by Victoria Alvarez
Sanjae Mahmud is many things: a dedicated and passionate YMCA of Greater Toronto volunteer mentor; a student; the daughter of a single mother who is new to Canada; and, along with her siblings Sajin and Samin, a triplet. Now, she can add another attribute to this list: winner of a prestigious new scholarship.
Earlier this year, Sanjae was named one of 150 winners of a scholarship through the Ted Rogers Scholarship Fund, which recognizes volunteerism and community leadership by providing $2,500 per year for up to four years of study at a university undergraduate, college, or trade program. Sanjae’s a perfect fit for this award: as a volunteer mentor for the Y’s Newcomer Youth Leadership Development (NYLD) and Next Stop Canada programs, she assists newcomer youth with the community integration process, and helps pre-arrival teens with their settlement in Canada through a more personal approach, including online advising sessions.
On top of Sanjae receiving a Ted Rogers Scholarship, Sajin and Samin were surprised by the CEO, Joe Natale, and Martha Rogers with two additional individual scholarships. The gesture was unexpected to the triplets and their mother, who were profusely grateful. Combined, the YMCA mentor triplets have accumulated an impressive 300+ volunteer hours.
“Volunteering is really important, as it gives us the chance to give back to our community,” Sanjae says. The Y helped her and her siblings when she was new to Canada, which gives Sanjae a unique perspective to communicate directly with her youth mentees in an impactful way. “I can relate to them,” she says, “as I have been in the same position before.”
As students and immigrants, being Ted Rogers Scholarship recipients is doubly meaningful for Sanjae and her siblings. “Scholarship programs give students the opportunity to pursue education without having to worry about the money issues that come with going to university or college,” she says. “It helps students pursue their dreams.”
“We are so incredibly proud of Sanjae, Samin, and Sajin,” says Nina Arcon, a YMCA Next Stop Canada Youth Coordinator. “They’ve contributed so much to the YMCA of Greater Toronto over the years and have made a lasting impact on pre- and post-arrival newcomer success. Everyone who was involved in their scholarship application process couldn’t be happier. For other volunteers who are interested in applying for post-secondary scholarships, be sure to reach out to your program advisors or coordinators. A simple recommendation letter can go a long way!”
It seems volunteerism, in turn, can reap great rewards.