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Young Sudbury activist a finalist for $100K Loran program

Lo-Ellen student Ahmed Mohamed was in the news in 2023 when he led a protest against Rainbow board’s cancellation of the Courage Across Canada Tour drag performance at his school
Ahmed Mohamed is a student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.

A Sudbury high school student who was in the news last year after he started a petition and led a protest against the Rainbow District School Board’s decision to cancel a drag event at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School is the city’s only 2024 finalist for the prestigious Loran Scholarship.

Ahmed Mohamed is one of 90 young people selected as finalists for the scholarship out of a pool of 5,200 applicants. 

He will travel to Toronto Feb. 23-25 to take part in interviews for the chance to be named one of this year’s 36 Loran scholars, and will find out the results in March or April.

The program’s website said they are seeking 36 young people “who most exceptionally demonstrate strength of character, dedication to service, and leadership potential.”

Useable at 25 partner universities, the Loran Award is valued at more than $100,000 over four years, including mentorship, funding for summer work experiences and participation in an extensive network of past and present scholars. 

A 'life-changing experience'

On top of his activism surrounding the drag performance, Mohamed has an extensive resume that includes involvement in his school’s Be the Change humanitarian club, student council, the Rainbow board’s student senate and the Greater Sudbury Police youth advisory council.

He said he applied for the Loran program because it shares his values.

“They are not only the biggest scholarship in Canada, but they're also committed to service,” said the 17-year-old Lo-Ellen student.

“It’s not just, ‘Here’s some money.’ It’s doing service. One summer, you have to do volunteering, another summer you have to do industry, and then another summer you have to go abroad. 

“So, they really do care about helping the community and making sure that not only are students supported, but the students give back too. And I love that. So that's why I really applied to Loran in particular.”

Mohamed wants to study either computer science or medicinal chemistry at the University of Waterloo, and possibly go on to study medicine after his undergrad. 

He said he definitely needs the scholarship money for school, but what he’s most excited about is how the Loran program would be a “life-changing experience” for him due to the opportunities it offers.

Whether Mohamed is selected for the program or not, he’ll be getting some money for school. 

Finalists not selected as Loran Scholars are eligible to receive a one-time $6,000 Loran Finalist Award useable at any Canadian university. 

At the conclusion of the semi-final interviews, 70 students who distinguished themselves at that level also receive one-time $2,000 Loran Provincial/Territorial Awards. reached out to the Rainbow District School Board about Mohamed’s achievement, and they sent us an emailed quote from Rainbow board director of education Bruce Bourget.

"Being a Loran finalist is quite an accomplishment and we congratulate Ahmed Mohamed for achieving this distinction," said Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Bruce Bourget. "We wish Ahmed continued success in vying for this prestigious scholarship."

Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School student Ahmed Mohamed protests outside of the school in 2023 following the Rainbow District School Board’s cancellation of a drag event that was to take place at the school. Heidi Ulrichsen /

'My actions have more power than I thought they did,' says student

In case you followed last year's coverage, and this article has left you wondering, at the time interviewed Mohamed in 2023 on the topic of the cancelled Lo-Ellen drag show, he was actually going by a different first name, Ra'Jah, which belonged to one of his grandfathers, and he was trying on for size. He has since opted to switch back to his birth name, which is Ahmed.

The drag show in question was called the Courage Across Canada Tour, and featured Icesis Couture, winner of Canada’s Drag Race, along with other drag performers. It was presented by the International Day of Pink.

The tour visited 10 communities, sharing drag and stories at local schools by day, and celebrating with free performances at local venues by night.

The Sudbury show ended up being hosted by Collège Boréal after the Rainbow board pulled out.

Mohamed said he learned a lot from his activism surrounding attempts to get the Rainbow board to reinstate the drag show at his school.

“I think the biggest thing is that my actions have more power than I thought they did,” he said. “That was the biggest lesson. I really didn't know how much power I actually had, and how much power we all have. 

“I learned that when you organize people and you help people, they will help themselves and they will help you. They're going to stick up for themselves, and they're going to be stronger because of your support. So I just learned that people are really powerful, especially you.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.

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Heidi Ulrichsen

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