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Loran Award winners

Becoming a Loran scholar will be a life-changing experience for two Grade 12 students enrolled in the Park West School Division — Carly Sotas of Birtle and Karl Chastko of Shoal Lake.

“It’s so exciting to win the award. It is opening so many doors for myself, and I can’t wait to see what it brings,” said Sotas, the daughter of Harry and Elly Sotas. “Travelling to Toronto was an experience in itself, meeting up with so many kids from across the country.”

The Loran Award is one of Canada’s most coveted scholarships, not just for its astounding amount of $75,000, but also because it is granted on the basis of the student’s character, service and leadership potential, rather than on just pure academics.

Sotas is certainly deserving of this award, said Birtle Collegiate principal Dan Hardern. “While attending Birtle Collegiate, Carly has exemplified the character and qualities which the Loran Award represents and we would like to thank her for her efforts and hard work during her time at our school. To receive a Loran Award or to be nominated is an honour that inspires others to strive to achieve their best. On behalf of the students and staff at Birtle Collegiate we would like to congratulate Carly Sotas on being a recent recipient of the Loran Award.”

After attending the final stage of interviews in Toronto, both Sotas and Chastko were notified they were among the award winners. The trip to Toronto capped off a gruelling application process that included a telephone interview with Loran representatives for the students, who were two of only four Manitobans to travel to Toronto, with the other two students hailing from Winnipeg.

“Coming from the small hamlet of Kelloe, I looked at winning as a long shot,” said Chastko, the son of Tom and Donna Chastko. “If someone told me I was going to be among the winners eight months ago, I would have said they were crazy.”

Principal Scott Martin had this comment on seeing a member of the Shoal Lake Class of 2012 becoming a Loran scholar.

“Karl has been an exemplary leader in our school for the past several years. He works hard in the classroom and is involved in many extra-curricular activities. Karl has set some very high standards for himself and it is nice to see him accomplishing these goals. We are very proud of this accomplishment and know that he will be successful in his next level of study.”

Administered by the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, the Loran Award includes four years of funding for undergraduate studies and a comprehensive enrichment program. Designed to identify young people of exceptional overall promise, the Loran Awards are open to every graduating student who intends to enter a Canadian university, however, to receive the full scholarship, students must attend a partner university, which at this time, doesn’t include Brandon University. A total of 30 full scholarships are awarded nationwide, as well as 42 Finalist Awards valued at $3,000 and 40 Provincial Awards worth $2,000. The scholarship also provides access to networks, mentors, volunteers and other scholars committed to ensuring that recipients have a rich experience during their four years of undergraduate study.

Sotas said she will be studying architecture this fall, while Chastko will be studying engineering.

As the sole Manitoba winners of this prestigious scholarship, Sotas and Chastko have something else in common — they both come from a farming background. Being named an award winner was very humbling for both students, but very rewarding and enriching.

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