DUNROBIN – Sam Sharp has been a leader at her school and in her community and that’s one of the reasons she was named the recipient of the Loran Award, a prize valued at more than $100,000.
The Loran Award is valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate study, including a $10,000 annual stipend, tuition waivers from one of 25 Canadian universities, mentorship, summer internship funding, an orientation expedition in Algonquin Park as well as annual retreats and forums.
More than 5,000 students applied this year, and the top 88 finalists travelled to Toronto for national selections on Feb. 1 and 2. Loran interviewers selected 35 Loran Scholars from across Canada based on evidence of character, commitment to service in the community and long-term leadership potential.
Sam, 17, found out she won the day after coming back from the national selections event.
“As soon as I got back from Toronto I was just staring at the phone, waiting,” Sam told West Carleton Online during an interview at West Carleton Secondary School yesterday (Feb. 14). “It rang about dinner. I was shaking when I picked it up. It was the Loran Scholars Foundation CEO Meghan Moore. I was freaking out. I just started shaking. I asked her if she was sure. It was a pretty short conversation for such life-changing news.”
West Carleton Online first spoke to Sam last October. Sam is the co-president of WCSS’ student council and at the time, helped organize a special Hallowe’en for Dunrobin kids shortly after the Sept. 21 tornado.
She has also spent time on the school’s Link Crew, a group that helps incoming Grade 9 students get accustom to high school life. She was a volunteer for West’s record-breaking Relay for Life event and was a part of the school’s leadership camps.
Outside of school, the Stittsville resident has been a competitive dancer since she was six and also helps teach Spanish as an assistant through an Ottawa Carleton District School Board program. Sam also had the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain for five months in 2016.
Sam said she first found out about the Loran program while researching scholarships in Grade 10 and 11. When she attended an OCDSB leadership camp she “got to speak to a scholar winner. After that, I felt it was achievable.”
There are two main requirements. Applicants must have an 85 per cent average overall and be a Canadian citizen. Applicants are also judged on their service, leadership and character.
“Anything you’ve done over your four years of high school can help,” Sam said.
Loran Award winners have a choice between 25 universities and Sam “hasn’t fully decided.”
She says she is interested in McGill, UBC and King’s College.
“I will go on some tours,” Sam said. “Everything I know is only based on what I’ve read.”
Where ever she goes, she expects to study political science and international development.
Sam says winning the award was amazing, but the process was also valuable.
Sam was invited to the Loran Award semi-finals in November 2018, where regional interviews were held. After that, the field was knocked down to 88 (from an original number of 5,089). Those 88 got to spend the weekend in Toronto at the Bank of Montreal Institute for Learning.
“Very good memories,” Sam said. “It was just awesome. They all had made such great contributions to their community. Everything was so inspiring. They were just great to be around.
The final process involved all the candidates being separated in to eight different committees and lots of interviews.
Sam participated in three solo interviews, a lunch interview and a panel interview with all four of the previous interviewers making up the panel.
“A little bit intimidating but a really good experience for sure,” Sam said. “It was more of a conversation than an interview.”
Next up for Sam is an expedition to Algonquin Park in August with the other 35 scholar winners and beyond that a “scholars’ retreat” in Toronto with alumni.
“It’s more than just a scholarship,” Sam said. “It’s a connection with a link to many scholars. It’s a leadership development program.”