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Change makers

SHAD program inspiring leaders of tomorrow

Teaching and Learning

By Jennifer Batten

This summer 56 students from high schools across Canada converged on Memorial’s St. John’s campus to take part in the annual SHAD program.

SHAD is a renowned enrichment program which attracts exceptional, highly creative students from across the country and empowers them to recognize their own capabilities and envision their tremendous potential as tomorrow’s leaders and change makers. The unique program, focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), takes place at Memorial and other host campuses over a four-week period every summer. Many enthusiastic young learners have come to Memorial over the years, eager to learn from the faculty and researchers who participate as facilitators and instructors. Among the group of students who participated this year was Jessica Wei, a senior high school student from Markham, Ont.

The SHAD experience gave Ms. Wei the opportunity to travel to a place she’d never been before, participate in a once-in-a-lifetime program and meet young people from other parts of Canada and the world.

“SHAD is a launch pad for future leaders to take off and reach for their goals,” said Ms. Wei. “It taught me new concepts, fuelled me with passion and gave me the chance to be part of a team bonded by the desire to inspire others. I can safely say that SHAD has transformed me as a person, and given me a boost in confidence that I never would have been able to find anywhere else.”

In addition to the positive experience, Ms. Wei was named the winner of the Dave Black Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which honours SHADs who embody leadership, entrepreneurship and teamwork. She was also a member of the SHAD Memorial team that took home third place overall in the SHAD Entrepreneurship Challenge. Both awards were presented at an event during the SHAD John Dobson Entrepreneurship Cup in Waterloo, Ont., earlier this fall. The team was also awarded first place in the Best Prototype category and second place in the Best Website category for their innovation.

“I can safely say that SHAD has transformed me as a person, and given me a boost in confidence that I never would have been able to find anywhere else.” ― Jessica Wei

During their time together this summer, Ms. Wei and her winning team members came up with a unique idea to address the theme presented to the SHAD teams at the beginning of their experience: “Why don’t you go play outside?”, which was intended to address the issue of Canadians’ increasingly sedentary and indoor-based lifestyles.

With that question in mind, student teams across Canada worked diligently to create a product or service. The teams created solutions by applying scientific principles to develop engineering, design and entrepreneurship projects. For their part, the SHAD Memorial team created Get Out and GO Incorporated — GOGO Inc., for short. A free app for smartphones, it encourages Canadians to participate in popular activities to earn points which can then be redeemed at participants’ favourite businesses.

“Instead of just asking ourselves, ‘Why don’t you go play outside?’ our team thought, ‘Why can’t we use our love of technology to fuel a passion for the great outdoors?’” said Ms. Wei. “Our idea came from asking ourselves what makes us get out and go outside—and GOGO was our answer.”

Dr. Leonard Lye, program director, SHAD Memorial, says he can’t stress enough the importance of programs like SHAD and encourages all students to take advantage of the opportunity. He says students who complete the SHAD program become part of the SHAD alumni network, a valuable networking resource for students as they progress throughout their academic and professional careers.

“SHAD is a remarkable experience for high school students across Canada,” he said. “Ms. Wei and all the students on the SHAD Memorial team that I had the pleasure of working with this summer are our future—the leaders of tomorrow.”

SHAD is accepting applications from high school students in Grades 10-12 until Monday, Nov. 30, for the summer 2016 program. For details on how to apply, visit here.

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