I wanna be like Jean

By Bonnie Leung

The Magna Scholarship Fund is offering its annual $10,000 As Prime Minister Awards to students across Canada to come up with new ideas to improve the country.

According to Magna of Canada Scholarships Managing Director Joan Crocker, students can enter the competition until June 5.

"Students write an essay whichis 2,500 words," she said. "After June 5, an internal group at Magna read all the essays, and narrow them down to 50 semi-finalists, 10 from [each of] the east coast, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, and b.c. and northern Canada."

Fifty semi-finalists are flown into Toronto on an all expenses paid trip to present their essay to a national panel of judges. Previous judges include cTV television commentator Mike Duffy, as well as many academics and journalists.

"From those 50 [semi-finalists], 10 finalists emerge and each of the 50 are given $400 and each of the finalists are give $10,500 and a $12,000 four month internship at [Magna]," said University of Calgary student and previous finalist Pierre Poilievre.

The winner of the competition will win an additional $10,000 and a one-year internship at Magna Corporation. In addition, all winning essays will be published in a book, @stake: ‘As Prime Minister, I would….

According to Crocker, judges of the Magna Scholarship look for creative thoughts.

"The essays are judged on the merits of innovation and workability," she said. "What they have to offer is innovation to make it work, make it better. If I could offer one bit of advice, it’s not to give me a grocery list of ideas, but focus on a couple of strong viable ideas."

As a finalist, Poilievre recommends student enter the competition.

"First, it helps people [in their] critical thinking by putting ideas on paper," he said. "Secondly, the prize money doesn’t hurt. People from any kind of background have a chance of winning."

Poilievere says being one of the scholarship winners aided him in many ways.

"It’s helped in gaining a definite perspective on how our country works and the people in it and it’s exposed me to different ideas," he said. "It certainly relieved pressure to work during the year. I would have been pretty squeezed and probably would have had to borrow money if I hadn’t won the scholarship."

Poilievre added that he never imagined he would have $10,000 in his student years.

"It was an amazing feeling [being] successful, [I was] overwhelmed with excitement," he said.