By Harlan Nemerofsky
Parvinder Sachdeva began sweating as he stood up in front of a roaring crowd of 2,000 fans. Standing in the middle of the ice, he wondered why they chose him over other qualified students to speak at such an important event. Then, as the spotlight cast on him, he looked up at the stands and began to regain his composure.
“It was one of the highlights of my career at Ryerson,” he says in reference to being the Master of Ceremonies at the opening of the Mattamy Athletic Centre last September. “[But] it was the most nerve-racking moment of my life.”
Sachdeva’s memorable four years at Ryerson will come to an end in April, as he is set to graduate and head to the University of British Columbia on a full scholarship for his masters of economics.
Beyond his 4.03 GPA, Sachdeva has also been an influential figure in Ryerson student life, having been a member of Ryerson’s badminton team since 2010, and starting various campus initiatives.
As a first-year business management student, double majoring in economics and finance, Sachdeva wanted to create a group which would end the feeling of disconnect between faculties.
“Every once in a while, I would read something in the newspapers or Ryerson Today and I would find amazing things being done by the professors and the students,” says Sachdeva. “I wanted to create a platform where we could showcase all these ideas under one roof.”
Sachdeva co-founded two influential on-campus groups. The first was Ryerson Toastmasters, a group where students can practice “toasting” or speaking in front of others, followed up by TEDxRyersonU.
TEDxRyersonU is an annual student initiative with the goal of carving a stronger identity for Ryerson students through inspirational speakers.
“After starting Ryerson Toastmasters, I wanted to do something that would make a bigger impact,” says Sachdeva. “With this independently organized TED event, I wanted to get a wide variety of creative and innovative speakers from our community, including students, faculty and alumni, from all fields and walks of life to talk and spread ideas that might very well have the ability to change our lives.”
As President of TedxRyersonU for the first two years of its existence, Sachdeva led a team of over 30 students, from different faculties, and together they organized the event in a short span of three months.
“Despite the time constraint, we pulled off one of the most successful events of the year at Ryerson University,” he says. “That only became possible because I was able to communicate my vision and inspire these members to put in tremendous hours of work and effort. I was able to make everyone part of a ‘shared vision’, which made this event not just my event, but everyone’s event.”
In 2011, Sachdeva was the only student selected from Ryerson to be in the “Next 36,” an initiative that gives 36 exceptional young Canadians the start-up experience, business mentorship, and academic instruction to be Canada’s next generation of high impact entrepreneurs.
But Sachdeva says that if it weren’t for his experience on the badminton team, none of his groups could have been possible, as it helped him come out of his shell and transform him into a leader.
“The badminton team has taught me how to a have a voice outside of being a student,” he says. “In all my four years as a student, there hasn’t been any kind of experience that has been rewarding as that.”
Head coach Rob Fullerton agrees, saying that although Sachdeva isn’t a team captain, his leadership skills are evident in the formation of TedxRyersonU and Ryerson Toast Masters.
“I honestly don’t know what he would have accomplished without the team,” says Fullerton, who says that the team experience helped Sachdeva to succeed outside of badminton.
“He’s one of the most committed members of the team,” says Sachdeva’s badminton doubles partner, Steven Lien. “You can see that in the amount of hours and dedication he puts into training.”