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‘Take on the impossible’

Shad Memorial takes summer school to a whole other level

Student Life

By Ryan Howell

Fifty-six high school students from across Canada have been selected for Memorial University’s cohort of the annual Shad program.

For four weeks in July, these bright minds are provided with a pre-university experience and take advanced lectures and enrichment opportunities in entrepreneurship and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects.

Applicants are selected based on their academic accomplishments, community involvement and accomplishments in extra-curricular activities. The chosen participants are assigned to one of 20 host universities across Canada.

Typically, the program would take place on campus. This year, the students, hailing from eight provinces and one territory, are attending a virtual program for six hours a day.

Nobel Prize-winning speaker

Some of the highlights so far have been hearing from Memorial University faculty, Nobel Prize-winning speakers and other influential members of the community, like Brendan Brothers of Verafin. There have also been virtual field trips and team-building activities.

A computer screen showing three people having a conversation with various backgrounds. One of the people is Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Arthur McDonald.
Shad participant Timothy Cai asks Dr. Arthur McDonald, Nobel Prize winner, a question during the national keynote.
Photo: Submitted

Esin Yanikomeroglu, a 17-year-old Shad 2021 participant who is from Ottawa, Ont., says the special speakers’ enthusiasm has been contagious. She recalls Dr. TA Loeffler, a member of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial, as being particularly “eye-opening.”

“Dr. Loeffler’s recounting of her experience climbing Mount Everest is one that I will remember: the marvel behind the feat, as well as the setbacks, challenges and everything in between,” she said.

Jordan Wright, director, Shad Memorial, says pivoting during the pandemic led to revamping the program to ensure an authentic Shad Memorial was in store for the participants.

“The neat element this year versus previous in-person programs is that Shad National has scheduled national keynote speakers that all campuses attend twice per week.”

A computer screen divided into individual screens showing a number of students kissing a cod to become honorary Newfoundlanders.
Some of the Shad participants becoming virtual honorary Newfoundlanders.
Photo: Submitted

‘Take on the impossible’

Other topics of focus this year included aerospace medicine, music composition, number theory, towing icebergs, shifting tectonic plates and data science.

As well, all participants are working on a design project. This year’s theme is How Might We Help Canadians Treat Our Fresh Water With More Respect?

Ms. Yanikomeroglu says she is already applying what she learned from Dr. Loeffler.

“She challenged us to take on the impossible,” she said. “I found this to be especially relevant for our design project. Fuelled with encouraging words and a team of hard-working friends, we did indeed feel equipped to take on the impossible. Shad reminds me that if you can dream it, you can achieve it!”

Everyone invited

On Open Day, Wednesday, July 28, from 5-6:15 p.m., the students will highlight their key takeaways and accomplishments they achieved during the four weeks. Everyone is welcome, but registration is required.

“The resiliency our students have continued to show in their studies and that they still seek out enrichment opportunities despite the pandemic is incredible,” Mr. Wright said. “I’ve been amazed at how they’ve created a real community amongst their group in this setting.”

Shad 2021 wraps up on July 30.

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