First year MPH student and University of Alberta (U of A) alumnus Devan Tchir has been honoured with the 2016 U of A Students’ Union Centenary Award for Outstanding Community Leadership.
Tchir, who graduated from the U of A with a BSc in Psychology in 2015, and a BSc in Neuroscience in 2016, was presented with the award at a ceremony on October 21 for his exceptional contributions to community leadership during his time as a student with the university.
Among many community projects, Tchir volunteered with Canadian Blood Services and the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Alta., where he progressed to a leadership role and to mentor incoming volunteers. “When it comes to volunteering with patients, I believe doing good is contagious” he laughs. “In seriousness, when you are directly interacting with patients or blood donors, and you are giving your time with a smile on your face and a positive attitude, it inspires others to do the same.”
Tchir worked as a volunteer for the U of A’s incoming student orientations and the campus Week of Welcome, and he recognizes the importance of giving back to the student community by helping new students through those first challenging days away from home. “Personally, I remember the upper year students that welcomed me to the university in my first year to this day,” he said.
Inspired by his community leadership work in Edmonton health agencies and the transformative impact his volunteering has had on patients, Tchir has journeyed across the prairies to complete his MPH degree at the U of S School of Public Health.
He believes strong leadership in public health lies at the core of helping those who are disadvantaged, and he sees the potential to make a difference in people’s lives as a future public health professional.
Throughout his community leadership work, Tchir has not allowed a leadership label to obscure what he calls “the bigger picture”: that he is committed to helping others both as a volunteer and a mentor. “For me, being a good community leader means being selfless, instilling selfless qualities into others, and encouraging new leaders,” he said. “It is about creating a respectful environment to focus on helping the less fortunate, and doing the right thing even when it is hard. A community full of these individuals is a pretty cool thing to imagine!”