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Student Story – 2024 Loran Scholar Recipient Chloe Nguyen

| Categories: Student Success
Chloe Nguyễn

Chloe Nguyen is a student from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary and is a recipient of the prestigious 2024 Loan Scholarship. Chloe shares her reflections on her experience attending the final selection process in Toronto, and what it means to be a recipient. 


On Feb. 22, 2024 I flew out to Toronto for a weekend with the ninety Loran Scholar finalists, a group of teenagers from around the country all ‘competing’ for one of 36 scholarships providing $100,000 to study an undergraduate degree all across Canada. Upon my return, I was dazed, like I had been lifted off the planet by an alien spaceship and probed for information. It kind of felt like I was. I was tripping on my feet and stumbling my way through both the school hallways and my sentences. My friend joked that I was like a survivor of a social experiment. Nothing worse than a group of stressed-out, academically motivated, sleep-deprived, jetlagged teenagers all shoved in a hotel together, right? As much as I enjoyed the teasing and the questions, I struggled to put into words how incredible the weekend had been and how, on a more serious note, I felt like it had taught me something I would never forget. I ended up repeating a redundant cliché all week, for lack of a better way to phrase it. 

“I’m high on life,” I told my English teacher, my classmates and myself in the mirror, as I sort of settled past the disbelief. However the results turned out, I would have been happy, because of all the amazingly wonderful people I met— every single one of them deserved to win. 

At this point, I hadn’t even known I won. Loran’s scholarship decision process is complicated and lengthy. Reference letters, essays, transcripts – I collected the best representation of the last five years of my life into one file to be scrutinized – judged against thousands from across the country. Although I would like to confidently say why they chose me, I genuinely do not have a clue; however, I can parrot what I learned about the Loran Foundation and what they looked for in good candidates. 

Character. Service. Leadership. Loran believes in finding people who represent these three qualities: “strength of character, commitment to service and exceptional leadership potential.” Although it might seem obscure, Loran actually stands for Long Range Navigation and, strangely, it’s quite a good way to summarize their values and mission. Loran isn’t just a scholarship but an experience; a program to shape the necessary leaders to navigate tomorrow’s world. These values were imbued in every word, every action and every interaction during the Loran Finals in Toronto. 

What I’ll remember years beyond this experience will be the connections I made with others. There were deep, late-night discussions, touching on every single topic that would be considered a ‘no-no’ in conversation. Politics, religion, abortion – you name it, we spoke about it. However, what made these conversations memorable was the respectful and nuanced approach everyone took. With every conversation I learned something new, gained a different perspective, and laid down a brick, building a strong foundation for deeper connection. In a world where every polarizing discussion becomes a heated argument, this was a gem to be cherished. Alongside the incredible connections built within the span of two days, the motivation that accrued from being with a group of 89 wonderful people committed to serving their communities greatly inspired me. Not only were the people exceptional in their commitment to a strong and clear sense of purpose, they exceeded in other areas of life, too. 

Wired from the plane and nervous for the next day of interviews, I headed to the gym after eating dinner the first night in Toronto. Little did I know where I was about to enter. To my right on the exercise bike was a Team Canada baseball player; on my left, running on a treadmill, was a 5’4” girl who could bench press more than any guy in the gym— 180lbs to be exact; and in the middle doing box jumps in a pair of loafers (because he didn’t bring any other shoes) was a guy from Team North America for Indigenous Games, who could do a high kick of 7’6”. However, every person in that room was incredibly humble. Nothing was mentioned unless asked about it, and even then, it was said with confidence yet humility. These people were inspiring.

Lastly, although we were all ‘competing’ for the $100,000 scholarships, it didn’t feel that way. It felt like a congregation of people who sought to give back to their community, making the world a better place: an amalgamation of intentional minds. Everyone was a walking exhibit of people who wanted to leave their communities better than when they had found them and, in the process, displayed the importance of valuing the means, not the end. In between interviews and outside in the conference hall, pep talks, high-fives and soothing light-hearted jokes were shared amongst one another. 

From my experience and conversations, I learned so much: Sikhism history, how to line-dance and— most importantly— the value and importance of deep connection. Before the Loran Finals, I had been experiencing severe imposter syndrome and burnout; however, after my experience, a fundamental shift in my paradigm gave me the fresh perspective I needed to finish my final year of secondary school strong. Ultimately, the shift was my perception of relationships and how the right ones can rejuvenate the soul by giving energy, motivation and inspiration to continue working, even without any immediately visible outcomes/impact. 

If I could only choose one word to describe this experience and its people, it would be genuine – in every sense of the word. The connections I made will last a lifetime. Speaking of which, there is still an active, rambunctious group chat amongst the 90 finalists. I’m even going to visit one living in Manitoba this summer (shoutout to Lexi). 

Until next time, 

Chloe N. (an inspired soul trying to make the world a better place) 

Editorial notes: A quick thank you to my friend Ella Ilan for helping me write this piece. She helped me sort my thoughts into words better than I could have done so on my own. Also, I can’t thank the Loran Foundation enough for the incredible doors this scholarship opens.

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