I wasn’t too sure what SHAD was before I applied. Was it just a summer camp? What do we even learn? I heard great things about it and I wanted to have an inspiring summer. I didn’t know if I was qualified enough for it, but I realized that at least I could try.
When I got my acceptance letter in the mail, I was ecstatic! Being a SHAD Fellow really meant something to me! The alumni all do amazing things, and that could be me too someday. I chose Waterloo as my campus because I want to go into engineering in the future, and I’m interested in pursuing their engineering programs. The computer science program at my school isn’t the greatest, and I feel that there isn’t much female involvement in this field. When I went to SHAD, that all changed. I met people who were like-minded and shared similar goals as myself. Our Program Director is actually a professor in Electrical Engineering and Knowledge Integration at Waterloo. It was amazing to actually meet people in the industry and learn from them.
What really makes SHAD special are the people. The only two words I can use to describe the people at SHAD are Canada’s best and brightest. I have been inspired multiple times here, and going to SHAD has now made me set even more goals, setting a path of steps ahead of me to take.
We played fierce games like Capture the Flag, climbed rock walls, acted as tributes in the hunger games, flag football, and much more rec. We also learned different cultural dancing like the flamenco and Bollywood. One of the coolest things we did was learning kung fu!
I also learned more about the concept of design. When we got the topic of the SHAD project, we used this model called the W-cycle, which would allow us to ideate, synthesize, assess, and reflect on our ideas, and create new iterations of them. It taught me to look at problems in a different way, to fall in love with the problem and not the solution. It’s revolved around the concept in which Einstien once said, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” This is a mindset I’ll carry on when tackling problems in the world and creating my own social enterprises.
A really cool workshop I went to is making digital touch-interfacer synthesizers with music. It was taught by a professor of systems design and a professor of music.
Coffee house and music night were really fun because I got to witness all the talent we share! We had a multitude of talented pianists, guitarists, ukulele players, dancers, singers, card-magic, rubik's cube professionals, and more! It had a great theme with decorations that related to card decks. At our SHAD program, we each got a card deck with 54 of the same exact card, and throughout the month we would trade it with other people so we would end up with a full deck in the end! I had an amazing time singing and playing the ukulele with everyone! With our busy schedule at SHAD, there wasn’t much time to practice but I love how we can just improv together with no practice needed!
The best thing about SHAD is really the people around you. They really are Canada’s best and brightest! I felt myself become inspired everyday. We had something at our campus called SHAD seminars, where every SHAD would host their own mini workshop. We had seminars such as hunting, programming a graphing calculator, kung fu, soccer, making games using powerpoint presentations, newspaper layout, and several more! We all had so many things to learn from each other, and I am beyond grateful to have spent a month with such amazing individuals. We had guest lecturers from a variety of fields, such as business, engineering, nuclear energy management, design, architecture, which really gave us an insight of different things we could do in the future.
I also loved our staff and PAs! They were always there for us whenever we needed advice and they would hold panels and roundtables frequently to share their advice. They could be silly when they wanted to, but still ensured that we were on “SHAD Time” which meant we would have to be at the lectures at least 5 minutes before they started. Sometimes while we were just hanging out in the common room, our program manager would come up and say “You’re looking a little too casual.. SHAD Time!” which was one of the many memes we had of this month!
SHAD was not only a time for learning, but a time for reflection. The Cyprus Lake camping trip was the perfect time for that. We escaped our design project time, technology/social media, and it was a great time for us to all bond together. We didn’t need to worry about how we looked or what was happening in the outside world. We all roughed it up in the wild and cooked our own food, hiked, slept in tents, and sung by the campfire. This trip really made us all reflect on our lives, and what SHAD meant to us. Why are we here? What is our purpose? This trip gave us memories to last, and beautiful views of the water and nature around us. It was such a beautiful, clear night, and we got to see fireflies buzz around the campfire.
Although SHAD has not helped me decide between pursuing computer science or computer engineering, it has opened my eyes to so many different fields and opportunities. SHAD has changed my perspective on life. Instead of wishing someone good luck, from now on, I’ll wish them success. When finding a solution to a problem, I’ll spend more time defining the problem and understanding that there could be multiple solutions for one problem. I know that learning never stops and our success never stops here. SHAD is not the best month of my life. It is the best month for my life. I’ll forever be inspired by all the people I met here and I hope to keep in touch with all of them! I’ll continue to try to explore different experiences and really make an impact in the world using all the things I learned this month. I am proud to be a SHAD Fellow. Thank you SHAD, thank you to the program at University of Waterloo, and a huge thank you to all the 54 for making this such a memorable month!