Sayeh Yousefi is a master of time management.
The 17-year-old, R.E. Mountain Secondary student is a tireless volunteer, which was a driving force behind her becoming the first student from her school (and first in the Langley School District) to be selected as a Loran Scholar.
The Loran Award comprises a $9,000 annual stipend and a matching tuition waiver (unique in Canada), a summer program with funding of up to $8,500, a week-long orientation expedition in Algonquin Park in Ontario, one-on-one mentorship, and participation in the community of past and present scholars.
“This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened in my life,” Sayeh said. “When I found out, I burst out crying. I was in shock and I’m still in shock; this is definitely the biggest thing that’s ever happened.”
Sayeh, who moved to Langley from West Vancouver last year, has a passion for writing, social justice, and politics.
She combines all three into her volunteer work.
As president of the Oxfam club at her former school in West Van, she organized a campaign to raise awareness of gender inequality in politics. She’s still volunteering with Oxfam and is their newsletter editor.
As well, she is the editor-in-chief of the Mountain Report, her school’s newspaper, and recently started a youth news website.
Sayeh also serves on the municipal youth advisory council, helps organize a Model United Nations simulation, and facilitates social justice workshops.
She also plays on her school’s soccer team and works part-time as a soccer referee.
Sayeh’s efforts don’t end there:
• She’s a writer with the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which develops early childhood education projects in Serbia and gives grants to educational initiatives with a goal to help children. “I contribute articles on a weekly basis,” she said.
• She’s a workshop facilitator with Check Your Head, which “supports people who want to take action on social and environmental justice issues”;
• she has volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society; and
• she has volunteered with Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa’s re-election campaign, which she described as “a great experience as the staff were very friendly and welcoming, and it allowed me to become more exposed to politics at a municipal level.”
The many roles helped Sayeh earn the prestigious Loran Award, which is valued at up to $100,000 over four years for undergraduate studies in Canada.
The Loran Scholars Foundation received 4,273 applications from across the country and selected 31 Loran Scholars based on evidence of character, commitment to service in the community, and leadership potential.
“There are no specific qualifications,” Sayeh said, about the selection process, “just a dedication to helping others and service to community.”
Each new scholar was assessed or interviewed by up to 12 different people over three months.
These scholarship funds will come in handy, since Sayeh is contemplating attending the University of Toronto after she graduates from R.E. Mountain.
In the meantime, the hectic beat drums on for Sayeh.
“When you are passionate about something, it’s easy to find time to do it,” Sayeh said. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s always been do-able.”
Loran Scholarship Foundation
Founded in 1988, the foundation is a national charity that partners with 25 universities to invest in exceptional young Canadians.
It has supported 541 Loran Scholars over 27 years.