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Inspire: Manitoulin student earns incredible scholarship

Valued at more than $100,000, Jocelyn Kuntsi is one of only a 36 students across Canada to receive a Loran Award this year
Jocelyn Kuntsi, a student and student trustee of Manitoulin Secondary School, is the Rainbow District School Board’s 2023 Loran Scholar. The Loran Award is awarded to one of only 36 students chose this year for the scholarship, which is valued at more than $100,000. Supplied

The Loran Award, the largest undergraduate merit scholarship in Canada, is a big deal. 

Jocelyn Kuntsi, a student and student trustee of Manitoulin Secondary School, is the Rainbow District School  Board’s 2023 Loran Scholar. 

She is one of only 36 students from across Canada to earn a Loran Award. 

The award is a comprehensive four-year enrichment program, offering an annual living stipend,  summer work experiences, mentorship, scholar gatherings, and a tuition waiver at one of 25 university  partners. 

“It’s quite an accomplishment to be selected from 4,800 applicants from across Canada,” said Bruce Bourget, the Rainbow Board’s director of education. “It’s equally as impressive to have earned a scholarship with a value of more than $100,000 for post-secondary studies.” 

Kuntsi certainly deserves the accolades. As a student trustee, she co-chairs the student senate and  works to bring together leadership from nine high schools across Sudbury, Manitoulin, and Espanola.  

“In my school, I am the student council prime minister and plan events for the school,” Jocelyn said. “I  find that the best way to get students invested in their education is giving them a reason to be at school. I work with student representatives from Grades 9 to 12 to bring positive and inclusive events to my  school community.” 

Jocelyn doesn’t stop with student politics. She is also a co-captain of Manitoulin Metal Robotics,  pushing environmental practices and engineering her own team. She also occasionally veers toward the creative. 

“I learn from my peers in the arts, and have participated in both community theatre, as well as school theatre in a variety of roles.”

But science and technology remain Jocelyn’s core curiosites, and she brings a fresh perspective to both. 

“For the past few years, I have worked at Manitoulin Eco-Park as the lead astronomer,” Jocelyn said. “In this role, I have spoken to elders and Indigenous community members to rework the programming to include more traditional knowledge.” 

Her community work is extensive. She has organized a variety of events, including an Environmental STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) conference with robotics, a Stand Up Speak Out Leadership conference with Student Senate, Halloween for Hunger (an annual  Manitoulin-wide drive for the local food banks), a 64-kilometer water-walk with SHARE Go-Green, and free virtual tutoring for highschool students.

When considering what inspires her, Jocelyn credits those around her. 

“Manitoulin Island is full of caring and inspiring individuals that I have gotten to meet and learn from,” she said. “Impactful teachers like Mr. Chris Theijsmeijer and Ms.Gillian Becks, who truly care about their students. My former bosses, Rita and Terry Gordon, who’ve helped me come out of my shell, which has given me so much more confidence. 

“My current bosses, an incredible team that is entirely community focused. Also, my amazing Burns Wharf Theatre Players family who are so passionate and love what they do. There are amazing community leaders who work to foster our traditions and take on new projects. The countless student and adult volunteers for food drives and other projects. I would not be where I am without the support and guidance of many passionate and kind individuals in my communities.”

The support of her family has also been instrumental, Jocelyn said.

“Both of my parents have been so supportive in everything I do. I have learned a lot watching my mom, as she is also quite involved in my community as a teacher, as a board member on Manitoulin Family Resources, and in our community. Though she is busy, she is able to stay organized and put time into her commitments. 

“My dad is also quite community-minded and has taught me the importance of getting involved with the community. He is known for his kindness and commitment to the community. He has also taught me a lot about resilience. When I was younger, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and during its removal, was paralyzed. I have watched him through years of recovery continue to take care of everyone and push himself to keep caring about everything around him.”

She feels her work with others is her top success. 

“As I end my Grade 12 year, I am getting ready to leave for university. I think that my greatest success is watching projects that I’ve started being taken over by other eager students — watching the framework I helped build for environmental STEM in robotics grow into regular conversation pieces for our team. Seeing students I’ve mentored over the years pursuing leadership opportunities. Watching other people take up the simple free tutoring process. Watching more students and community members getting involved. I am so proud to see such amazing  people taking up leadership. I am proud to have a hand in making it seem possible for students on Manitoulin.” 

Kuntsi shares her thoughts on volunteerism. 

“I am so lucky to volunteer in such a variety of fields. I have learned so much about the world from the people I meet when I get to visit food banks, tutor students with all kinds of backgrounds, visit innovation in STEM at robotics events, and hear ideas from such a diverse group of people. Every time I volunteer, I get to hear stories that make me  understand the people and world around me further.” 

When discussing Jocelyn, Manitoulin Secondary School Principal David Wiwchar said he couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient of a Loran Award. 

“Jocelyn excels academically and participates in many extra-curricular activities, often in a leadership  capacity,” Wiwchar said. “We could not be prouder of Jocelyn for her accomplishments. She is most deserving of a  Loran Award and we wish her continued success in her post-secondary journey.” 

As for what the future holds, Jocelyn is reflective. 

“I know that I’ll be pursuing engineering at McMaster University or University of Waterloo in the fall. Learning about engineering, I know it’s a very problem-solving-focused field, and that’s something I want to get better at. I hope to use this knowledge throughout my life in projects where I can continue to connect with people and make lives easier. Though I’m not sure what profession I want to end up in, I know that I want to do something  where I can continue to learn from the people around me.” 

Jocelyn Kuntsi’s words of inspiration

“Helping others achieve success is just as important as achieving success yourself.”

James Stewart is a writer in North Bay. Inspire is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.