As Danielle Dumouchel arrives at SHAD Calgary from Quispamsis, N.B., she can’t help but dream of how she plans to utilize her love of math, physics and fascination with movement to assist others.
The Grade 12 student will be attending the University of Calgary in the fall to study engineering while speedskating at the Olympic Oval. For now, she’s on campus, hoping SHAD can get her a step closer to designing new groundbreaking prosthetics that enable independence and athletic active living.
SHAD is a Canadian organization that empowers exceptional high school students to recognize their own capabilities and envision their potential as tomorrow’s leaders and changemakers. Each year, SHAD provides the opportunity for 600+ students from across Canada and internationally to attend a month-long summer program, in-residence at Canadian host universities.
Inspired by lessons learned in high performance sport
Perhaps it is not surprising Dumouchel, like the other SHAD students, aims to be a changemaker, but Dumouchel is inspired by some of the lessons she’s learned in high performance sport.
“My dream was to compete at Canada Winter Games 2015 in short-track speedskating after nearly a decade in this sport and being ranked number two in New Brunswick. A day before the team selections, I injured my hip and ended up not qualifying; I felt like a failure,” she says.
Rather than dwelling on that, she changed her focus to overcome the injury and now competes in long-track speedskating where she discovered a new passion and set numerous provincial records.
“I learned that failure is inevitable but the important part is how you deal with it” — a lesson that leaders in many fields says is crucial, she says.
Dumouchel is one of 701 top high school students from across Canada participating in SHAD at 12 university campuses from coast to coast. A total of 64 students from nine provinces, three territories, and the state of Massachusetts arrived at SHAD Calgary on July 3.
An innovation incubator
The students compete for a coveted position at SHAD, the prestigious national program which has served as an incubator for Canada’s future leaders by unleashing their innovative and entrepreneurial potential while still in high school.
At SHAD, which was founded in 1980, students from grades 10 to 12 are immersed in an intense one-month program in July focused on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The students interact directly with renowned university faculty and visionary corporate leaders who challenge them to look at some of society’s biggest problems and to start thinking about how to tackle them.
When the program ends on July 29, the fellows become part of an important network of 15,000 SHAD alumni including 30 Rhodes Scholars and leaders in many fields.
“I'm excited, honoured and hope to make my school École Samuel-de-Champlain and community proud. Being a francophone from the Maritimes, I also look forward to sharing my culture with others,” says Dumouchel.
She adds, “I look forward to countless aspects of SHAD. I can’t wait to collaborate with other motivated youth to solve problems in such an engaging atmosphere.”
One of Canada's best kept secrets
With Canada now focused more and more on youth innovation and entrepreneurship to help fuel the new economy and solve some of the many global issues, 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.”
“It is an honour to be heading up an organization that is doing such important work for Canada,” says Tim Jackson, SHAD’s recently appointed president and chief executive officer.
He adds: “By exposing high-achieving high school students to great ideas from leading faculty and some of the world’s biggest challenges, students like Danielle are inspired by the SHAD network to start making an impact now.”