Diagnosed with leukemia halfway through Grade 9 at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, Rois Chand had some difficult days.
“I had to stop going to school because for that first month I was stuck in the hospital, and the chemo was starting to affect my nerves, so even getting out of bed or walking stairs was difficult,” recalled the Surrey-raised Chand, now 18 and going to university.
“It still has a toll on me,” he added, “but I look at it as, that was a road I had to take to get where I am now.”
Today, he’s a recipient of Coast Capital’s annual Standing Tall Education Awards and also the Beth Hutchinson Award, given to a Surrey student who has achieved academic success despite significant health challenges.
Six Surrey-area youth received $3,500 Standing Tall Awards this year, including Chand, Laila Lewis-Innes, Outor Bkri Basha and three others (Harman, Charlize and Cherryne) who prefer not to disclose their last names.
Following his diagnosis, Chand eventually returned to school full-time, “leaning into positivity and hard work to successfully complete his secondary education,” according to an awards bio. He’s now studying journalism at Kwantlen Polytechnic University while continuing to receive treatment.
“Since I was eight or nine, it’s the only career path I wanted, journalism,” Chand explained. “The grant will help a lot because I’m not able to work right now, so it gives me a boost while I can’t do anything to make money, and it will also ease the burden on my parents.”
This $5,000 Hutchinson award is named for past recipient Beth Hutchinson, a 2012 Standing Tall winner from Surrey who later lost her battle with cancer.
Coast Capital’s Standing Tall awards program supports B.C. students in their pursuit of post-secondary education by recognizing “resilient youth who have risen up against the odds and demonstrated an incredible commitment to continuing their education, instead of solely recognizing academic performance.”
Each $3,500 prize, award administrators say, “makes the increasing cost of tuition and living expenses more manageable for young people who may not have access to funding through traditional sources such as parents or loan programs.”