March 5, 2024

UCalgary students and alumni among Alberta’s Top 30 Under 30 for work in sustainability

Honourees inspire positive change and dedicate themselves to creating a more equitable, fair and sustainable world
UCalgary award winners
From left: Alberta Top 30 Under 30 honourees Mirza Beg, Seniru Ruwanpura, Kevin Vibat, Holly Basiuk, Chaten Jessel, Taimur Akhtar Janaka Ruwanpura

Six students and alumni from the University of Calgary have been awarded Alberta's Top 30 Under 30 award. This honour is given every year by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC) to acknowledge and raise awareness of the efforts of young individuals who are contributing toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The theme of this year’s Top 30 Under 30 campaign is Climate Action, which is the 13th SDG, with a focus on climate justice. ACGC acknowledges that the effects of climate change are not distributed equally and that those who have contributed the least to it are the ones who are impacted the most. 

The honourees were nominated by their community and selected by a committee of peers for their commendable work in making the world a more just, fair and sustainable place for everyone.

“Congratulations to the remarkable award recipients from UCalgary who have been recognized for their exceptional contributions to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals!” says Dr. Penny Werthner, interim provost and vice-president (academic). 

“We applaud your leadership, dedication and efforts to take urgent action to address global challenges. Keep inspiring others to strive towards a better, sustainable world for all.” 

The winners from UCalgary are involved in various fields such as gender equality, accessibility to technology, diversity in health care, conservation and more. They aim to consider the implications of climate change and justice in their work. The awardees were recognized Feb. 10 during International Development Week.  

The recipients are working on specific SDG goals and represent faculties including Schulich School of Engineering, Faculty of Science, Haskayne School of Business and Cumming School of Medicine.

2024 UCalgary recipients

Taimur Akhtar, Bachelor of Science student, major in mechanical engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

Seniru Ruwanpura, Bachelor of Science student, major in software engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

Nima Macci, BSc (Eng)’21, major in chemical engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

Chaten Jessel, BSc’22, Faculty of Science, current Doctor of Medicine student, Cumming School of Medicine 

Mirza Beg, Bachelor of Health Sciences – Honours student, major in biomedical science, Cumming School of Medicine 

Deborah Ola, Bachelor of Health Sciences – Honours student, major in biomedical sciences, Cumming School of Medicine 

Kevin Vibat, BSc’22 (Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology), BSc’22 (Environmental Science), MMgmt’23, Faculty of Science, Haskayne School of Business

Holly Basiuk, BSc’22, Faculty of Science, major in environmental science, with embedded certificate in sustainability studies; Master of Science student, major in geoscience 

Farah Rahmani, Bachelor of Science student, major in neuroscience, Faculty of Science

Both Rahamani and Basiuk are working toward sustainable change through inclusivity. 

“Everyone can bring about change; it’s all about taking the first step,” says Rahamani. 

Adds Basiuk: “I want field research to be more accessible and inclusive to all people, which means breaking down barriers that have been put in place by those who have historically had access to resources.” 

Beg and Ola advocate for sustainability through collaborative solutions and vocal advocacy.

“Oftentimes, it seems difficult to address the sustainable development goals due to their wide scope,” says Beg. “As an individual, it is impossible to overcome the complex network of systematic problems leading to the apparent crisis. However, even if you are unable to tackle sustainability alone, work towards bringing a team of skilled and motivated individuals together that can.” 

Don’t be afraid to be vocal about issues you are passionate about, says Ola: “Your voice and experiences are incredibly meaningful, and you have the power to make the world a more equitable place.” 

Macci’s journey toward this honour has been shaped by her sincere desire to be a more effective problem-solver and make a positive impact in the field of sustainability. 

“Pursuing an engineering degree from the Schulich School of Engineering provided me with the technical skills and analytical mindset necessary to tackle complex challenges with confidence and precision,” she says. 

Recipient Seniru Ruwanpura is a Seymour Schulich Scholar for Community Service and Entrepreneurship, a member of the university’s Scholars Academy, and faculty representative on the Students’ Union. 

Sustainability is vital to all work efforts in the 21st century,” he says. “No longer is it acceptable to simply achieve success in our specific goals; we must ensure that our efforts and objectives are compatible for generations to come, as well.” 

Both Macci and Ruwanpura are leading sustainable solutions through engineering expertise and community engagement. 

Congratulations to these exceptional young leaders on their well-deserved recognition. 

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices, and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability.

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