The University will host the prestigious youth program for a month this upcoming summer
On Oct. 24 Mount Allison announced that it will host the youth summer program, SHAD, in July 2018. The program brings together high-achieving high school students from around the world to Canadian university campuses for a month-long program of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and entrepreneurship.
The two co-directors for Mt. A’s SHAD program are Robert Sorba, math and physics technician, and Erin Penney, a biology lab instructor. The pair have been working on planning since May 2017, when the University committed to host the program. Both Penney and Sorba spent part of this past summer at different SHAD campuses to see how they are run. This is New Brunswick’s second SHAD campus, with the first program already running at UNB. Additionally, UBC, University of Saskatchewan, Queen’s University and Memorial University are home to more established SHAD programs.
“Very broadly, SHAD aims to foster innovation and creative problem solving, giving participants the confidence and skills to effect positive change in their communities,” said Sorba. “This investment in Canada’s youth should have benefits that propagate outward, enriching the lives of others. For example, nearly 20 per cent of SHAD alumni have launched their own startup.”
Janet Gourley is a third-year sociology and women’s and gender studies student. She attended SHAD after her grade 11 year at the Queen’s University campus. “I met some of the most incredible people at SHAD,” said Gourley. “That month really helped me as a person. The thing that came out of SHAD was the confidence that I hadn’t had before.”
Most SHAD students come from urban areas so the program tries to place them in communities different from their own. “We’re wanting to focus on the community aspect of Mount Allison,” said Penney. While the details of the program are kept under wraps, Penney hopes to show the students the diversity of the Maritime provinces while they are here.
Since the first SHAD program in 1980, the program has become a household name, boasting 16,300 alumni and 32 Rhodes Scholars. “The caliber of students it attracts is interesting,” said Penney. “Not just academically strong [individuals], but community leaders.”
According to the SHAD website, the program was started “as an incubator to help high-achieving high school students reach their full potential and make global impacts.” Applications for this summer are currently open until the end of November. The process is competitive. SHAD looks for well-rounded students with both strong academics and community engagement.
The program’s cost can be a barrier at $5,500 per student. However, SHAD does offer a large number of bursaries to students. Students also receive the benefits after the program with a large network of alumni, SHAD-specific university scholarships and internship opportunities. The N.B. government has recently committed $750,000 to making SHAD more accessible for students.
With the popularity and prestige of the program, SHAD is trying to expand. “There’s been a gigantic waitlist of qualified people,” said Penney. SHAD’s current goal is to have 20 Canadian campuses hosting the program by 2020.