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Now on ‘right path,’ Surrey student wins $100K Loran Award after wrestling with ‘trouble’

Scholarship winner Tin Dao is a volunteer wrestling coach and tutor for at-risk youth
Loran scholarship winner Tin Dao is a student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary in Surrey. (Photo:

Queen Elizabeth Secondary’s Tin Dao is among 35 Canadian students given the $100,000 Loran Award this year, and one of just five in B.C.

In Grade 12, Tin is involved in the Inter-A program for academic excellence, is on swim and kabaddi teams and wrestles at a national level. He is a volunteer wrestling coach for non-profits and also tutors at-risk youth.

“Throughout the pandemic, he managed his younger siblings’ educations and organized safe track workouts for kids in the community,” reads Tin’s bio on

Coaching wrestling classes at Takedown Academy is something that one of Tin’s teachers connected him to when his life wasn’t heading in a positive direction, according to a news release on Surrey Schools’ website.

“I wasn’t really the best student in Grade 8 and 9 – I got into some trouble, I shoplifted a bit, I wasn’t really heading on the right path,” Tin said. “I met a lot of coaches and some teachers, Simon Kissinger is one of the teachers who really connected with me. He’s a wrestling coach at QE, and I kind of used wrestling as my outlet instead of going out and causing trouble.

“I had another coach, Arjun Gill, who would pick me up at my house at 5:45 in the morning and bring me to the rec centre to run on the treadmill or lift weights four days a week. He gave up that time for me and I just think about all the other people who reached out and helped me get on the right path.”

In the wake of Dao’s progress and volunteer experience, QE guidance counsellor Jeremy Lendvoy recommended he apply for the Loran scholarship, a four-year undergraduate scholarship based on character, service and promise of leadership.

Since 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation has provided more than $57 million in such awards to promising young Canadians.

While applicants are selected based on their own individual achievements, Tin said his success has been a team effort.

“I can’t stress enough that I did not do any of this alone,” he said in the Surrey Schools release. “I’m happy with the direction I’ve been heading but it’s definitely not something I’ve done by myself.

“My mentors were there for me to talk to as well, and that’s what I feel is important – they aren’t just coaches, they’re friends, and that’s what I try to be when I connect with kids to mentor or tutor.”

Tin hopes to pursue a degree in business administration or commerce from SFU or the University of Alberta, with the future goal of attending law school and becoming a lawyer.

In the Loran program, he will have a mentor to turn to for university advice, and Tin said he hopes to continue paying that mentorship forward by continuing his volunteer efforts through coaching wrestling and tutoring others.

“I want to continue working with kids as a wrestling coach or as a mentor or a tutor, and with Loran, I think they’ll give me an opportunity to,” he said. “This will allow me not to work during university so I can continue helping out and volunteering.”

Last fall, 5,174 students from more than 1,400 Canadian schools applied for the 2022 Loran Award, while beginning their second full academic year navigating ongoing disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, 90 finalists were announced, and the 33rd cohort of Loran Scholars was made public March 31.

From “The Loran Award is valued at $100,000 over four years, comprised of a $10,000 living stipend and up to $10,000 in tuition waiver per year from any one of our 25 partner universities, one-on-one mentorship, up to $14,000 in funding for tri-sectoral summer work experiences, annual gatherings, and a week-long orientation expedition with Outward Bound. Finalists not selected as Loran Scholars are eligible to receive a $5,000 finalist award tenable at any Canadian public university.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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