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3 Youths Honoured With UK's 'Diana Award' For Creating Social Change In Malaysia

The award is given in memory of Princess Diana, who believed that young people have the power to change the world.

Cover image via SPARK/Facebook & Vairavasundaram Rajasegaran (Provided to SAYS)

Three young changemakers from Malaysia have been honoured with The Diana Award for going above and beyond in their daily lives to create and sustain positive change

Priyanka Vairavasundaram, Nelson Ng Jia Jun, and Prevena Ramakrishnan have been recognised internationally for their active social action and humanitarian efforts they have put into their local communities.

Established in memory of Princess Diana of Wales, the award is given out by the charity of the same name to honour Princess Diana's belief that youths have the power to change the world, and their efforts have often gone unnoticed.

This year, 184 young changemakers received the award worldwide through an online ceremony held on Wednesday, 1 July, to recognise their achievements.

Priyanka Vairavasundaram was given the prestigious award for her work with underprivileged students in Penang

The 23-year-old, who is currently studying chemical engineering in Monash University Malaysia, has found the time outside of studies to start and run the SPARK Students' Success Program - a series of motivational talks and enrichment programs for underprivileged and underperforming students.

Started six years ago and occasionally assisted by volunteers, Priyanka has since touched the lives of 3,900 students, acknowledging the challenges deprived communities face in seeking education and imparting learning skills and strategies to school children.

She has since been held in high esteem by school authorities in Penang, and amongst various non-governmental organisations (NGO) such as Service Civil International Malaysia and the Penang State Government's Hindu Endowment Board.

Image via SPARK/Facebook

Meanwhile, Nelson Ng Jia Jun won the award for founding a student-led NGO that strives to tackle education inequality in Malaysia

Also at 23 years of age, Nelson started ProjectEd to provide equal access to education to young people regardless of their socio-economic background.

Growing up in a rural village in Pontian, Johor, he was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship which gave him the opportunity to become the first person in his family to attend university.

Currently studying aeronautics and astronautics at the University of Southampton, Nelson's experience has since inspired him to help others like him.

Through ProjectEd, he helps other underprivileged students pursue tertiary education by giving digital mentorships and educational workshops. He also set up a scholarship programme called 'Knowledge Is Free', which is the first and only student-led scholarship fund in Malaysia.

Image via The Interview

Last but not least is Prevena Ramakrishnan who has fought for gender equality in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in Malaysia

With a keen interest in science, the 17-year-old student from Kulim, Kedah believes that all children, especially young women and girls, should be able to access all human rights, regardless of their socio-economic background.

Volunteering with the Talent Developing Society, Prevena advocates for young women and girls in STEM by mentoring students and creating various innovation programmes to support gender equality in STEM education.

When not participating in scientific research programmes and volunteering, she is also an environmental campaigner who likes to develop products from used plastic and frequently teaches her fellow students different ways to protect the planet.

Here are other talented Malaysian students who have done us proud:

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