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$100,000 scholarship awarded to Saskatoon teen who fled Afghanistan


A Saskatoon teen has won $100,000 as one of the 2023 Loran Scholars.

Banin Arjmand escaped Afghanistan with her parents in 2021, leaving behind her seven siblings.

“You need to fight for your life for that journey,” she told CTV News. “It was a month, but the pressure was more than that. In that journey you risk everything just to be safe, just to get out of your country at that time.”

Arjmand was one of 36 from across Canada that received the award. There were about 4,800 applicants for the Loran Scholar, which aims to give young leaders opportunities to excel.

“We look for qualities that grades alone cannot show: a breadth of interests, and deep commitment to service, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the determination to work towards long-term goals,” a Loran Scholar news release said.

“Loran Scholars benefit from a four-year, comprehensive leadership-enrichment program, tuition waivers and financial support, and a network of values-driven peers and mentors—unlike anything else offered in this country. We give exceptional young people a launch pad to unlock their potential and empower them to make positive change in their communities,” the release said.

Arjmand said she was hoping to study international development or political science at either York or McGill University as her heart is still heavy with what’s happening in Afghanistan.

“A lot of people are hungry right now. Kids are dying because of hunger, because of the cold in Afghanistan. It's a hard situation.”

She said her life and country changed in a matter of hours. The day the Taliban took over, she had some tests and school activities to finish. She had written an exam that day and headed home for a break.

“When I walked to go home, there were army cars that were passing on the road,” she said. “That city was not normal on that day before the Taliban took over.”

She watched the situation unfold with her family that day.

“We saw the whole thing that there was a little bit of gun shooting and there were cars running out - army cars. And after that, there were just six people that came in with the motorbikes. They just go upstairs and change the flag.”

Arjmand did not return to classes that day.

“Just in three hours, you cannot go outside anymore. And I stayed at home for over a week.”

Loran Scholar officials told CTV News in an email that Arjmand’s application stood out because she organized her school’s disruption day, coordinated a school fundraiser, and has been an advocate to raise awareness of the struggles that Afghan women face. Arjmand coaches Wushu, is involved in dance, works to support her family and loves to read and participate in outdoor activities.

According to the release, the Loran Scholars Foundation started 34 years ago and has given over $62 million in undergraduate awards to over 3,200 students. Top Stories

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