When you meet Crystal Song, she is full of energy and ambition. She’s the kind of person you meet and instinctively think, “we’re going to say we knew her when.” Unless you asked, you would have no idea she, like many, was a new immigrant.
Crystal is 17 years old and has just graduated from Vancouver Technical Secondary School. She is the 2015 recipient of the CST Karthiha Guruparan Scholarship.
She will be university bound in the fall and her future is bright, but looking back life wasn’t always so easy.
It was 2006 when Crystal first set foot on Canadian soil. Her family had immigrated from China and the transition was tough.
“As a new immigrant, my parents also struggled with employment. My dad would often come home from an exhausting day of physical labour, with sweat and injuries and remind me to study hard so I wouldn’t have to end up like him in the future,” she explained. “Understanding their sacrifices to provide the best opportunities for me…their words have since been engraved into my heart as an inspiration to commit to my studies.”
At the time, she was 8 years old and did not know how to speak English.
“It was difficult for me because I had to learn a completely different language in a completely different environment,” said Crystal.
School was a challenge.
“I used to be academically accelerated in my class but coming to Canada because of the language barriers, I was slow and behind so I wasn’t able to make friends,” she added, “it was a big attack on my self esteem.”
Eventually, Crystal’s confidence grew as she gained a stronger grasp of the English language.
“I wanted to challenge myself and I just decided to get involved in the community and just force myself to learn the language that way,” she said.
Since then she has become interested in languages and is currently studying French and Korean to add to those that she is fluent in: English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tai Shan Dialect.
How does Crystal keep top marks and manage extra-curricular activities? “I get involved in what I like to do”
Crystal will be studying a Combined Major in business and computer science at the University of British Columbia in the fall. As the recipient of the CST Karthiha Guruparan Scholarship she will receive a $6000 scholarship. The award is granted to Canadian citizens who are academically gifted, well-rounded, and pursuing their first undergraduate business degree or diploma.
Crystal Song with the Guruparan Family.
“I feel so honoured and I’m so thankful,” said Crystal who broke through barriers and is living the Canadian Dream.
She will be celebrating Canada Day in Quebec as she is there to learn French.
“To add onto my Canadian identity,” Crystal explained. “To me, being Canadian means appreciating the abundance of cultural diversity in our country.”