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Inclusive research program hosts Saanich Grade 12 student in paid online internship

Shreya Sivakumar participates in summer internship at University of Alberta
Shreya Sivakumar is approaching her Grade 12 year at Mount Douglas Secondary and just finished up a summer internship program at the University of Alberta that was tailored to her interests as she gears up for university. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Shreya Sivakumar, an aspiring scientist and engineer entering Grade 12 at Mount Douglas Secondary School, was one of 39 high school students from across Canada to participate in an online internship program called, Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology (WISEST), a paid summer research program at the University of Alberta.

The program provided an inclusive space and an opportunity for Grade 11 students from rural, Indigenous, and urban communities to conduct research about a variety of specialized topics for six weeks as assistants to PhD researchers at the university.

Females and gender non-conforming students were able to explore fields where there is underrepresentation, primarily in science, engineering, and technology. There were also two male students who focused on nursing and nutrition research, a field that is typically female dominated.

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“My particular research determined deficiencies of different scoliosis studies that were explored from 2020 and 2021 and a lot of these studies went into depth about surgical techniques for scoliosis and current treatment options,” said Sivakumar. “It’s important that this research was done so that more conclusions can be drawn about the field of spinal studies – it’s not very prevalent in research since there is no cure yet, just treatment options.”

WISEST also offered several mentor opportunities, lab tours, and professional development sessions to participating students.

Sivakumar said that she has gained valuable role models, insightful information, and advice on career pathways within engineering.

She hopes to study mechatronics engineering in university, a combination of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering that she said will be applicable to a lot of job opportunities in the future.

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