____Posted Thursday July 6 2017 ____

Innovation Development

Incubating raw talent: 54 top young innovators and entrepreneurs at SHAD Waterloo this summer

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.

Jonnal agadda 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 low. The club aims to motivate, inspire and engage students in STEM activities and maybe 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 participating at SHAD Waterloo, held at the University of Waterloo.

“I am excited and honoured to have this opportunity to live and learn alongside Canada’s top young minds who sh are the same passion to make a difference in the world.”

Varun Kundra of Calgary , Alberta is a grade 11 student also at SHAD Waterloo who has won numerous accolades of his own. Kundra 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”. He also developed a scientific writing competition after realizing studen ts were ill prepared to com municate 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 and sp 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 network.”

At SHAD, which was founded in 1980 to help youth reach their potential, students in grades 10 to 12 are immersed in an award -winning, one month enrichment 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 about entrepreneurs hip and innovation and leaves the students seeing how they can make an immediate impact.

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 country. “I’ve seen the difference SHAD can make to help youth realize their potential. It is not only great for them as individuals ; it’s great for the country as a whole.” Chloe Brook 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. – 30 –

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