Sir John Franklin High School student Emma Willoughby is a national finalist for a $100,000 Loran Award.
Willoughby is one of 88 students shortlisted from 5,089 applicants for the award, which is given to students based on their character, volunteer experience, and leadership potential.
She’ll be off to Toronto over February 1 and 2 for national selections, after which the Loran Scholars Foundation will choose 34 of the 88 students to receive the full award – which includes stipends, tuition waivers, mentorship, summer internship funding, and annual retreats and forums.
As Willoughby is a finalist, she will automatically receive a $5,000 award even if she isn’t named a Loran Scholar.
“I was definitely shocked at first,” the Grade 12 student told Cabin Radio.
“I never expected to make it this far. You always hope you will, but you don’t think it will happen to you. Now that I’ve had time to think and reflect on it, I’m really excited.”
The Loran Scholars Foundation was formed in 1988. Its founders felt that while academic and sporting excellence at student level were well-funded, excellence in leadership and other talents received less attention.
The main award, valued at approximately $100,000 over four years, includes a $10,000 annual stipend plus a matching tuition waiver and a range of other opportunities and benefits.
In addition to securing a nomination from her school, Willoughby wrote several essays on her leadership experience for the award application process.
She believes volunteering as a coach at GOBall over the past few years – where she teaches sportsmanship and confidence to young girls in the girls-only basketball program – strengthened her application.
Willoughby has also worked for Northern Youth Leadership over the past two summers, helping to run on-the-land camps.
After finding out she was a semi-finalist in mid-November, Willoughby completed five regional interviews with the committee that represents the three territories.
Now she just has national selections to attend in Toronto, and expects to find out soon afterwards if she’s a Loran Scholar.
Willoughby has already won one national award. In 2016, while in Grade 9, she took first place in a nationwide photography contest for youth aged five to 29.
The photo, which shows a pair of beaded Dene mitts on the seat of a snowmobile, won that year’s Passages Canada Imagine Culture Photo Contest.
Almost three years later, she is applying to universities and looking to her future.
“I’m hoping to go into education or international development,” she said.