The 32nd class of Loran Scholars was recently announced by The Loran Scholars Foundation. Stittsville youth Tasneem Alnahhas, a student at Earl of March Secondary School, is one of only thirty students across Canada to be selected as a 2021 Loran Scholar. The Loran Award includes an annual stipend of $10,000 and matching tuition waiver at one of 25 partner universities, access to funding for summer work experiences, one-on-one mentorship, and annual retreats and gatherings.
The Loran Scholars Foundation has provided more than $50 million in undergraduate awards to promising young Canadians since 1988. The foundation is one which believes: “a young person’s character is a better indicator of overall potential than standard academic measures. We also believe that compassion, courage of conviction, and dedication to community are essential for a better future. The 2021 class of Loran Scholars represents those very qualities — and together with our partners, we invest in their potential to grow into leaders of integrity.”
6,084 Canadian secondary school students applied to join the 2021 class of Loran Scholars. The scholarship selection process, which is administered from September 2020 to March 2021 by more than 400 volunteers, is considered the most comprehensive and thorough in Canada.
Tasneem is involved in various projects which focus on community engagement. Along with fellow students, Tasneem started a Community Outreach Club at Earl of March Secondary School. This club provides new students with opportunities to collaboratively develop and work on engaging their community in different initiatives. The club was able to launch leadership positions such as hosting paint workshops to boost cognitive development with Alzheimer’s patients. They also initiated school fundraisers, like bake sales, to raise funds for the charity of their choice.
Additionally, Tasneem took part in Technovation, a program which gives students the opportunity to create mobile apps that aim to solve community-related problems: “Coming from an immigrant family, I was particularly invested in bridging the communication gap between newly arrived immigrants and the working field. Immigrants all over Canada struggle with cultural differences and language barriers when applying for a job. As a multicultural group comprised of immigrants/refugees, we have witnessed the struggles first hand and are greatly interested in taking the initiative to fix this problem. As a result, my team and I created Symphony, an app that connects immigrants with volunteers in real-time through a video chatting platform. This way, immigrants will be able to improve and develop the communication skills necessary for a great job interview.”
As a sustainability developmental goal Ambassador at the United Nations (UN), Tasneem worked to advocate for sustainable living in the community. Another UN initiative Tasneem took part in was working on the digital divide in Cambodia, “where women do not have other women role models to look up to in the digital economy. They do not know how to use digital devices for educational purposes. This leads to lowered self-esteem and confidence that causes fewer women to become involved in the digital economy.” Tasneem helped in creating a five-year plan which aims to, by 2026, provide 25,000 Cambodian women with the necessary skills and experience to be employed in the digital economy.
One short-term volunteering initiative Tasneem really enjoyed participating in was flood mitigation at Constance Bay. “Seeing everyone come in from their workday and schools to help out with the flood relief and filling sandbags goes to show how supportive the community really is.”
Regarding these activities, Tasneem states that she genuinely enjoyed doing them. “I am happy to have made even a small impact on my community. All my activities are derived from my personal experiences and inspirations.” Overall, Tasneem maintains that “giving back to the community has been a more rewarding experience throughout my journey.”
Admitting that – like many other seniors – she isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do from here, Tasneem is hoping to pursue a bachelor’s degree in science. She would enjoy being able to combine her love for coding with her love of biology by getting into the field of Bioinformatics to research and determine gene and protein functions. Her goal would be to advance the genetic research institute through her studies.
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