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Why Give | Impact stories

“This is amazing!”: thanks to donors, Steven Xu is following his dream at UBC

Like his parents, Steven Xu has a passion for engineering. He is excited about what the future holds—and the opportunities that donors have helped make possible.

“It was really unexpected! Sitting in high school English class, I remember seeing that email come in and thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing!'”

Steven Xu had just found out that he had won the UBC Presidential Scholars Award for the fall of 2022. His next step was obvious.

“I called my mom right away!”

Fast forward, Steven is now finishing his first year in engineering at the UBC Faculty of Applied Science in Vancouver. Originally from Kelowna, BC, he’s grateful for the opportunities that are made possible by donors who support students like him.

The Faculty of Applied Science’s student design teams were one such opportunity that stood out. One team that caught Steven’s attention was the UBC Sailbot team, which designs sailboats capable of travelling long distances—all automatically. Now a team member, he looks forward to contributing to the project’s mission.

“I think our most recent one is going to Hawaii—but we’re now designing a new one to go to Alaska.”

Steven’s passion for engineering is something that was given to him by both his parents—his mother is a mechanical engineer and his father works in civil engineering.

“I wanted to go into engineering because I really enjoyed that hands-on approach and learning how to problem solve,” he says. “Understanding engineering and how many different disciplines were available piqued my interest.”

Steven has also become involved in the UBC Scholar’s Community, which has given him the chance to meet alumni and donors in person.

“I don’t think I can express my thanks to donors in just words. The amount of support they’ve given me, not just financial, gives me access to a whole array of different opportunities!”

Donor support has given Steven time to volunteer and pursue his passion for extracurricular sports.

“I volunteer at the Engineering Undergrad Society (EUS), currently. I’m a Red Sales representative, so I help sell engineering merchandise … which funds EUS opportunities. I also played in the UBC Handley Cup Soccer League first semester and was a team captain in the Nitobe Basketball League this semester. I also joined the UBC Muay Thai club to continue my martial arts—it’s been really fun to stay active!”

Looking ahead to his second year, Steven wants to declare his major in Engineering Physics. Through his studies, he hopes to contribute to society and play his part in shaping a better future.

“Engineering Physics is a very demanding program, particularly with its focus on research and development,” says Steven. “Many graduates have started their own companies and created new technologies. I would love to contribute to artificial intelligence research.”

Thanks to the generosity of donors, Steven has access to future growth, development and networking opportunities as a student—and a person.

“I’m excited for what my degree will do for me—and the new people I’m going to meet.”

If you would like to support outstanding students like Steven, please give to the FORWARD for Students Fund.

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