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Yellowknife’s Kira Young receives 2024 Loran scholarship

Yellowknife’s Kira Young has been announced as a recipient of a 2024 Loran scholarship. There were more than 5,000 applications from all over Canada. Young received her award on the basis of her extracurricular initiatives, many of which relate to climate action. She expects to attend either McMaster University or the University of British Columbia for her undergrad, and is interested in a career in medicine in the future. Photo courtesy of the Loran Scholars Foundation

The 2024 Loran scholars have been announced, and Yellowknife’s Kira Young is among the recipients of the coveted award.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I got the call,” the 17-year-old said soon after her scholarship was announced. “I feel like I haven’t even totally processed it yet, but it’s a huge, huge honour.”

Recipients of Loran scholarships benefit from “a four-year, comprehensive leadership-enrichment program, financial support, and a network of values-driven peers and mentors,” according to a news release.

While grades are a factor in deciding which young people receive scholarships, the Loran Scholars Foundation states its aim as to “look beyond marks to identify students with a guiding sense of purpose: those who demonstrate exceptional strength of character, a deep commitment to service, and the potential to lead with integrity.”

Young, who was among more than 5,000 applicants from across the country, was selected in large part due to her busy extracurricular schedule, much of which relates to climate advocacy.

She has conducted presentations on last summer’s wildfires and their devastating affect on the NWT, and also wrote educational articles about the territory’s ecosystems during an internship with a climate-focused organization, among other things.

“It’s my generation that is going to see a lot of the drastic global impacts of climate change,” she said. “In particular in the North, which is my home, the impact of climate change, as you saw this summer with the wildfires, are just so exacerbated.

“I feel like it’s in large part my responsibility to use the resources that I have to try and make a difference and try to work towards effective climate action.”

It will soon be time for Young to head off to university. She is “a little undecided” on which school to attend, but has narrowed it down to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, and Hamilton, Ontario’s McMaster University.

In terms of her course of studies, she is also undecided, but doesn’t see anything wrong with that.

“My plan now is to try to be as interdisciplinary as I can, at least for the first year of my undergrad, if not the whole degree,” she said. “At McMaster, I am considering doing an arts and science degree, and at UBC, I would be considering doing some sort of a broader, less specific first year program, but perhaps from my whole degree so that I don’t have to specialize and I can keep my options open.”

After her undergrad, she intends to pursue a master’s degree and PhD.

Further down the road, she is considering a career in medicine, having been recently diagnosed with an autoinflammatory disease.

“I’ve learned a lot through this experience, and one of the big takeaways I’ve had is that medicine, and immunology and rheumatology in particular, are very emerging,” she said. “There’s a lot of very novel concepts, a lot of unknowns, and as a person who is really impacted by these unknowns, and super curious about all these big question marks, I am interested in how I can make an impact on other people who are living with diseases like these that aren’t super well understood.”

Young credits Yellowknife’s Justina Marianayagam, who received a Loran scholarship in 2014, as one of her main mentors.

Having now received the award herself, she recognizes that she could become a source of inspiration for other young people in the North, and is happy to fill that role.

“As young people from the North, I really do believe that we all have very important experiences and stories to share,” she said. “I think the most important thing is to pursue what you really care about. Don’t try to fit into whatever check boxes you think Loran or any other scholarship wants to see. You’ll have the biggest impact and you’ll have the greatest success if you’re pursuing what you really care about.”