Chidiebere Okarah, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, is part of the 2021 class of Loran Scholars, an award that’s valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Chidiebere Okarah, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, is part of the 2021 class of Loran Scholars, an award that’s valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

$100K award still seems ‘unreal’ for Surrey student

Panorama Ridge student Chidiebere Okarah is a 2021 Loran Scholar

Chidiebere Okarah was getting ready to take a biology test when she found out she’d be selected as one of the 2021 Loran Scholars.

Chidiebere, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, said she found out on the very last day before spring break, and then there was a two-week embargo before she could publicly announce that she’s received the award.

“It didn’t feel real if I’m being very honest because I got the call right before a bio test. Throughout the whole thing I was shaking and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It was unreal.”

The Loran Award, presented by the Loran Scholars Foundation, is valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. It includes annual stipends, tuition waivers, mentorship, funding for summer work experiences as well as annual retreats and forums.

Chidiebere is one of 30 students selected for the 2021 class of Loran Scholar, which saw more than 6,000 students apply this year.

READ ALSO: North Delta student chosen as 2021 Loran Scholar, April 14, 2021

According to her biography on the Loran website, Chidiebere is the environmental co-ordinator on the BC Youth Council, “working to reduce single-use plastics in her community,” while also initiating various Model United Nations conferences. She’s also served as drumming leader at African Stages Association of BC for four years.

Chidiebere said the news was starting to set in “a little bit” during an interview with the Now-Leader on April 17.

“I still feel like it won’t properly, properly sink in until the first year of uni. I’m just so excited to finally be part of the ‘Loramily,’” she said, referring to what the recipients and alumni call the “Loran family.”

When she first started researching scholarships between the end of Grade 11 and the start of her grad year, Chidiebere said the Loran Award was new to her.

“I had always kind of figured that I would need scholarships to help me get through university,” she noted.

“They always say, ‘Don’t forget about the small ones because those are the ones you’re going to win.’ So when I applied to Loran, I didn’t even think I was going to win because it just felt like a fever dream. I didn’t think it would ever happen.”

Looking to post-secondary, Chidiebere said she’s applied to “quite a few” institutions, but her hope is to attend McMaster University in Ontario.

“They have a great health sciences program. I’m interested in it, firstly, because they’re inquiry-based which is something that I found really interesting. It’s not lecture-based, it’s very interactive and asking questions and self-guided learning.

“Academically, I’ve always just been a very curious kid. My mom would not stop telling me I never stopped asking questions. In high school, that really translated to me liking science because science is all about finding out how things work and why does this do this.”

But Chidiebere said she’s also interested in music.

“It’s been super awesome getting to go to school at Panorama Ridge because they have a really, really good music department. Over the years I’ve been here, I’ve had the chance to play sax, trombone, vocal jazz choir, and just get to really have fun with music.”

While the two subjects are “completely different,” Chidiebere said she’s “hoping to do some research on the relationship between health sciences and music, and fitting it somehow into my university degree.”

2020: Surrey student selected as Loran Award recipient, Feb. 19, 2020



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Education

Just Posted

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at South Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey public hearing theatrics juvenile

They are called public hearings for a reason. Not public spectacles.

Al French flew the Langley Museum of Flight SE5A to celebrate the 100th birthday of D-Day pilot Jack Logan. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: D-Day pilot’s 100th birthday is celebrated with a fly-past at Langley museum

Jack Logan started his career flying in a biplane trainer and ended as captain of a jumbo jet

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Most Read