While attending the award-winning Shad Valley program last month, two Fort Frances High School students have joined the project teams of their respective universities and will compete nationally this fall at the Research In Motion/Shad Valley Entrepreneurship Cup Awards.
Shad Valley takes place at 10 universities around the country, where participants gain first-hand experience of campus life while learning about innovation, entrepreneurship, science, and technology through lectures, workshops, and team-building activities run by university faculty and industry leaders.
Kelli Cole, who attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and Jerry Wu, who went to Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld., are spending the month of August continuing to develop their projects based on the theme, “Improving the Quality of Life for a Canadian Child with a Disability.”
“We had to design a product or service that would help them,” explained Cole, noting groups worked on their projects during the program at each university.
One project then was selected from each campus to compete nationally in October.
While neither Cole or Wu were involved in the winning project at their respective campus, they were able to join the winning team to help further develop it.
Cole is focusing on the promotional strategy package for her group’s project while Wu is working on the website for his team.
Groups also must complete a business plan, marketing plan, and external resources plan, as well as create a working prototype of their product by working remotely from across the country to refine their projects.
“We’ll then compete against the nine other campuses in Waterloo in October for the RIM Cup,” Cole noted.
“It’s a really good experience,” said Wu. “It’s nice because it [Shad Valley] just doesn’t end after [July] 29th, it continues on.”
The competition showcases the best in entrepreneurship, science, and technology, and demonstrates what teams of senior high school students can create with a little opportunity and a lot of passion.
The winner of the national competition will be announced in Waterloo in October.
There will be awards for the best website, the best prototype, the best application of theme, the best application of scientific principles, the best marketing, the best business plan, and the best overall.
The projects are an extension of the Shad Valley program, which both Cole and Wu called an “amazing experience.”
“For me, it was all about the people I met there,” Wu enthused. “There were so many incredible people.
“I can’t begin to describe how much they influenced me,” he added. “We formed some really strong friendships.”
Cole called it the “experience of a lifetime.”
“I learned a lot,” she remarked, noting there were lectures on different topics each morning.
She also had the chance to meet Neil Pasricha, author of the “Book of Awesome,” who offered up a very interesting lecture.
Besides challenges, projects, and lectures, Cole noted they also had the opportunity to take part in some new activities, such as fencing, swing dancing, and rock climbing.
Both Cole and Wu said they would recommend other Fort High students apply for the Shad Valley program as they feel it is a great way to prepare them for their educational future.
“The program focuses on engineering, science, and entrepreneurship, so I know more about each field now and it has helped me understand university life a lot better,” Cole noted.
“Coming away from this experience, I hope to go into biochemistry,” she added. “That’s what I learned I enjoy the best.”
Wu, meanwhile, wants to go into medicine.
“Everyone there was so supportive,” he recalled. “They were very motivational.
“It makes me want to pursue my career goals even more than ever.”
Cole enjoyed her experience so much, in fact, that she has volunteered to be the Rainy River District/Northwestern Ontario representative for the program.
She’s hoping to promote the Shad Valley program at different high schools in the area.
“I would highly, highly recommend it,” she enthused. “I wish I could have stayed longer.”
Meagan Empey of Devlin, who will be attending the University of Manitoba this fall, also took part in the Shad Valley program at Université Laval in Quebec City.
She couldn’t be reached to comment on her experience there.