Incubating raw talent:
top young innovators and
entrepreneurs at SHAD Waterloo
For grade 11 student Melanie Jonnalagadda of London, Ontario, the last few months have been a whirlwind. She won a bronze medal in May at the Canada- Wide Science Fair for her work on diabetes and looking for ways to spot complications , including vision loss, sooner, work she was inspired to do after watching her grandmother struggle with diabetes.
The n she found out she was accepted into SHAD , joining 800 other top students from around the country this summer looking to make a difference.
is the co
-founder and president of her school’s first ever STEM (science, technology,
engineering, and mat
h) club which she started with a couple of other like
-minded females who realized
female participation in STEM subjec
ts was abysmally
The club aims to motivate, inspire and engage
students in STEM activities and
even consider possible careers.
“When I went to check out a robotics club a while ago, there was only one girl on the team and she was
the team secretary
instead of learning to code and building the robot with the boys.”
With SHAD now hosted at a record 13 universities from coast to coast, Jonnalagadda is
SHAD Waterloo, held at the University of Waterloo.
“I am excited and honoured to have this opportunity to live and learn
Canada’s top young
minds who sh
are the same passion to make a difference in the world.”
Varun Kundra of Calgary
is a grade 11 student also at SHAD Waterloo
who has won
accolades of his own.
won the Immigrants of Distinction Scholarship overcoming a fear of public speaking to
participate in 2016 at the TEDxYouth event in Edmonton speaking o
n the “Essence of Creativity”.
developed a scientific writing competition after realizing studen
ts were ill prepared to com
their research projects
. While still in high school, he spends a lot of his time helping researchers at the
University of Calgary develop an innovative biosensor for central nervous system injuries like concussion
inal cord injury.
“My goal is to make a tangible difference in people’s lives through the commercialization of
technology,” Kundra says.
“SHAD will give me the primer on the fun
damentals of entrepreneurship.
I am very excited to join this
SHAD, which was founded in 1980
to help youth reach their potential, students
grades 10 to 12
immersed in an award
program focused on STEAM: science,
technology, engineering, art
s and math.
The students interact with renowned university faculty and
visionary corporate leaders
. In a unique element of the program, the students are challenged to come
up with an original solution to a societal problem they
learn about in the first week. It teaches them
hip and innovation and leaves the students seeing how they can make an
The president and CEO of SHAD, Tim Jackson, is ecstatic the program has now expanded to a record 13
host campuses across Canada. He says his number one goal is to make SHAD, as well as the bursaries
which enable some students to attend, available and accessible to every deserving student across the
“I’ve seen the difference SHAD can make to help youth realize their potential. It is not only great for
great for the country as a whole.”
s of Fredericton
, New Brunswick
is hoping to become the first in her family to attend post
secondary education and says SHAD will help her become a role model in her community.
“I never exp
ected this chance to participate in such an amazing experience. I am doing this not just for
myself but for other First Nation
s youth,” Brook
s says. She adds, “I would like them to witness an
average kid from their community make it as far as possible.”
When the progr
am ends on July 28
, the students become part of an important netwo
rk of close to
16,000 alumni including 32
Rhodes Scholars and leaders in many fields.