“BRING THE PATIENT IN!” the doctor shouts as the gurney rattles over the threshold into the emergency room. This was the scene Govind Deol presented to his second-grade teacher when asked to draw what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“From my very first memory, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” the UBC Okanagan undergraduate student says with a contagious smile. “My parents have always encouraged me to be whatever I want to be, and this is the path I’ve felt was right for me since I was a young student.”
Fast forward to 2020, when Deol was one of a handful of elite high school students to receive a coveted Loran Scholarship. The selection process is rigorous; recipients of the award demonstrate exceptional character and excellence in service and leadership, as well as a commitment to academic success.
“Having the goal of becoming a doctor is one of the reasons I’ve pushed forward in terms of academics. I love learning and I love going to school, but knowing where I want to be has kept me motivated and reminds me to get up and keep going, even when I fall back.”
In elementary school, Deol found himself behind the rest of the class after a two-month trip abroad for a family member’s wedding. “When I came back, all the children in the class were reading books and putting words together and I wasn’t able to do that. My mom and I would sit down after school and study together so I could get caught up. My dad and I spent a lot of time focusing on math, and I found that it was something that became really fun. In terms of inspiring my passion for learning—it was definitely my parents.”
When Deol talks about his family, his studies and his involvement in the community, passion is a word that comes up often. “In terms of leading my life, I’ve learned to ask myself, ‘what am I passionate about?’ That’s what I want to do.”
“Explore your passions and put yourself out there. If the opportunities aren’t there, try to create them. Challenges are going to come, but it’s not bad to fall. Get up and start climbing again to do what you love.”
A few of his passions include working with children and basketball, two catalysts of fervour he was able to combine with a basketball program he started while in high school. “Seeing the children having fun and staying out of trouble, along with the heart they played with, made me feel good.
“Volunteering started as a way for me to build a good resume for myself, but I saw it making a difference. Now I think: ‘if this helps me out in the future that’s great—but it has to be about working with people to make a difference.’”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited his in-person volunteer opportunities, Deol hasn’t been one to rest on his laurels. He’s active in a youth council run by his local Member of Parliament, advocating for mental health and other issues concerning youth in his hometown of Surrey, BC. “I’m learning more about my community and what’s being done to help people and how I can get involved.”
Deol is also a champion of the Sikhi Awareness Foundation, where he’s volunteered since high school. “They build schools, temples and playgrounds in India,” he says. “There are many sponsors in the lower mainland, but I have a lot of ideas on how I can help it expand into the Okanagan.”
As a requirement of the Loran scholarship, Deol had to decide on a university located outside his home region. “Surrey is a big city, but it’s also a close-knit community like Kelowna. I saw going to UBCO as a way I could similarly continue my community work, but keep growing as a person.”
Like many, Deol found himself on UBC Okanagan’s campus for the first time this fall as he entered his second year of studies during the coronavirus pandemic—and he already has his priorities mapped.
“University is a lot different than high school, and in-person will be a lot different than online. For me, it’s important to understand the culture first. What does the community value? How do things work? Where can I fit in here to help make a difference?”
Deol says he’s more excited than nervous about being on campus, as the thing he missed most doing his first year online was the interpersonal connection. “I’m really looking forward to talking to as many people as possible and making a lot of new friends.”
When asked if he has any advice for his peers, Deol says, “Explore your passions and put yourself out there. If the opportunities aren’t there, try to create them. Challenges are going to come, but it’s not bad to fall. Get up and start climbing again to do what you love.”