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Commerce student wins one of eight $45,000 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies

Posted by Connor Dalton on April 4, 2023 in News

Anik Ahmed chuckles as he remembers being called to the office of Prof. Binod Sundararajan. As he sat nervously waiting for the Interim Director of the Rowe School of Business, Anik (BComm’24) says he wondered, “What have I done this time? Which assignment might I have missed?”

But when handed the letter saying he’d won $45,000 from the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies, he was overwhelmed with completely different emotions.

Anik says he was “pouring my eyes out” (crying).

One of eight students in Atlantic Canada to win the top award, Anik says it wasn’t always guaranteed he’d study abroad, and come to Dalhousie University. Explaining that he’s from a middle-class family in Bangladesh, he says “I didn't want to be a burden to my parents.” But he also knew studying abroad was a great opportunity. “I convinced myself ‘OK, if you get straight A's you can go,’” he adds.

He excelled in high school and because a friend from Bangladesh was already studying at Dalhousie, he chose the Bachelor of Commerce program in the Faculty of Management. In his third year of the program, Anik appreciates the hands-on simulation work and how professors have encouraged students to create their own businesses.  

Binod Sundararajan says being present when Anik got the news of the award “was beautiful. It was poetic. I don't think he was expecting it.”

Winners are united by desire to help others

This approach inspired him to work with his sister, Anamika (who earned a Master of Applied Computer Science at Dal), to develop an app called Mitro, which means ‘friend’ in Bengali. The app is designed to support those experiencing domestic abuse and can act as a resource in an emergency.

In 2022, the siblings represented Dalhousie and won first place at a global competition, the World’s Challenge Challenge, where teams present innovative ideas that tackle global problems. They won $30,000.

Sundararajan is proud that three students from the Commerce program are being recognized by the Frank H. Sobey Awards this year. Anik, Chelsea MacBean, and Shyla Gupta, he adds, have something in common: “The fact that they were doing something that helped others.”

“This award has made a life-changing difference”

Chelsea MacBean, who won a $3500 award, opened an online clothing thrift store in her second year of university. She wanted to provide the option to shop in a more sustainable way.

“I think being a finalist is a testament to where hard work and dedication will get you. Winning this has been an incredible recognition of my time at Dalhousie and I think it also inspires me to continue to give back to my community,” says MacBean. She’ll graduate this spring and plans on pursuing her CPA designation.

Dalhousie’s other finalist, Shyla Gupta, has collaborated with libraries in Dartmouth to create an English-language program for children who have recently immigrated to Canada. “I'm really enjoying it because I'm able to do school and do the tutoring on the side,” she says. “It’s really rewarding,” she adds.

After graduating, Shyla hopes to use her accounting expertise to create her own non-profit supporting newcomers to Nova Scotia.

As for Anik, he will use his award to further develop the Mitro app for victims of domestic abuse, and to pay his tuition.

“I feel I'm no longer going to be a burden to my parents. They are super proud,” he says. This award has made a life-changing difference, he adds: “That's one thing I live for, making my parents proud and making them happy."

To hear more about the Mitro app and Anik’s story, listen to his interview with CBC Information Morning.