My SHAD Experience: Living Away from Home
By Maryam Sheikh
A new season, new school year… and the SHAD Program applications come out soon. When I first heard about SHAD, I was intrigued. A month long, live-in, STEAM based program with other like-minded teens from across Canada? What better way to spend one July of my summer? I had heard about this program from many people; students who were applying, community leaders, and SHAD alumni. The program was formed so that high school students from across Canada with a passion for STEAM would have the ability to learn in an enriched environment alongside many mentors and educators. The program has 17 Canadian host campuses and participants on their designated campus for 27 days.
Living away from home and on a university campus is an experience that many students can relate to or might be a possibility that they are exploring. For me, it was an opportunity to meet so many new people, gain independence, and be in a university environment.
This experience was my first one living away from home. I was definitely excited and that feeling only intensified when I started the program. All of the directors and program assistants were extremely welcoming, friendly, and approachable. I got to live with a wonderful roommate- we became very good friends and talk regularly even though the program is over.
The month consisted of workshops, seminars, lectures, and outings. This gave us opportunities to get to know some of the professors and other educators at Western as well as get a feel for the campus. SHAD opened my eyes up to so many fields I wasn’t entirely familiar with earlier and I know that I will definitely apply to Western when submitting university applications this year.
We also had a design project to work on throughout the month in our designated groups. This year’s theme was about tackling plastic waste management. In preparation to pitch our projects, we were taught about building businesses and we got to learn more about waste management in order to have a strong background on the topic. Throughout workshops, we developed from an idea to a full-fledged business.
All in all, SHAD was a very well-rounded experience. Each day was packed with educational seminars, recreation/fitness time and project time. We also went on outings especially on the weekends!
The program instilled a strong sense of community. At my campus, Western University, I was introduced to 66 strangers on the first day and left with 66 people I now call family. There are also so many accomplished SHAD fellows from other campuses that I will be able to network with and I have yet to meet!
SHAD strives for inclusivity and diversity in each cohort, and as such, participants come from different backgrounds and life experiences. This program looks for unique, passionate, and hardworking high school students to bring together for a month of learning, growing, and having fun. If you’re debating whether or not to apply, I would highly recommend that you go for it! The application process in itself is a great way to reflect on yourself and your personal experiences.
There are more details on SHAD’s website: https://www.shad.ca