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KENSINGTON, P.E.I. - Her teachers consider her the type of student who comes along just once in a while.
Marilyn Sheen, a student at Kensington Intermediate Senior High (KISH), is in the running for a $100,000 Loran Scholarship.
The Grade 12 student calls the experience so far, “eye-opening.”
“I wasn’t expecting to be a finalist, I was just happy to be there and get to do the interview,” she said.
“The biggest thing that I think of when I think of Marilyn,” said teacher Carolyn Black, “is that she is genuinely caring with others, has a strong work ethic and is really committed to making a positive difference in the lives of people at our school and community. She is a great listener and has humility, always caring about doing the right thing.”
Kelly Gallant is another of Sheen’s teachers.
“In a world full of people wondering what the world has to offer them, Marilyn wonders what she can give back to the world to make it better for others ... I could go on and on about her determination and drive to succeed, her inclusive attitude, her warm personality etc. but suffice to say she is a wonderful young lady and very deserving of this Loran award,” wrote Gallant in an email.
“In a world full of people wondering what the world has to offer them, Marilyn wonders what she can give back to the world to make it better for others..."
But Sheen almost didn’t make the cut. Teachers at KISH selected three students to submit essays and apply for the scholarship and Sheen was the fourth choice.
When one of the top three withdrew, she was able to step up and enter the process. Her essay earned her a spot at the regional interviews in Charlottetown.
“I was going to be happy for whoever got it, they were all really great people… All of them are open-minded, they all knew themselves really well and they were able to include other people and be kind to other people because they were so comfortable with themselves," she said.
Sheen is one of 88 finalists going to Toronto in February for the national selections. Only 34 Loran Awards are available. The scholarship would include annual stipends, tuition waivers from a partner university, mentorship, summer internship funding and annual retreats and forums.
Started in 1988 by the Loran Scholars Foundation, it was the first scholarship to take into account more than marks or athletics.
Loran Scholars are selected for their academic and extra-curricular achievements as well as leadership potential.
Sheen has lots to offer. As well as being an avid mountain biker – she competed at the Canada Games – she’s been coaching CanSkate at the Kensington Skating Club for the last six years.
She learned how to skate with the CanSkate program and remembers thinking her coaches were all the “coolest people ever.”
“Now I see the same thing in the kids that I coach. It’s pretty special.”
She enjoys seeing the world through the kids’ eyes.
“Every day they get excited about something new; it kind of helps you see things you can be excited about.”
Sheen also started in-school mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters this year.
She plans to attend university to study sustainability at either Dalhousie University or McGill.
She’d love to be a science writer and publish stories like the ones in National Geographic magazine that inspired her.
“The writers are always passionate about whatever they’re writing about. I don’t think it even matters what the subject is, because whenever you read it, all of a sudden you’re passionate about it, too.”