TD Scholarship winner Joey Loi during the two-week Students on Ice Expedition in the Arctic. Photo courtesy of Joey Loi

Catholic students land $70,000 TD Scholarship

  • April 18, 2012

Joey Loi is passionate about poverty and education. These issues mattered so much that he started the non-profit organization Turn the Page, which aims to support education initiatives in developing nations.

“I do as much as I can to make a difference in the community because I know I’m a very privileged person,” said Loi, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Vietnam about 20 years ago. “And I see how easily my life could have been different if they didn’t make the sacrifices they did,” said the Grade 12 student at St. Brother André Catholic High School in Markham, Ont.

For his efforts, Loi is one of 20 winners of the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership. Loi, Abby Emdin, a Grade 12 student at Nicholson Catholic College in Belleville, Ont., and Donovan Taplin, a Grade 12 student at St. Michael’s Regional High School in Bell Island, Nfld., are the only winners from Catholic schools.

Each scholarship is worth up to $70,000, said Jane Thompson, executive director of the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership.

“It covers four years of tuition at any Canadian university or college with a maximum of up to $10,000 per year and each of those four years the student receives a $7,500 stipend to help them cover their other costs,” said Thompson. “In addition to that, they’re guaranteed an offer of employment at TD Canada Trust every summer for the four summers.”

The winners showcase what can be accomplished when somebody steps up, said Thompson, who added there were more than 3,200 applicants vying for the prize.

“They’re the kind of people who see problems and think, ‘I could do something about that.’ ”

Along with starting a non-profit in his spare time, Loi works with the Youth Environmental Network of York Region. Last summer, he took part in the two-week Students on Ice Expedition in the Arctic.

“When I was there, I was able to see climate change firsthand and it really changed my perspective on how we live as Canadians and Torontonians and the impact we have on our environment.”

He said both the teachers and leadership at his school were incredibly supportive of his social justice work.

“This enthusiastic involvement is, of course, a reflection of my school’s Catholic values in giving back to the community and leading a life of meaning.”

Loi will use his scholarship winnings to study engineering next year at the University of Waterloo.

As for Emdin, her outreach focused on something a little different. Along with her sister, she founded an organization called World Without Worms to help fund and raise awareness about parasitic worm problems and de-worming programs in developing countries. Following a humanitarian trip to Jamaica, they really wanted to do something to help alleviate the child poverty they had witnessed.

“De-worming is recognized by the World Health Organization and a lot of charity watchdog organizations as one of the most cost-effective ways to impact child poverty because it increases school attendance and therefore economic success in the future,” she said.

She’s also the co-president of her school’s Best Buddies chapter where volunteers are matched with people who have intellectual disabilities in their community.

“I got involved because I have a cousin with intellectual disabilities and I knew how important his support groups were to him,” she said. “But he lives in a different city, so I realized I wanted to do something in my own community.”

Looking forward, Emdin has accepted her offer of admission in the life sciences program at McGill University in Montreal.

“The scholarship will really allow me to focus on my studies and hopefully become involved in research and student government and to continue to promote World without Worms.”

For Taplin, the passion he feels for his community comes from his “pay it forward” philosophy.

“From all these experiences, the best thing I have gained is not financial growth, it is spiritual and intellectual growth fostered by the strengthening of a more enlightened moral fibre,” said Taplin, who will use his scholarship winnings to pursue a bachelor of arts with a communication studies major at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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