I am 20 years old and in my second year of university.
I am not good at cooking, I do not know how to file my own taxes, but I do know how to write a paper (kind of). Thanks to SASAH, however, that is all about to change.
It seems that I have reached a point where I will only see my family once per year; it is part of growing up. I will not see them because I am fortunate enough to have found a summer position in Waterloo, over 1,500km from the place I call home. This job opportunity is unique and worth discussion because it was not advertised, does not occur on a reoccurring basis, and it, in fact, has never existed before now. This position exists because I wanted it. It exists because SASAH gave me the confidence to go out into the world and create something for myself. I thought of what I wanted and I made it happen.
It is difficult enough for students to find summer employment in part-time sectors such as retail and fast food, let alone find employment in their field of interest that directly relates to their career ambitions. Finding the latter, at least to me, has always seemed damn near impossible. That is why I decided to stop searching, and start creating.
Shad Valley International is an organization that hosts high school students at 13 universities for a month every summer. Students interested in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, business, and entrepreneurship get the opportunity to live in residence and participate in an intense learning environment with like-minded students. They take part in interactive workshops, sit in on lectures, and immerse themselves in the culture of surrounding cities. I am confident in saying it changes lives, as I once attended this program as a youth.
With the confidence and skills I gained from conducting primary research for the Gravestone Project, creative freedom in numerous other projects, and the endless seminar-style group discussions that encourage self-directed learning, I was able to create my own vision. I knew I wanted to work in media and gain relevant work experience as well as was conscious of my desire to continue my involvement with Shad. I reached out to a few people, proposing what I wanted to do and why it would be beneficial to have me on the team. One thing led to another and now I am a full-time employee working with media, outreach, and alumni.
From this experience I learned that one should not let anyone disqualify their dreams. Think about what you want and make it happen. SASAH allowed me to learn this, allowed me to make one of my dreams a reality. I thought. I created. Now I am excited to get to do.