Soheyla Kaur Sodhi, 17, is a recent graduate from Semiahmoo Secondary School. An avid fan of hockey, basketball, and martial arts, she enjoys playing violin and piano, cooking, baking, and reading.
Playing the violin has taught Soheyla life-long skills: goal setting, discipline, focus, and perseverance. She has won awards in various violin and piano competitions. “The best feeling when I perform is that the piece I am playing consumes me—as if I’m being transported to another world.”
“I strongly believe in being involved in leadership roles and taking the initiative to make a difference in my community,” Soheyla said. She is hard-working, compassionate, creative, intelligent, and responsible. She has a strong work ethic, which comes from being surrounded by positive role models—her parents, grandparents, and family friends. They have always taught her the value of hard work and integrity.
Soheyla maintains a high level of academic achievement while being dedicated to playing the violin. She began taking violin and piano lessons between the ages of three and four. As a child, she dreamed of playing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She took lessons at the VSO School of Music at the age of eight and joined their junior orchestra. When Soheyla began playing in the school’s elite string orchestra, Sinfonietta, her childhood dream was fulfilled at twelve. She played side-by-side with the VSO and worked with world-class musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Bramwell Tovey, the Australian String Quartet, and many others.
For most of her childhood, Soheyla remembers being acutely aware of the children worldwide who did not have the same privileges and opportunities. Unsure of what to do to help, she began asking for donations for charities on her birthday instead of presents. She also helped establish the Kindness Club at her elementary school.
Playing the violin has taught Soheyla life-long skills: goal setting, discipline, focus, and perseverance. She has won awards in various violin and piano competitions. “The best feeling when I perform is when the piece I’m playing consumes me—as if I’m being transported to another world.”
For most of her childhood, Soheyla remembers being acutely aware of the children worldwide who did not have the same privileges and opportunities. Unsure of what to do to help, she began asking for donations for charities on her birthday instead of presents. She also helped establish the Kindness Club at her elementary school. “I believe it’s important to be an active participant in one’s community,” Soheyla affirms.
After going through a challenging loss, Soheyla positively channeled her grief by founding the Big and Little Sisters mentorship organization. “The shock of my grandmother’s passing at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic made me realize how precious she was in my life. I called my grandmother multiple times per week, baked sweets, and visited her on her porch. I wished that I had spent more time with her.” The organization creates a space for young girls who have difficulty finding a female role model. They practice goal-setting, discuss problem-solving strategies and friendship, and engage in fun activities like painting and baking, allowing them to bond in a fun atmosphere. “I hope to be a positive role model to young girls in the same way I had role models to look up to when I was growing up.”
Soheyla was an executive member of the Globalizers Club at her high school. They hold a variety of fundraisers to promote positive change on a global scale. One of Soheyla’s primary responsibilities was leading and organizing their annual Great Race campaign. Through this, they collaborate with ACCES Kenya to raise money for post-secondary education in Kenya. This exposure taught her more to appreciate her own privilege, having grown up with ready access to books, technology, and other educational resources. It magnified even more how hard other children had to fight to access primary education and resources.
Soheyla received her black belt in Taekwondo and also volunteers as a junior instructor. “I believe that I am a role model for young girls who come from backgrounds where such activities are not encouraged.”
Soheyla’s parents are proud of her for being a respectful and kind daughter. Soheyla lives with integrity and kindness as her way of life. Soheyla is a quiet “doer” who never brags about her achievements. She was a semi-finalist for the Loran Scholarship. There were over 5,000 applicants, and only the top 6% were chosen to be in the Semi-Finalist Round. She is also one of the recipients of the Top 25 Under 25 in Surrey and has also received a few scholarships.
“The positive experiences and opportunities I have had have shown me the importance of being an active citizen who should make my community a better place. As I begin my journey to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in university, I hope to continue to grow as a strong community leader. I want to make a difference in the lives of those in my local, national, and global community,” she says confidently.