We’re very proud to announce our 2 guest speakers for the upcoming Surrey Youth Engagement Conference!


Sam Thiara

12067398_10156320800565144_38889338_nThrough his tireless work, Sam continues to be committed to the betterment of communities. In 2012 he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2006, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for leadership and community involvement. As a writer and blogger, his passion is to inspire and motivate others in their personal and professional development through his many adventures and reflections on life’s journey.

Sam has mentored hundreds and engaged with thousands of students over the last many years and as a result, is Co-Founder and Chief Motivating Officer of GradusOne, an organization to help high school/post-secondary and recent graduates in their life and career. Added to this, Sam is an accomplished speaker and storyteller. Either as a mentor/coach to a single student or speaking to hundreds as a keynote speaker, he shares his experiences through storytelling and has helped thousands in the pursuit of their dreams. In 2011, Sam delivered a TEDxSFU speech about ‘Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary’. This then led to “Personal Storytelling: Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary“, a book  on personal storytelling and helping the reader build their voice.

Since 2004, Sam found his calling at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. His leadership role has always been to enhance the student/alumni/young professional experience so they develop their personal brand. Sam has been creative and innovative in his approach to student/alumni engagement and has created countless opportunities for his audiences. Prior to SFU, Sam was part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid Committee and ICBC road safety where it was about about community building. With 35+ volunteer organizations that Sam has been involved with from the board, advisory to volunteer level, he has dedicated countless hours to his communities.

Sam completed his Masters in Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter in England, has a double major in Business Administration and Political Science from SFU, a community leadership program through Leadership Vancouver, a Human Resources certificate from BCIT, and adult education certification with Vancouver Community College.

Sam consistently strives to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary and his journey is documented online. His favourite saying and what he lives by: “Everyone’s life is an autobiography…make yours worth reading!”


Anushka Kurian

12124406_10156320800655144_389147964_oAnushka Kurian is a grade 12 writer, speaker, and humanitarian from Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond. A TedxYouth speaker, Youth Journalist, and Interact Co-President, she believes in the vitality of spreading volunteerism, self-love, and social justice to her generation’s changing world.

For as long as she can remember, Anushka has been fascinated with “Why’s”. When she was 8 years old, she visited her family in India, where for the first time she stared unrelenting poverty in the eyes. Seeing the raw hardships that kids like her had to face startled her into a gripping reality; she was incredibly privileged, while the kids her age, who were wire thin and starving, were not, and she didn’t know why. Since then, Anushka has spent the better part of her life trying to figure out, “why?”. Why poverty still rules the lives of too many, why there are girls being denied their right to education, why her generation has been dubbed the most depressed of all time, and why too many people around the world aren’t given the opportunity to follow their passions.

In August 2015, after travelling to South Africa on a three week mission trip with her school and Rotary International, Anushka returned home with more “why”s than ever before – but most importantly, the need to spread volunteerism. Being someone passionate about a wide and often random medley of activities and hobbies in her everyday life, Anushka aims to share the power that something as simple as passion can have in making a difference in the world. Why there are still so many people in need, why there is still so much to do for the world, and why youth are the ones who have the power to do it. Advocating the Rotary ideology of “service above self,” Anushka wants to remind her generation that they have the strength to incredibly impact the lives of others, and to ask the questions that drive us to get there. Not why, but why not?