By Doug Zywina
Dauphin Herald Reporter
The Loran Scholarship is a prestigious award that looks at a student’s character, as well as their academic achievements.
Grandview’s Taron Topham, a defenceman with the Dauphin Kings & Parkland Rangers of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, learned of the award through his guidance counsellor in Grandview School.
“She showed me the application and thought I would be a good fit for it,” he said.
The Loran Award is valued at $100,000 over four years and includes mentorship, funding for summer internship and participation in an extensive network of past and present scholars. This year, the Loran Scholars Foundation will hand out up to 34 awards and will also grant 104 finalist and provincial awards of $5,000 and $2,000 each, respectively, to promising candidates.
“It’s based on your character, your leadership, your volunteer work, anything along those lines,” Topham explained.
Topham was one of 20 Manitoba students who were recently interviewed for the award at the University of Manitoba. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the students went through an interview process conducted by former Loran Scholarship winners.
“I wouldn’t say they tested us, but they got to know us and saw how we were as a person instead of just looking at our applications,” Topham said.
As a result of those interviews, Topham was one of four Manitoba students selected to go through the final selection process in Toronto this coming February.
In 2017-18, 500 candidates were interviewed in 23 regions, with 88 finalists invited to Toronto for the national selection process.
Topham looked into what the final process might entail, but he was not able to learn much about it.
“I’m just going to go into it with an open mindset, be myself and hope for the best,” he said.
Topham started the season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings and, like many junior A hockey players, he hopes to land a scholarship through hockey. The goal for many players is to land a Division 1 scholarship at an American school.
“But at the end of the day, just getting a good education paid for would help out a lot, for sure,” he added.
Balancing hockey with school was tough initially.
“It was difficult off the start to balance it. If you don’t make yourself a plan for each day or a schedule, it kind of gets out of hand. But I’ve learned to balance the two,” he said.
Topham flies to Toronto, Jan. 31 and returns home, Feb. 3. Though he does not know what to expect, he is looking forward to trip.
“I think it’s going to open my eyes, for sure. I just want to look forward to seeing all the other people that have put in all the volunteer work and hard work and see that there is more than just couple people into it. There’s lots of people that like to do that type of stuff,” he said.
Another Grand Plains product, Tyler Jubenvill, received a scholarship before he played a game of junior A hockey. The former Winkler Flyers defenceman is in his first season with the Bemidji State Beavers. Topham admits he looks up to Jubenvill.
“Tyler’s a really good player and he’s been doing really well. I hope the best for him in the future, too,” he said, adding he sees himself as a role model for younger players.
“Working with the Dauphin Kings and all the younger players that have been looking up to me, I got a little bit of a taste to being a role model. Sure, I might have been it before in the past two (seasons), but now it’s really becoming reality,” he said.