SACKVILLE, NB. – Grade 11 student Sara Jamal of Toronto, Ontario is from a low-income family in an underserved neighbourhood plagued by gun violence. She often feels marginalized, but said that only motivates her even more.
“One of the things I have noticed is that people have had preconceived notions on how I will perform things. This goes back to me being a female and a minority,” said Jamal. “I’ve taken this as an opportunity to work all the more harder to prove that the only thing which can propel you forward is your mind and how you choose to utilize it.”
Jamal advocates for others that have felt neglected just like her, giving back to her community in the process. She leads a knitting club that makes garments for women’s shelters. She participates in a media-arts program that teaches youth to resist gun violence and instead to use peaceful conflict resolution. This is of importance to Jamal because she lost a close mentor to gun violence. She also runs a blog about the Oromo peoples in Ethiopia and has reestablished a women’s empowerment group in her community that was shut down in the past.
Because of her community involvement and exceptional academic standing, Jamal was awarded a full scholarship to the Abelard School, a private school in Toronto.
“Admission into this institution has granted to me the opportunity to not only access education of higher quality but also interact with peers from a very different socio-economic reality than that of mine,” Jamal said. “This exposure has redefined my understanding of privilege allowing me to see what life is like outside of my community, the challenges I face as a young woman of colour especially when navigating my place in the world.”
Jamal is one of 48 students from across Canada heading to Mount Allison University for the award-winning program SHAD, which takes place at 16 host universities from coast to coast. Mount Allison University is one of three new host campuses to join SHAD in 2018, along with the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.
Founded in 1980 to help youth reach their full potential, students in grades 10 to 12 are immersed in a one month enrichment program focused on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The students interact with renowned university faculty and visionary corporate leaders. In a unique element of the program, the students are challenged to come up with an original solution to a societal problem they learn about in the first week. It teaches them about entrepreneurship and innovation and leaves the students seeing how they can make an immediate impact.
“These exceptional students from all parts of Canada spend the month of July together with their peers and mentors. We hope they end the month not only dreaming big, but empowered with the tools and passion they need to take risks, roll up their sleeves and get going,” said SHAD President and CEO Tim Jackson.
Jamal wants to continue fighting for people’s rights as a human rights lawyer and believes SHAD will help her reach that goal.
“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, with equity and compassion and no one individual should matter more than the other,” said Jamal.
Jamal is one of 14 students attending SHAD this summer thanks to a new partnership between SHAD and Pathways to Education where young leaders from lower income communities are selected to attend the program. She will be joined at Mount Allison University by Jurnee Bignell-Blair, the inaugural recipient of the SHAD-Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation Scholarship which allows an Indigenous student with a passion for STEAM disciplines to attend the program.
“Without the scholarship offered to Pathways students, it’s not financially attainable for me,” said Jamal.
Grade 11 student Amy MacFarlane of South River, Ontario will also be attending SHAD at Mount Allison University.
MacFarlane is passionate about mental health, having struggled with it herself. She created the iMatter Project, an initiative that uses experiential learning to teach youth healthy ways of coping with mental stressors.
“The most important lesson that I have learned from obstacles in my life is that mistakes are merely misfortunes on the way to success,” MacFarlane said. “I am very passionate about helping youth in my community… For me, this was more than just a major project, this was about creating a unique and impactful event to help others.”
Inspired after helping raise her siblings after the death of her mother, MacFarlane dreams of becoming a neonatologist where she can continue to help others.
“I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to join a network like SHAD and learn alongside some of the best and brightest youth from around the country. SHAD is Canada's best kept secret that helps nurture tomorrow's leaders and to be given the opportunity to experience SHAD for myself is an opportunity I am eternally grateful for,” said MacFarlane.
SHAD 2018 commences July 1 and wraps up on July 27, after which participants will join other change makers and top innovators in an impressive network of nearly 17,000 SHAD Fellows, including an NHL hockey executive, a serial entrepreneur on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, a NASA researcher, and a best-selling author.
Photo caption: Amy MacFarlane is one of 48 students from across Canada participating the first SHAD Mount Allison program this summer.
SHAD produces leaders for Canada through its award-winning, life-changing, pan-Canadian enrichment platform for high school students. Every year, SHAD helps more than 900 young Canadians tap into their full potential through an innovative month-long program at one of 16 partner university campuses. There, students apply STEAM (science-tech-engineering-arts-math) disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges, forging insights and valuable relationships for life. Among its thriving global network of close to 17,000 SHAD Fellows and innovators are 32 Rhodes Scholars, 88 Loran Scholars, and 56 Schulich Leaders. For more information, visit www.shad.ca.
For more information or to set up an interview, please contact: Teddy Katz, Vice President, Media Relations | SHAD, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 647 505 8095