Vicky Xu admits a few tears were shed when she found out she was one of 31 Loran Award winners for 2016.
“I get emotional,” the grade 12 Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute student said. “I cried.”
The Loran Award comes with a $100,000 prize for post-secondary education over four years for undergraduate studies in Canada. Eighty finalists from 4,200 applicants battled for 31 awards, with initial interviews held in the fall and national selections Feb. 5 and 6 in Toronto.
“I tried to enjoy the moment, which calmed me down,” Xu said of the interviews.
The Don Mills Road and Steeles Avenue area resident decided to apply for the award because “scholarships are a great way to fund my education,” she said with a laugh.
In an effort to bring her community together, which has a high number of new immigrants, Xu organized talent shows at nearby The Shops at Steeles Avenue and Hwy. 404, which showcased piano players, Chinese opera singers, and a host of other entertainment, she said.
The 17-year-old also led kindness and appreciation campaigns at her school in the form of inspirational quotes written on sticky notes and posted on every locker, to writing letters of gratitude to school staff including care takers and bus drivers.
“I think people don’t realize small things can make people super happy,” she said.
She also coached her younger brother’s soccer team – even though she’s never played the sport – teaches piano, and worked three jobs last year, including as a life guard.
“I like doing everything I am doing, so it doesn’t seem like work,” Xu said of her busy schedule.
In addition to the Loran Award, Xu is also one of five recipients of a $10,000 Horatio Alger National Entrepreneurial Scholarship, which are awarded to students who demonstrate a desire and ability to be entrepreneurial in a chosen field and who have overcome adversity.
Xu also took part in a month-long SHAD program in 2014, which is offered to more than 600 students worldwide to attend a summer program hosted at a Canadian university with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Xu, who is enrolled in her school’s TOPS (Talented Offerings for Programs in the Sciences) program, a special high school program for students interested in enrichment in the maths, sciences, and language arts, said she’s leaning towards engineering or economics for university studies, but hasn’t decided on a school just yet.
Founded in 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation is a national charity, which partners with 25 universities to invest in exceptional young Canadians, with award winners selected based on evidence of character, service, and leadership potential.
The award includes a $9,000 annual stipend and a matching tuition waiver, personal mentorship, resources for summer internships, annual leadership retreats, and a week-long orientation expedition in Algonquin Park. Every finalist is eligible to receive a $3,000 finalist award if they are not selected as a Loran Scholar.
For more information on the program, visit www.loranscholar.ca