After a successful inaugural year, Western University has once again started preparing to host the SHAD program.
SHAD is a month-long summer program that aims to provide an enriching experience for excelling high school students with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).
Students are accepted into the program from all across Canada and even internationally. They are sent to live on one of the 13 university host campuses (including Western) during the month the program runs.
Although Ivey has been involved with SHAD for many years, this year will be the second time Western runs the full summer program.
“The idea of the program is to bring in all of these top-notch students into the university setting for a month, and then give them hands-on experience in different areas,” said Quazi Rahman, co-director of Western's SHAD program and assistant professor at the faculty of engineering.
The program is run by program directors and assistants from Western University.
Attendees, also known as “SHADs” have the chance to learn from leading faculty members and get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, such as the WindEEE dome and the da Vinci robot (a remotely controlled surgical robot used at Schulich).
Aside from the chance for students to excel academically, SHAD also builds an environment for personal growth.
“It brings students together with other like-minded students,” said Kim Miller, SHAD at Western co-director and acting director of the student success centre. “For some students in SHAD, this is the first time that they’ve met and interacted in a meaningful way with students who are a lot like them.”
Alumni from the SHAD program have received valuable distinctions including being named as BCBusiness’s 30 under 30, and are part of Prime Minister Trudeau’s youth council.
While a very enriching opportunity for participants, the program is an even greater learning experience for the staff involved.
“When I am trying to manage [the SHADs] and motivate them, I am actually learning a lot because I am trying to understand their ideas and trying to understand their mindset,” said Rahman.
Danielle Perro was a 2016 SHAD program assistant at Western. She also explained how valuable her experience as a member of the staff team was.
“Getting to experience it as a PA, I think was even more remarkable because you see that there is a lot more growth that occurs than just academics,” said Perro.
According to Perro, as a program assistant, the program is even more intense; programming stretches from early in the morning until late at night. The whole experience contributed towards building a stronger network, but was filled with self and team reflection each day.
Perro also recollected some of the meaningful relationships created during the program. As one of the two staff who addressed any emotional distress, Perro was able to connect deeply with many of the students. She saw how they evolved throughout the month, growing both socially and emotionally.
“One of the students really opened up to me about her experiences back home,” said Perro. “It was great to see her progress and open up not only to me but to other people.”
Michele Romanow, star of CBC’s Dragon Den, is a 2003 SHAD alumna. She speaks highly of SHAD's life-changing experience in her video message.
"I don't believe that I would be an entrepreneur if I didn't go to SHAD," Romanow said.