creative problem solver.

Rhea is also a founding coach at Schoolhouse, a platform offering free virtual tutoring across the world. She started as a math tutor and quickly advanced. She became one of thirteen advanced peer reviewers out of a few thousand volunteers, helping to develop an Auditing Team to review past tutoring sessions. Now as a founding coach, she provides one-to-one instructing advice to tutors.

She sought out a mentorship opportunity with a UBC professor, and as a Researcher-in-Training, is involved in running children’s studies. She leads her school’s performing arts club and volunteers at the Vancouver Public Library. She was awarded a Silver Certificate in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Contest.

One of her teachers provided this about her school: Rhea is in a two-year secondary program of radical academic acceleration that prepares highly gifted students, ages 12-16, for early entrance into university. Hundreds of students apply for the program, and twenty are carefully selected. Unique to Canada, this program fosters students’ development and skills in collaboration, communication, creativity, environmental stewardship, global citizenship, community leadership and academic excellence. Says her teacher, Rhea has exceeded expectations in all regards.

* * * * *

Elizabeth Zou – Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, Vancouver

Elizabeth is proud to be immensely involved in her community. In school, she is the founder and president of the VanCare Club with over 80 members, distributing care packages to the Vancouver homeless. Beyond school, she is the organizer of the TEDxYouth@GranvilleIsland event, where she has been a chief judge and speaker on the subject of personal identity. She has experience as president and founder of Future Science Scholar Journal. She has been involved as an intern with protein docking related to identifying potential candidates for therapeutic medication for Alzheimer’s. As well, she has been in the 888 Air Cadet Squadron for six years, earning Warrant Second Class rank and serving as the Squadron Training Warrant Officer.

Elizabeth collaborated with three non-profit organizations to write and co-publish a bilingual anti-bullying book, “Speaking up, when the world sleeps.” She negotiated with over fifteen schools to secure library placement and, to fund the printing of over 60 copies, she set up an online fund-raiser. Copies were then distributed freely to school libraries across Southeast Asia. The book started with her own journal entries, and then she and her friends gathered stories from around the world, leading to an entire collection of stories.

Elizabeth has been in an enriched program in high school and works as an assistant and co-teacher for young students.

* * * * *

It is truly inspiring to know these special young people, the future leaders in our community. We are pleased to help them in a small way, and wish them every success.