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Honouring Our Recipients of the Governor General’s Academic Medal 2018-19

The Go
vernor General’s Academic Medal is awarded to the top student at each secondary school in Canada. These students’ impressive accomplishments in their Grade 12 year (2018-19) were shared by their Principals or Vice-Principals at a public meeting of the Burnaby Board of Education held in September – and now, here. (See our Burnaby Now ad below.)

Alpha: Georgia Cheung

It is my pleasure to introduce Georgia Cheung as the Governor General Award winner for Alpha Secondary School for 2019. Georgia is an exceptional academic student who is extremely well-rounded in her pursuits and also possesses outstanding interpersonal skills.

Georgia has an impressive mind that is not only suited toward studying one particular set of subjects.  The diversity of her exceptional accomplishments ranges from Math to Student Government, from Food Studies to Physics. Georgia’s broad academic pursuits included 22  grade 11 & 12 courses which included 3 AP courses. In total, Georgia graduated with 120 credits – a full 40 more credits than required.  Needless to say, Georgia’s academic achievement throughout her time at Alpha could only be described as “beyond exceptional.” She was on the Principal’s List from grades 8 to 12 as well as graduating with Gold Cord Standing this past June. Throughout this time, Georgia won multiple “Top-Student” subject awards at various grade levels. In speaking with a few teachers about Georgia, they have commented that she is, in fact, one of the top students they have taught in their teaching career.

Another one of the many wonderful things about Georgia is her ability to work with others, which is a testament to her maturity and social adeptness.  While at Alpha, she volunteered many hours at both Brentwood Park Elementary as well as with the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. She also had an outstanding athletic career in high school playing on the soccer, volleyball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee teams. Georgia was also a prominent member of Alpha’s Sports Council, Environment Club and with the remainder of her “spare time” was our proud Student Council President.

Georgia is an extremely remarkable young woman whose leadership skills, academic prowess and positive outlook earned her various Scholarship offers including at the University of British Columbia as well as other awards totalling over $45,000. Georgia is currently studying sciences at the UBC with the goal of becoming a teacher. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank her and her family, including her mother who is here this evening, for entrusting her daughter’s academic and personal growth with the Burnaby Board of Education. Specifically, on behalf of the staff at Alpha, thank you for allowing us to be part of Georgia’s amazing journey to date.

~ Principal Tim Wozney 

Burnaby Central: Alice Ko

Alice Ko truly encompasses the qualities of a Governor General Academic Medal recipient. Alice has been a dedicated Burnaby Central Wildcat through her academic excellence, her dedication to her leadership development and sense of community mindedness.

In her Grade 11 and 12 year, Alice took several full-time courses, achieving an average of 98%. This past year, she received seven top student awards; primarily in the area of Business Education. She also earned work ethic, service award, honour roll and principal’s list every term of her career at Burnaby Central Secondary.

In addition to her impressive academic achievements, she was involved in many extra-curricular aspects of our school. Alice demonstrated her strong interpersonal skills as President of the Entrepreneurship Club and Minister of Clubs for our Student Government. She worked with the student body to both support and inspire both school-based and community initiatives. In the community, Alice has donated her time selflessly by volunteering. Most impressively, has been her work with the Hot Potato Initiative Foundation. This is a youth-led, non-profit organization working to destigmatize homelessness and inspire everyday citizens to take action. She began this campaign at Burnaby Central and supported the expansion of this initiative to 20 other secondary schools in the lower mainland. Together they prepared and served hot potatoes for over 2000 residents of the downtown Eastside. Alice’s fondest memory and appreciation of Burnaby Central is the nurturing and caring support system she and other students experienced. She described Burnaby Central and the support as a holistic approach that encourages students to try out new opportunities and to attempt more hands-on experiences. Teachers describe Alice as an outstanding, compassionate and humble student who genuinely cares about others and her community.

