Earlier this month, Canada-based Lebanese student Lana El-Sanyoura addressed her fellow graduates in the class of 2020 across Canada, alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A recent University of Toronto (U of T) graduate in cognitive science and computer science, El-Sanyoura was well-known during her time as a student to be hardworking, resilient, and innovative.
She was not just any smart student at that prestigious university, which is ranked #1 in Canada and #25 in the world, according to QS Rankings for 2021.
Lana proved to be a leader who changed campus life for many students of the department of computer science by co-founding Hello Girl, a club for women in computer science.
She also taught programming workshops and became the mentor of many students. El-Sanyoura, in the words of PM Trudeau, “completely transformed the department of computer science over at the U of T.”
In addition to her passion for computers, Lana is a songwriter, choreographer, filmmaker, and photographer, and basketball MVP whose wide experience has taught her to be strong and “bounce back from disappointment.”
Her diligence and love for her field earned her an internship at Intel, participation in research at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, the Konrad Women in Tech Scholarship, and the John H. Moss Scholarship.
That is also what got her chosen alongside just 3 graduates across Canada to address a televised speech from the Canadian capital to the graduating class of 2020, of which she is a remarkable member.
El-Sanyoura has been in Canada for 7 years now. In 2013, she and her family left Lebanon seeking a place “where dreaming for a better future is possible,” she said in the opening of her speech.
For her fellow graduates, whose graduation ceremony had to be virtual due to the current health crisis, she urged them to use their tools as graduates and their voices to seek their way of making a difference in the world.
As for the students of Lebanon, who often struggle to keep up in their very different and challenging country, she advises them not to lose hope and to be resilient.
“When you face problems, [I hope] that you will be able to get up and face them and to become stronger because of these problems,” she stressed in a video call with LBCI.
Below is the video that includes both speeches of Lana El-Sanyoura and the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau: