Chidiebere Okarah, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, is part of the 2021 class of Loran Scholars, an award that’s valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Chidiebere Okarah, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, is part of the 2021 class of Loran Scholars, an award that’s valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

$100K award still seems ‘unreal’ for Surrey student

Panorama Ridge student Chidiebere Okarah is a 2021 Loran Scholar

Chidiebere Okarah was getting ready to take a biology test when she found out she’d be selected as one of the 2021 Loran Scholars.

Chidiebere, a Grade 12 student at Panorama Ridge Secondary, said she found out on the very last day before spring break, and then there was a two-week embargo before she could publicly announce that she’s received the award.

“It didn’t feel real if I’m being very honest because I got the call right before a bio test. Throughout the whole thing I was shaking and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It was unreal.”

The Loran Award, presented by the Loran Scholars Foundation, is valued at $100,000 over four years of undergraduate studies. It includes annual stipends, tuition waivers, mentorship, funding for summer work experiences as well as annual retreats and forums.

Chidiebere is one of 30 students selected for the 2021 class of Loran Scholar, which saw more than 6,000 students apply this year.

READ ALSO: North Delta student chosen as 2021 Loran Scholar, April 14, 2021

According to her biography on the Loran website, Chidiebere is the environmental co-ordinator on the BC Youth Council, “working to reduce single-use plastics in her community,” while also initiating various Model United Nations conferences. She’s also served as drumming leader at African Stages Association of BC for four years.

Chidiebere said the news was starting to set in “a little bit” during an interview with the Now-Leader on April 17.

“I still feel like it won’t properly, properly sink in until the first year of uni. I’m just so excited to finally be part of the ‘Loramily,’” she said, referring to what the recipients and alumni call the “Loran family.”

When she first started researching scholarships between the end of Grade 11 and the start of her grad year, Chidiebere said the Loran Award was new to her.

“I had always kind of figured that I would need scholarships to help me get through university,” she noted.

“They always say, ‘Don’t forget about the small ones because those are the ones you’re going to win.’ So when I applied to Loran, I didn’t even think I was going to win because it just felt like a fever dream. I didn’t think it would ever happen.”

Looking to post-secondary, Chidiebere said she’s applied to “quite a few” institutions, but her hope is to attend McMaster University in Ontario.

“They have a great health sciences program. I’m interested in it, firstly, because they’re inquiry-based which is something that I found really interesting. It’s not lecture-based, it’s very interactive and asking questions and self-guided learning.

“Academically, I’ve always just been a very curious kid. My mom would not stop telling me I never stopped asking questions. In high school, that really translated to me liking science because science is all about finding out how things work and why does this do this.”

But Chidiebere said she’s also interested in music.

“It’s been super awesome getting to go to school at Panorama Ridge because they have a really, really good music department. Over the years I’ve been here, I’ve had the chance to play sax, trombone, vocal jazz choir, and just get to really have fun with music.”

While the two subjects are “completely different,” Chidiebere said she’s “hoping to do some research on the relationship between health sciences and music, and fitting it somehow into my university degree.”

2020: Surrey student selected as Loran Award recipient, Feb. 19, 2020

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

A detail of White Rock artist Marilyn Dyer's painting New Mountains, one of her works in the show Delineations at Surrey Art Gallery until June 6
White Rock artist Marilyn Dyer featured in SAG show

Dyer and Vancouver sculptor Gailan Ngan team for Delineations exhibit

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Doug Stone

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Most Read