The Loran Award is one of the biggest and most prestigious awards in Canada. This year, thousands applied but only a small number of outstanding Canadian students were selected as a 2021 Loran Scholar. Each one receives up to $100,000 to explore and develop their talents as they pursue their undergraduate studies.
We talked to Vincent Wong, a 2021 Loran Scholar from Prince of Wales Secondary School in Vancouver, BC about what it was like to win, spending time in nature, and reflecting on your own accomplishments.
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Vincent Wong and I am a Grade 12 student from Vancouver, BC. Growing up in Vancouver for my entire life has provided me many opportunities to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation. In my free time, I love hiking, camping, rock-climbing, and skiing on BC’s mountains as well as volunteering with my local Scout group to inspire others to enjoy the outdoors. Academically, I have a passion for science. The process of asking new questions, challenging existing theories, and designing experiments to test new hypotheses is what excites me the most. Next year, I plan to study life sciences at McGill University.
2. What was your reaction when you found out that you were named a 2021 Loran Scholar?
When I received the phone call from Loran, I was completely shocked. It was a surreal experience that I will forever be grateful for. Being named a 2021 Loran Scholar is a dream come true. This award opens up so many new opportunities that can help me achieve my highest potential as a community leader.
3. What is the most meaningful leadership experience you’ve had so far?
My most meaningful leadership experience was serving as Scouts Youth Commissioner for the Pacific Coast region—the largest Scouting region in Western Canada. From 2018-2020, I was the sole youth representative of the 4,000 Scouts in Greater Vancouver. I regularly attended National Scout meetings in Ottawa where I contributed to key decisions on behalf of my region. I also managed my region’s business plan, supported local Scout groups, and organized community events such as Youth Award Ceremonies, Leadership Camps, and Scouter Development Days. Having been in Scouts since I was five-years-old, this organization has helped develop many of my leadership skills. It was an honour to give back to the national Scouting community through my Youth Commissioner role and leave a legacy of camaraderie across my Scouting region.
4. What motivates you to give back to your community?
Knowing that my hard work and perseverance inspire others and bring positivity to my community motivates me to volunteer. I aspire to be a leader who empowers others to follow their passions and make a real difference in the world. My involvement in my community has enabled me to expand my relationships with people of all demographics. Meeting new people, hearing their life stories, and sharing my own, is one of the most gratifying activities in my life.
5. What part of the Loran program are you most looking forward to?
This award is much more than a financial contribution to my education. It gives me access to a huge network of support and professional connections that will expose me to new perspectives and ways of thinking. Loran’s mentorship program is something I most look forward to. The opportunity to receive personalized support and guidance from an established mentor is invaluable to me.
6. What are you most looking forward to about university? What do you hope to get involved in there?
I am excited to develop my independence, personal autonomy, and expand my social network at McGill University. I look forward to participating in a wide range of student-run groups as well as serving leadership positions with community organizations. Since my interest is in sciences, I hope to be involved with McGill’s Science Internal Committee. Other activities I look forward to include volunteering at McGill’s bike shop, playing intramural squash, participating in a beginners French club, and continuing my Scouting career in Montreal.
7. What advice do you have for other students applying to become a Loran Scholar or to any other scholarship?
Give yourself plenty of time to reflect on all your amazing accomplishments throughout high school. After creating a list of your accomplishments, focus on those that have been the most meaningful to you and your community. Simply be your genuine self.
8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself completing my graduate studies in science and beginning to apply my scientific knowledge in industry as a leading scientist and entrepreneur at the forefront of biotechnology innovations. This being said, university is an opportunity for me to open new doors and potentially find new passions. I cannot be certain of where my future will take me, but I know I will strive to pursue a career focused on helping improve the lives of others.
9. What’s one fun fact about yourself? Is there anything else you want to share?
As someone who frequently enjoys the outdoors, I am genuinely committed to protecting the environment, specifically BC’s old-growth forests—where many of my outdoor hobbies take place. Using original photography and writing, I recently created a book to showcase my perspective on conservation issues in BC. My book explores the history of BC’s old-growth forests, their significance to Indigenous communities, and the potential for ecotourism as an economic alternative to mass logging. I wish for a future where everyone can enjoy BC’s forests as much as I do today.
10. You will be working in three different sectors during the summers between school. What kind of summer experiences do you hope to pursue?
There are endless possibilities for summer work experiences with Loran. I hope to broaden my perspectives of the world by working with organizations that are completely new to me. For example, I look forward to learning more about policymaking and community development through my summer experiences.
The Loran Scholars Foundation looks for students who demonstrate integrity, courage, compassion, grit, and personal autonomy. To learn more about the Loran Award and the scholarship application process, visit https://loranscholar.ca/becoming-a-scholar/.