Jagan Sivakumaran - Standing out in a flood of faces

It’s your first day of university. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and open the door to the lecture hall.

There’s a flood of faces.

You realize that every single one of these faces is there to do the same thing that you want to do. And suddenly, it’s no longer about how you’re going to fit in.

It’s about how you’ll stand out.

Jagan Sivakumaran, a third-year Bachelor of Medical Science student, is the type of person who stands out in a room full of people. He is energetic, passionate and driven to succeed.

Born in Saskatoon, and raised in Cambridge, Sivakumaran is the youngest of three boys. Although his older brothers chose similar academic paths related to medicine, Sivakumaran explained that his choice to pursue an Honors Specialization in Pharmacology comes from his strong interest in math and science.

Throughout his three years as a BMSc student, Sivakumaran has built up an impressive resume.

Sivakumaran worked as a research assistant in the summer of 2013, after his first year of university, through an Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Interdisciplinary (AMBI) Undergraduate Research Award offered by the Centre for Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research (CAMBR) at Western Univeristy.

Sivakumaran’s project was to study crystallization phenomena related to the prevention of the crystallization of calcium oxalate, the main mineral component of kidney stones, at the molecular level using the atomic force microscope. He was hired the following summer as well as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) student.

“Working on a research project has taught me so much about self-motivation and perseverance,” said Sivakumaran. “It’s so easy to want to give up or get frustrated when you spend time working on something that doesn’t always pan out, but the pay-off is always so much better when you make progress.”

Sivakumaran also took on the role of Vice-President, Volunteer in the Bachelor of Medical Sciences Association (BMSA). BMSA is student-run association whose goal is to connect current and prospective BMSc students to academic support, volunteering placement opportunities within the London community, and career resources.

“I love being involved and I am always open to new opportunities. It gives me a chance to get to know my peers, meet new people and really create a supportive network to surround myself,” said Sivakumaran.

Through his role in the BMSA, Sivakumaran welcomed an opportunity to take the lead in organizing the Hockey Helps the Homeless fundraiser for Western University. The extremely successful event was held in March 2015 and helped raise more than $43,000 for Youth Opportunities London.

“The time and effort dedicated to this initiative, coupled with the academic demands of his third year in the Honors Specialization in Pharmacology, are both strong indicators of a very successful future for this young man,” commented Joan Estabrooks, Program Coordinator, BMSUE.

“Jagan is an enthusiastic leader with a keen desire to motivate his peers to make a difference in the lives of others,” Estabrooks explained.

In his free time, Sivakumaran enjoys spending time with friends and meeting new people, playing basketball and softball, and going to the gym.

When asked how he manages to strike a balance between his many endeavors, he doesn’t bat an eye and simply explains: “It’s really all about prioritizing. I just try to stay focused on what I have to do in the moment. Sometimes things get pushed to the bottom of the list, but everything I do is worth it at the end of the day.”

In the future, Sivakumaran plans to apply for medical school, and he has aspirations to move to a bigger city. But no matter where he ends up, he’ll be sure to continue to stand out in the crowd.