For most students summer is a time to take a break from learning, but that’s not the case for Red Deer’s Natalia Brezovan.
The 16-year-old École Secondaire Notre Dame High School student was one of the 700-plus attending SHAD, a month-long summer program for the nation’s best and brightest high-school students.
SHAD takes place at various universities across the country where students focus on learning science, technology, engineering, arts and math through lectures, workshops and more.
Brezovan was one of two Red Deer students who attended the program at the University of Saskatchewan.
“It was amazing,” Brezovan said. “I gained a lot of confidence in what I’m able to do. I did a lot of new things that I had no idea I was capable of.”
Students applying to attend SHAD had to write couple of essays and submit their grades and volunteering history.
There were some nerves heading to SHAD, said Brezovan, a Grade 12 student.
“I think everyone went into thinking they weren’t meeting the standard because it’s a huge deal, it’s Canada’s ‘best and brightest,’ and a lot of us didn’t really feel we were Canada’s best and brightest. When we got there we realized we fit right in,” she said.
For their big project, the students had to invent something that would reduce Canadians’ energy footprints. They also had to create a business plan.
Brezovan’s group’s invented a frying pan that would weigh what it was cooking. An app on your smartphone would do all the work.
To use the pan, you would enter what food you’re cooking and how many people you’re making it for into the app. The user would then be told how much of that food he or she should cook.
The major project and the lectures were two of Brezovan’s favourite parts of SHAD, she said. Getting to know her peers was a ton of fun too, she added.
“I’ve never been a community like that where everyone fit in … Everyone was kind of friends with everyone – I know that sounds cheesy, but it was incredible,” she said.
SHAD was a transformational experience for her and many of the others who went, she said.
Red Deer’s Chen Chai attended SHAD at the University of Saskatchewan alongside Brezovan as well. Chai is visiting Malaysia following the program’s completion, so he was unavailable for comment.
Since being founded in 1980, more than 15,000 have attended SHAD across the country. Currently 13 universities host the summer program.