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Teenage activist from Sudbury one of 90 finalists for prestigious Loran Award


A Greater Sudbury teen, known for his activism, is among 90 Canadian high school students who are finalists for the prestigious Loran Award.

17-year old Ahmed Mohamed, who faced community backlash last year for leading a protest, says his activism is what helped him stand out as a finalist for the prestigious Loran Award -- worth more than $100,000. (Supplied)

Only about one-third of those will be chosen for the scholarship worth more than $100,000.

Ahmed Mohamed, who previously went by 'Ra’Jah,' said the obstacles he faced last year helped shape his character.

"I feel like I have really taken steps in discovering myself and discovering my community," the 17-year-old said.

"I served my people, like I really try my hardest to help people and especially people like me who have experienced some problems."

Mohamed said he knows that all youth have difficulties.

"Trying to address those difficulties and those issues I think is what helped set me apart for the scholarship," he said.

The Loran Award is a four-year undergraduate scholarship given out based on character, service and leadership.

"The only award of its kind in the country, the Loran Award is a four-year leadership enrichment program consisting of summer work experiences, mentorship, scholar gatherings, an annual stipend of up to $11,000, an annual tuition waiver of up to $11,000 at one of our 25 university partners and membership in a lifelong community of values-driven peers," Tamara Jones, of the Loran Award Foundation told in an email.

Last year, Mohamed led a protest when Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) cancelled a drag event at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.

Despite facing backlash in the community, the young activist said the ordeal made him a stronger person.

"Don’t let people bully you, don’t let people harass you and always take your power. There’s a reason why they are trying to disenfranchise you," Mohamed said.

"It’s because they don’t want you to change anything; they don’t want you to realize your power."

Anna Barsanti told CTV News that she met Mohamed two and half years ago when he joined the Greater Sudbury Police Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Barsanti is the coordinator.

Anna Barsanti the coordinator for the Greater Sudbury Police Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee talks with CTV News about why she wrote a letter of reference for Ahmed Mohamed for the Loran Award program. (Angela Gemmill/CTV News Northern Ontario)

She said she saw the challenges Mohamed faced last year and decided to submit a reference letter to the Loran program.

"That never deterred him from bringing his voice forward for those who haven’t found theirs yet. So how could you not write a letter to have someone like him have this experience," she said.

"When he says he’s going to do what he’s going to do, he’s going to change our world -- that’s the kind of person Ahmed is."

Mohamed said he wants to pursue a career in pharmacy, and someday perhaps go to medical school. Right now, he said that he’s interested in pursuing education at the University of British Columbia.

"Being a Loran finalist is quite an accomplishment and we congratulate Ahmed Mohamed for achieving this distinction," said RDSB director of education Bruce Bourget, in an email to CTV News.

"We wish Ahmed continued success in vying for this prestigious scholarship."

All 90 finalists for the 2024 Loran Award will travel to Toronto from Feb 23-25 for interviews before the final 36 winners are chosen.

Mohamed said if he is awarded the scholarship it would be “life-changing.”

Last year, another RDSB student from Manitoulin Island was chosen as a 2023 Loran Scholar.

– With files from digital content specialists Dan Bertrand & Chelsea Papineau Top Stories

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