KPE welcomes Lester B. Pearson scholarship winner

Razan Sarsour will be joining the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education as a Lester B. Pearson scholar (photo by Joel Jackson)

The Faculty would like to welcome Razan Sarsour, a BKin student and Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship recipient. Sarsour, from the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine, is part of the first cohort of 37 students to receive the fully funded scholarship – the most prestigious and competitive scholarship for international students.

The scholarship program recognizes students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and creativity and who are recognized leaders within their school. A special emphasis is placed on the impact the student has had on the life of their school and community, and their future potential to contribute positively to the global community.

Sarsour excels as an athlete and in her academics. Her passion is soccer – a sport she started playing when she was six years old, mainly practicing in her neighbourhood field. After making the school team, she joined a competitive regional team and celebrated both a third and first place championship.

She says her passion for sport has taught her about commitment. She was the only female to take high-level physics at her high school. “I’ve learned to not be afraid and to never give up,” says Sarsour. “I tried hard to impact my community through technology, sports and business as a volunteer, and my hope is I’ve made a difference for other kids.”

Her strong entrepreneurial spirit led to the development of an application that matches volunteers with organizations and orphanages in Palestine. She also operated a student recycling start-up company for six months that recycled paper into reusable baskets and taught children in schools and orphanages about recycling.

Sarsour’s initiative has led to opportunities to travel and learn. Last year, she was one of 100 women to attend a leadership conference in Boston to tackle gender issues, and she also attended a course in Norway to learn how to coach kids about fair play and ethical practices in sports.

Wendy Pais, Registrar & Director of Student Services with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says Razan is an incredible young woman. “We are delighted to have her here at the Faculty,” she says. “I congratulate her on her experience with leading initiatives to better her community and using her passion for leadership and sports to help improve others.”

Sarsour plans to make the most of her time at U of T. “I’m looking forward to learning from Canadians and to share my experiences of war, occupation and turmoil,” she says. “I’m also excited to pursue my dreams and to explore my passions at a university that values academic success and personal and spiritual growth.”

Her main goal is to empower female athletes like herself. “As a child, I became obsessed with the idea of being a strong female athlete,” she says. “Now I have the opportunity to study kinesiology and physical education and return to my home as one of the few female Palestinians who have specialized in this field.”