Every once in a while one hears of a student who is so exceptionally gifted in so many different areas that one wonders whether it can possibly be true.

So, when it was mentioned to me that a 17-year-old Kelvin Grade 12 student by the name of Hannah Lank had just been awarded a scholarship known as the “Loran Scholarship” that could be worth as much as $100,000 – and that was on top of a $36,000 scholarship that she had already won if she were to attend Queens University, I had to ask: “$100,000? I didn’t know there were scholarships that big anywhere in the world.”
But that’s exactly what Hannah has accomplished. The daughter of well-known videographers Barry and Luanne Lank, Hannah’s already lengthy resumé is impressive enough to befit someone with a graduate degree – never mind someone who is just about to graduate high school.
A former student at both Brock Corydon (in the Hebrew Bilingual program) and the Gray Academy (which Hannah attended for Grades 7 and 8), Hannah is not just academically gifted in every aspect of academics you can think of, she is one of those amazingly well-rounded individuals that most parents can only dream of having as a child.
Just take a look at some of her accomplishments (and this is just a fraction of what she has achieved):
• maintained a 99% grade point average throughout the International Baccalaureate program in which she has been enrolled at Kelvin for the past three years
• student council co-president this year; editor of the school newspaper the previous three years
• volunteer tutor in maths, physics and chemistry for other students in the school; in addition she served as a mentor for students in the inner-city Machray School
• selected to be a presenter to the Chair of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research
• participant in the Asper Foundation Human Rights & Holocaust Studies Program; specific recognition in this program included being chosen to write an article describing the program and journey to Washington for the 2012 session. Only one student is chosen for this task each year.
• In sports, Hannah has been a member of the school’s cross-country team, as well as a member of the basketball team. She is also well on her way toward receiving her Lifesaving certification.
• As someone who is allergic to certain foods, specifically peanuts and tree nuts, Hannah explained to me - she has worked closely with noted allergy specialist Dr. Allan Becker in the area of developing resources for teens suffering from Anaphylaxis conditions.
• In the area of volunteering, Hannah has volunteered at Union Gospel Mission (serving Christmas dinners, cleanup) • Winnipeg Harvest • Rady JCC Children’s Camp • TD Shoreline Cleanup • Winnipeg Humane Society.
Now, with all that as background information, I’m sure you’re wondering: “Just how does one person become so accomplished in so many areas?” (Can you believe her resumé already extends to six pages, so you can just imagine how much I had to leave out to make this article something less than a book.)
I spoke to Hannah recently, but I didn’t want to probe for clues as to from where her obvious genius is derived, since I thought that might be embarrassing for her to have to answer. Instead, I simply wanted to know more about her future plans.
I asked her whether “she had decided where she was going to be school next year?” (I noted that she had been offered scholarships both to Queens and McMaster universities, with Queens having offered her the opportunity to enter into an accelerated route into medical school.)
“I’m leaning toward McMaster,” Hannah responded, “and that’s probably where I’ll end up, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.”
I asked Hannah what receiving the Loran scholarship which, as mentioned earlier, could be worth as much as $100,000, entailed.
(Just to give a little more background on the Loran Scholarships, here is some more information on what they are: “Every year, the Loran Scholars Foundation invests in exceptional young Canadians who demonstrate character, service and leadership. They look for qualities that a transcript alone cannot show: personal integrity and character; commitment to service and an entrepreneurial spirit; breadth in academic and extra-curricular interests; strongly developed inner-directedness; and outstanding overall potential for leadership. Through the country’s most rigorous and personalized selection process, which includes interviews at the regional and national level, they select the top 30 of approximately 3,800 applicants as Loran Scholars.
“Each Loran Scholar receives an award valued at up to $100,000 for their undergraduate studies. For four years, they receive one-on-one mentorship, a summer program, financial independence and opportunities to seek out how they can most effectively contribute to society. Graduating scholars join a network of nearly 500 alumni who support each other as they take on leadership responsibilities beyond their years in business, public policy, medicine, law, academia, the arts and many other disciplines.”)
“They pay for your tuition, residence,” Hannah explained, “all those things, but also it’s a community where you are offered opportunities to meet amazing students from across the country, you are set up with a mentor in the community where you are studying – like a businessperson or a doctor – someone who will guide you these four years as an undergrad.”
I asked Hannah whether the “Loran Scholarship” was a Canadian or an international scholarship.
She answered: “It’s a Canadian scholarship. It used to be known as the Canadian Merit Award or the Millenium Scholarship.”
When asked whether she had a preference for arts or sciences, Hannah said that one of the reasons she was so keen on attending McMaster University is that school has an “arts and science program that’s unique in the country. You have the opportunity to study both subjects and there are courses that integrate the two. That really interests me because I love both and I don’t really want to choose quite yet which one I want to study for sure.”
“Is medicine something you’re considering?” I asked.
“It is,” Hannah responded. “I like medicine. It’s a science but it has an arts component also.”
It would be nice to think that at some point Hannah Lank would return to Winnipeg once she is done her schooling. Can you imagine the contributions someone of her immense capabilities would make to this community? Good luck in your future endeavours, Hannah. You make us all feel so proud that a young Jewish Winnipegger has already accomplished so much in such a very short period.