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Student award boosts confidence and inspires dreams of young leader

Swetal Patel

With a contagious smile and positive mindset, 4th year economics student Swetal Patel—a self-described ‘non extraordinary’ student—is everything but. Swetal is a recipient of the Pamela Yoon Award in Economics, which was established through a generous gift from Pamela Yoon to recognize persistence in academics and charitable interests. Swetal recently shared her thoughts on education, fiscal responsibility and the importance of giving back in building a sustainable future.   

SFU: What sparked your interest in studying economics at SFU? 

Swetal: I chose SFU to study for two reasons: a reputable business program and it is close to home. In my first semester I was introduced to macroeconomics, which really piqued my interests, giving me a glimpse into how the world works and inspiring me to change my studies to purse economics.  

SFU: Is there a particular memory that stands out for you? 

Swetal: My whole student experience is extraordinary. I believe it is important to do what you love, and for the past three years I have been doing exactly that! As an average student, I don’t have the highest GPA and I am not a student athlete, but I take part in activities and clubs that I enjoy, I study what I want to learn, and I am excited for the direction my experience is taking me. 

SFU: How has the student award impacted your university experience?

Swetal: It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. As someone who takes learning very seriously, my student award is a very proud moment of having my efforts recognized. It reinforces my direction knowing that others believe in my interests and goals—and of the impact that I can achieve. 

SFU: Do you have advice for students who are considering to apply for a student award?

Swetal: Don’t be discouraged by thinking you’re not an exceptional student in terms of your academics or extracurriculars. Student awards definitely help financially, but also give you so much more. An award is a huge confidence booster, it connects you with a network of professionals, and it offers you a whirlwind of opportunity. In a way, student awards are designed for you to tell your story and introduce yourself to the world—they give you a chance to remind yourself and demonstrate to others why you’re an incredible person. 

SFU: What would you say to community members who are thinking of supporting student awards? 

Swetal: Your investment makes an immeasurable difference to students, much beyond the monetary value. You support learning, encourage educational persistence and inspire ambitions. I have so much gratitude for my award donor, Pamela Yoon. She’s a powerful influence and role model who started as an economics graduate from SFU, just like me. 

Swetal PatelSFU: What is next for you on your journey?

Swetal: Education is very important to me, and I plan on doing my MBA, but first I want to advance my career in corporate finance, while also giving back by investing my knowledge in work beyond my own personal gains. I want to focus on sustainable economic growth in underprivileged areas of the world—and this begins by adding value in my own local community. The inspiration of this work comes from my parents’ experience as immigrants 30 years ago. I am fortunate to grow up with the luxuries of a loving home, education and a strong community, but I know this is not the case for everyone.

I have a dream of building a not-for-profit to empower children on the importance of education and financial responsibility. By teaching our next generation of leaders to support themselves in a way that is sustainable and successful, we illuminate the idea of positive economic growth. Our world is interconnected and our actions impact other communities—either directly or indirectly. By helping my local community, I hope to impact our greater world.    


Swetal greatly appreciates the generosity of Pamela Yoon in establishing this meaningful award. With support from SFU partners like Pamela, SFU is able to provide diverse opportunities for students.