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Nine local students to join Shad this summer

Local youth claim coveted spots in exclusive university-based summer enrichment program
File photo



WATERLOO – Nine high achieving youth are heading to Canadian university campuses to begin their Shad journey, the unique and prestigious national program designed to help build Canada’s future leaders by unleashing the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of exceptional youth while still in high school.

At Shad, which was founded in 1980, students are immersed in an intense one month program in July focused on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

After the program, they become connected to a powerful network featuring some of the brightest young minds in the country including 30 Rhodes Scholars.

There are nine students in all from Guelph who have been accepted into the prestigious program.

With Canada now focused more and more on youth innovation and entrepreneurship to help fuel the new economy, SHAD is where it all begins.

“I think Shad is one of Canada’s best kept secrets,” says Michele Romanow, a Shad Fellow in 2003 who now stars on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and is a Director on Shad’s Board. “I don’t believe I would be an entrepreneur (today) if I didn’t go to Shad.”

Your local students and the other exceptional students in grades 10 to 12 accepted into Shad are not only the top high academic achievers from all over the country.

They compete for a coveted place at Shad, demonstrating leadership skills, and a drive to make a difference in their community and beyond.

“Shad has had an incredible track record as an incubator for fostering leaders in so many areas,” says Barry Bisson, Shad President who also served as the first program director for Shad UNB in the 1980’s. “At Shad, these brilliant young minds come together from all over the country, are exposed to great ideas and become inspired as part of our network to find ways to make a difference now.”

701 students will take part in the program which takes place at Shad’s 12 host universities from coast to coast. The students interact directly with renowned university faculty and visionary corporate leaders.

In one of the more unique elements at Shad, students are presented with a theme or challenge every summer which they learn at the beginning of the program.

They collaborate in small groups using their different skills and expertise to devise an original product or service that addresses this real world, complex issue. In the process, they are taught how to build a business plan, marketing plan and a working prototype.

“The challenge the students face in one month simulates what they face later in the real world. And they leave the program all fired up about innovation and with an entrepreneurial spirit many never even knew they had,” Bisson says.

He adds, “They have to stare down impossible odds and obstacles in one month, take risks, and in the process, start thinking about solving complex global issues.”

Shad Fellows have called the program and working with other like-minded individuals while in high school transformational.

One Shad Fellow was so inspired he came home and started a company in first year university to realign solar panels around the world. It is now in use in 130 different countries.

Another came home and knocked on the doors of leading researchers of cystic fibrosis which helped him make a major discovery at only 17. Another worked on experiments in his basement to transform noise into electricity and now has a provisional patent.

“We want to help create change makers and global leaders for Canada in the 21st century.” Bisson says. He adds, “Not all students are adequately challenged in the school system and not all come from families that have the means to provide sufficient enrichment opportunities.”

Bisson adds in the past, Canadian business and government leaders invested in creating a support system in areas such as sport so Canadian athletes could make a global impact. And he feels Canada’s future prosperity requires the same kind of investment now in its best and brightest young minds.

“Without Shad, our top youth are at risk of not developing their true potential and that is why our goal is to expose even more of our brightest students to join the Shad network in the years to come.”