The Loran Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards in Canada, awarding a small group of outstanding Canadian students each year with $100,000 to pursue their undergraduate studies. We asked one of the 2020 winners, Adithi Balaji from École St.Patrick High School in Yellowknife, NT, some Loran Scholarship questions about her reaction to winning, advice for students applying, and what’s next for her.
Tell us about yourself.
Although my family immigrated to Canada when I was a child, I call Yellowknife my home today. My life in the North has shaped a large part of my identity today. Most of all, I’ve formed a strong connection to the land and the waters of my home. I’ve been involved with environmental activism in my community along with my role in my school’s Green Team. In the future, I hope to work in nature conservation.
A big part of my life has also been my involvement with the Air Cadet program. Over the years, it has allowed me to learn many skills and meet some of my best friends. I spent the summer of 2019 learning how to fly through Air Cadets.
I’ve also loved art since I was young. Eventually, that passion led me to set design with my school’s annual theatre production. Participating in and taking on a leadership role as a Stage Manager within drama has helped me gain a lot of life experience. In my free time, I enjoy many hobbies including drawing, knitting and bread making.
What was your reaction when you found out that you were named a 2020 Loran Scholar?
I was in complete disbelief! All of the finalists I met at the 2020 National Selections were such inspiring and amazing people. It’s hard to believe even now that I was chosen!
What is the most meaningful leadership experience you’ve had so far?
My most significant leadership experience has been with the cadet program. When I first became a cadet, I did not expect that the program would completely change my life. Over the years, by gaining valuable experiences and taking on increasingly significant responsibilities, I learned how to apply leadership in real life. Most of all, it has been incredibly rewarding witnessing other younger cadets embark on that journey of growth and discovery themselves.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
The people and organizations in my community are what make me who I am today. By helping me achieve my goals, inspiring me to broaden my horizons form many strong connections, the impacts of others make up my identity. As such, I think that the least I can do is try to make my community a better place.
What part of the Loran program are you most looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to the mentorship aspect of the Loran program. As I’ve lived in Yellowknife my whole life, I’ve formed many strong bonds within my community. In the process of uprooting myself and leaving that support system behind, think it will be helpful to have a mentor to ease me through my transition and allow me to develop connections in my new home.
What are you most looking forward to about university? What do you hope to get involved in there?
At university, I’m excited to push myself out of my comfort zone. Surrounded by new people, with diverse cultural backgrounds, perspectives and passions will enable me to form a more thorough understanding of issues faced by others.
I’m also thrilled by the possibility of a fresh start. Now that I have reached a place where I am mentally content with myself, I want to embrace my true self in a new environment.
What advice do you have for other students applying for the Loran Award or any other scholarship?
I never thought that I’d be shortlisted for this award, let alone receive it! Throughout this process, I’ve learned to stop second-guessing myself and just take chances. As a student, the only scholarship application mistake you can make is not trying. Most people don’t realize how amazing they are!
What’s one fun fact about yourself? Is there anything else you want to share?
My favourite vegetable is asparagus!
You will be working in three different sectors during the summers between school. What kind of summer experiences do you hope to pursue?
Through the summer internship program, I want to expand my horizons, perhaps even pursuing something that I’m initially uncomfortable with it. Hopefully, by working in an unfamiliar domain, I can gain a better understanding of our world and my place in it.
Applications for the 2021 Loran Award are now open! The Loran Scholars Foundation looks for students who demonstrate strength of character, a commitment to service, and leadership potential. To learn more about the Loran Award and how you can apply for it visit https://loranscholar.ca/becoming-a-scholar/ and/or join one of their webinars.