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Aurora High grads recognized as “Leaders of Tomorrow”

July 23, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Graduation celebrations might be muted this year, but there was a celebratory air last week as two recent graduates of Aurora High School were recognized by the Town with the John West Memorial “Leaders of Tomorrow” Scholarship.

This year’s recipients, Amanda Bishop and Kiana Mirshahi, both of Aurora High School, were recognized for their volunteerism and leadership not only within the walls of AHS but in the wider Aurora community as well.

The John West “Leaders of Tomorrow” Scholarship was established through a financial bequest to the Town from the late mayor John West to recognize students going on to post-secondary education who have demonstrated clear leadership abilities while in high school.

“Kiana recently graduated from Aurora High School, finishing her secondary requirements early,” said Julie Stephenson, Youth Coordinator for the Town of Aurora, who formally presented the recipients with their scholarships. “Throughout high school, she consistently took part or led opportunities that focused on youth mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Her work and passion have led to numerous volunteer opportunities for others and have provided a clear path for improving life for those in the Aurora community – [and her work is] culminating in over 1,000 community service hours. Among her impressive contributions include partnering with her school’s administration and York Region Public Health on the Be Well to Do Well campaign, helping to lead her school’s Equity Club, and taking on a junior student leader role in her place of worship in the Ismaili Muslim community.”

In addition to these roles, Kiana has also been an integral member of the Town’s Youth Engagement Committee for the past three years, noted Ms. Stephenson, and has recently partnered with other youth to launch [a] free peer support tool for teens to address wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kiana is someone who has used her own personal obstacles and experiences to act as a proud mental health advocate and have helped her pay it forward. Her dedication to giving back and positively impacting others in the community and her extensive contributions have made Aurora a better place for residents to enjoy.”

This fall, Kiana will be attending McMaster University to start her studies in their integrated Business & Humanities program. She tells The Auroran she has “always wanted to make a difference in the world.”

“From a young age, it has been my passion to actually help people in developing countries,” she says. “Although it is hard to do that right now, I think it is best to make a difference where you can. There are still so many injustices and inequalities happening here in our community I think we really need to focus and hone in on and look at.”

Amanda Bishop, the second honouree, is looking forward to beginning a degree in Software Engineering at the University of Waterloo this September. Over the past few years, Amanda has demonstrated her passion for technology in numerous ways, including spearheading local initiatives to help women and girls break into careers in coding.

“Amanda has become a positive presence in our community through her continued activism in making STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) accessible for all and advocating for strong representation for girls and women in this field,” said Ms. Stephenson. “After working with her sister to create Why Code Aurora, a one-night panel of women in technology… developed a series of free coding camps and programs for girls. More recently, Amanda founded the First Robotics Canada FTC team known as the Aurabots at Aurora High School. The group advocates for all students to gain real life experience in engineering and programming design and business. Amanda had a personal goal of accessibility for the team, which she accomplished by securing external sponsorship, raising almost $50,000 over two years. This generous endeavour allowed other students to join the robotics team without any membership or equipment fees.”

Amanda was also recognized for her work on various organizations within Aurora High and the greater community, including toiletry drives and a Tulips for Autism initiative, which raised funds and awareness for Kerry’s Place Autism Services, as well as serving as a youth judge for the past two years at the Town’s annual Youth Innovation Fair.

“Her contributions to the community have created a positive legacy for students to carry on,” said Ms. Stephenson. “Her hard work and dedication to accessibility in STEM has created an environment where students are encouraged to engage and assist others.”

Says Amanda: “The reason I wanted to give back with the initiatives I run is some of them are things I guess I wish I had when I was younger and it made me a little bit sad they didn’t exist, so I thought I might as well do them so young girls can have that opportunity to get involved in STEM.

“For some of the other initiatives, like Tulips for Autism or my toiletries drive, that is where I have seen a need in our community and I really wanted to make an event so, that way, we could fill the need.”

By Brock Weir



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