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UCC and SHAD-Nitish

SHAD is one of many enrichment programs for UCC students

Summer enrichment programs allow students to explore and develop diverse skills and interests and gain a clearer sense of direction for their future, and Upper Canada College encourages students to participate in a range of them throughout their time at the Upper School.

“UCC offers students a rich menu of in-house co-curricular activities,” says director of university counselling Katherine Ridout. “However, many students are interested in opportunities to meet talented young people outside their immediate school community as well.”

The university counselling office publishes an annual guide that highlights numerous opportunities outside UCC that are available to students, both during the school year and in the summer. The guide includes Canadian and international options and is intended to cater to a full range of student interests, including fine arts, sciences, technology, engineering, law, politics and business.

One such program is Waterloo, Ont.-based SHAD, a registered charity that annually provides more than 600 high school students from across Canada and internationally to attend a month-long summer program focused on science, technology, engineering and math in residence at one of several Canadian host universities. SHAD was founded in 1980 and has more than 14,800 alumni, including 30 Rhodes Scholars.

Several UCC students have taken part in SHAD, and two of them shared their views on their experience with the program.

Emerson Shoichet-Bartus

UCC and SHAD-Emerson

Emerson Shoichet-Bartus

Why were you interested in taking part in the SHAD program?
I am interested in pursuing computer science and was intrigued by SHAD’s integration of business and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Two of my best friends participated in the 2014 SHAD program, and both encouraged me to apply. Additionally, I was looking to either travel to an area of Canada to which I had never been, or explore a Canadian university that I might attend.

My top choices were UBC, Waterloo and Memorial in Newfoundland: UBC for its academics and to explore Western Canada; Waterloo for its exemplary computer science co-op program; and Memorial because both of my friends attended SHAD at this campus. I will be forever grateful that I eventually got Memorial.

What types of things did you do and learn from the program?
I am hesitant to reveal specific activities performed since part of the fun of SHAD is never knowing what is going to happen on any given day. The extremely vague weekly schedules the program director gave us were a running joke, but I can tell you that SHAD is not just academic work. You are taken on lengthy field trips around your campus and surrounding countryside, perform community service, and hear lectures and go to seminars on a variety of topics — many of which are non-STEM related and fascinating.

Through the creation of a business plan in a team, teamwork and collaborative skills are developed with like-minded and intelligent students. Additionally, SHAD participants are kept active with diverse physical activities — which become very creative, not just standard gym sports. I’d say that the most active part of my summer was my month at SHAD.

Aside from the academic experience, what else did you get from SHAD and how do you expect it to help you in the future?
One of the greatest unsung values of SHAD is bonding with your fellow participants. These are students drawn from across Canada. At each campus they ensure students from a diversity of provinces and settings who are very hardworking, driven to succeed, overachieving with high academic averages, and often very accomplished. Performing activities and working with such similar and talented people for a month is extremely rewarding. Many often become lifelong friends.

SHAD costs $4,500 to attend for a month, and $8,000 for international students. Do you think it’s worth it?
Absolutely. For the amount of activities they fit into that month, I’m surprised they don’t charge more. For the friends and memories you make, it’s 100-per-cent worth it.


Nitish Dhingra

UCC and SHAD-Nitish 2

Nitish Dhingra and other SHAD participants.

Why were you interested in taking part in the SHAD program?
There were two major reasons SHAD really interested me when I applied to the program. Firstly, it was an opportunity to engage in a STEM-focused program for a whole month, something I felt would be very conducive to my further education in the fields I may want to pursue in my upcoming years. The opportunity to learn from leaders in the STEM field, but also some really amazing educators and professors in the field, is really unparalleled, especially as a summer opportunity. However, the second reason I was really interested in the program was that I knew it would give me a very accessible network of other highly motivated and bright high school students around the country, allowing me to learn from their unique perspectives and knowledge.

What types of things did you do and learn from the program?
One thing you understand quickly about SHAD, especially in the first couple of days, is that there truly is a never dull moment. Our days began immediately with two 90-minute lectures right after breakfast from leaders in engineering, medicine, mathematics and other STEM-focused areas. These lectures were incredibly informative and allowed us to gain a lot of transferrable skills and knowledge that could be applied to the career path of our choice. Following this, we would usually have around 30 minutes for recreation time where all of us were involved in different team-building exercises and activities.

After lunch, there would either be another lecture or a more hands-on workshop where we would divide into smaller groups based on our more specific interests. For example, as I want to pursue medicine, I had the opportunity to attend a purely medically focused workshop along with five other students from the program where we were able to visit the university’s hospital, learn from experts in the emergency department, while also gaining some hands-on skills like learning to suture and staple properly. For me, these workshops were where I learned the most, as it really allowed me to gain some specific knowledge in areas I was really passionate about.

Finally, in the evening, we would usually get some project time where all of us would split into our groups and work on our project. Essentially, every year SHAD creates a prompt or problem that each team of around eight students has to solve by creating a product, service or application. Last year our prompt was to find ways to get Canadians more active in their daily lives. Then, at each university, the groups all present their project at the end of the month and one team is selected to represent the university at the National SHAD Cup, which features the single representative team from every university. I am proud to say that our project group, which was centred around a service that would help bring activity to workers during their regular work schedule, was selected as the representative from the University of Saskatchewan for the National SHAD Cup.

However, what is important to note, is that all the education and learning that we do is not done every day. While most weekdays specifically were spent in the above fashion, we also had several opportunities to go camping for a couple days outside the university, visit really significant places around the province, like an Aboriginal reserve, and even visit the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon, which features Canada’s only synchrotron.

Aside from the academic experience, what else did you get from SHAD and how do you expect it to help you in the future?
Part of what made SHAD such a meaningful experience is that it gave me the opportunity to grow a lot of personal skills that are extremely important to me as an individual, especially as I move forward into my university years. From cooking some meals to doing laundry, the experience of living away from home for a month in a university dormitory was truly impactful for me, and I am sure those are skills that will become invaluable as I grow into an independent person.

Moreover, the interpersonal, leadership and group-work skills I built from SHAD were also extremely helpful. Throughout the entire project period, or even just with working and learning with some tremendously bright students during the entire month, I had the chance to build some truly important skills that I definitely applied to my daily life in all the teams I was involved in. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I built some amazing relationships over the month I was there with some truly exceptional people. I still keep in touch with almost all of those friends today and could not be more happy I attended SHAD solely because of all the other great people who attended.

SHAD costs $4,500 to attend for a month, and $8,000 for international students. Do you think it’s worth it?
While I was lucky enough to get a scholarship from SHAD — which they are very generous with handing out, especially with respect to things like financial aid if necessary — I truly do believe it would be worth every penny. There is no price you can put on the tangible academic experience, but moreover the personal experience you get from the month you are there learning from experts, working with other similarly intelligent and motivated students, building some important personal skills and forging friendships that will truly last a lifetime. I strongly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in the STEM field.

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