Manitoulin Secondary School student takes part in once-in-a-lifetime experience

Left, Manitoulin Secondary School student Jocelyn Kuntsi, is presented with the Hank Williams Memorial Award as a participant in the Canada-wide SHAD program. Making the presentation was SHAD award and program director Jordan Wright.

MANITOULIN—While she had a great time and lots of fun participating in the Canada-wide SHAD program, Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) student Jocelyn Kuntsi pointed out that, as a participant in the program, you had better be prepared to work hard.

“I went to Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland, one of the schools that hosted the Canada-wide SHAD program and students,” said Ms. Kuntsi, who is entering grade 12 at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) this fall.  “We were there for a month. I got back to Manitoulin on July 29.”

The SHAD enrichment program is named after Shad Creek in southern Ontario, which is close to the school where the program originated in 1981. SHAD Canada is an annual Canadian summer enrichment program for high achieving high school students, held in July. The program is open to both Canadian and international students, and the program is offered at 19 participating universities across Canada, including Laurentian University in Sudbury.

The 27-day long program is for grade 10 and 11 students. Selected students participate in university level STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs. There is also entrepreneurship content and participants have access to mentors. Students get to attend one university for 27 days, attend lectures, do labs, work with professors and participate in group projects.

“The program includes sciences and entrepreneurship content,” said Ms. Kuntsi. “I’m most interested in math, physics and astronomy. It was a crazy busy month of getting up at 7 am in the morning and going to bed no earlier than 11 pm each night. The program is super intense although we did fun things as well. I definitely learned a lot.”

Jocelyn said on most days, students’ work began with two lectures by professors in the morning, an activity that students would participate in the afternoon and maybe more lectures at night or other activities and projects in which they would take part.

“You definitely need a science interest and be prepared for university-style lectures,” said Jocelyn. “One of the things that was really cool is that most of the professors at Memorial and others travel from around Canada from other SHAD school programs.

The students were put in groups of seven where they had to put together a business plan and pitch for their business, along with the need to provide a prototype and financial plan. Jocelyn was the project leader for her green team, and they put together a plan under the theme assigned to all teams:  How Do We Help the Well Being of Canadians Actions?

“Everyone chose the type of project their team would work on,” said Jocelyn. And every SHAD campus in Canada team, when they finished their project, would have to present a 20-minute business pitch in front of business people and SHAD judges as well.

“The judges were pretty impressive, you really had to know your stuff,” said Jocelyn. Her team’s project looked at food insecurities and how to make it easier for the consumer and the business providing food to communicate, online.

Jocelyn’s team came up with ‘Coming in Fresh,’ where a consumer who is in need of food posts a list of items on a website that grocery stores have access to and they deliver the requested food items to the door of the consumer.

“Everyone of the students involved in the program is so accomplished and have so much expertise on so many things. It was amazing and I learned a lot from all those I participated with in the program,” said Jocelyn. “Some have been to the Olympic Games, or have worked in very cool environmental jobs.”

“And working so closely over the month with everyone, we got to know people from across Canada,” continued Jocelyn.

Jocelyn won an award at the SHAD program. “On the last day of the program, they hold a big banquet and everyone goes. Each students receives a certificate for completing the program. And the final award they hand out is the Hank Williams Memorial Award. I was so shocked to win this award which includes a $200 bursary. “I was presented with the award by the 2019 winner of the award. It was certainly a good way to end the month and the program.”

“I really had a great time in the program, and I learned so much from the other students,” said Jocelyn. “I learned a ton from the lecturers and professors but especially the other students from across Canada and made connections with people that will last for the rest of my life.”