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East student awarded prestigious scholarship

TED AMSDEN Northumberland Today.com
Ted Amsden Northumberland TodayCDCI East Grade 12 student Alexander Harmsen wants to be a "rocket scientist." A scholarship he has won just might help make that dream a reality.

Ted Amsden Northumberland TodayCDCI East Grade 12 student Alexander Harmsen wants to be a "rocket scientist." A scholarship he has won just might help make that dream a reality.

COBOURG -Cobourg District Collegiate Institute East Grade 12 student Alexander Harmsen has had an enviable conundrum.

He has received two scholarship offers. One is called a Queen's Chancellor Scholarship worth $36,000 that is doled out at the rate of $9,000 a year over four years.

The other scholarship, the Weston-Loran Scholarship, which has been awarded to only three students in Canada this year, is worth $75,000 over four years.

If you guessed the second option is a clear winner, you would be right. Not only is it worth more, Harmsen can choose to attend one of 25 universities across Canada.

Right now one of the universities that is top of mind is the University of British Columbia.

Harmsen was one of 3,000 students across Canada who found himself under consideration for the scholarship.

He applied back in October 2009. Two hundred and seventy students were called to participate in regional interviews.

Ten students from the Cobourg-Port Hope-Belleville area attended.

There were several interviews, some one-on-one grilling, and essays to write.

Criteria for the opportunity to have your way paid plus enjoy a $8,000 stipend a year for this scholarship focus on character, community service and leadership qualities.

Harmsen has been making an impact in his community. A look at his application reveals that he was a Link Crew leader at CDCI East.

He has been volunteer tutor in science, math and on the trumpet at school.

As well, he has been a volunteer ground school instructor helping other students to get their pilot's licence.

At the local Royal Canadian Air Cadet squadron 718 he has been a training co-ordinator and squadron commander.

A participant in various sports, he has also worked consistently, doing part-time work.

Harmsen is talking his International Baccalaureate which presents more than average challenges while maintaining a 95% average.

In his application, he states he believes he has made a significant contribution as a mentor and acknowledges that his balancing of commitments places him in a position of being able to inspire others -- something for which he is thankful.

His application also asked for instances of leadership and problem solving.

By Valentine's Day he was one of only 30 still being considered for the three spots. The 3,000 applicants had been winnowed down to 270, a number that was further focused to 76, then just 30 showed up at the BMO Centre in Toronto.

The final day to decide who was would be awarded the scholarship found Harmsen facing multiple interviews and an interview with the chair of the scholarship.

Along with his extensive community work, Harmsen's expedition to the Arctic and what he learned last April helped his cause, as did his possession of a glider and pilot's licence. And there was the little thing of winning a silver medal at the National Science Fair for programming a simulation model of all the species living on an island.

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he cheerily says a "rocket scientist."

At present, he would like to delve into engineering physics with the goal of designing aerospace vehicles.

As for that scholarship at Queen's, unfortunately he can't make use of it if he goes with the Loran Award. Oh well. UBC will just have to do.

tamsden@northumberland today.com