Alice is currently enrolled at UBC in the Commerce program at the Sauder School of Business. In the future, she will continue to explore the many aspects of Business and knows her focus will always be, helping others. Congratulations, Alice Ko.

~ Vice-Principal Erin McGinley

Burnaby Mountain: Carolyn Chen

Trustees, senior staff and guests, I appreciate this opportunity to come and speak about Burnaby Mountain’s recipient of the Governor General’s medal, Carolyn Chen.

Carolyn is a kind and compassionate young woman who excels both inside and outside the classroom.  Her physics teacher, Ms. Spence, described her as follows: “Academically, Carolyn is truly gifted. She achieved 100% in Both Chem 11H and Chem 12AP and a received a 5 on the AP exam. She has an intuitive grasp of concepts far beyond her years and she is intellectually one of the top two students I have worked with in my 22 years of teaching. The depth and breadth of her understanding is formidable and her ability to communicate her ideas in a clear and concise manner equally so. Her academic abilities range far beyond Sciences and Math and she shows comparable strengths in such diverse areas as English, Psychology and Economics.”

Carolyn successfully completed twelve Advanced Placement courses in her Grade 11 & 12 years and was granted a National AP scholar award for receiving an average score of at least 4 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on five or more of these exams. Carolyn completed 34 courses in grade 11 and 12 with a 98.6 average. Between grade 10 and 12 she had 100% in 15 courses. Carolyn was offered a $40,000 Mc Gill Entrance scholarship, a UBC Tuum Est Experiential Award, and she was the Schulich Leader Nominee.

Carolyn’s teachers describe her as an intellectual risk taker who actively seeks out opportunities to grow and innovate. She was chosen to participate in the “Invent the Future – Artificial Intelligence Program” at Simon Fraser University. She completed a Python sentiment analysis and choropleth mapping project on Twitter data with a partner and mentors.

Carolyn has completed her Royal Conservatory Level 10 in piano with honours.  She was also an active member in the school’s Math club. She shone as a member of the school’s public speaking and debate team and later became a coach and mentor to younger students. Carolyn competed provincially, nationally and internationally winning numerous competitions including coming in the top 5 at the Oxford Schools Final Day in the UK and Top 10 speaker at the Canadian National Debate Championships. Carolyn also gave back to the community volunteering at Culture Quest Summer camp at Burnaby Village museum.

Carolyn is a brilliant young woman who is already heavily involved in activities at her new school Duke University which is located in Durham, North Carolina. She is participating on the Duke Cyber team which focuses on cybersecurity in preparation for future policy “war room” competitions and technical hacking competitions. She is also a member of the Duke University Debating Society. Carolyn is studying Public Policy and Computer Science.

We are so excited to see what the future holds for Carolyn. Please join me in congratulating Carolyn’s mother, Elaine Zhou, who is here on behalf of Carolyn.

~ Vice-Principal David Greve

Burnaby North: Charley Cai

Burnaby North Secondary is proud to acknowledge and congratulate Charley Cai on being selected as our Governor General Award Winner for 2019.  Charley was recognized as graduating with Honours and was selected as the Senior Department of Science Award, having been selected as the Top AP Physics and AP Biology Student.  Charley completed 14 Advanced Placement courses in his time at Burnaby North and was recognized as a National AP Scholar by the College Board in 2018.

Having been a Concurrent Studies Student at Simon Fraser University during his Grade 12 year, Charley is now studying Science at the University of British Columbia. Charley interned at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the summer of 2018 at the Joel Rothman Lab under Dr. Pan Young Jeong—where he worked on a project on the developmental effects of genes related to Ribosome Biogenesis in the nematode C. elegans through RNAi. He is currently an Undergraduate Researcher at the Michael Smith Laboraties at UBC, where is he working on proteomic interactome research and mammalian interform (IFN) signaling.

