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Miles Mac student a community cornerstone

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Jamie Rakhra would be well-advised to find a little extra mantle space.

The Miles Macdonell Collegiate Grade 12 International Baccalaureate student received a Student Citizenship Award from the Manitoba School Boards Association at the Delta Winnipeg on March 14. Earlier in the school year, Rakhra received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which he was proud to receive given that most of the other honourees were significantly older than him.

"I felt very intrigued by that award (the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal), and it pushed me harder to do more," he said. "In our school itself, only one teacher got the award. Considering a student got it as well, I felt that was a big accomplishment."

To date, the biggest project Rakhra has undertaken is helping to plan the Hearty Pancakes Breakfast Fundraiser in support of the Hero Heart Institute at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in India, a cause that is close to the teen.

"My grandfather, about a year and a half prior to the event, he had a heart attack in India (during a visit by Rakhra and his family)," said Rakhra. "Luckily, he was able to survive."

The breakfast raised approximately $1,000.

Rakhra volunteers through his school with the Vietnamese Orphanage Committee and Youth in Philanthropy (YIP), and in the community with YMCA of Winnipeg (where he also worked), the Concordia Hospital, and with the NDP constituency office in Radisson.

He said he let his interests guide him initially, but is now focused on doing important work.

"In Grade 9, I started volunteering at Concordia Hospital because I initially wanted to be a doctor," said Rakhra, who estimates he volunteers 10 hours a week on average, while balancing academics and basketball. "My initial reason was because I wanted experience and I wanted to learn the different ways of working in a hospital. Now, it’s because it’s helping the community."

Rakhra explained he’s learned a lot from working with YIP, as he serves as his school’s co-chair this year after acting as secretary last year. The organization receives $5,000 from the Winnipeg Foundation each year, and researches charities upon which to bestow up to $1,000.

"This year, specifically, we’re working with underprivileged people in the community," he said. "Every year, we go on-site visits to see the charities.

"By going to different charities, we get a better idea of what they’re about and what kind of things are happening, and which charities we should grant to."

Miles Macdonell’s IB co-ordinator Glenn Finockio said Rakhra is an exemplary student and person, as he is willing to help out in a variety of situations.

"When another student has a project going on, he’s often first in line to lend a hand, or to support it with his time," said Finockio, noting several IB students have similar trairs. "While he has his own interests and projects, he also lends a hand with other people, and probably not in a leadership role.

"He’s always just there and involved."

Rakhra plans to begin studies at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business in the fall as he trains to become an actuary.

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