By Maria Spitale-Leisk, North Shore News
Sutherland Secondary Grade 12 student Shiqi Xu has received a prestigious Loran scholarship. Photo by Mike Wakefield, North Shore News
Shiqi Xu thought she misheard that she had won $100,000 – rightly so.
“Even when I shared the news with my family, it didn’t seem real,” Xu told the North Shore News Monday.
The North Vancouver teenager will have that extremely cool cash in her back pocket to carry Xu through university.
Xu is one of 35 Canadian recipients of the prestigious $100,000 Loran Award for undergraduate studies, it was announced last week. The Sutherland Secondary Grade 12 student with a passion for music and animal rights rose to the top of the pile during national Loran scholarship selections Feb. 1 and 2 in Toronto. Xu was among the top 88 of 5,089 Loran Scholarship candidates, selected based on evidence of character, commitment to service in the community and leadership potential.
“I am very fortunate to have had teachers and others in my community that have helped me grow over the past few years,” said Xu.
Nominated by Sutherland teachers for the national award, Xu said she felt at ease during all the Loran interviews while $100,000 was on the line.
“There wasn’t one set of questions that they asked everybody, but rather the questions were personalized for each of us based on what they already knew about us from our applications which were pretty comprehensive,” explained Xu. “The interviewers were especially great at making us feel comfortable. We talked about my summer Explore (program) experience, my weaknesses, and my musical endeavours, to name a few.”
Xu plans to put the money towards bioengineering studies at either the University of Toronto, McGill, or Waterloo.
“I want to help develop biotechnology while strengthening the tie between innovation and ethics,” explained Xu of her career plans. “For example, 3D-printed organs will become available for transplant where a shortage of organs is currently an issue. These organs can also replace animals used in testing. Biotechnology can improve the lives of many people by increasing access to treatment, and I want to be part of the innovation.”
For now Xu is looking forward to this summer after graduation from Sutherland.
“We will be going on an orientation expedition in Algonquin Park in August – an opportunity for us to get to know each other and ourselves more,” said Xu. “After that, there is a retreat with all the first- to fourth-year scholars. I have heard some very intriguing aspects of the trip, so I cannot wait to get together with everybody then.”
While it was a thorough and comprehensive application process, Xu said the part that really impressed her about the Loran Scholars Foundation is “that they really look for character and not just the GPA on your transcript.”
Xu and another Sutherland student were recently instrumental in proposing a student-choice policy when it comes to animal dissection in classrooms to the North Vancouver board of education. In addition to her academic accomplishments, Xu also plays the clarinet and alto saxophone, and was the co-president of the Sutherland student council last year.
In addition to the $100,000 for her undergraduate studies, Xu will also receive a $10,000 annual stipend, tuition waivers from one of 25 Canadian universities, mentorship, summer internship funding, and more. In 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation was established to fill a gap for merit-based financial assistance to Canadian university students.