City Centre Mirror
Jarvis Collegiate Institute student Jiawen Zhou will have a head start as she heads off to work toward her university degree.
Zhou was named a Loran Award winner, one of 30 such winners across Canada.
The Loran Awards, given out by the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, recognize students who excel in school and in extracurricular activities while showing strong leadership potential.
During her time both at Jarvis Collegiate and outside of school, Zhou proved herself a worthy winner of the award.
The Jarvis student has a long list of achievements, ranging from peer mentoring to environmental activism both at school and as a member of St. James Town Youth Council.
As part of Jarvis Collegiate's Eco Team, Zhou has done work to help her school attain silver status as an eco-school through recycling initiatives, including an initiative to create student workbooks out of recycled materials.
She also led the charge to hold an environmental symposium and, most recently, helped make the school grounds greener.
"This year, we started a garden at the school," she said. "It's a native species garden so it's good for the ecosystem here and it's our first garden here, so it's pretty exciting."
As a member of the Toronto District School Board's EcoSchool Council and Students of Toronto for Environmental Progress, she is helping to organize a bike summit.
Zhou is also the green team leader on the St. James Town Youth Council, an organization she joined upon moving into the neighbourhood.
"I thought it would be a good way to get to know the community," she said.
As green team leader, she took part in two Power Shift Conferences, one in Ottawa and one in Washington, D.C. Those conferences provided insight into new findings on the environmental front.
"We were one of the youngest groups there and we learned about green (initiatives) around the world, which was cool," she said.
Zhou also helped collect hundreds of signatures in St. James Town encouraging politicians to "seal the deal" at a climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.
One of the highlights of her young life, however, came when she joined a select group of 75 youngsters from around the world on a trip to Antarctica for the Students on Ice initiative.
"We got to learn about the Antarctic climate and the beautiful resource that we have down there," she said. "I was surprised to learn how fragile the climate there is and how quickly it changes - it can be very clear and you can see for miles but then suddenly a minute later it's so windy you can hardly see."
Zhou also serves as the president of Jarvis Collegiate's peer leaders program, which gives students more of an active role in the goings-on at their school.
"It's a student leadership group where volunteers help out with school functions like curriculum night," she said.
Zhou's dedication has paid off, and in the fall she plans on attending McGill University to study nutrition and work toward a degree in dietetics.
"I'm interested in food security and local food - where food and the environment connect," she said.
As a Loran Award winner, Zhou will receive tuition for four years, plus a living stipend of $8,000 per year and up to $7,500 for summer mentorship.