Magee Secondary School
Suzanna is a passionate student who has exhibited great perseverance and initiative throughout her high school years. As far back as in grade eight, she participated in building an Android application called "ZeroWaste," which provides a method of ensuring environmental protection in the Metro Vancouver area by educating her users on each of the three sustainability goals of "recycle," "reuse," and "reduce." The application is available on the Google Play store. It has won international first place in the Technovation Challenge of 2017—a competition encouraging girls worldwide to find solutions to real-world problems using STEM technologies—and gained Suzanna the chance to pitch in front of Google's CEO at Silicon Valley, California.
However, Suzanna's unconventional journey is also marked by a significant setback—a year of withdrawal from school due to mental health concerns. While many may shy away from discussing such topics, Suzanna shows true strength in openly discussing, advocating, and spreading awareness on these increasingly prevalent issues. She does so in many ways: an animated YouTube video, a "stand-up comedy" in front of officials from Vancouver Coastal Health, a virtual mental health toolkit specifically for youths of colour, and meticulously-crafted works of writing. Additionally regarding her writing, she produces monthly articles of social justice advocacy on the teenage-led publication of "Detester Magazine." The topics include race-specific mental health concerns, the ongoing Yemeni humanitarian crisis, the issue of police responding to mental health emergencies, the suicide "epidemic" sweeping our Canadian First Nations, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis.
Suzanna has also been maintaining academic merit simultaneously with her works of advocacy; she is well on the path of graduating on time despite a year of absence. As a grade 12 student, she was recently given a long-awaited diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. While one may expect her to disguise this identity to avoid stereotypical perceptions, Suzanna, corresponding with her persistently courageous endeavours, once again chooses to speak openly and advocate. With an article on disability discrimination already being underway, I hope you can understand Suzanna as a unique individual with a genuine passion for making a difference.
Suzanna has also been involved in a volunteer chamber music ensemble called "Vanstrings Chamber Music." While they would perform weekly concerts at senior homes across the region, they could not do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Suzanna reached out to officials from a local hospital on behalf of the group to arrange an $8,000 donation and a virtual fundraising concert, which can be found using the following link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgs9lMQK5VQ). As a lead organizer, Suzanna gave a personal speech towards the end of the concert, at around 50:26 of the video.
Additionally, please visit Suzanna's online portfolio (www.suzannachen03portfolio.com) to find some of the advocacy works