UBC is hosting a prestigious summer program for high schoolers

Sixty high school students are spending their summer at UBC participating in SHAD — a prestigious summer program that empowers youth through science, technology, engineering and math.

UBC is just one of the twelve universities across Canada that participates in the program. Students are accepted after a rigorous application procedure. The program, it is said, will help students to recognize their own potential to bring about positive change as future leaders.

“Our objective is to show the students what is possible and what they could do with their future,” said Patrick Crawford, SHAD UBC assistant program director. “We also want to provide an open environment for them to think and push their boundaries.”

UBC is an especially special place for people to participate in the program, according to Crawford.

"UBC is an absolute hotbed of innovation and amazing research so I think we’re lucky to have such close access to amazing facilities, labs, and people to share knowledge with," he said.

As a part of the program, SHAD students will get the chance to interact with prominent speakers — ranging from corporate leaders to acclaimed scientists and UBC faculty members — to discover new ways to learn and engage with global issues.

“We listened to other people, such as entrepreneurs and doctors, speak about their experiences and advices on what we could do in our future careers,” said Jack Mogus, a Grade 10 student from Ontario. “I was introduced to a lot of things and it has really helped me find what I valued most.”

This year's theme is food security, so students have been tasked with developing a product or service that will ensure Canada's future food security.

"[The] theme is open to interpretation, but obviously with the lack of amount of food that is being grown personally by families around the countries, there’s definitely an issue as to what would happen if one of our food sources stopped coming in," said Daan Maijer, the SHAD program director at UBC. "So what are we going to do about that? What are we going to do to ensure that we’re not causing a lot of green house gasses?"

But as students will tell you, UBC SHAD is not just about the lectures and workshops. The program also encourages students to connect with like-minded peers to cultivate supportive and lasting relationships with one another that will hopefully extend throughout high school and beyond.

“We want the students to have a broader understanding of science, technology, and business, and my intent is that they are exposed to different areas and new things,” said Maijer. “So we can open their eyes to something, a new avenue they can go down.”

“And the other piece of it is, I want them to have community,” said Maijer. “We want them to come together and build these bonds with [other] students that they’re going to have for life.”

Piraveena Sivanantham, a 17-year-old student from Ontario, found this to be true of her experience.The STEM-focused skills she gained weren’t the most important things she took away from the program — instead, it was the people that really mattered for her.

“We got exposed to different things every single day and I learned a lot from the people around me,” said Sivanantham. “It’s very different from back home, since the people here are all very passionate about their studies and what they want to get into.”

“I get motivated,” she said. “Everyone is so unique and different that I learned a little from each and every person, and discovered new things that we can achieve together.”

UBC SHAD students will be presenting their ideas on how to improve food security this Thursday at 10 a.m. in the AMS Student Nest.