Sarthak Tyagi says all the hard work he’s put into his studies and volunteering has “really paid off.”
Tyagi, a Grade 12 student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary, is one of 17 “exceptional young Canadian recipients of the 2022 Terry Fox Humanitarian Award,” according to a release from the Terry Fox Awards. More than 500 people applied for the 2022 award.
“It felt amazing,” Tyagi said of finding out he’s a recipient. “It really did feel awesome.”
The awards recognize students who “come from all walks of life, and each has faced challenges that have shaped their worldview and driven them to help others in their communities.”
Tyagi moved to Canada in 2016 and received ELL (English language learners) support throughout his schooling, according to the release.
“He recognized the benefit the support he received helped overcome challenging barriers and aided him as he settled into a new culture and life in Canada.
“Being raised in a low-income immigrant family, Sarthak understands well the cultural and financial challenges of many of his peers. He uses this experience and what he has learned from living in a low-income community to identify and create opportunities for others.”
Now Tyagi’s plans for post-secondary include attending the University of British Columbia in the fall, with plans to ultimately become a computer engineer.
He said “growing up in a brown household,” Tyagi wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He said he thought he might become a doctor.
Then he started volunteering and joined the robotics club, ordering a couple of kits from Amazon and designing circuits. Tyagi said he realized it was “something I really enjoyed.”
With his interest in technology, Tyagi has developed a Smart Navigation Cane that aids blind and visually impaired people by scanning the surrounding environment and buzzing or vibrating if it detects nearby obstructions.
Tyagi said he’s reached out to non-profits worldwide and is looking further the project.
At Queen Elizabeth, Tyagi is the president of the school’s Learn Lab where he mentors and tutors at-risk students and he is the captain of the school’s Royals Robotics team which qualified for the quarterfinals in the 2022 FIRST Robotics Regional Championship. He also leads a weightlifting club, helps organize various school events as part of the school and grad council, and he also volunteers with the Surrey Food Bank.
“Knowing that one out of every 33 individuals require humanitarian assistance should influence anyone to help those in need,” he said. “We all come from diverse backgrounds and experience a variety of challenges throughout our lifetime. It is crucial for us to help one another and contribute to making our world a better place.”