Shad2022 Alum Armand Lupien enjoys a challenge. He loves to push his physical limits and test his endurance through activities that take him out of his comfort zone. So when he needed a plan to see all his Shad friends post-program, he decided a 7500 km bike ride from Saint John, Newfoundland to Vancouver, British Columbia to raise money for an important cause was just the ticket.

Armand Lupien, a Shad2022 alum, and his friends at ShadCarleton.

“At Shad, you realize you may not see everyone you’re sharing this amazing experience with again, at least not at the same time and all together, so I resolved to make sure I saw everyone again by planning this ride and including stops in their hometowns on my route across the country.”

When Armand applied to Shad in the fall of 2022, he was following in the footsteps of his father and four of his siblings, who had all attended the program before him. For Armand, applying was an easy decision. He felt Shad not only offered him an opportunity to engage with the STEAM topics he loved, but also that the program promoted some of the same values embraced by his own family.

“My father came across Shad, and he was intrigued by a program for young STEM entrepreneurs who wanted to change the world. Our family values curiosity and community, and we’re also a very big family, which means we have to work together, so we love the team-oriented aspects of Shad.”

Armand with his family (and fellow Shads!)

It was one of his family members that also helped to inspire his bike ride across the country. Armand’s sister suffers from fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. The disorder can be difficult to treat as it is not well understood, and Arman’s sister often faces difficulty performing normal daily tasks.

“I’ve seen firsthand how debilitating fibromyalgia can be because of fatigue symptoms. Many times throughout the day it can become hard to function or even get out of bed. It comes with brain fog, which makes it difficult for my sister to study, as well as pain which makes it difficult for her to focus. It can seem to others like sufferers are making it up or that the symptoms are psychological, which makes the experience even worse.”

Armand with his sister and fellow Shad Alum, Kathleen

Armand is using the ride to raise both awareness of the disorder and money to be donated to help fund fibromyalgia research so that more can be understood about its cause. Friends, family, and community members have all donated to his Go Fund Me, and he has reached out to organizations and local businesses to try to secure sponsorships for the ride.

“People have been very supportive of the ride; it’s been really wonderful to have so many people encouraging me and showing a willingness to help. I plan to travel about 100 km a day for 75 days, which includes the planned stops to visit my Shad friends, starting on May 28 to August 11.”

Armand and his fellow 2022 Shads at the Carleton University in Ottawa

Engaging others to achieve a goal is a concept Armand is familiar with, having been able to put it into practice during his time at Shad’s Carleton University campus. Collaboration was a huge part of his Shad experience, and it taught Armand the important role a network of supportive peers can play in the process of creating real impact.

“It’s a very special setting at Shad, where everyone is collaborating and working towards common goals, which was very inspiring to me. It helped me to appreciate what can happen when people come together with a common resolve to create solutions to big issues.”

Armand and his fellow Shads at a program workshop

Problem solving is something Armand is passionate about. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics at the University of Montreal this fall and hopes to complete a Masters or Doctorate in Neuroscience following his undergraduate. His goal is to use engineering to solve medical problems, namely by exploring how nanotechnology can be used in the treatment of neurological disorders, like his sister’s. “There’s so much capacity for technology to be used to solve previously unsolvable problems.”

Though Armand has his own motivations for embarking on his ambitious initiative at the end of this month, he hopes his cross-country ride will inspire others to reflect on the kind of impact they’d like to have in the world and realize their potential to influence positive change.

Armand with is bike at home in Montreal
Armand with is bike at home in Montreal

“What’s important for everyone to realize is that you are not insignificant. Though it might sometimes seem like your ability to impact is limited, if you put forth the effort and concentrate on the things around you, you realize that you have the ability to really impact others in ways that might surprise you.”

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