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Katarzyna Farrell has always dreamed of becoming a doctor but a voluntary activity at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital has gone a long way to cement that desire for the 17-year-old Riverview Rural High student.
She spends about two hours every week assisting patients in such tasks as feeding, handwashing, re-stocking supplies and making sure patients have what they need, such as call bells nearby.
“I’ve been doing this for about three years. We just help patients,” said Farrell. “Wanting to become a doctor led me there and this has really confirmed it.”
It’s just one of the many activities that the daughter of Noreen and Douglas Farrell manages to find time for, in addition to her studies, band, student council, various school clubs and committees and a part-time job at a Mayflower Mall clothing store. It is probably a big part of why she is one of two Cape Breton nominees for a coveted Loran Award, valued at up to $100,000 over four years for undergraduate studies in Canada.
The Loran Award includes annual stipends, tuition waivers from a partner university, mentorship, summer-internship funding, as well as annual retreats and forums. Even if not selected as Loran scholars, they will each be eligible to receive a $5,000 finalist award.
The award values character, commitment to service and leadership potential, characteristics that Farrell and fellow nominee Louise Aucoin of Cheticamp have in droves.
Aucoin, a Grade 12 student at École NDA, Chéticamp, exhausts the listener by simply listing what she does in addition to her school work. She plays on her school’s soccer, volleyball, badminton, softball and track teams and is the captain of the soccer team and an assistant captain on the volleyball team. She is president of her schools' environmental club which has just put into place a recycling program for old batteries within her community. She is president of her school’s student council, is on the Grade 12 committee, yearbook and other committees and enjoys singing and dancing at Conseil des arts de Cheticamp events. She also teaches hip hop and traditional Acadian dancing and even took part in the recent Barra MacNeils Maritime Christmas tour as one of the Acadian dancers.
“I really don’t know how I do it — I just do it,” she said.
Farrell, Aucoin and 86 other students from across Canada will head to Toronto at the end of the month for the final selection process. The 88 students are the finalists among the 5,194 who applied for the award. Thirty-six will receive the $100,000 awards. The remaining students will each receive a $5,000 finalist award.
Both Cape Breton students are looking forward to the trip.
“It’s a huge honour,” said Farrell, who sees enormous value beyond the monetary part of the award. “It includes mentorship funding for summer internship, a weeklong orientation expedition, annual retreats and other scholarly gatherings.”
Aucoin, the daughter of Marcel and Ginette Aucoin, is planning on a career in the health sciences field. She sees the whole experience as a learning opportunity.
“I know it’s going to be a great experience just getting to know the other finalists and this whole process has been a great learning experience,” she said. “Everything that I’ve learned along the way is going to help me for sure in the future.”