We are proud to recognize Burnaby School District’s 2015/16 recipients of the Governor General’s Academic Medal. The award is given to the graduate with the highest average at each of our secondary schools. These students’ impressive accomplishments were shared by their principals at a public meeting of the Burnaby Board of Education, and now, here.
Lai Chen Ma Alpha
An outstanding academic student, Lai Chen Ma graduated with a 99.6% average. He particularly excelled in math and science, taking five AP courses and was offered over $53,000 in STEM related university entrance scholarships.
Looking back at his high school journey, Lai Chen appreciated being in an environment that fostered student growth. And he credits the teachers and staff at École Alpha for the collective key role they played in helping him tap into his potential and develop into the scholar he is today.
Lai Chen is presently at the University of Waterloo, enrolled in Honours Mathematics/Financial Analysis and Risk Management, with plans to add a minor in actuarial science. He’s an active member of FARMA, a club for students pursuing their interests in financial analysis and risk management. As for his future, Lai Chen says to look for him in New York City – on Wall Street.
Melissa Luo Burnaby Central
Throughout her years at Burnaby Central, Melissa Luo easily balanced an intense academic load with multiple leadership activities. Completing every senior math and science course offered, including AP Chemistry, she achieved a combined average of 97.5%.
A science enthusiast, Melissa organized the Vancouver High School Science Olympics and currently sits on the board of the Greater Vancouver High School Science Association. Extra-curricular activities included president of the Cancer Club, member of the Math Club, and volunteering as a first aid attendant and library assistant. Melissa also selflessly occupied her spare time tutoring
After visiting the CN Tower and marvelling on its design, Melissa set her sights on civil engineering – and is pursuing her goal in the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of British Columbia.
Natasha Carson Burnaby Mountain
Natasha excelled academically as an AP student with a 98% average in her top 13 senior level courses. She was awarded Student of the Year in Biology and Chemistry and Top Student in 2015.
A trailblazer, Natasha was one of the first to enrol in the District’s new Robotics Program. She recognized that the practical enrichment it offered would enlighten her in ways that no regular classroom could.
It extended her knowledge of technology in computer programming, circuity (Arduino microcontroller systems), mechanical build (VEX Robotics), and computer aided industrial drafting. Then, as a real life working practicum, the class was involved with the installation of wireless communication technologies at Burnaby Central Secondary.
Natasha balanced her academics with community involvement that focused on her passions. She was an event coordinator for the Vancouver High School Science Olympics, a volunteer at UBC’s Geering-Up Science Camp for Kids, and tutor to her student peers. She also chaired the Youth-In-Action Humanitarian Club and was a teaching assistant at her local church.
Natasha is currently at the University of British Columbia and plans on pursuing health sciences or artificial intelligence in cognitive systems. Always inquisitive, she is exploring a career option in optometry through UBC’s Third World Eye Care Society.
Sherry Zhang Burnaby North
Sherry Zhang excelled academically throughout her years at Burnaby North. But it was her authentic desire to work with others to achieve success where she really stood out as a role model – from sharing her knowledge in a tutoring capacity with peers in Burnaby North’s Success Program to tutoring elementary students as an enthusiastic member of the Math Buddies Team.
Sherry often sought ways to challenge herself. Though English was not her first language she chose an academic research and writing course in her final year. Her teacher says her research paper was “a masterful piece of work.” She was particularly inspired by learning to code which she describes at the “true passion of her academic life.” Always eager to learn, her physics teacher suggested that she focus more on the idea of learning, with less emphasis on her GPA. She was subsequently surprised when this sage advice led to an even higher average in her final year – 100% in every senior level class.
Sherry received multiple post-secondary awards, including prestigious offers from Simon Fraser University, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. She ultimately chose the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Science where she plans to pursue her interest in mathematical sciences.
Gillian Xu Burnaby South
Gillian Xu, is a bright and hardworking student who is always willing to help her peers. Her dedicated focus on her academic studies led her to achieve a 97.5 % average. This included perfect grades in Pre-Calculus 12, Art Foundations 12, and AP French Literature.
Gillian was also among the first graduates of the AP Capstone Diploma Program. With a deep love for literature, she completed a major presentation on William Blake in her AP Capstone Research class and achieved a perfect mark for this project. Her passion for the literary world has led her to McGill University where she is studying literature.
Nikola Deretic Byrne Creek
Nikola Deretic personifies the combination of academic excellence, character, and community service that Byrne Creek students are known for. Since grade 7, Nikola has earned an annual academic award as one of the top scholars and since grade 10, he has earned 100% in ten courses, including AP Biology, Calculus and Physics. His average mark of his best 13 courses was over 99%, and he achieved 15 individual subject awards.
A keen volunteer, Nikola was particularly proud of his work with the Leo Club, fundraising for winter essentials for the homeless. He was also a popular tutor and mentor, for which he earned service awards in grades 11 and 12. In the community, Nikola volunteered at events put on by Burnaby Village Museum, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and Burnaby Parks. He also helped run summer camps and became a well-respected role model for the children he worked with.
Nikola won numerous district and community scholarships, including McGill University’s $26,000 entrance scholarship. He is currently attending the Univerity of British Columbia in the Faculty of Science, and plans to become a medical researcher.
Natalie Warkentin Cariboo Hill
Natalie Warkentin is a leader dedicated to academic excellence, extracurricular activities, and the community. In her final two years at École Cariboo Hill, she achieved an average of 97%, and earned top marks on all of her AP exams. She also placed in the top 3% of the Concours d’art Oratoire and the Pascal Math Contest.
Natalie was a co-founder of École Cariboo Hill’s Best Buddies, a peer mentorship program that supports students with exceptional learning needs. She was also a member of the Youth Action Committee and the Grad Council. Equally proficient playing the French horn, violin, and piano, she shares this talent voluntarily. At the local community school, she assisted with a music program for at-risk students, and on a mission trip to Albania, she worked with children and community leaders through art.
Presently attending Capernwary Harbour Bible School, Natalie will soon continue her studies at the University of British Columbia, majoring in French and art. She eventually plans to pursue a Masters of Education.
Angela Lin Moscrop
As École Moscrop’s recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Medal, Angela Lin was a hardworking, articulate and conscientious student who excelled equally in both the arts and sciences. She also won academic awards in geography and various sciences.
What stood out about her was Angela’s ability to make cross-curricular connections blending different perspectives and knowledge as she analysed situations and problems. Additionally, she worked well amongst multiple peer groups and was active in many different clubs at school and within the community.
Angela received an academic scholarship from the University of British Columbia. She is studying in the Faculty of Sciences and plans to pursue a major in biochemistry or chemistry. She eventually plans to work at a hospital in the field of Pharmacology.