Kitchener teen lands $100,000 scholarship


KITCHENER — Debate club? As effortless as arguing a moot point.

Public speaking? Easy as shooting the breeze.

But learning to play percussion every Tuesday and Friday morning was a different, difficult musical matter for Meena Waseem. Band class took the Cameron Heights Collegiate class president — winner of a Loran leadership scholarship valued at $100,000 — out of her comfort zone.

“Band was the hardest one,” the 17-year-old Waseem said on Tuesday.

“Everyone else, you had like these kid geniuses who’d been playing since they were, I don’t know, four years old. And I’d be clapping the rhythms, practising. I wasn’t very good. But it was a lot of fun.”

But being part of a band didn’t come easily for the Pakistan-born Waseem. Her mom is a social worker. Her dad works in forestry. Nomor one in her family, with two younger brothers, has any musical chops.

“Typically in Pakistani culture there, drums are a big thing at big celebrations but instruments are not common for starting a kid, putting them in a music class,” explained Waseem, who has lived in K-W for eight years after her family lived in Surrey, B.C. after moving to Canada.

“I am not a very good percussionist.”

But Waseem — now pondering which of 25 Canadian universities she’ll attend after earning four years of tuition waivers and a $10,000 annual stipend as one of 35 high-character Loran Award winners out of 5,000 applicants from across Canada — did her musical best to broaden her own personal development.

“I really enjoyed the crash cymbals,” the Grade 12 student said. “I’m only five-feet so I felt like it was kind of a power move, hitting crash cymbals.”