Birtle Collegiate Institute (BCI) student Cole Stainer says the rewards for being one of 88 Loran Scholars Foundation Award finalists were more than just money.
Stainer is one of 36 Canadian high school students to be handed the country’s largest four-year undergraduate award for character, service and leadership. The Grade 12 student, who travelled to Toronto in January to be interviewed for the scholarship, is now a Loran Scholar being provided an annual living stipend and tuition waiver from one of the Loran Scholar Foundation’s 25 partner universities. The award is valued at about $100,000.
Sydney Stocen of Langruth, Man. attends William Morton Collegiate in Gladstone, Man. She is the second Manitoban to be named a 2020 Loran Scholar.
More than 5000 students applied for this year’s available Loran scholarships. National selections were held for the finalists in Toronto Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. Interviewers chose recipients based on their character, service and leadership potential; academic and extra-curricular interests; integrity; and a high level of personal autonomy.
“Coming from a small town, the idea of winning such a prestigious award is hard to wrap your head around,” Stainer said by email last week. “When I got the call, I was definitely hopeful that it would end positively and, thankfully for myself, it did. I was in shock that I had received such a prestigious award out of such a large pool of amazing people.”
Originally, Stainer was planning to study mechanical engineering at either the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Man. or the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. following his graduation from BCI. After meeting students, scholars and Loran representatives, his horizons have broadened to include Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.
“I made a lot of friends and connections that I’m sure will last a lifetime. I learned a lot over the course of my time in Toronto from other people and hearing about what kinds of things they do in their schools, and what it is like to live back in their hometowns,” Stainer said.
“It was definitely one of the most fun-filled weekends I’ve ever had, and a big part of that is because of all of the Loran volunteers and staff that helped put on the event. Also, the finalists, who where all so amazing.”
Founded in 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation is a charity organization that presents scholarships and awards to high school students entering post-secondary education. Its $100,000 top prize is the largest undergraduate merit award in Canada. The organization works with several Canadian partnering universities to dispense the program.
“Our rigorous selection process is designed to seek out evidence of character – integrity, determination, resilience, kindness and personal autonomy – in young Canadians who are committed to serving others and who show sparks of leadership potential,” Loran Communication Officer Danielle Sanders told the Empire-Advance in January.
The experience certainly impacted Stainer, who suggested the event “blew my expectations away.”
“Everything was amazing. The building we spent most of the day in was absolutely beautiful. The food was first class. Most importantly, the people that work with Loran, the finalists and current scholars were all so amazing,” he said. “It was a great experience getting to network and spend time with people from across Canada and hear their stories and what drives them to be who they are.”