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Ryan Li is an engaged advocate for social change; ever since he was little, he has dedicated himself to helping people in need through any means possible. His main passion lies in supporting vulnerable youth, both financially and educationally, because he believes they represent humanity’s future.

 

Growing up in an immigrant family who landed in Vancouver in 1999, Ryan used to always feel pressure to fit in with everyone else. Coming from a family without deep roots in his community, he always felt that he needed to keep up with the latest games, trends, and TV shows. At least, that was what he felt until he started debating in 2020. After a bumpy start, Ryan began to thrive in the debate circuit, winning numerous tournaments at prestigious universities such as Stanford, finishing as a semi-finalist at Canadian Nationals, and representing Canada in the international circuit by placing as a finalist at Cambridge Finals Day 2023. But debate didn’t just give Ryan accolades; it gave him an identity. Thanks to debate, Ryan learned about the power of words, character, and style and recognized the potential that these skills had to transform lives by allowing individuals to find and raise their voices for important issues and advocacy. Unfortunately, Ryan was also aware of the substantial monetary and time commitments that dissuaded many vulnerable and/or low-income children from receiving a quality debate education that would teach these invaluable skills. With the hope of breaking down these barriers, Ryan founded his own not-for-profit international debate organization, GYP Debate Club, which has provided affordable debate lessons, tournaments, and platforms for over 100 children from Australia, Japan, China, Canada, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Not only has the club made a considerable impact in the lives of its members, but it has also raised  $15,000 through donations, tuition costs, and tournament fees to support vulnerable youth across the world, from funding school supplies for schoolchildren in Haiti to provide education to an entire class in Cambodia and Liberia. 

 

Ryan’s dream is to work as a policy advisor, seeking to shape forward-thinking proposals that will have a transformative impact on communities in the name of sustainability and equality. In the meantime, however, Ryan currently fills his schedule by volunteering his time in various non-profits; two examples of which are Project Hastings and FUSE Society. As the Executive Director of Projects for Project Hastings, a Canadian organization focused on combatting food insecurity and empowering the homeless in Toronto and Vancouver, Ryan coordinates and organizes distribution events to provide over 20,000 meals and raise over $25,000 to support those living on the street.  In addition to Project Hastings, Ryan is also the National CEO of FUSE Society, where he organizes events and initiatives aimed towards bridging the gap between business academia and the real world, such as spearheading FUSE’s national business curriculum, which has taught free lessons linking content covered in school to a real-life context to over 6,000 Canadian students across the country.

 

Having played competitive curling for eight years, Ryan hopes that sports will become a significant part of his impact on a university campus. In addition, he’s currently learning Spanish, hoping to bring his language count to four – adding to his existing inventory of English, French, and Mandarin.

 

In the future, Ryan hopes to major in political science at Yale University to learn more about the structures of government that can be leveraged to make a positive impact on his community, country, and the world. After graduating, he hopes to secure a job in government or at a think tank so he can play an active role in developing policies that will benefit everyone.

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