An 18-year-old Annapolis Royal student is one of 35 young Canadians from 5,089 applicants to receive the much-coveted Loran Scholarship worth $100,000.
Finn Hafting, a Grade 12 student at Annapolis West Education Centre, flew to Toronto recently for a series of interviews and ended up being a recipient of the award that he says expands his options in a way he never anticipated.
“I learned about it (Loran Scholarship) from a friend that I had met on a trip, Encounters With Canada, last year and she had received it,” he said.
He researched it over the summer and when applications opened he applied and encouraged as many other people as possible to apply as well.
“There were 5,089 applicants, I believe, and then they emailed me and told me I moved on to semi-final interviews,” he said. “For me that was a single Skype call, so I did that through my computer at home, which was really convenient.”
A couple of weeks later he found he’d made it through to the finals in Toronto that were held Feb. 1 and 2 for 88 students from across Canada.
He did six interviews over the course of three days.
“There were interviews with the national co-chair, one-on-one interviews, and then I had a panel interview - and a lunch interview as well,” he said. “Basically, the whole weekend was me getting to meet the finalists, people who were going to potentially be in my Loran Class of 2019 if I had received the award, which I ended up doing, and other finalists, other scholars, people that run the award.”
Besides the actual scholarship, he’ll go on three summer internships over the course of his bachelors degree.
“One of them I can do internationally, one of them I can do within Canada, and the other one I get to pick where I want to go,” he said. “So I could go international again if I wanted. It’s a big experience.”
He also gets a mentor at university and this summer he and the other winners go on a week-long canoe trip through the Algonquin Park – sort of an orientation.
The kicker? Hafting can choose from any one of 25 universities in Canada.
“It really opens up Canada in a way that I hadn’t thought of it before, because now it’s not, ‘oh I don’t know if I’ll get admitted into that university, I don’t know if I can afford it,’” he said. “Now it’s like the world’s your oyster, or Canada’s your oyster.”
But he hasn’t made up his mind yet because he has to take a look at all the new options. He’s long held the career goal of engineering and thought he knew where he wanted to study.
“My previous choices have changed completely because now I can afford to go to other places and I don’t have to worry about the program – how rigorous it is in the selection process because Loran is regarded very highly.”
Hafting lives in a town of about 500 and thinks that’s a benefit.
“I think, really, being in a small town I guess, the people who come from this school have to pave their own way in order to have these experiences, whereas people in cities have more accessibility to bigger things like this,” he said. “But I think that spirit, the motivation to strive and do great things has to be stronger in a smaller community because you don’t have access to these options.”
Hafting’s bio might make some people tired just reading it.
“Finn is a founder of the Annapolis Climbing Gym and the Annapolis Innovation Lab/ Makerspace,” it reads. “He teaches robotics workshops, co-created a high-altitude ballooning group (Annapolis Royal Space Agency), and is a competitive robotics world champion. Finn leads community climb events as a climbing instructor. He composes music, plays piano/trumpet, and competes in athletics. Finn works as a soccer co-ordinator, referee, and lifeguard.”
“I really enjoy problem solving and teamwork,” he said.
Hafting believes people can do anything if they put their minds to it. If he had one thing to say to students coming up through high school he would say ‘push yourself.’
“If you want something to happen you can make something happen yourself and that’s what I’ve done,” he said. “It doesn’t take a genius to try and start something up. If you want it and you’re motivated, it will show.”
Did you know?
“LORAN, short for Long-Range Aid to Navigation, is a system that uses three points (for us, our values of character, service and leadership) to determine one’s course for a long journey. The name emphasizes the lifelong impact and values of being a Loran Scholar.”
Did you know?
Before 2007, the Loran awards were known as Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation National Awards.