(Laila Shaheen / Loran Scholars Foundation)

Victoria student Laila Shaheen has a bright future ahead of her, after being selected for a $100,000 Loran Award scholarship.

More than 5,000 students from 1,500 schools across Canada applied for the scholarship this year, and Laila is one of just 35 people to receive the award.

The Loran Award is valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate study, including a mentorship, summer internship funding, an orientation at Algonquin Park, annual retreats and forums at the park, and annual $10,000 stipends.

“Winning the Loran scholarship has opened a lot of doors for me,” Laila told Victoria Buzz.

For now, the high school student plans to major in Neuroscience as she pursues her dream of becoming a doctor.

“I am planning to go into a science program and major in Neuroscience but I have yet to decide where I will go as I am still receiving university offers,” she said.

“My long term goal is to be a doctor and join Doctors Without Borders and I think doing science as an undergraduate degree will not only fulfill me as a science lover but will also better prepare me for med school.”

Passionate students converge in Toronto

Applying for the scholarship was a competitive process, and involved a rigorous interview-focused selection procedure. The Loran Award first narrowed the 5,089 written applications down to 370 semi-finalists who were interviewed in person, before pruning those even further to 88 finalists.

The finalists were then flown to Toronto in early February for two days of interviewing and networking.

“The trip to Toronto was exciting, nerve wracking and life changing,” said Laila. “I was overwhelmed at the beginning but the more people I met the less anxious and more excited I got.”

“Meeting all these inspiring people from all over Canada and sharing our stories, passions and challenges that are facing our different communities was indeed an enlightening experience for me.”

While academic grades played a large role in recipient selection, the Loran Award judges also based their decisions on the students as individuals.

“We believe that character matters more than marks as an indicator of future success,” said the foundation.