Grade 12 Mount Sentinel Secondary student, Tala MacDonald, is one of the 30 exceptional young Canadians who has been selected from a pool of 6,084 applicants to be named a 2021 Loran Scholar this spring.
Each year, the Loran Scholars Foundation conducts a nationwide, comprehensive scholarship selection process, seeking applicants who demonstrate a firm commitment to character, service and leadership potential; breadth in academic and extra-curricular interests; integrity; and a high level of personal autonomy.
In this time of immense change and challenge, the newly selected scholars have shown grit and resilience, finding ways to make the most of these extraordinary circumstances and meaningfully serve their communities.
When it comes to serving one’s community, Tala’s strength of character and commitment to helping others is nothing short of exemplary. She demonstrates this as a volunteer firefighter and medical first responder in her community, as a team leader for environmental initiatives at her school, and through her involvement in an international service and intercultural learning project, where she helped build homes in Oaxaca, Mexico for impoverished families.
Tala was first encouraged to apply for the Loran Scholarship in the fall by her school counsellor, and the strength of her application led her through both the semi-final and final selection process. “I went into the interview nervous and not knowing really what to expect,” said Tala, “But it was so incredible to be able to connect with alumni and other candidates from across the country, and to hear their experiences.”
The Loran Award is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive four-year undergraduate award. What makes this award unique is that it is not a reward for past accomplishments, but an investment in a potential future path of high impact. Loran poses a lifelong challenge to its scholars to live outstanding lives of character and take on significant leadership roles, which will positively impact their communities, Canada, and the world around us.
Tala accounts growing up in a tight knit community and being raised with the mindset to help others for her desire to make a difference. “I look at the issues of the world, and it can be overwhelming, but I believe I can make a positive change by helping others” said Tala.
Through a creative lens, Tala’s passion for the arts, both visual and performing, has also influenced her ability to have an impact both in and out of school. “She’s an outstanding kid,” exclaims Danny Leeming, Academy PM (Performance & Media) teacher. “Tala’s contribution to our program over the past three years has been exceptional.” Tala is also an active member of an extracurricular theatre group and was recently the lead contributor for a collaborative production focused on truth and reconciliation.
Loran Scholars receive a renewable four-year award comprising an annual living stipend and matching tuition waiver from one of the foundation’s 25 partner universities; funding for tri-sectoral summer work experiences (in enterprise, public policy, and community development); one-on-one mentorship; and the opportunity to connect with other high-potential youth through forums and scholar gatherings. Following their undergraduate studies, Loran Scholars are welcomed into an engaged alumni community, in which former scholars connect and collaborate through regional hubs and larger reunion events.
School District 8