There’s nothing like a potentially life-changing trip south in January to beat the winter blahs and focus the mind.
But rather than going to Mexico for an adventure, Adithi Balaji is flying to Toronto for the last step in a bid to win a $100,000 scholarship.
The 17-year-old student at Ecole St. Patrick High School is one of 5,194 Canadian students who applied for a Loran Award and reached the shortlist of 88 candidates for the last selection round.
“I didn’t think I would make it this far. I’m definitely excited by the idea that I might be able to get this big of a scholarship,” she said.
On Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 in Toronto, Adithi will participate in workshops and interviews for the final selection process. If she’s successful, she will be among 36 winners who will receive the funding for tuition, mentorships, summer internships, retreats and forums over a four-year period.
Loran Scholarships are awarded to high school students who show exceptional leadership skills and commitment to community service.
Adithi’s involvement in the Yellowknife and school community shows why she has come this far in the application process.
“I volunteer with the school’s Interact club, we’re like a branch of Rotary. I work with the school’s Green Team in different environmental initiatives, I’m in Air Cadets, I volunteer at the food bank and I work in my school’s drama production,” she said.
The application process includes a nomination by the school’s guidance counsellor, who chooses three students.
“I think it’s the leadership piece that makes her stand out. She just takes on that leadership role and dives in and takes charge and makes a big impact on all the projects she’s involved in,” said Alicia Larade, assistant principal at Ecole St. Patrick School, who nominated Adithi.
“She does very well academically and she has a significant presence within our social justice community in our school as well as the city.”
If Adithi wins, she wants to attend the University of B.C. for its oceanography program.
“I want to work in conservation efforts someday. I think if I have experience in co-op or research oriented fields I can apply that towards making a difference in the world,” she said.
“I’m mainly interested in oceanic conservation. We have a lot of garbage pollution and noise pollution and water pollution. The conservation of threatened species is what I want to look into.”
Even if Adithi isn’t chosen to be a Loran Scholar, she will be eligible to receive a $5,000 finalist award.
Several Yellowknife students have been Loran Scholars (and finalists) since the Loran Scholars Foundation began in 1988.
Emma Willoboughy from Sir John Franklin High School received a scholarship last year, Tyler Heal in 2009 and Justina Marianayagam was a recipient in 2004.