First-year engineering science students Shiqi Xu and Abnash Bassi are two students who have shown leadership in high school and made a difference in their communities.
Now, U of T Engineering has welcomed them as Loran Scholars.
Xu and Bassi were among just 35 students selected by the Loran Scholars Foundation from over 5,000 applicants for the prestigious scholarship program in 2019.
Offered to high school students in their graduating year with a minimum cumulative average of 85 per cent who demonstrate “character, service and the promise of leadership,” the Loran Scholarship is valued at $100,000 and includes matching tuition waivers, an annual stipend of $10,000 and funding for summer internships.
Now, almost two months into their first year at U of T, here’s a look at the journeys taken by Xu and Bassi to become student leaders:
Shiqi Xu, North Vancouver, B.C.
Xu was student council president in high school and played piano for her school choir. She is also passionate about animal rights and environmental issues.
She started a club that worked with the food service provider in her school’s cafeteria to develop and promote “Meatless Monday” specials and increase the number of plant-based food options.
“Eventually, that spread to a school district-wide level as well,” says Xu. “We connected with kids at other schools, where the same food service provider – Amaga Food – was incredibly supportive of the initiative and began serving specials at all the schools.
“We saw the sales increase as kids began to make more conscious food choices, whether it was for health, environmental, ethical or personal reasons.”
Xu’s activism was also trained on animal dissections. After she found out some students had a difficult time opting out of the animal dissection assignment in biology classes, Xu got more than 250 of her peers to sign a petition calling for an opt-out policy on dissections and brought the demand forward to her school board, which resulted in her school district implementing a student-choice policy.
At U of T Engineering, Xu has already gotten involved in the U of T Aerospace Team and the Chestnut Residence Council social commission.
Abnash Bassi, Delta, B.C.
Passionate about renewable energy and environmental issues, Bassi was drawn to U of T by the sense of community and the multidisciplinary nature of the engineering science program.
“I found it particularly interesting that, even in such a large community where there’s three different campuses and each campus is pretty large, there’s an ability to foster a sense of community across so many students,” Bassi said.
As a high school student, Bassi was a climate action fellow with Be the Change Earth Alliance, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and was co-president of her high school’s sustainability club.
She led environmental workshops for neighbouring elementary schools and helped spearhead sustainability campaigns with other high schools.
“For me, growing up, my family always placed an emphasis on the interactions that I have with my surrounding environment,” she said.
Bassi was also a member of Delta, B.C. Member of Parliament Carla Qualtrough’s constituency youth council, participated in robotics competitions and coached basketball for elementary school students.
In her first year at U of T Engineering, Bassi has gotten involved with Engineers Without Borders, the U of T Aerospace Team and marched with fellow U of T students during the climate strike in September.