June 18th, 2024

Local student shows promise, selected as finalist for lucrative award

By Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2023.

Herald photo by Cal Braid Steven Yang hopes to be awarded a place in one the nation's most beneficial scholarship programs.

By Cal Braid – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Steven Yang, a 17-year-old senior at Winston Churchill High School, has been selected as a 2023 Loran Scholars Foundation finalist. 

According to a Loran press release, he’s within the top 1.9 per cent in a pool of 4,800 applicants. Ninety graduating high school and CEGEP students are selected as finalists nationwide. The Loran Scholars Foundation was founded in 1988 and it grants undergraduate awards based on the criteria of academic achievement, extracurricular activity, and leadership potential. Traditionally, scholarships have been directed towards either students with exceptional academic averages or outstanding student athletes. The Loran foundation takes other factors like openness to challenge, leadership promise, and willingness to take risk into account when making their selections.

Yang said he was introduced to the Loran foundation by a teacher, but the application process was his responsibility and it asked specifically about his extracurricular activities. Once he made the cut for the semifinals, he did a Zoom interview with other people from the region, and after clearing that he got a call informing him that he had made it as a finalist.

“I think throughout the process they just emphasize being yourself and trying to find your passions, motivations, and values,” he said in an interview. 

“They put an emphasis on community leadership more than academics.” He admits that he’s no slouch academically; he’s a high achiever. “My parents emphasized academics growing up so it’s always been a focus of mine, for sure.” As for community leadership, during COVID he pitched in by partnering with the city to make cigarette receptacles to clean up cigarette butt litter. This year, he started a math club at his school, and he’s been involved in Interact Club leadership. Explaining the Interact Club, he said, “It’s kind of like Rotary, an international organization that values service above self. It’s kind of like your volunteering club. Rotary for high school students. Right now, we set up a donation stand in our school for the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.”

He’s already making plans for next year and the ones to follow. 

“I want to go to university for engineering. I applied to Waterloo for software engineering, but I also want to keep on doing this community (work). One of the reasons why I chose Waterloo is they have a big emphasis on community. They have a lot of opportunities outside the classroom that I can get involved in. I feel like that’s what I value.” He has also applied to an engineering program at U of T.

According to the Loran release, the selected finalists are students who have “demonstrated their drive to step up in the face of challenges and positively impact their communities across the country. We know that such promising young people have the power to change the future for the better—they just need a launchpad and opportunities to grow. 

“This is precisely what we offer Loran scholars: an enrichment program of leadership development and diverse learning experiences that equip them to create positive change over the course of their lifetimes. The Loran Award is a four-year leadership enrichment program consisting of summer work experiences, mentorship, scholar gatherings, an annual living stipend, and a tuition waiver at one of 25 university partners.” 

Loran’s national interviews will be held in Toronto Feb. 24 – 26 and national selections will be made from there, with the Foundation selecting up to 36 award winners. The awards are valued at over $100,000 each, and those not selected as Loran scholars will each be eligible for a $5,000 finalist award. Students will travel from locations including Nunavut, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. Eight of the other finalists are also from Alberta.

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