Class of 2021 Grad Receives Prestigious Loran Scholarship

Congratulations to Stephanie Urena Rodriguez, Class of 2021, who was awarded the Loran Scholarship, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive four-year undergraduate award on the basis of character, service and the promise of leadership.
This award is both a recognition of Stephanie’s academic achievement and co-curricular activities, and an investment in her future leadership potential. 

Stephanie’s community leadership started at a young age. From Grades 7-8, she worked with the youth-led organization Our Voices Out Loud, helping to develop anti-bullying workshops for schools. She also participated in a social circus arts program called Square Circle in her neighbourhood, Regent Park, and began volunteering with them in 2017. “The program is really important to me, because it brings the aspect of fun into a neighbourhood that is struggling with a lot of challenges,” she says. “Because of my personal experience with Square Circle, I was able to connect with the youth participants as a volunteer and take on a mentorship role. It’s important to me to be a role model and show young people what’s possible when they challenge themselves and broaden their perspective.”

Stephanie came to BSS in Grade 9 as a Day student. Wanting to have access to more academic support and opportunities to participate in school life, she became a Boarding student that November. In Grade 10, she became involved in student leadership as a grade representative and a member of the Black Student Union. Being passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), she became the co-head of the BSU in Grade 11. “My work with the BSU really honed my leadership skills,” she said. “At the time, there were a smaller number of Black students at BSS, but it was fulfilling to bring a small group of students together and have an immediate impact on our community.”

As Head Prefect in Grade 12, Stephanie focused her platform on financial aid, DEIB and mental health. “When I ran for Head Prefect, I disclosed openly that I was a financial aid recipient because I wanted to make sure that students who are not paying full tuition know that they belong at BSS, too,” she said. She has worked with Admissions and the Head of School to develop a plan to ensure FA recipients are supported financially, socially and emotionally at BSS - and is planning to continue this work with Advancement and Student Services. “It’s important to have all aspects of the school involved. I found it helpful for my guidance counsellor, for example, to know that I was an FA recipient, so she could support me in applying to all the scholarships I might be eligible for.”

This fall, Stephanie applied to the Loran Scholarship. After several rounds of interviews, she was named one of 29 recipients out of more than 6,000 applicants across Canada. “The academic, emotional and social support I received at BSS truly helped me get where I am today,” said Stephanie. 

What’s next for Stephanie after she graduates? “I’m currently planning to study business, with a minor in psychology, at university,” she said. “People who know about my community work often ask why I would want to study business, but I’m really interested in the ways that economics impact the physical and mental well-being of youth. I would love to teach financial literacy to youth in at-risk communities.” This summer, Stephanie also plans to host open sessions for BSS students who are receiving financial assistance, so they can connect with other FA recipients, ask questions and find support.