iBioMed student’s outstanding volunteer work earns him Ontario medal

Imagine of Kusha Shirani standing for a picture with his medal around his neck

iBioMed student Kusha Shirani receiving the Ontario Young Volunteer Medal from Lieutenant Governor Edith Dumont and Michael Ford, minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

Kusha Shirani had no trouble completing the 40 hours of volunteering required for Ontario high school students to graduate. The stack of paperwork he turned into his guidance counsellor added up to 2,000 hours of community service.

Now a first-year Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences (iBioMed) student at McMaster, Shirani was recently recognized with a prestigious Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers — the highest honour a person between the ages of 15 and 24 can achieve for outstanding volunteer contributions to their communities and province.

At a Queen’s Park ceremony last month, Ontario Lieutenant Governor Edith Dumont and Michael Ford, minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, presented the award to Shirani in front of his parents and fellow award recipients.

“I felt tremendous pride. It was nice to be acknowledged for the effort, but it really was never about the recognition,” Shirani said.

His parents instilled the volunteer spirit in him at a young age when they encouraged him as a volunteer park ambassador, keeping the green space next to his house free of litter.

Through grade school, Shirani’s volunteerism evolved to working with organizations like the Oakville Trafalgar Hospital, where he served as part of the library team, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters Halton.

“Volunteering is rewarding in many ways. You feel good giving back but you’re also developing critical, transferable skills,” he says.

Image of Kusha Shirani standing with care package donations.

Shirani was also part of the Halton Police Community Youth Initiative; coached a local soccer team; and when communities rallied together during the COVID-19 pandemic, he compiled 250 winter care packages for people in need, funded by a $2,000 SafetyNet grant.

But it was his hospital experience that he counts as the most impactful, inspiring his postsecondary trajectory to biomedical engineering and health sciences.

“Gaining experience interacting with patients and making an impact inspired me to pursue an education with hands-on experiences,” he explains.

Wrapping up his first year in the rigorous iBioMed program, Shirani is eager to get back to his volunteering work over the summer. He plans to return to the Oakville hospital and is pursuing an opportunity to teach soccer to children with disabilities.

“That’s the thing with volunteering. Once you start, you are motivated to continue.”

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