Mississauga student in the running for prestigious, $100,000 award


Everyone knows that Mississauga is home (or has been home) to impressive individuals who have succeeded in a number of fields.

And now, it looks like the city has another young person to celebrate.

The Loran Scholars Foundation recently announced that Ann Lei, a student from The Woodlands School in Mississauga, will be participating in the organization's national selections in Toronto on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. 

Lei has a chance to earn a Loran Award valued up to $100,000 over four years for undergraduate studies in Canada.

For those who are unaware, the Loran Scholars Foundation--which was founded in Toronto in 1988--is a national charitable organization that provides substantial scholarships for students hoping to go to university in Canada.

Students who progress from regional selections to national selections are finalists for the Loran Award and recipients of the Loran Award are Loran Scholars.

The foundation says that Lei is among the top 88 of 5,194 candidates from across Canada. She has been chosen based on "evidence of character, commitment to service in the community, and leadership potential." 

The foundation takes more than just academics into account when selecting candidates.

“We believe that the promise of a young person is to be found in character. To find Canada’s next generation of leaders, we must look beyond grades and rankings to find the promise of character,” the foundation writes on its website.

“At the Loran Scholars Foundation, we identify and support young people who have the integrity and courage to make difficult decisions, the perseverance to work towards long-term goals, the curiosity to better understand the world around them and the drive to make positive change in their communities.”

Lei says she's thrilled to be in the running to be a Loran Scholar. 

"I was absolutely ecstatic to hear the results for the National Selection. I had been anticipating a call from Loran for over a month and actually had the date marked on my calendar," she told insauga.com in am email. 

"I knew how competitive the process was and I met so many incredible students at the regional selections that I did not know what to expect.

Lei says she believes she was selected as a finalist because of her commitment to service.

"At school, I’m actively involved in student council, music, and athletics. As the president of the Student Activity Council and vice president of the Athletics Council, I am responsible for representing student voices and increasing student engagement," she says. 

"In addition, my passion for the arts has led me to be actively involved with the music program for the last four years. I play the trumpet in the Senior Concert Band, work as an executive for our Music Activity Council, and sing in our school’s concert and chamber choirs.

Lei says that outside of school, she has spent over 300 hours volunteering with a variety of different youth organizations. 

She's a student ambassador for WE Charity Peel Youth and the vice-chairperson of the International Humanitarian Peel Youth Council (IHPYC)—a non-profit youth-run organization that raises awareness and funds for various Red Cross initiatives, such as the Syrian Refugee Crisis Fund and the African Drought Appeal. 

"As vice-chairperson of the council, I oversaw the fundraising of over $70,000 in support of the Canadian Red Cross making us the largest youth councils in the GTA," Lei said. 

As for where she hopes to study, Lei says her top choices for university are the University of British Columbia and McGill University. She's looking to pursue an interdisciplinary degree in arts and science. 

"An interdisciplinary science program gives me the opportunity to explore all of the things I am passionate about including public health policy and increasing access to quality medical care," she says.

In the future, Lei is hoping to pursue a career in the healthcare field.

" I have always been passionate about humanitarian aid and I hope to one day be able to provide humanitarian aid to those who need it most," she says. 

Lei is also hoping to encourage more women to get involved in STEM fields. 

"Growing up in such a diverse community has allowed me to see the value of our cultural differences. As a result, I have always been interested in learning more about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our society. Specifically, I am passionate about closing the gender gap in the sciences. For example, women make up less than 30 per cent of engineering students in Canada, and even fewer women of colour are senior policy advisors in addressing this gender disparity in STEM. I think that it is extremely important to learn more about the sciences but I also want to think critically about how to make these disciplines more accessible to women and minorities," she says. 

As for how she's preparing for the national selections, she says she's going into the final stretch with optimism and an open mind. 

"I don’t think that there is a 'best' way to prepare. I am going into National Selections with an open mindset knowing that I will meet some incredible youth," she says. 

After national selections, the Loran Scholars Foundation will grant up to 36 Loran Awards. The Loran Award includes annual stipends, tuition waivers from a partner university, mentorship, summer internship funding as well as annual retreats and forums. 

If not selected as a Loran Scholar, Lei is eligible to receive a $5,000 finalist award.

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