Azra Jessa got a call this summer that many university students can only dream about: she had won the President’s National Entrance Scholarship, a $40,000 prize.
She wasn’t sure it was real at first.
“It took a while for the news to really sink in … I was elated. I couldn’t believe I’d actually won,” said the first-year computer science student.
“It feels great to be rewarded … It is also a motivation for me to continue maintaining my grades and continuing to work harder.”
Ryerson awards the scholarship, valued at $40,000 over four years provided recipients keep their grades up, to a first-year student from each of the university’s six faculties.
To qualify for the award, students must have an incoming grade average of at least 90 per cent, display leadership abilities, write an application essay, and provide two reference letters.
Jessa hopes her win can be a beacon of hope for newcomers. It’s an experience Jessa knows well.
Though she was born in Toronto, she was mostly raised in the U.S. and Belgium. Her mother is from Pakistan and her father from India, but Jessa considers herself a Canadian at heart.
At 15, she moved back to her hometown of Toronto and jumped right into life in Canada. Jessa was the captain of the varsity softball and basketball team and did volunteer work for the Jaffari Community Centre and the Young Muslims Athletic Association.
Jessa’s parents have always motivated her to get involved with sports and extracurricular activities along with focusing on her education.
“My family was extremely proud. They have always been supportive in all my endeavours and receiving the scholarship made them all very happy,” she added.
Jessa says she is enjoying her life as a university studet and loves the diversity Ryerson offers.
Jessa doesn’t know exactly what her future will hold, but says she does want to do something big one day.
“I’ve always tried to be well-rounded and put my best effort into everything I do, and I hope to continue to do so in the future.”