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Getting off to a great start | Waterloo News – The Iron Warrior

Three first-year Waterloo students begin their studies backed by $100,000 Loran scholarships
Three new students with impressive leadership potential began their academic careers at the University of Waterloo this fall backed by prestigious national scholarships worth up to $100,000 over four years.
Ava Fitzgerald of physics, Nain Abdi of electrical engineering and Hilus Keay of computer engineering chose to come to Waterloo after being named 2022 Loran Scholars from a pool of almost 5,200 applicants across Canada.
In all, 36 first-year students at 25 partner universities made the grade during a rigorous selection process to receive a living stipend, free tuition, mentorship, summer work opportunities and other benefits based on qualities including courage, compassion and entrepreneurial spirit.
“At Loran, we believe that strong character and integrity are a better measure of a person’s long-term potential than standard academic measures,” the Loran Scholars Foundation said in a media release.
Ava Fitzgerald
Ava Fitzgerald of physics.
During the pandemic, while Fitzgerald was an online student in Goderich, ON, she created a mental health club for her 400+ online peers and brought in two counsellors, offered a mental health week and integrated mental wellness into classes.   
Fitzgerald is passionate about science and attended the Ontario Science Centre School. She was drawn to Waterloo’s strength in physics, co-operative education program and proximity to the Perimeter Institute. She was thrilled her first university physics class was taught by a female and is proud to be a Loran Scholar.  
“I have joined an incredible support network of peers and mentors. They’re involved and like talking to us and hearing our input,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a community that cares and supports you as well as your goals.”  
Abdi Nain
Nain Abdi of electrical engineering.
Abdi kept busy at his Toronto high school as president of an association for Black students and a club for students from different cultures, playing in the jazz band and running cross-country. He also volunteered at a library and helped support international low-income communities.
He described the day he heard from Loran as one he will never forget, has his sights set on a career in business, possibly in the field of clean technology, and was drawn to Waterloo Engineering by its co-op program.
“I’ve always liked applying my knowledge, and the opportunity to do that every other term is extremely enticing,” Abdi said. “I also like that the Waterloo atmosphere is focused on entrepreneurship. It fosters innovation and creativity rather than staying inside the confines of what is tried and true.”
Hilus Keay
Hilus Keay of computer engineering.
Keay was a leader with both his school student council in Antigonish, N.S. and a regional leadership group, volunteered in long-term care homes and helped coach at a martial arts club. He also ran a free tech support service and worked at an office supply and computer repair shop.
He describes his scholarship win as “an extreme honour” and said he has “massive gratitude” for family and friends who helped him get this far. He has long been interested in engineering and was drawn to Waterloo by its reputation for excellence in the field.
“I hope whatever job I end up with is one which allows me to use my passions for science and engineering to help build a better world,” Keay said of his career ambitions.
Waterloo was one of the first five schools to partner with Loran, which launched its program to find and nurture young people with leadership potential in 1988.
Forty-four scholarship winners have since studied at Waterloo, with Fitzgerald, Abdi and Keay joining six other Loran Scholars currently pursuing undergraduate degrees.
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The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.


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