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Surrey student says $100K Loran Scholarship is ‘life-changing’

Aamna Mushtaq, 17, was one of 36 grade 12 students chosen from over 5,000 applicants

Aamna Mushtaq was at home trying to keep busy when her phone started to ring.

Aamna was on the shortlist for the prestigious 2024 Loran Scholarship. As a finalist, she knew she would receive a phone call either way, so when her phone started ringing, this was the call the 17-year-old Princess Margaret Secondary student had been anxiously awaiting for.

She did not know what news awaited her when she answered the call.

She got the scholarship.

Aamna was one of 36 grade 12 students chosen from over 5,000 applicants across Canada.

“I was literally ecstatic…I was so shocked. I didn’t know what to say.”

Aamna told the Now-Leader the scholarship is life-changing.

“In that immediate moment, it all just seemed like it’s gonna be okay,” Aamna said. “I’ll have the money to go to university, and I’ll still be able to keep my involvement in the community.”

“The Loran Award is so much more than a scholarship; it’s an investment in my future,” Aamna said.

Valued at $100,000 over four years, it includes a living stipend, a tuition waiver at select universities, mentorship, and more. Aamna plans to attend the University of British Columbia in the fall and major in computer science.

“Being awarded the Loran scholarship means being given the opportunity to continue to challenge the status quo. It takes away the stress of working part time to be able to afford university and now I can use that time to make a difference in my community.”

Tamara Jones, community engagement & communications coordinator for the Loran Scholars Foundation, said when identifying a Loran Scholar, they look beyond academics. They seek to identify “those who demonstrate exceptional strength of character, a deep commitment to service, and the potential to lead with integrity,” Jones said.

“The pursuits and accomplishments of the 36 newest recipients of the Loran Award are exemplary, but it is their values-driven approach to leading and dedication to uplifting their communities that distinguish them as Loran Scholars.”

Ashley Sabharwal, a Grade 12 student from Clayton Heights Secondary, was also selected as a 2024 Loran scholar.

Sabharwal started two clubs at Clayton Heights: Project Equal, a service club, and Green Team, an environmental club.

READ MORE: Clayton Heights Secondary student wins Loran scholarship

Aamna says she owes everything to her parents. “I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if it wasn’t for them,” Aamna said. “They’ve given me everything I needed to become the person I am today.”

Aamna lives in Newton with her parents, Nuzhat and Amer, and her grandmother. Aamna said her parents instilled in her strong morals and the importance of hard work and resilience.

“Most importantly, that life is not just about your journey; it’s about the way you can help others along the way and how you can make a difference in people’s lives.”

She has done just that. Aamna is an active member of her school and local community.

She co-founded a social justice club at her school. Aamna said the club was created to create a space to raise awareness about issues happening locally and around the world.

“We have raised awareness for Palestine, humanitarian aid in Syria and Turkey and have an annual clothing drive where we donate clothes to the Surrey Women’s Centre.”

Aamna also co-founded and coordinated the campaign The Dignity Project.

The campaign aimed to break the stigma surrounding homelessness, “specifically the way people view unhoused people” in Surrey.

Throughout the campaign, the group, which was made up of teenagers from across Surrey, set up kiosks throughout the city.

“The idea behind the kiosk is to challenge the biases that people passing by may have, for example, thinking homelessness looks a certain way or that there is something people do to become unhoused.”

Passersby were encouraged to take a photo with the kiosk and post it on social media with the caption, #lookinthemirror.

The campaign also encouraged people to donate toiletry kits, non-perishable food items, clothing or cash to a local non-profit. Over $450 was donated to local non-profits, along with 65 toiletry kits, 150 non-perishable food items, 200 packages of socks and undergarments and over 250 articles of clothing.

Anyone who posted a photo or donated would have their name included on a mural painted at Guildford Recreation Centre.

Although the campaign has ended, the group wanted the message to live on.

“We want to shape the future generations to know that compassion should prevail over prejudice and dignity should be everyone’s universal right, not something you have to earn.”

READ MORE: Four Surrey students named to shortlist for prestigious $100K national scholarship

READ MORE: Surrey student hopes to inspire other Afghan girls after winning $100K Loran Scholarship

The Loran Scholars Foundation has given away more than $66 million to more than 3,4000 students over the past 35 years, including to 796 Loran Scholars.

Loran Scholarships are available to all graduating high school students across Canada.

For more info, visit

-With files from Malin Jordan.

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I started with Black Press Media in the fall of 2022 as a multimedia journalist after finishing my practicum at the Surrey Now-Leader.
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