He was recognized with over $150,000 worth of scholarships, named a Canadian Young Researcher Award from Canadian Science Publishing, and was the Senior Silver Medalist as part of Team BC at the Canada Wide Science Fair. He is also a National Biology Scholar, recognized in the Top 2% by the University of Toronto. American Protégé awarded him with a Distinction in International Piano and Strings Competition in 2018.

In addition to these wonderful achievements, Charley was a Senior Cadet Instructor where he obtained Sergeant and completed his Glider/Private Pilot’s License through this program. He is also the Administrative Secretary for the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair Society, a Branch Founder and Director for the Hygiene for the Homeless, and a Spotter & ELT Homer for the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.

Finally, Charley works as a Piano Teacher and Private Tutor if you need some help working on your piano skills or further help with Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Congratulations to Charley and his family from the community at Burnaby North Secondary!

~ Vice-Principal Cesare Martino

Burnaby South: Melanie Chen

I am pleased to present Melanie Chen, Burnaby South’s Governor General’s Award Winner for 2019.

While at Burnaby South, Melanie Chen was an academic leader, achieving 100% in 8 of her grade 11 and 12 courses, with an overall average of 98%. She was able to score a 5 (the highest mark possible) on all the AP exams that she took throughout her high school career as was given the title of National AP Scholar Canada. At South, she was an annual recipient of the Outstanding Academic Excellence Award.

Yet, Melanie didn’t just receive outstanding marks and awards, she also generously volunteered her time to make Burnaby South a better place. One of her passions is music and Melanie was often be found in the band room. As President of the Burnaby South Music council, she was responsible for organizing student led concerts throughout the school year and led activities to raise funds for the music department. In Melanie’s Grade 12 year, she also had the role of Vice-President at the South’s Interact club. Here, she took the lead in organizing two talent shows that raised funds to help a school in Bali dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing students. She was also the administrative team’s “go to” person in coordinating student volunteers for all school events.

However, it is Melanie’s emotional intelligence and humility that truly set her apart. Melanie was Interact Club’s Vice President even though she had the qualifications and experience to be the president.  Instead, she chose to nurture the leadership skills of her peers to ensure that the club would continue to thrive after she graduated. She empowered her peers to take on leadership opportunities and enthusiastically supported and guided them to ensure their success.

Melanie is now continuing her education at Duke University in the United States. I have no doubt that she will be making positive contributions there, just as she has made positive and lasting contributions to Burnaby South. We are very proud to call her a Burnaby South Rebel. Melanie could not be with us tonight, but is represented by a family friend, Ms. Jane Ding.

~ Principal Victoria Lee

Byrne Creek: Umamah Mokarram

Good evening Chairperson Wong, Superintendent Niccoli-Moen, Trustees, Senior Management and guests. Tonight, I have the pleasure of speaking to you about Umamah Mokarram, the Governor General Award Recipient for Byrne Creek Community School.

Umamah is truly an exceptional person. Her ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others, commit to meaningful service in the community, and maintain the highest academic standing in her grade is truly remarkable.

Umamah’s dedication to her academic studies is apparent in her achievement of a 97% average over the last 2 years and the highest GPA in her grade. While maintaining excellent academic achievement and continuously engaging in academic challenges, Umamah has dedicated countless hours of service to our Byrne Creek Community and our greater Community.

Throughout her years at Byrne Creek, Umamah has taken the initiative to be part of numerous extra-curricular groups that facilitate social change, assist people in need, and build a strong sense of community. Umamah has been a true leader when it comes to inspiring a community to come together to raise awareness of social issues or raise money for those in need. One of the most memorable moments in our Community is when Umamah learned that a staff member’s child was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. She was inspired to organize a fund-raising event that educated the community about CF and raised $2000 for this cause. Umamah’s accomplishments are impressive and her care and connection to her community are exceptional.

One of Umamah’s most recent accomplishments is her participation in a NASA competition. Umamah was one of four Byrne Creek students who qualified for the International Space Settlement Design Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre this summer. Not only did Umamah qualify, but she was part of the winning team.

