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Westville student wins Horatio Alger scholarship

Sarah Khan still remembers how bullies hurled rocks wrapped up in snowballs at her.

She found life hard as a young child in northern Quebec, where her Pakistani-born father worked in a First Nations community and her classmates saw Khan as an outsider.

Now a happy Grade 12 student at Northumberland Regional High School, Khan is one of 85 Canadians who won a Horatio Alger scholarship, which will help realize her dream of becoming a paediatrician.

“I didn’t stop jumping up and down when I called my mom,” recalled Khan, who is completing an International Baccalaureate program and now lives in Westville.

She received the good news via email on Jan. 11 and both her parents were thrilled for her.

Her $5,000 scholarship will help pay for Khan’s university education, which she hopes to complete at McGill. She plans on taking either a biology or biomedicine course for her undergraduate degree before moving on to medical school.

Khan’s final career goal is working for Doctors Without Borders.

She was one of 80 students who received the Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarships, while the other five earned a $10,000 National Entrepreneurial Scholarship.

“I don’t regret anything that happened, it’s all come together to make me who I am today,” said Khan.

She said the scholarship money, together with financial aid offered by her university, “has taken a big weight off my mom and I’s shoulders.”

Khan is one of seven Nova Scotians who won a scholarship this year.

According to the Horatio Alger Association of Canada, the finalists for these needs-based scholarships were picked from thousands of applicants nationwide.

Its website says that many recipients have faced hardships such as disability, serious illness, the death of a parent or guardian, abuse, or even homelessness, among others.

However, the average recipient has a high grade average of 89 per cent and 60 per cent of them manage to work during the school year, says the foundation.

“It’s going to definitely improve being able to deal with the transition into post-secondary education,” said Khan.

Horatio Alger himself was an American author whose books inspired many readers to work hard and face hardships head-on in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A Harvard graduate who suffered from severe asthma, he worked side jobs through college, and at first was unable to support himself through writing alone.

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