Jasmine Tehara lived in a different Smithers in the early 1990s than what is known today.
“In Smithers Secondary School, we had pretty significant issues around diversity or racism,” said Tehara, noting that there was not a large population of south Asian or Chinese people living in the area.
“We had issues at school and it was something that I cared about deeply. Everyone wants to have a feeling of belonging and wants to know they have a place.”
In an effort to make students of different ethnicities feel more at home, Tehara organized a weekend-long multicultural camp where students talked through their issues and figured out ways to solve them.
Her drive to start the club helped earn her a TD Scholarship for Community Leadership in 1997.
Tehara went on to receive an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Applied Economics and Political Studies from Queen’s University.
Currently, she works at TD Bank Group as the vice president of HR shared services in Toronto.
The scholarship program is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Tehara was the only person from northern B.C. to be selected as one of the 20 faces of the program.
“There are over 350 scholars and it’s hard to believe that I was in the early years,” she said. “To think that I was selected among the group of 20 is hugely flattering.”
Jane Thompson, executive director of the scholarship program, said Tehara is an excellent role model.
“It’s a rare person like Jasmine who steps up and says ‘okay, I can do something about this,’ and actually create change,” said Thompson.
“She showed a lot of sophistication in her ability to do stuff coming from a very small town.”
Applications are now open for the TD Scholarships for Community Leadership Program. Each of the 20 scholarships is valued at up to $70,000.
Students must be in their final year of high school and be able to demonstrate a consistent effort to better their community.
For more information or to apply, visit www.td.com/scholarship.
The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 28.