BY RATTAN MALL
GOVIND Deol, a Grade 12 student of Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary School, is one of 36 recipients of the prestigious Loran Award – Canada’s largest and most comprehensive four-year undergraduate award for character, service, and leadership.
The Loran Award is valued up to $100,000 over four years for undergraduate studies in Canada. It includes annual stipends, tuition waivers from a partner university, mentorship, summer internship funding and annual retreats and forums.
The selection process started in October and when Govind received the news this month that he had made it, he was excited – as were his parents, dad Sarabjot and mom Harpreet, who came to Canada from Punjab, India, in 2001.
Govind, who was born and brought up in Surrey, told The VOICE: “It was good to know. Hard work paid off and more than that I think … it was more of an internal feeling of kind of … shock.”
Asked what comes next for him, he said: “I have four universities in mind right now – McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, University of Alberta in Edmonton, McGill University in Montreal and UBC Okanagan. I want to study sciences because I want to be a doctor; then, on to medical school. But I am focussed more on sciences right now to start off and then I can worry about medical school in a couple of years … I want to go to other countries as well and work as a doctor.”
The Loran Scholars Foundation website states: “Govind founded an after-school basketball program at an elementary school. He helps organize a summer camp that keeps youth in his community away from negative influences. As a leadership student, Govind organized a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. He is a regular volunteer with a local charity, retirement residence, and Surrey Crime Prevention Society.”
Elaborating on the basketball program, he told The VOICE he started that in Grade 10. “We ran it for one year and I extended the season by two months,” he added. Both he and his younger brother, Gurjaap, who is now in Grade 8 in L.A. Matheson, went to that same elementary school.
“I felt like the kids weren’t getting the chances I had experienced. The year after that, the program actually started running a little longer itself. So I felt like my work there was done and that my services could be of better use somewhere else,” he said. After that he started getting involved in the community.
Asked about the summer camp he organized, Govind said: “That happens every summer – it’s called Camp Next. The goal is to keep kids busy during the summer and our community keeps them away from negative influences and more than that, it’s a leadership-building camp. It believes that youth can inspire youth. So they take high school kids in Grade 11 and 12 and we work with kids ranging from grade 1 to grade 7 … it was a mission of creating a friendly environment for kids where they can learn leadership skills, where they can get connections with older students that they can believe are role models for them.”
He added: “So that was the initial plan of the camp and it started five years ago. The first year they got 65 kids and now its grown to 300. It’s something that runs every July and it’s part of L.A. Matheson community and it’s been able to affect a lot of kids. So that’s something that I’ve been lucky to be part of it.”
Govind started volunteering at Kinsmen Lodge, a retirement residence. “I found other ways to get connected – it’s just something that I am passionate about,” he said. So he got involved with SAF – the Sikhi Awareness Foundation – and then with Surrey Crime Prevention. “I just do different days with these organizations,” he explained.
Asked what advice he had to offer other students, he said: “Throughout I’ve learned that the biggest thing is to just be yourself in every scenario, because at the end of the day that’s what gets the best results for you as an individual.”
The Loran Scholars Foundation said 5,194 students applied for the Loran Award this year and the top 88 finalists travelled to Toronto for National Selections on January 31 and February 1. “Our interviewers selected 36 Loran Scholars (our largest cohort yet) from across Canada who demonstrate a firm commitment to character, service and leadership potential; breadth in academic and extra-curricular interests; integrity; and a high level of personal autonomy,” it told The VOICE.
The Loran Award is comprised of an annual living stipend and matching tuition waiver from one of the foundation’s 25 partner universities; tri-sectoral summer internships funding (enterprise, public policy, and community development); one-on-one mentorship; and the opportunity to connect with other high-potential youth through scholar gatherings.