The Loran Scholars Foundation has selected a new class of Loran Scholars. Each of the 30 scholars receives a Loran Award valued at up to $100,000 over four years, including mentorship and a summer program. Loran Scholars may attend one of 25 partner universities.
“I was ecstatic to discover I had been selected,” said Hannah Lank, a Grade 12 International Baccalaureate student at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, of her Loran Scholarship win.
Lank was selected from some 70 students across Canada, chosen to attend the final interviews in Toronto. “We had two days of interviews,” said Lank. “Everyone was so accomplished. It seemed impossible for the judges to choose.”
Loran Scholars are chosen for their character, commitment to service and outstanding overall leadership potential through a three-month selection process. This year, the Loran Scholars Foundation received 3,800 applications from schools across Canada. Approximately 400 semi-finalists were interviewed in 22 cities and 76 finalists advanced to national selections in Toronto.
Lank is known for her work with food-allergy awareness. Being allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, Lank sits on a youth advisory panel for Anaphylaxis Canada. She gives talks to Grade 9 classes at her school about food allergies and how to use Epipens, or auto-injectors. Before the year’s end, she will have educated more than 1,000 students on the topic.
Lank also created and regularly updates a teen blog about food allergies, teenwithfoodallergies.com. “I post tips about living with food allergies and I have held nut-free bake sales at school to raise money for Anaphylaxis Canada,” she said.
Lank fills the rest of her time with community service. She is president of the student council, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper for the last three years, part of the social justice committee, and is on the basketball and cross-country teams. Over and above this, Lank also finds time to serve as a peer tutor for physics, math and chemistry, and be an inner-city mentor at Machray School.
“I have been brought up in a Jewish family,” said Lank of her background. “My parents always emphasized to me the importance of education. I think that being raised as a Jew forces you in some ways to be more acutely aware of the world around you. As Jews, we are often asked to defend our beliefs about Israel, our community and our world and, therefore, we must be prepared to answer these questions responsibly and intelligently.
“My parents have always encouraged in me a love of learning, tolerance and understanding, and the power to stand up for your beliefs and believing in yourself. I don’t think these are Jewish qualities, per se, but I do believe that they were emphasized and perhaps enhanced by our faith.”
Lank has known about the Loran scholarship since entering high school, but became more acutely aware of it when a boy from her school won the scholarship last year.
Many consider the Loran to be Canada’s most prestigious scholarship. It is valued at up to $100,000, which pays for tuition, residence, allows for a living stipend, summer programs, a mentorship program and other opportunities.
In Manitoba, there were approximately 10 students sent to regional interviews, which consisted of a day at the University of Manitoba, where each candidate was interviewed by prominent members of the community. “We were told the very next day if we had been selected to proceed to nationals,” said Lank.
To prepare for the national interviews, Lank spoke to past scholars to learn more about the process, but the interviewers are different each year and the questions asked are based on individual applicants.
“If you’ve altered the truth (on the application) and are asked about it, you won’t look very good in front of the judges,” said Lank. “I practised answering questions based on my application with my history teacher but, other than that, I just read over my answers.
“I knew that whatever I was asked, I would respond honestly. Everything I listed on my application was something I had done. I just had to be me.”
Lank found out she had won the day after the interviews. “It was an unbelievable moment,” she said. “I am still shocked from the overwhelming nature of the weekend. I still don’t think the news has fully sunk in.”
The Loran foundation is highly involved in each scholar’s life for the four years of his/her undergraduate degree to ensure they have the needed support to achieve their full potential.
One of the requirements is that scholars study at a university outside of their home province. Lank is considering studying at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College (where she has been accepted) or at McMaster University’s arts and science program (acceptance still pending). Her parents fully support both options.
Lank said she encourages anyone interested in having their university experience enhanced and exploring their world in a new way to apply for a Loran scholarship. While many scholarships are based on financial aid, the Loran is based on merit and not necessarily on what you have done in the past, but on the potential the judges see in you for the future.
“If you are passionate about living life as a leader, committing yourself to service in the community and working hard but also enjoying life, you should apply,” said Lank. “You do not have to have exceptionally high marks to apply. If you are genuine in everything you do and truly want to make yourself and your community better, you are a worthy applicant.”
If you still have a few years to go before applying, Lank suggested pinpointing an interest you are passionate about and pursuing it. For Lank, that was food allergies, but she is also involved in a wide range of other activities.
“Try whatever you’re interested in,” said Lank. “Don’t be involved in something because you feel it will help you win a scholarship or look good on a resumé. There are lots of meaningful ways to become involved in your local/school community.
“Everyone has a passion. You just have to find it. It may take a few tries and a bit of work, but it’s a rewarding process. And, if you meet some people along the way and discover a few new interests, it’s a worthwhile experience, I think.”
Her final words of advice (for now)? “Don’t be afraid to try new experiences. Step outside your comfort zone and explore your world. You’re never too young to be a leader, an explorer or an innovator. That fearlessness combined with drive and hard work can get you anywhere you want to go. Never be disheartened by failure. If you believe in yourself, you’re destined for great things.”
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a Winnipeg freelance writer.