Introducing McGill’s newest Loran Scholars

Recipients of Canada’s largest and most comprehensive undergraduate merit-based award, McGill's eight newest Loran Scholars join 145 Scholars who have chosen to attend the University over the past 30 years
McGill’s 2020 Loran Scholars, top row (l to r): Kinsley-Marlie Jura, Adam Matthews-Kott, Heather Chisholm and Sabah Sharif. Bottom row (l to r): Sumaya Soufi, Ruby Hye, Dhanishta Ambwani and Maryna Rusakova Eric Choi – Edge Imaging

From over 5,100 applicants, and among 88 finalists, eight of the 2020 Loran Scholars have chosen to begin their post-secondary studies at McGill University this school year. Adam Matthews-Kott of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia; Dhanishta Ambwani of Fredericton, New Brunswick; Heather Chisholm of Quispamsis, New Brunswick; Kinsley-Marlie Jura of Orleans, Ontario; Maryna Rusakova of Quebec, Quebec; Ruby Hye of Hamilton, Ontario; Sabah Sharif of Regina, Saskatchewan; and Sumaya Soufi of Edmonton, Alberta were selected as eight of the 36 recipients from across Canada to become 2020 Loran Scholars, joining the foundation’s largest cohort to-date and receiving Canada’s largest and most comprehensive undergraduate merit-based award.

The Loran Scholars Foundation is committed to identifying and supporting high-potential young Canadians to realize their full potential. To find these young people, the Foundation administers the most thorough scholarship selection process in the country. As such, selection supersedes grades and is based on strength of character, a deep commitment to service, evidence of courage, compassion, and an entrepreneurial spirit. McGill was one of Loran’s founding partners in 1989 and since then has welcomed 145 Loran Scholars, including four who went on to become Rhodes Scholars:

  • Diane de Kerckhove (Loran Scholar ’92)
  • François Tanguay-Renaud (BMO Loran Scholar ’98)
  • Alexandra Conliffe (W. Garfield Weston Loran Scholar ’99)
  • Clare Lyle (Belzberg Loran Scholar ’14)

“It means I can go to my dream school”

When asked what it means to her to be selected as a Loran Scholar, Chisholm says, “it truly means the world to me. It means I have the privilege to join the Loran family and learn and grow beside incredible individuals. It means that I can go to my dream school and take more advantage of all of its opportunities, and it means that I have the support and encouragement to accomplish the things that I can only dream of.” Jura adds, “Loran gave me permission to dream beyond my current circumstances and completely changed what I believe I can accomplish in my life.”

“Being recognized as a Loran Scholar is an incredible honour. Many people have put their faith in me to be a leader within my community and incite change for the better. I am lucky to have the support through the foundation to help me succeed wherever my life may take me,” says Matthews-Kott.

For Rusakova, “It is not just an opportunity or a saving grace for me as a new-coming immigrant, it is a new perspective on life that is unraveling in front of me and will let me build my future the way I envision it.”

These scholars embody Loran’s values of character, commitment to serving their communities, and long-term leadership potential, as demonstrated by their contributions and initiatives.

Adam Matthews-Kott founded the first sports team at his school, Inquiry Hub Secondary School, leading his school to cross-country provincials. He designed the school’s first yearbook and started a photography club, later serving as chief photographer for local federal Green candidates. He plays accordion and leads multi-day wilderness backpacking expeditions. A volunteer adaptive ski instructor, Matthews-Kott also lifeguards and taught swimming for multiple cities in Metro Vancouver. “I am excited to test my limits and diversify my knowledge while studying in a new environment.” When deciding where to study Geology, Matthews-Kott says the city and University “always stood out to [him] as the place to go.”

Dhanishta Ambwani shares the same sentiment as Matthews-Kott: “I chose McGill because I felt like it would be a great environment to challenge me academically and because of the diverse student population.” While attending Leo Hayes High School, Ambwani founded and led the Youth for Youth Art Collective in her community. The collective’s mission is to create and empower a community of youth artists. She led her school’s Model UN club and initiatives to provide free menstrual products and meals to those in need. Ambwani volunteers actively at the hospital and was a student intern at NB Power. She will be studying Biological, Biomedical and Life Sciences.

