Life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Spa­niard’s Bay teen cred­its Shad ex­pe­ri­ence for re­fin­ing his ca­reer goals

The Compass - - OPINION -

Michael Kennedy of Spa­niard’s Bay had long en­vi­sioned him­self as an en­gi­neer, so he could put his fond­ness and tal­ent for math and sci­ence to good use.

But his ca­reer goals have changed com­pletely fol­low­ing his at­ten­dance at Shad Val­ley in Dal­housie Univer­sity last month.

The 17-year-old now has his sights set on be­com­ing a med­i­cal doc­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in ra­di­ol­ogy. It’s a daunt­ing chal­lenge, one that will re­quire many years of study and train­ing to achieve, but Kennedy has proven on many oc­ca­sions he has the abil­ity and in­tel­li­gence to ac­com­plish his goals.

Dur­ing his time at Shad Val­ley, Kennedy helped his team to a first place fin­ish in a com­pe­ti­tion that qual­i­fied the group to at­tend the na­tion­als at the Univer­sity of Water­loo in Oc­to­ber, where Kennedy and his team­mates will com­pete for the Na­tional Shad Val­ley En­trepreneur­ship Cup.

He also fin­ished the 2011-12 school year with a 97 per cent av­er­age.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence com­pletely changed what I thought I was go­ing to be in life, and gave me in­sights into other fields,” said Kennedy, who is en­ter­ing Level III at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts next month.

Michael is the son of John and Chris­tine Kennedy. He has a younger sis­ter, 16-year-old Ni­cole.

High achiever

How did Michael Kennedy earn the right to at­tend Shad Val­ley?

He was one of 11 high school students from throughout the prov­ince to win in­au­gu­ral High School En­rich­ment Awards, which were handed out as part of an awards com­pe­ti­tion ini­ti­ated by the Re­search & De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (RDC). The RDC is a pro­vin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion re­spon­si­ble for im­prov­ing New­found­land and Labrador’s R&D per­for­mance.

All of the award win­ners spent part of their sum­mer at­tend­ing re­search-fo­cused en­rich­ment pro­grams throughout North Amer­ica.

Kennedy was one of five win­ners from this prov­ince se­lected to at­tend Shad Val­ley, at a cost of just un­der $6,000 each.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Shad Val­ley is a four-week pro­gram held at 10 Cana­dian univer­sity cam­puses throughout the coun­try, in­clud­ing Memo­rial Univer­sity in St. John’s and Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax.

“With work­shops and lec­tures that fo­cus on the sciences, engi­neer­ing, tech­nol­ogy and en­trepre- neur­ship, the pro­gram pro­vides an aca­dem­i­cally stim­u­lat­ing, mind ex­pand­ing ad­ven­ture for top well-rounded students. Students also take part in team-build­ing ex­er­cises, recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties and the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore lo­cal at­trac­tions,” the web­site stated.

Kennedy helped a team of fel­low Shad Val­ley par­tic­i­pants win a prod­uct de­vel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion. The topic for Kennedy’s team was child­hood obe­sity, which rose to the top of the five teams in the com­pe­ti­tion. Kennedy de­tailed all the fi­nan­cial pro­jec­tions for the project.

The team will now ad­vance to the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, to be staged at the Univer­sity of Water­loo this fall.

“It was one of the bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve ever had,” said Kennedy, who ar­rived back in Spa­niard’s Bay on July 28.

So why did the ex­pe­ri­ence change his ca­reer am­bi­tion?

“It ba­si­cally showed you a lot of dif­fer­ent fields for work and ex­actly how they are. I de­cided that based on my in­ter­ests that medicine is my new goal. This changed me com­pletely. It helped me a lot.”

Kennedy plans to pur­sue a med­i­cal de­gree at Memo­rial Univer­sity, but is not sure be­yond that.

He made spe­cial men­tion of Dave Keefe, a sci­ence teacher at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate, for his guid­ance and sup­port.

The RDC’s Re­search In­spired Stu­dent En­rich­ment (RISE) Awards, launched in 2011, pro­vides high school students who achieve aca­demic ex­cel­lence with an op­por­tu­nity to at­tend a rec­og­nized en­rich­ment pro­gram in the sum­mer.

The awards aim to in­crease students’ knowl­edge of re­searchre­lated ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reer paths in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics prior to post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

The RDC in­vested more than $72,000 in this year’s RISE Awards pro­gram.

Other award win­ners in­cluded the fol­low­ing: Erynn But­ton, Booth Memo­rial High School; Ioana Do­bre, Gon­zaga Re­gional High School; Michael Gil­bert, Stephenville High School; Clara Humby, Cloud River Academy; Kait­lyn Jarvis, Marys­town Cen­tral High School; Shaziana Kader­ali, Booth Memo­rial High School; Liam Long, Booth Memo­rial High School; Natasha Mur­phy, Cor­ner Brook Re­gional High School; Luke Par­rott, Marys­town Cen­tral High School; and Jared Trask, Holy Spirit High School.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Michael Kennedy of Spa­niard’s Bay is pic­tured dur­ing Open House Day at Shad Val­ley last month in Hal­i­fax.

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