Umamah is currently studying Applied Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She intends to specialize in Mechanical Engineering and has a keen interest in the Aerospace Industry. Umamah will continue with her leadership pursuits and is truly excited to see how leadership and her academic passions will come together in the future.

Congratulations Umamah. It has been a true honor to have you as part of the Byrne Creek Community and we wish you every success in the future.

~ Principal Effie Aadland

Cariboo Hill: Nataly Musleh

Nataly Musleh encompasses the qualities of a Governor General Academic Medal recipient. Nataly is a dedicated Cariboo Hill Charger because of her academic excellence and her dedication to extracurricular activities, leadership and sense of community mindedness.

In her Grade 11 and 12 year, Nataly took a total of 30 full time courses, achieving an average of 96% in her academic course load, most of which were Advanced Placement and Honours Science courses. She was also on the Principal’s List every term since Grade 8 for her exceptional work habits and dedication to academic success.

In addition to her impressive academic achievements, Nataly demonstrated her strong interpersonal skills as a peer mentor, working with junior students in developing strong academic skills. She also found time to be part of many clubs such as the Student Government, Grad Council, Music Council, Multicultural club and as a Library assistant; she also helped organize and lead students in mentoring visiting Japanese students over the last four years. In the community, Nataly has donated her time selflessly by volunteering with youth in local elementary schools in after school programs including providing cooking lessons on nutritional after school meals and math support for struggling students. She has worked with the City of Burnaby as an assistant to the Afterschool Program providing mentorship to children of all ages. Nataly’s dedication to science comes through in her volunteering with UBC Science and Engineering camps and as a member of the Mindblown group, a dedicated group of Cariboo Hill students who run an after-school program at the local elementary school to inspire children to love science and math with hands on activities.

Nataly is currently enrolled at the UBC in the Faculty of Science Pre-Med program. She hopes to become a doctor in the future. Congratulations to Nataly as École Cariboo Hill’s Governor General Academic Medal Award Recipient.

~ Principal Andy Chin

Moscrop: Jerry Zheng

It is an honour to be here tonight in the company of the Burnaby School District Board of Trustees, senior management, colleagues, and special guests, to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of Moscrop’s 2019 Governor General Academic Medal Recipient, Jerry Zheng.  Jerry’s exceptional academic breadth and achievement, along with his modesty, maturity, and social conscience, render him especially deserving of this prestigious award.

Throughout Jerry’s five years as a student at École Moscrop Secondary, Jerry demonstrated an intellectual curiosity and willingness to challenge himself. He excelled across discipline areas, with a particular focus in Science and Math courses, achieving excellent marks. In addition, he maintained outstanding achievement in honours and advanced placement level coursework, while simultaneously demonstrating a high level of commitment to the performing arts, as with his involvement with Moscrop’s Jazz Band. Given these multidisciplinary aptitudes, time management, and diverse skill set, Jerry will undoubtedly have a rich experience in university, and beyond.

Of his many notable accomplishments and experiences within the classroom, Jerry recalls several experiences where he applied his learning beyond the classroom as particularly rewarding. Jerry led Moscrop’s Math Club, was an avid member of Moscrop’s jazz band, as well as a long standing volunteer in Moscrop’s Library/Student Learning Commons.

When asked to comment on memorable moments at Moscrop, Jerry cites the support of teachers and students as integral to his success, and the school  for providing many opportunities for students to grow academically and personally, whether via contests and clubs, or leadership opportunities. Jerry moves forward with his post-secondary studies with a desire to continually improve himself, and the lives of those around him. These are admirable goals, to be sure.  Jerry is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Science a UBC, with a career focus in the area of Life Sciences. In addition to excelling in his post secondary studies, he is successfully managing to balance work commitments. We wish Jerry much success in his future endeavours.

~ Vice-Principal Mark Allen


























Posted September 2019