“I remember the day a phone call changed my life forever.”
UBC student Ahmed Masood is recalling the moment he found out he had been awarded the UBC Centennial Scholars Award.
“As soon as I heard the news my fears, worries, and anxieties disappeared. My dreams were coming true!”
Though a lot of time has passed since that phone call, Ahmed is still feeling the impact of the award. In September, he entered his final year in the School of Kinesiology, pursuing neuromechanics and a minor in commerce. His life is now filled with opportunities, possibilities, and potential. But it wasn’t always this way.
Ahmed faced many challenges growing up in a low-income family in Surrey, BC. “I remember working 40 hours a week in my senior year to afford tuition, university applications, and balance my costs of living.”
Like many young adults, Ahmed snuck out of the house often—but in his case, it was to study. For Ahmed, home was not always the ideal place to work, so he may even have been found “studying for final exams sitting on the floor of my local bank.”
Despite these challenges, Ahmed never let himself be defeated. In the seventh grade, Ahmed was already interested in science, creating bioplastics from potatoes at his school’s science fair. And as a high school student, he had the opportunity to conduct climate research in Iceland, funded by National Geographic. Still, attending university felt like a far-off dream.
“I had the drive, but I did not have the means,” he says. And that’s where donors stepped in.
“Real change is happening because of donors. It’s not just alleviating someone’s family from financial burden—it’s the fact that people can go to university who otherwise would not have.”
With his education, Ahmed hopes to make a genuine impact in his community.
“I want to cater my studies towards targeting something that is a genuine problem—not only in Surrey, but the Lower Mainland as a whole,” he says.
In addition to his studies, Ahmed has also gained valuable experience through his community work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked at Surrey Memorial Hospital, gaining insight into healthcare professionals’ challenges and the importance of preparedness in the face of a global crisis. He has also pursued research in spinal cord injury and worked with metabolic syndrome patients in Indigenous communities, helping them live healthier lives. Ahmed has also volunteered with Fraser Health’s SafePoint injection site in Surrey, BC.
His passion for making a difference extends into the UBC community—and he is actively involved on campus. He is the president of the Order of Omega, a society that recognizes the top three percent of seniors in their institutions who exemplify scholarship, leadership, and community involvement. Ahmed is also the Risk Management Head of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity—responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of fraternity members and promoting a positive organizational culture. As well, he is a former executive and current brand representative for the UBC Calendar, where he promotes campus culture through student-run events for the UBC community.
As Ahmed gets nearer to the end of his studies, he is close to achieving a goal that once seemed out of reach. His story is a testament to the power of hard work, determination—and the life-changing impact donors can make by helping students achieve their dreams.