SFU Surrey student awarded $80,000 scholarship

SURREY — A Surrey whiz-kid known for his leadership skills is being recognized by the Seymour Schulich Foundation with an $80,000 scholarship.

First-year student Raaj Chatterjee, who’s studying mechatronics systems engineering at SFU’s Surrey campus, was sitting at home when he found out about the award.

“I was very excited. I want to do something with renewable energy or electric car design in the future,” he said. “I think we’re moving towards something sustainable, but not fast enough. We’re still stuck in the old ways in terms of policy.”

Chatterjee’s interest in the environment and sustainability was sparked during his time at Semiahmoo Secondary School, when he spearheaded a couple of projects, including a composting initiative.

“I was planning to do it for a while. I contacted a bunch of waste companies, but then thought, we could just put a composter in the cafeteria and dump it in the bigger one out in the courtyard,” said the 17-year-old.

His passion for a greener Earth also grew through volunteering at the White Rock Social Justice Film Festival over the years.

“I learned a lot there because we watched a bunch of documentaries that really opened my eyes,” he added.

Chatterjee’s leadership skills were put to the test two years ago at a camp dubbed the Metro Vancouver Youth Sustainability Tool Box.

“That one was really good for teaching people environmental leadership, mainly in schools,” he said. “And just the friends I made from that really helped.”

Following the camp, Chatterjee and a few friends organized a conference at Science World to teach their peers what they had learned.

“Around 120 students attended the eight workshops. Presentations were done by organizations or other youth, a sort of by youth for youth format,” he said.

The resume doesn’t stop there. Last year, Chatterjee was the co-chair of the Surrey Youth Sustainability Network, a group who presents leadership clinics at local elementary schools.

Together with his family, Chatterjee also developed a biweekly homemade food delivery program for North Surrey’s homeless. After attending a funeral, they noticed food was left over and suggested it be brought to the Front Room shelter around Gateway SkyTrain station, now Keys: Housing and Health Solutions.

“It grew from there. We have around 20 families cooking every two weeks, with around 60 to 80 people being serviced,” he said.

When his nose isn’t in the books, Chatterjee finds time for his second passion – music. Last year, he was the recipient of the Best Surrey Trumpet Player award at the Envision Jazz Festival in Surrey.

Asked if he ever gets tired of all the recognition, his answer is short and simple.

“I try to stay neutral and humble.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey man to bike across Canada

Last minute decision to take Rajiv Dhaliwal on three-month journey

White Rock RCMP reviews street checks for racial bias

Report indicates checks are being conducted bias-free

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read