Getting off to a great start

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Two first-year electrical and computer engineering students begin their studies backed by $100,000 Loran scholarships

Originally published in Waterloo News.

Two new students with impressive leadership potential began their academic careers at the University of Waterloo this fall backed by prestigious national scholarships worth up to $100,000 over four years.

Nain Abdi of electrical engineering and Hilus Keay of computer engineering chose to come to Waterloo after being named 2022 Loran Scholars from a pool of almost 5,200 applicants across Canada.

In all, 36 first-year students at 25 partner universities made the grade during a rigorous selection process to receive a living stipend, free tuition, mentorship, summer work opportunities and other benefits based on qualities including courage, compassion and entrepreneurial spirit.

Nain Abdi of electrical engineering

“At Loran, we believe that strong character and integrity are a better measure of a person’s long-term potential than standard academic measures,” the Loran Scholars Foundation said in a media release.

Abdi kept busy at his Toronto high school as president of an association for Black students and a club for students from different cultures, playing in the jazz band and running cross-country. He also volunteered at a library and helped support international low-income communities.

He described the day he heard from Loran as one he will never forget, has his sights set on a career in business, possibly in the field of clean technology, and was drawn to Waterloo Engineering by its co-op program.

“I've always liked applying my knowledge, and the opportunity to do that every other term is extremely enticing,” Abdi said. “I also like that the Waterloo atmosphere is focused on entrepreneurship. It fosters innovation and creativity rather than staying inside the confines of what is tried and true.”

Hilus Keay of computer engineering.

Hilus Keay

Keay was a leader with both his school student council in Antigonish, N.S. and a regional leadership group, volunteered in long-term care homes and helped coach at a martial arts club. He also ran a free tech support service and worked at an office supply and computer repair shop.

He describes his scholarship win as “an extreme honour” and said he has “massive gratitude” for family and friends who helped him get this far. He has long been interested in engineering and was drawn to Waterloo by its reputation for excellence in the field.

“I hope whatever job I end up with is one which allows me to use my passions for science and engineering to help build a better world,” Keay said of his career ambitions.

Waterloo was one of the first five schools to partner with Loran, which launched its program to find and nurture young people with leadership potential in 1988.