Students look to gain pre-university edge

Oak Bay High school grade 11 student Mathew Anderson

Oak Bay High school grade 11 student Mathew Anderson

Greater Victoria teens heading to Shad Valley program

 

Mathew Anderson didn’t see it coming, but now he can’t wait for it to start.

There will be no lazy summer for the 17-year-old Oak Bay High Grade 11 student, one of three Greater Victoria students who will spend four weeks enhancing their high school studies with a stint in the prestigious Shad Valley program.

A Canadian non-profit educational organization, Shad Valley awards placements to Grade 10, 11 and 12 students based on achievement in academics, arts and volunteer impact. Programs are being held this year at 10 participating universities, from the University of British Columbia to the Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld.

“I was really excited about it. I don’t think I was really expecting it ,” said Anderson, whose month will be spent at  Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. “I was pretty happy.”

Lily Li of St. Margaret’s and Victor Shang of St. Michaels University School will represent their high schools at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

More than 1,000 applications crossed the desks of Shad Valley staff for the 2011 program, with placements offered to the top 500 applicants. According to the organization’s national director of development, Mary Dever, Anderson’s application was never in question.

“Mathew has certainly over-achieved in securing one of the offers. It is always a very competitive field,” she said. “He (Anderson) was head and shoulders above many of our applicants this year and I don’t say that about just any candidate.”

Shad Valley aims to advance skills in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in a team-based environment where students live on campus. Dever said the experience can be a difference maker in students’ lives.

“Our mission is to provide a transformational experience. We believe by combining the country’s very best and very brightest and bringing them together in a creative environment, incredible breakthroughs are possible.”

Anderson looks at it as an opportunity of a lifetime.

“Going into university (next year), it will be a first step to seeing how it is,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with a bunch of like-minded kids from across Canada and seeing how they do things … I think it is a good experience for me.”

It will also be a new experience for Shang, who received his acceptance letter in February and is only now beginning to get excited.

“I am looking forward to working with other intelligent people and great professors … I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “It rang a bell in me, I was looking for a camp I was interested in and I just went for it.”

That is exactly the attitude Dever appreciates.

“We believe that as an organization, positive change starts with youth,” she said. “We are delighted to meet Canada’s best and brightest every summer and see that Canada’s future is in great hands.”

For more about the Shad Valley program, visit www.shad.ca.

editor@oakbaynews.com