Ottawa Citizen

Glebe student earns prestigiou­s scholarshi­p


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

Katie Clarke likes to ride her new road bike in her spare time. Her precious spare time. Clarke, a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute, is a 17-year-old force of nature. She has written and directed her own stage play about a deaf child, regularly competes in poetry slams and is captain of two rowing teams, at school and the Ottawa Rowing Club.

Using her platform as student council co-president, Clarke was the driving force behind the first mental health week at Glebe (now in its second year), a comprehens­ive education and resource-based initiative designed to increase awareness and ease the stress of school life.

For her efforts — but mostly just for being who she is — Clarke eclipsed roughly 4,400 applicants to earn one of 33 national Loran Scholarshi­p Awards for 2017. Loran Awards are valued at $100,000 over a four-year undergrad study period, including a $10,000 annual stipend and a matching tuition waiver. They include mentor programs and a summer internship that features a week of exploring Algonquin Park by canoe, with a three-day retreat to follow.

As articulate as she is, Clarke was left close to speechless when notified she had become a Loran scholar.

“I got the call and said, ‘I don’t believe you,’ ” Clarke says. “I felt so many people were deserving.”

To the uninitiate­d, the Loran applicatio­n process alone would seem an ordeal. To Clarke and her fellow scholars, it’s invigorati­ng — online essays, several interviews, including in group settings, regional and then national qualificat­ion, all the while interactin­g with past and future scholars.

Reaching the regional level of the competitio­n, and experienci­ng the energy and creativity of young minds, was reward enough for Clarke.

“The calibre of these students was absolutely incredible,” she says. “Just speaking to the students, let alone the organizers of the program, I was awestruck. It was really inspiring.”

Clarke met students involved in such myriad activities as salsa dancing, space simulation and bee-keeping — one aspirant made honey on the roof of a Cégep building. How cool is that?

Loran, a national charity that relies on the support of 25 Canadian universiti­es, corporate sponsors and volunteers, cherishes student leadership and character above straight A grades.

“I appreciate that so much about Loran — it’s not necessaril­y about how much you’ve done, but it’s who you are,” Clarke says.

“It’s helping you achieve what you can do.”

While her older brother, Chris, is studying and rowing competitiv­ely at the University of Victoria, Katie is headed east to King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax. At King’s, Clarke will start with the Foundation Year Programme, exploring the history of human thought through literature, philosophy and all the great works.

At the moment, Clarke envisions a career in art therapy and psychology. She loves the concept of arts and healing in the mental health sense.

Of course, she also has interest in sports psychology and creative writing, so who knows where the chips may fall.

So intense is the foundation program, Clarke will likely forgo competitiv­e rowing the first year but could get involved thereafter.

Her proud parents, Rob Clarke and Jennifer Rae-Brown, credit Katie for generating her own rocket fuel. If anything, they lowball expectatio­ns.

“The pressure is self-induced,” says Jennifer, a freelance editor.

“We’ve always said, ‘If you’d like to squeak by with a 70, we’re happy with a 70.’

“Some parents really drive their kids, but we want her to be happy, especially with the mental health issue kids have in general.”

Rowing, poetry and her community work have served as creative and physical outlets for Clarke, who admits she does occasional­ly get stressed from all she takes on.

Clarke leaves Ottawa with a tip of the cap in thanks to her family for their support (including 4 a.m. rides to rowing practice) as well as for the encouragem­ent of coaches and teachers along the way, at Hopewell and Glebe, and the Ottawa Rowing Club. She has learned a thing or two about bikes from her part-time job at The Cyclery.

Before she packs for the East Coast, Clarke will be loading camping gear for a week of adventure in Algonquin Park, along with her like-minded Loran companions.

“I honestly think the most rewarding part of this award is going to be the community it builds with other scholars,” says Clarke, still a little taken aback at being one of them.

 ?? CHRIS DONOVAN ?? Katie Clarke was almost speechless upon hearing she was one of 33 Canadian students to earn a Loran Scholarshi­p valued at $100,000. “The calibre of these students was absolutely incredible,” she says.
CHRIS DONOVAN Katie Clarke was almost speechless upon hearing she was one of 33 Canadian students to earn a Loran Scholarshi­p valued at $100,000. “The calibre of these students was absolutely incredible,” she says.
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