“I was super surprised at first,” reflected Grade 12 student Emma Willoughby on winning a $100,000 Loran Award.
Willoughby had just gotten home from the national competition when she found out she had won the most comprehensive undergraduate award in Canada.
The Yellowknife student spent the first weekend of February going through an intensive interview process in Toronto with 88 other finalists, all selected from a pool of 5,089 applicants.
“Everybody I met there was so interesting and had done so many things with their lives,” she said, explaining why she was so surprised to be selected as a winner.
But Willoughby herself has extensive leadership experience, which she told Cabin Radio a month ago was likely key to her successful application.
She’s volunteered as a coach at GOBall throughout high school, and she worked for Northern Youth Leadership over the past two summers, helping to run on-the-land camps.
Winning the award, she said, has both helped her narrow down her options once she completes high school and has also made her “realize that there’s so many more opportunities out there.”
“I’m so thankful and proud to be named a scholar but the weekend itself was a life-changing experience,” she said.
This year, 35 students were selected to receive the award – which is valued at approximately $100,000 over four years, including a $10,000 annual stipend plus a matching tuition waiver, mentorship, summer internship funding, and annual retreats and forums.
Other finalists – who, like Willoughby, wrote several essays and participated in several semi-finalist and finalist interviews – received $5,000 awards.