Commitment to the community — Harpreet Singh Chahal and Mei Wen

Harpreet Singh Chahal, BMSc’13, and Mei Wen, BMSc ’14, are both committed to bettering their community. Whether it is through raising awareness about the importance of literacy, or helping at-risk youth, these BMSc alumni have made Schulich Medicine & Dentistry proud by making time to give back in a variety of ways.

Mei Wen, BMSc ’14

Mei Wen, BMSc ’14 and a student in Schulich Medicine & Dentistry's Master of Public Health Program, volunteered her time on a weekly basis at Street Connection, a drop in centre founded in London for at risk youth, for more than a year.

“Volunteering at Street Connection was my way of spending my Friday nights. No matter how tired I felt before going to the centre, I would always end up leaving feeling very gratified that I used my time reaching out to the homeless youth in the London community,” Wen said.

Recognizing the importance of providing support to at risk youth, as well as creating awareness and educating the public, Wen and another volunteer decided to create a fundraising initiative called Youth Lifting Youth. Wen’s main goal for the fundraiser was to help Street Connection alleviate some of their financial responsibility, as well as raise awareness at Western University, Fanshawe College and high schools in London for the homeless youth community.

Harpreet Singh Chahal, BMSc’13

“Growing up, I would try to support my parents, who emigrated from India, when they faced the challenges and barriers of reading, writing and speaking English,” said Harpreet Singh Chahal, BMSc’13.

A current graduate trainee in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Chahal has always understood the importance of literacy and its ability to help people achieve their goals, develop their knowledge and potential, and participate fully in their community.

In 2011, his volunteering experiences began working as a tutor in an after-school homework club where he helped to create a fun and supportive atmosphere that assisted learners with their school work. Activities ranged from taking turns reading picture books, to engaging workshops and oral presentations. Chahal could relate to many of the learners in the program as they were predominately new Canadians and children of new Canadians.

“On-site, we tried to remove the unhelpful dichotomy inherent to labels like ‘literate’ vs. ‘illiterate’ and instead captured literacy as a life-long journey to improve in ways that are important to you,” Chahal said. “I can think of my mom in that regard – someone who watches grammar videos on YouTube to this day.”

In 2013, Chahal worked with Frontier College – a Canada-wide, not-for-profit literacy organization which partners with local organizations to help develop literacy programs and support them with tutors and materials.

Currently, Chahal is a volunteer at a program for children run by the London Intercommunity Health Centre called S.H.A.C. – short for Snacks, Homework, Activities and Crafts.