Recipients of the 9th Annual 25 Under 25 Awards. Photo: Ray Hudson

– Surrey Board of Trade’s 25 Under 25 Awards Show Stunning Accomplishments

Recipients of the 9th Annual 25 Under 25 Awards. Photo: Ray Hudson
Recipients of the 9th Annual 25 Under 25 Awards. Photo: Ray Hudson

Nine years ago the Surrey Board of Trade honoured its first group of young entrepreneurs in the new 25 Under 25 celebration of twenty-five of Surrey’s brightest young entrepreneurs and business innovators.

Every year since then an impressive array of young people have been honoured, providing a massive rebuttal to the negative publicity that comes with the gang violence plaguing the city’s reputation.

In recognizing the young people, the keynote speaker, Leah Goldstein, spoke of achieving what the person really wants out of life.

“If you’re prepared to get out of your comfort zone, and put in the work, you’ll get it,” she said.  Goldstein became the Canadian National Kickboxing Champion, then the 1987 Bantamweight Kickboxing Champion of the World. Her goal achieved, she retired to pursue a dream to become a real life James Bond and joined the Israeli Army, specializing in intelligence. She went on with a career in the Police where she took up running and cycling. That brought her back to Canada to become a professional bicycle racer.

Underscoring how far the honourees could go in life, Goldstein reminded the audience that her dedication to the rules she applied to herself in achieving her success as a kick boxer, an intelligence and a police officer, and a cyclist, brought her to the peak of her cycling career at 42 years of age.

“So no matter how old you are you’ve got to keep your dreams,’ said Goldstein, “not just the ones that fill your head, but the ones that fill your heart.  Really make them your goals because the possibilities of achievement, success and happiness to do whatever you want are truly endless.”

Following the keynote, the 25 honourees for 2016 were recognized. They are: Saghi Ahmadi (23); Sukhman Bajwa (16); Dylan Belvedere (23); Thomas Bogucki (21); Taylor Byrom (25); Jaspreet Dayal (25); Sukhjiven Gill (22); Jeryry Gunadasa (22); Baqar Hassan (23); Hebah Arsheen Hussaina (17); Leejoo Hwang (17); Bal Khatra (24); Yue (Renee) Lang (20); Julius Michael (21); Kevin Nan (17); Ethan O’Brien (23); Raveena Oberoi (22); XiYuan (Cecillia) Pang (17); Tina Peng (25); Atif Saad(23); Amit Sandhu (20); Pratap Sandhu (21); Jeevanjot Sethi (17); Parabjot Kaur Singh (23); and Cyrus Wong (20).

In addition, the first winner of the Honourary Health and Safety In the Workplace Award was presented to Kalvin Chang.

Commenting on the young people honoured this evening, Dr. Alan Davis, President & Vice Chancellor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University said that seeing the talent is so rewarding.

“It makes you feel good about the community, the work that we do and SFU does to encourage and foster this kind of talent,” said Davis. “But you know, these kids are either born with the confidence that they need, or it’s nurtured by their families. As an educator I have a big feeling that this is what a community is all about, and a specific feeling about the role that we play as educators to transform lives. Then they go on and transform lives themselves.  This ripple effect is the great thing about education.”

Steven Dooley is the Executive Director of SFU Surrey.  We asked him for his view on the of the event.

“I was just up on the stage and I told the students how all the great work they’re doing elevates all of us at SFU and KPU.  It’s just so gratifying to see these young people who care about learning, whot also give back to their communities. I think with our future generations we’re all in good hands with students like these.  I really want to thank the Surrey Board of trade for showing the leadership and making these awards happen.  It really is a celebration of all youth in Surrey and I really thank them for that.”

Anita Huberman, the CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, was delighted with the evening.

“We received close to seventy nominations and our judging team, our youth entrepreneur committee brought it down to our 25 winners.  They were judged based upon their community involvement, their entrepreneurship, their project innovation and certainly their commitment to their academic career.
It was very exciting.”

During the presentation, a video was shown concerning a program they’ve initiated to develop very young entrepreneurs.  We asked her about that.

“Just this past year the Surrey Board of Trade started a program for grades four to eight.  There are about fifty-two students in grade four and five at Boundary Park Elementary School that we are mentoring, teaching them how to start a business.  They have to choose a product, create a budget and then make the product. After that, they have to sell their units, and then they are judged as part of an Entrepreneur Show. We’ve chosen nine students to participate in that, and next week they’ll be part of a Dragon’s Den pitch event. From there, we’ll choose one winner who gets a massive prize. It’s just so inspiring.”

Stay tuned for the future.