Lydia Hardy says she was in disbelief when she learned she was named a 2020 Loran Scholar.
“I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of being selected. I was honoured to even be considered among the final group,” she said. “When I found out that I had been selected, I was elated.”
Established in 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation is a national charity that works in partnership with universities, donors and volunteers throughout Canada to find and nurture young people who demonstrate strength of character, commitment to service and leadership potential.
When it comes to making a selection, applicants’ integrity, courage, grit and personal autonomy are of more importance than standard academic measures.
The scholarship is the country’s largest and most comprehensive undergraduate merit-based award, valued at $100,000 over four years.
Ms. Hardy is the fifth Loran Scholar to attend Memorial University.
Only high school graduate
Before Ms. Hardy, who hails from Rencontre East, N.L., applied for the scholarship, she says she didn’t know about the opportunity.
“My guidance counsellor at St. Stephen’s All Grade School was the first person to tell me about it. I’m very thankful that she did and even more thankful that I applied.”
“Since being recognized and included in such a beautiful and vast group of people, I have grown to love myself for who I am.”
And while Ms. Hardy is the only 2020 graduate from her school this year, she is joining the foundation’s largest recipient cohort to date: 36.
She says she loved what the program stood for and wanted to become involved with it.
She says winning the award has changed her life in numerous ways.
“Since being recognized and included in such a beautiful and vast group of people, I have grown to love myself for who I am,” Ms. Hardy said. “I have learned so much about the world around me, but most importantly, I have gained a greater appreciation for myself.”
She says being a Loran Scholar has completely removed the anxiety of paying for her schooling, as well.
“I feel like the burden of money has been lifted from my shoulders.”
‘Exact program I was looking for’
Choosing Memorial University was an easy decision for a few different reasons, she says. Staying in Newfoundland and Labrador was one of them.
“Our province is very beautiful and has great potential,” she said. “Memorial is a great university and had the exact program I was looking for.”
Even though classes are remote this fall, she made the move from Recontre East to St. John’s in August.
“I wanted to feel like I was indeed a university student. I’m loving the environment of the city so far!”
Now at Memorial, she’s pursuing behavioural neuroscience in the Faculty of Science. She says she wants to help people understand their mental illnesses and/or disabilities and know that it doesn’t define them.
She credits medical professionals with having helped her understand her own illnesses in the past and wants to say “thank you” by giving back to others.
“I want to help as many people as I can feel comfortable in their own body despite their medical issues. I am very excited to study this at Memorial.”