The Loran Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards in Canada, awarding a small group of outstanding Canadian students each year with $100,000 to pursue their undergraduate studies. We talked to 2020 Loran Scholarship winner Lavan Balendran from The Abelard School in Toronto, ON about learning from himself, his engineering pursuits, and the community lounge he created.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Lavan Balendran. I’m 17 years old and I was born and raised in Toronto. I am a first-generation Canadian of Sri Lankan descent. I’m from a family of 5, with two older siblings. I am a student at the Abelard School, where I am a member of the student council. I am involved in different community initiatives. I helped create a community youth lounge and which I help run. I also volunteer at computer literacy and Tamil classes. I have been playing the drums and marimba for over 5 years. Next year, I hope to study engineering.
What was your reaction when you found out that you were named a 2020 Loran Scholar?
Getting the call about the news was surreal and it took me several hours to process what had just happened. I never would’ve thought I would receive this award when applying, but hearing that I was named a Loran Scholar was crazy to me. I was thinking about all the opportunities that opened up for the next 4 years.
What is the most meaningful leadership experience you’ve had so far?
The most meaningful leadership experience I’ve had is helping create a community youth lounge. I worked with Pathways to Education, a community organization and two other students. We felt like there wasn’t a space where teenagers could hang out and be themselves without having the pressure to do something, and so we created the lounge in hopes of addressing that issue. It has been amazing seeing others use the space.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
Ever since I was a kid, my community has helped me and my family in many ways and I am so grateful for it. It has shaped me into the person I am today. And I want to give back because I know the impact it can have on a person.
What part of the Loran program are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to gaining new experiences and the Loran community. I’m excited to be able to move to a new part of the country for university and also work in new places across the world during the summer internships. I’m also excited about being a part of the Loramily; everyone here is so passionate about the things they care about, and it is amazing being surrounded by it. Already, I have been given a lot of help from other scholars and alumni.
What are you most looking forward to about university? What do you hope to get involved in there?
I am most excited to explore a new city and meet new people. I want to try as many new things as possible, but continue doing the things I love. I want to get involved with a design team relating to engineering, but also try to get involved in new sports.
What advice do you have for other students applying for the Loran Award or any other scholarship?
One advice I would give is to take it as an opportunity to reflect on the things you have done and accomplished and the things that make you who you are; be as genuine as possible. I learned so much about myself from doing the application and interviews because I allowed myself to reflect on things that I typically wouldn’t.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m not sure exactly where I want to be in 10 years, but something I want to do continuously throughout my life is helping to grow stronger communities. I want to be involved with processes that come with community building and engagement.
Think you have what it takes to become a Loran Scholar? Find out more and how to apply on their official site here.