Less than two years after his death in Delta, KPU student Brian Nadjiwon is being remembered with a new scholarship created by the university’s department of geography and the environment.
The $2,000 scholarship is hosted and administered by Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC) so it can reach a province-wide audience.
Nadjiwon died of a heart attack while cleaning a garage in August 2020.
“He died in my arms,” his twin brother, Brent, told the Now-Leader. “He was looking to do some big things in his later years in life but unfortunately, that won’t happen. Hopefully the scholarship will inspire someone else.”
An “About Brian” page on KPU’s website says Nadjiwon “mobilized his skills in computers to develop his keen interest in geologic processes in the Pacific Northwest, writing elaborate programs to scrape data from various government websites on earthquake events and geologic processes, plotting them in time and space, and developing theories to explain the patterns that he uncovered.”
By 2020 he was working with faculty at KPU “to position himself to develop his passion for geoscience in graduate school.”
Nadjiwon was born in the early 1960s to a mother “grappling with the trauma of residential school and the erosion of Indigenous culture through hundreds of years of colonialism,” the bio says. “Like tens of thousands of Indigenous children, Brian and his twin brother were scooped up into the foster system – separated from each other and their culture by the time they were 5 years old.”
In his 20s, he was jailed for petty crimes for the better part of a decade, the bio continues.
“Despite his challenging youth, Brian cultivated his intense passion for learning, particularly for math, science and technology. Without a university degree, Brian landed a job in IT with the federal government in Ottawa, then moved out west and secured a job with Microsoft.”
A decade ago, Brian moved in with a close friend on a farm in South Delta.
“The last 10 years of Brian’s life were his most serene,” the bio says. “Brian dedicated himself to his friends and family, in particular to his son Ryan, who is non-verbal and has Autism. Brian gave up substance use and cultivated a fulfilling life on the farm, and decided to take his passion for learning mainstream by enrolling in Computer Science at KPU.”
Brent Nadjiwon says he’s honoured KPU now pays tribute to his brother with a scholarship.
“Brian and I both had difficult lives and we only reconnected a few years ago before his passing,” Brent recalled. “I was grateful to be able to spend those years with him and I am happy that KPU is creating this scholarship to keep my brother’s memory alive.”
Dr. Leonora King is a geography instructor at KPU who had Brian for three classes.
“Brian loved the geological sciences and to lose his potential contributions to the field is really sad, for the science and for Brian,” says King. “What I thought was, Brian couldn’t achieve his dream but maybe we could help someone else do that.”
Meantime, close to 200 high school students will be introduced to new academic and career opportunities over the next three years thanks to a $200,000 gift from Scotiabank.
The Future Students’ Office at KPU and the KPU Foundation worked with Scotiabank to develop the Scotiabank Strive Dual Credit Program, to give high school students the opportunity to take courses that give them credits toward both the secondary and undergraduate post-secondary level.
“However, data shows persistent participation gaps in dual credit programs for Indigenous and racialized students, youth in care and students from low-income backgrounds,” says a news release. “The ScotiaRISE grant enables KPU to remodel a traditional dual credit program to address these low participation rates.”
Learn more about the program online, kpu.ca/dual-credit.