When Grade 12 student Zane McLeod walked into George McDougall High School, he received a phone call. It was good news – he was among the top 88 of 5,000 candidates chosen to compete for a Loran Award in Toronto.
“ That was pretty exciting, to be honest with you,” McLeod said. “ I was coming into the school for an early morning tutorial. I was shaking – I was so excited that I had the opportunity.”
The call meant that McLeod would be heading to Toronto that same week to attend the national selections of the Loran Scholars Foundation Feb. 2 and 3. The Loran Award is valued at $100,000 over four years for undergraduate studies, and candidates are evaluated for their evidence of character, commitment to service and leadership potential.
“ I’ve always been really involved in the community and one of my good friends made it to the semifinals of the process,” McLeod said. “ She encouraged me to apply because she thought I would be a good candidate.”
McLeod grew up on a farm outside of Airdrie, but said he considers Airdrie to be his home. His plans post-graduation are still up in the air, but he said he plans to pursue a degree in economics.
McLeod has been on the executive committee for George McDougall’s annual Ride of the Mustangs fundraiser since Grade 10. In addition, he has participated in a number of other school leadership classes and clubs and has been involved in leadership roles in curling, which he plays competitively.
“ That has given me opportunities to grow as an athlete,” McLeod said. “ And it’s given me more opportunities with the service portion to assist with development in young curlers. At my home club, I have the opportunity to assist as a coach.”
Joana Nyambura, spokesperson with the Loran Scholars Foundation, said McLeod is one of only nine finalists from Alberta.
“ The point (of the award) was to look behind the grades to the somewhat invisible qualities in young people,” she said. “ Those qualities are better indicators of potential future leadership and potential impact on the community.”
After national selections are made, the Loran Scholars Foundation will grant 34 awards. If not selected, McLeod will still be eligible for a $5,000 finalist award. He said he would recommend others apply for the awards to help reveal their own personality and character.
“ I don’t get involved with things for any recognition – I do it to build my idea of who I am as a person,” he said. “ That’s something that’s really helped me. It’s not about getting involved to chase a scholarship or to build a resume, it’s about building yourself and giving yourself an idea of what you could be.”