Heather Chisholm founded and led an international school construction project. She spoke at the 2018 Round Square International Conference as a Kurt Hahn recipient, while attending Rothesay Netherwood School. Chisholm helped organize a youth-run concert to combat teen poverty, and mentors youth through Go Girls. She runs community events, directed student productions, participated in debate and basketball, and was captain of the rowing team. Chisholm will be pursuing a double major in Political Science and International Development Studies. When asked why she chose to study at McGill, Chisholm says, “McGill has been my dream school for a few years now since attending Shad McGill in 2018. Speaking with students and listening in on some lectures, I was so impressed by what they had to say about the school’s culture and all of the opportunities they were exposed to.”

Kinsley-Marlie Jura was co-president of her high school’s Interact Club. She was a Child and Family Support volunteer at a pediatric palliative care centre. She teaches piano to children in her community. Jura had a leadership role within her school’s mentorship and mental health club. As an advocate for cultural awareness, she led and organized Black History Month activities while at St. Peter Catholic High School. “I chose to attend McGill University for Biological, Biomedical & Life Sciences because of its high quality academic rigour, international renown, internationally diverse student body, and its exceptional research,” says Jura. “The university is located in Montreal, a vibrant multicultural city which has often been referred to as one of the best cities for students,” she adds.

Maryna Rusakova will be pursuing her Bachelor of Commerce degree. “Post-secondary studies are really valued in our culture and in my family, so from the beginning after we moved to Canada I aspired to go to university. McGill, with its innumerable extracurricular activities and possibilities of personal and communal growth, seemed like the place to be,” says Rusakova. While attending Champlain College, St. Lawrence, Rusakova regularly helped with organizing fundraising events for the extracurricular committees of which she is a member. She also volunteered at community organizations such as MSF and participated in several clubs for entrepreneurship or intercultural representation either as a member or as part of the executive committee. With her partner, Rusakova launched an eco-responsible company that reduced food waste. She also volunteered to provide free lunches to the students of her school located in a low-income neighbourhood.

Ruby Hye was the co-founder of Model City Hall Hamilton, a conference that made municipal politics accessible to youth. They attended Westmount Secondary School and was a co-op student in a Hamilton city councillor’s office and served as HWDSB Student Trustee. They coordinated a project at the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and before that studied abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will be going into the Faculty of Arts at McGill and chose to study there because of “Montreal’s rich history of community organizing, and McGill’s commitment to different types of learning.”

Sabah Sharif, hosted many events regarding the importance of Truth and Reconciliation, including the Treaty Four Flag Raising Ceremony, at her school, F.W. Johnson Collegiate, and community. She volunteered with the Regina Open Door Society where she taught young newcomers English and helped them with their homework while also leading a peer group at her school. Sabah also worked part-time and helps her family. When asked why McGill to study Biological, Biomedical & Life Sciences, she credits “its location, bilingual environment, diverse population, and academic reputation.”

Sumaya Soufi initiated a weekly drop-in class for Muslim women in her community to learn and play basketball. While Secretary for Ross Sheppard High School’s Interact, she attended a community development trip to Belize. Soufi uses visual arts and poetry to revitalize Somali culture in her community. She currently hosts a podcast that engages students with pressing topics, and works as a Minor Official. “Montreal is a complete 180 from what I’m normally used to in Edmonton—the culture of the city, and so much more—so it’ll be an interesting switch [..] McGill was my top choice because it fosters an environment whereby I am free to pursue the sciences without the need to suppress my passion for the Arts.” Like Ambwani, Jura, and Sharif, Soufi will also be studying Biological, Biomedical & Life Sciences.

These scholars embody Loran’s values of character, commitment to serving their communities, and long-term leadership potential, as demonstrated by their contributions and initiatives.

Applications for the 2021 Loran Award will open in early September.

Learn more about the Loran Award and how you can support the Loran Scholars Foundation online.

About the Loran Scholars Foundation and Loran Award

The Loran Scholars Foundation, established in 1988, is a national charity that works in partnership with universities, donors, and volunteers throughout the country to find and nurture young people who demonstrate strength of character, commitment to service, and leadership potential. The foundation looks for qualities in Loran Scholars that a transcript alone cannot show — integrity, courage, compassion, determination, entrepreneurial spirit, and a high level of personal autonomy — and invests in these students to study and realize their potential on Canadian university campuses.

Loran Scholars receive a renewable four-year award valued at up to $100,000 comprising an annual $10,000 living stipend and matching tuition waiver from one of the foundation’s 25 partner universities; up to $10,000 in funding for tri-sectoral summer experiences in Canada and abroad; one-on-one mentorship; and the opportunity to connect with other high-potential youth through 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.