“No Deed is too Small” Dedicated Grade 12 Student Named 2019 Loran Scholar

Elizabeth Wilkinson, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
We are proud to congratulate Anu Popoola, Grade 12 student, for being named a 2019 Loran Scholar. Of the 5,000+ applicants, Anu was one of the 35 students chosen based on her character, service and leadership. From volunteering at school and in her community, being passionate about the things that excite her, to initiating new projects, Anu truly exerts the meaning of a Loran Scholar.

Anu joined Holy Trinity School in Grade 9 and has been actively involved in school life ever since. Anu has been involved in the EcoTeam, Help the Society club, Public Relations club and Community Service co-curricular. She was Junior House Captain in Grade 10, and Senior House Captain as well as Head of House Captains in Grade 11. Currently, in Grade 12, she is the school’s Service Prefect. In this role, she is involved in supporting service initiatives school-wide, including organizing visits to Martha’s Table, Help the Society club and Community Service co-curricular initiatives, and is currently assisting in the Sharing Day Challenge. Anu says that it’s important to her to get involved when she can and to join clubs that she is truly interested in and dedicated to.

With all her experience in HTS clubs and co-curriculars, participating in the Community Service co-curricular stands out the most for Anu. Between her long bus commute to and from school, completing school work, and volunteering at her church and music school, she has difficulty finding time to participate in other volunteer initiatives. The Community Service co-curricular occurs during personalized learning time in the school day, giving her the opportunity to get involved with organizations in the Richmond Hill area as part of her school schedule. Specifically, Anu is a member of the Wednesday team that volunteers at three locations: the Richmond Hill Food Bank, Delmanor retirement home and The York Centre. “Volunteering at these three locations has been a valuable learning experience,” says Anu. She’s learned the importance of putting other people’s needs before her own. She recognizes how fortunate she is to get to go home and see her parents every day when some individuals at the Delmanor retirement home haven’t seen their families in a long time. “Being able to make a difference in other people’s lives shows you that no deed is too small. If you go out of your way to help someone, it can really make an impact, and that’s what I strive to do,” Anu says.

Outside of school time, Anu volunteers with her church as a children’s ministry leader and pianist. When she was in Grade 8, the regular pianist at her church stopped attending, leaving the church without accompaniment. Her mother suggested she take on the role, and after learning how much hiring a pianist would cost, Anu wanted to help regardless of how nervous she was to take on the responsibility. Leaving to attend university in the fall, Anu has begun teaching other children who attend her church how to play the piano. “When you give service you want it to be sustained. That’s why I want to help teach people at my church how to play the piano so they can help just as I did.” Through providing assistance when her church needed her, she learned the importance of being fearless in the midst of self-doubt.

Recently, Anu brought a greater awareness of Black History Month to HTS. After participating in a diversity conference last year, she recognized that our school did not have a celebration for Black History Month. Speaking with teachers, Anu shared her interest in bringing Duane Gibson to speak to all of the students. She began her research and found that Duane was fully booked for the year. Anu persisted to find a time that would work, and on February 13, 2019, HTS welcomed Duane for a full-school presentation. He taught our students about Black Canadians who have shaped our country, and shared his love for rap music, receiving a very positive response from the HTS community. Anu was also proud to have HTS community members contribute to bringing greater awareness to the school as Father Stephen Crowther dedicated a Chapel talk to Black History Month, and the prefects created a Black History Month board in the Senior School.

From a young age, Anu wanted to be a doctor. Currently, her goal is to attend university for science, advance to medical school, and finally become a pediatrician, as she loves working with children. In the summer of 2018, Anu had the opportunity to experience the medical field as an intern at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), which she applied for through the Student Advancement Research (StAR) program – a program that chooses nine high school students to work on research that’s currently underway at SickKids. During her time at SickKids, she worked in a lab researching ways to reduce inflammation caused by kidney injury and atherosclerosis with the use of different proteins. Anu is grateful for the opportunity she had at SickKids as it gave her an idea of what to expect once she starts her studies in science and medicine. She is also grateful for the opportunity she had to meet medical and graduate students to hear about their experiences, receive advice, and ask questions. Anu was particularly inspired by her supervisor, Dr. Lisa Robinson. Dr. Robinson is a graduate from University of Toronto Medicine, who, at her time of study, was the only black student in her medical class. In 2017, under the advice of Dr. Robinson, the University of Toronto launched the Black Student Application Program to strengthen diversity in medical school. “It’s important today that our doctors reflect the patients that they’re serving, and with the high population of marginalized communities in Toronto, the doctors in Toronto don’t reflect that population,” Anu recalls Dr. Robinson stating. “She advocated for diversity, and I find that very inspiring.” Anu has been researching university programs for many years, and can’t believe her time has come. She says she’s going to work hard and see where her journey takes her.

Currently, Anu is working on a project to raise books for students in Nigeria. “I’m very passionate about the social issues in Nigeria as I’m from there,” Anu says. “Speaking with my family in Nigeria, I learned that many public schools in Nigeria don’t get the funding they need, resulting in a lack of resources.” Knowing the large number of books our school library has and that many people have books at home that they have finished reading, Anu recognized that we take so many things for granted. She asked a group of friends if they had any books they would like to donate, which grew through word of mouth, and has led to collecting 300 books which are currently kept in her home. “I think it’s important to be aware of the privilege we have and how we can impact other people’s lives. Even by doing something small like donating books, you are making some sort of difference,” Anu says her goal is to ship 500 books to schools in Nigeria this May and she hopes to one day visit to see the impact that these books will have had on the schools and students.

From her process in applying to be a Loran Scholar, she learned that it’s not about what you do, but why you do it and what you have the potential to do in the future. She is grateful that Loran saw her passion and believes in her. “I learned the importance of being yourself. It’s easy to say what you think they want you to say, but it’s more important to be yourself and show who you truly are.” Anu says she tries her best every day to be selfless because she knows that she is capable of helping others–she wants to be out making an impact in someone’s life, someway, somehow.