Lampman School Grade 12 student Elusha Baird wants to make people aware of a couple prestigious programs that have helped her select her career path, and cultivate her passion for entrepreneurship.
She attended the intensive, one-month Shad Valley program at Carleton University in Ottawa in the summer of 2012.
Thanks to her experiences and successes at Shad, her passion for the world of business was ignited, and she applied to attend Shad Plus' program at the Richard Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. She spent a week at the school last month.
Twenty-two young people from across Canada were selected to attend the program at Ivey this year. Baird was the only one from Saskatchewan.
Shad Valley has programs at a dozen universities in Canada, Baird said, and they recently added the University of Saskatchewan to their campus repertoire. The program focuses on expanding student knowledge in such fields as advancing technology, business, mathematics, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
About 600 high-achieving students are accepted annually, she said.
"You have to be involved with a lot of community work, and you have to have strong grades, and you have to be really dedicated and passionate about what you're doing," said Baird.
She attended lectures and presentations, including some from oil companies, which Baird enjoyed due to her southeast Saskatchewan roots. Activities were planned throughout each day, which meant that she had a lot of 14-hour days.
"Being in a room surrounded with people who are like-minded (is terrific), and the atmosphere and the people you meet and the networks and connections you make were just amazing," said Baird.
Shad challenged her, helped her become a better leader, and made her more determined, she said. It also gave her the motivation to apply to Shad Plus' program at Western Ontario. Only Shad Valley alumni are eligible to apply for the program at Richard Ivey.
Baird was accepted two months after she applied.
"It felt great to be accepted into it, because Ivey is such a prestigious business school," said Baird.
Everybody at Richard Ivey was very passionate about business, she said. She was surrounded by some of the brightest young business students in the country, and she was able to meet respected business professors and others who have enjoyed success in the world of entrepreneurship.
One person she met at Ivey, Jared Vaughn, has appeared on the television series "Dragon's Den," and he created a retail website that markets products seen on the hit reality television series.
Students who attended Shad Plus' program at Richard Ivey were divided into four groups, Baird said. They had to create their own business, with their own marketing and financial plans, which then had to be presented to a board who judged them based on their materials.
"They really portray a competitive atmosphere," said Baird.
Speakers would come in to teach them crash courses in such concepts as accounting, which Baird said was beneficial because some of the Ivey students had never taking accounting in school. Other speakers shared their successes, failures and views on business.
Participants also experienced the case study method employed by the school, she said. Instructors don't just rely on normal teaching techniques, and that made it easier for Baird to comprehend the material.
There were also hands-on activities, outdoor sessions, games, leadership-enhancing programs and more. Free time was occasionally allocated for the students, too.
The leadership skills she gained through Shad and Richard Ivey have translated in her work at school and in the community. She is the president of the SRC, and she is involved in a number of other activities.
Her time with Shad and at Ivey also allowed her to make new friends, some of whom are already pursuing post-secondary education. Baird said she has friends at campuses across Canada.
"It's a large network that's at your disposal," she said.
Baird said she is keen on a business career partly because the business world is always changing.
"There's always going to be something new to learn or to pick up," said Baird. "I would like to be able to look at something and say 'I did that' to create my own business and become successful. It's that competitive atmosphere that's so appealing to me."
She also loves having the newest technology and the newest innovations at her fingertips.
Business ownership hasn't always been her first choice for a career, though. She has considered social work, dentistry and medicine, as well, before she attended Shad and realized what she wanted to be.
"Shad really helps you figure out what you like and what you can be passionate about," said Baird. "In that sense, Shad helped shape me, and showed me what I really enjoy doing, and what I'm really passionate about."
Her interest in the business world is so strong that she has taken a high school entrepreneurship course on-line. She had to shadow someone in the business world, and she chose Randy Ulrich from Woodley Welding. He really helped her understand different aspects of the oilfield industry and the business world.
"He talked to me how he runs his business on a day-to-day basis, and how certain things are different, comparatively speaking, to all the work that you have to do behind the scenes for owning a business," said Baird.
Baird will graduate from high school this year, and she is applying to attend the business schools at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto so that she can pursue her dreams in the business world.