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Richmond High student wins $80,000 scholarship

By Don Fennell

Published 10:40 PDT, Mon May 11, 2020

Last Updated: 2:03 PDT, Tue May 12, 2020

When opportunity knocks, Rita Jin usually answers.

She plays piano and trumpet; serves as student council vice-president; played on the school’s ultimate frisbee and volleyball teams; has earned a Bronze Cross in swimming and learned to fly a glider. And, oh yeah, led the Free the Children team at this year’s WE Day.

And those are just a few of the extra-curricular activities that have occupied Jin’s time.

The Grade 12 Richmond High student’s list of academic achievements are equally lengthy and impressive. They include completing three advanced placement courses on top of the challenging International Baccalaureate program, while maintaining a 90 per cent average.

To say Jin is busy is understated. But she wouldn’t want it any other way.

“My busy schedule fulfills me because I see it as offering many opportunities where I get to explore interdisciplinary interests rather than as tedious responsibilities,” she explains.

Grounded, friendly and modest, Jin’s relentless pursuit of challenges has earned her a Schulich STEM scholarship worth $80,000. The prestigious leadership scholarships are among Canada’s most coveted undergraduate honours.

“I was in the middle of a psychology exam when I received a call, but the entirety of the conversation felt so surreal,” she says. “My heart felt like it was leaping out my chest.”

Jin literally jumped from her seat to share the news with her parents. Feeling fortunate and grateful, she says the funds will allow her to focus on her post-secondary studies without having to work multiple jobs and will lessen the financial burden on her family.

“I (also) look at this award as encouragement,” she continues. “I feel I am to use this privilege, and my education, to positively impact our society and world through my action in the future.”

Jin plans to enroll in the sciences at UBC this fall, and is anxious to explore many areas of interest. She is particularly entranced by the role technology could play in behavioural disorders, environmental sustainability, and aeronautical engineering.

“I am beyond honoured to be able to join such an inspiring and valuable network of leaders and professionals. I can’t wait to discover the dynamic conversations and ideas that will arise.”

The yearning for learning will be an extension of her three years at Richmond High, after transferring from McRoberts Secondary in Grade 10 to enrol in the IB program.

“The key reason why I chose to join was to challenge myself academically,” she says. “I was enrolled in accelerated math from grade 8. I have always believed growth is greatest when we overcome obstacles, and I found myself enjoying the process of solving creative enigmas that came with challenging courses. Despite having to bus to school every day, and getting home late after hours of extra-curricular activities, I found the (IB program) incredibly insightful and rewarding.”

The IB program has also allowed Jin to engage with peers in an environment that encourages curiosity and open discussion.

“We acted like family. We trusted each other and weren’t afraid to share our unique takes. And I learned to approach complex problems, and how there are diverse perspectives with every situation.”

Richmond High principal Jim Allison describes Jin as someone who truly embodies all the attributes the school values.

“She is a responsible, caring, reflective and resilient young person,” he says. “She is a genuinely open-minded learner who tackles difficult courses because she sees value in learning and challenging herself. A very genuine person, she is remarkably well-rounded. We are very proud of her.”

When Jin finds time to take a break, she enjoys listening to different genres of music, and exploring food outlets with friends. She also welcomes the opportunity to refresh her mind by going on a run or hiking. And, she’s keen to improve her photo and video skills.

Through her experiences, Jin has also had to learn good time management.

“I realized time is in fact very limited, so one must prioritize time effectively,” she says. “Discovering your purpose and what motivates you is very important.”

To the younger students, Jin offers this sage advice: “embrace the privilege that youth offers you—countless opportunities and possibilities. Don’t be afraid to dream big, or make mistakes. Be ambitious and not only accept, but strengthen, what makes you unique. Life is a learning marathon.”

Wise words for anyone at any age.

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