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 talked to one of the 2020 winners, Lydia Hardy from St. Stephen’s All Grade in Rencontre East, NL about what it’s really like to win a Loran Scholarship, her unbelievable experience finding out she’d won, and some definitely-not-cliché advice.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a classy tomboy who was born and raised in outport Newfoundland. Ever since I was a small child I’ve had the desire to push myself to new limits and break stigmas. This drive to change things for the better most likely comes from my struggle with mental health and being openly gay in an environment that wasn’t always accepting. I think the biggest factor to my determination though is hereditary. My parents have worked very hard at everything they have accomplished and I learned how to be resilient from them.
Most of my days are spent outside enjoying nature in whatever way I can. I love photography, hunting & fishing, berry picking, cutting wood, etc. When I’m not outside, you can find me with my nose in a book either studying or reading for my own pleasure. I work very hard each day to be the best version of myself and help others in whatever way I can even when my resources are limited.
There’s a quote that says, “If you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine”. I couldn’t find support sometimes, so I decided to be my own and help others.
What was your reaction when you found out that you were named a 2020 Loran Scholar?
Hearing that I was named a 2020 Loran Scholar was better than hearing “You’ve won the lottery”. I was stuck in Montreal due to flight cancellations, but thankfully I wasn’t alone. I instantly became friends with my roommates at National Selections, one of whom just so happened to live near the airport. I was shopping for some socks and pants at Winners (my bag was left on the plane) when I received the phone call. When the lady told me that I was named a 2020 Loran Scholar I dropped to the floor and started crying. I never thought I would have that opportunity, especially after meeting so many phenomenal youths from all across Canada. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even respond, I started dancing around like a fool.
What is the most meaningful leadership experience you’ve had so far?
Being a part of student council over a number of years has by far been the most meaningful leadership experience I have had. Not only did I get to plan fun events for students at school, but I also got to talk about mental health and human rights and educate fellow students in an informal way.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
Growing up in such a small community was amazing and difficult all at once. It was amazing because I had so much comfort and freedom, but I wanted to expand and grow. This often came with challenges as people weren’t accepting a lot of the time. I had friends from elsewhere that were suffering the same challenges as myself, the only difference was that they had support from school or professionals. I knew how hard it was to become comfortable in my own skin and do what I believed in and I wanted other people to realize that it is okay to be whoever they are. I wanted to break stigmas and help other kids have support in the home and at school. I don’t want to forget where I come from, but I didn’t want to change myself because of small town stereotypes. I try every single day to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.
What part of the Loran program are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to every single part of the Loran program. Right now I am looking most forward to the camping trip in Algonquin Park! I can’t wait to see my friends again. Being a part of the Loramily has helped me feel included and special on a daily basis and that alone is worth more than any amount of money.
What are you most looking forward to about university? What do you hope to get involved in there?
I am looking most forward to meeting new people in university. I love my hometown, but I am ready to leave. I crave meeting a more diverse group of people that I can learn from and connect with.
I hope to get involved in sports and support groups in university because I never had the opportunity to be a part of things like that in school.
What advice do you have for other students applying for the Loran Award or any other scholarship?
The only advice I have for future Loran applicants is cliché, but just be yourself. Titles like “National Co-Chair” may sound intimidating, but every person that interviewed me was generally interested in who I was and what I had to say. The best thing you can do is be honest to yourself and express who you are without a mask.
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.