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Richmond students win Alger scholarships

Grade 12 students River Zhang, of Richmond Secondary, and Joan Liu, of Palmer Secondary, both received a $5,000 from the Horatio Alger Association.

Two Richmond high school students are hoping for a better start to post-secondary life after they each received a scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association.

Grade 12 students River Zhang, of Richmond Secondary, and Joan Liu, of Palmer Secondary, both received a $5,000 from the association, which this year awarded 170 students across the country need-based scholarships for those who have overcome adversity and are seeking a university education.

River, 17, told the Richmond News how his family, who emigrated from China, has always struggled financially and he wanted to try to alleviate that so he could focus on the academics at university.

“It would be tougher for sure without (the scholarship). I would likely have to take more loans and work more jobs,” said River, who wants to study at UBC, University of Toronto or McMaster.

“My parents have been trying their best, working many jobs, day and night, to give me my best chance. Dad works from 5 a.m. for 12 hours and my mom was recently laid off from her job due to the pandemic.”

River said it’s his hope to study health sciences, with a view to going to med school after university, to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor.

Joan, meanwhile, also 17, has her eye on studying general sciences at UBC or SFU, with the dream of getting a BA in education to become a science teacher at high school.

Asked why she wants to go into teaching, Joan said she was, “pretty unsure for a while. But I had a good think about what I enjoy and what I don’t and teachers have been a great influence on me and have been my mentors. I’ve also enjoyed tutoring.”

Much like River, Joan said post-secondary would have been a struggle financially without the scholarship, given that she has been raised from an early age by a single mom, who brought Joan age one from Taiwan.

The Horatio Alger Association of Canada is a charity dedicated to the “simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles.”

The winners include 10 recipients of the $10,000 Horatio Alger National Entrepreneurial Scholarships, awarded to students who demonstrate a desire and ability to be entrepreneurial in a chosen field, and 160 Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarships valued at $5,000 each.