Cam Carter was one of 33 people to receive $100,000 each for undergraduate studies
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Photo: Cam Carter, 17, walks the halls of St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)
A Grade 12 student at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary has won the ultimate academic jackpot: the Loran Scholarship, a prestigious award valued at a whopping $100,000.
“I was just lucky to be one of the top ones,” Cam Carter told The B.C. Catholic at school Feb. 27.
Carter was one of 33 people to win the Loran out of 4,430 applicants across the country. The award is Canada’s biggest undergraduate scholarship and pays for each student’s tuition, living expenses, summer internships, mentorship programs, and annual student retreats over four years.
“I’m not buying a car or anything like that,” he laughed. “I’m going to school and I’m going to relax a little bit about funding my education.”
Carter said he’s dreamed of getting a scholarship since he started playing water sports in Grade 7.
“When I was younger, my dream was to win a water polo scholarship. I was so driven to play water polo, to be good at sports. That’s pretty typical for a really athletic kid.”
His coaches encouraged him to work hard in the classroom, too. So, after failing a course in Grade 8, he pulled his marks up and picked up some more volunteer hours. Then, a bad knee injury in Grade 11 had him sitting on the sidelines of water polo training.
“It was kind of like an identity crisis,” Carter recalls. “I didn’t have that major part of me. I guess I took that drive I had for sports into school and into community service because I still wanted to go to university. Maybe I couldn’t go through water polo anymore, but I could go through grades and community service.”
The 17-year-old has served his Abbotsford neighbourhood in various ways over the years, from preparing meals and praying with homeless people with NightShift, a Surrey soup kitchen, to starting a splash ball program for 4- to 8-year olds at the local pool.
He’s also volunteered with the Special Olympics since Grade 7, first as a volunteer swimmer, then as a coach. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a really accepting, enjoyable community.”
At St. John Brebeuf, Carter is also on the student council, running events like school dances and anti-discrimination awareness campaigns. He also befriends and tutors international students.
Though Carter admits these commitments take time out of his social life, he believes they are worth it.
“Being part of communities like SJB, people give you the advice to go out there and do something and really make an impact. I took that to heart,” he said.
“That’s why I started doing it and that’s why I’ve kept with it over the course of time. It’s really rewarding to make a difference and help people out. To see the impact of your actions really makes you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing.”
The Loran, in its 28th year, is billed as a scholarship that awards students with character, commitment to serving the community, and long-term leadership potential.
“He’s an amazing young man. He’s stood out for a long time,” said his English teacher, Sandra Tobin Careen.
His humble demeanour and care for his fellow students is obvious, she added. At the recent school dance, Carter did everything from helping set up equipment and dessert tables, to making sure everyone in the building was having a good time.
“It speaks volumes of who he is,” she said. It’s also a “huge” deal for the school. This is the first time a student at St. John Brebeuf has received the Loran.
Carter went through a lengthy process to apply for the award, including six interviews in Vancouver and another seven in Toronto.
On his way home from Toronto, Carter stopped for a layover in Calgary when he found out his connecting flight was cancelled. Instead of panicking, he called a taxi and caught a ride to the Calgary pool where he knew his water polo team was playing a national game.
Five minutes before the game began, he got the call saying he won the Loran. “I was like: ‘This is amazing!’ I called my parents and I was bawling at the pool. That was a great experience and I probably played the best game of my life.”
Carter hopes to go to the University of Toronto and get an undergraduate degree in kinesiology. He’s not sure what he’ll do after that, but has his eye on physiotherapy or medical school.
Out of eight B.C. winners, Carter is the only one from a Catholic school.
Photo: Cam Carter with teacher Sandra Tobin Careen. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)