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A taste of university life
Fort Providence students attend summer program at University of Western Ontario

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013

A university experience has a group of Fort Providence students excited about post-secondary possibilities.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ryanna Bonnetrouge, left, Erica Beck, Sahdeh Bekale and Leah Baptiste were among the eight students from Deh Gah School in Fort Providence who attended the University of Western Ontario's Indigenous Youth Mini-University program in London, Ont., this summer. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Eight students from Deh Gah School attended the University of Western Ontario's Indigenous Youth Mini-University this summer in London, Ont. Two other students participated in a similar program at the University of Victoria.

Leah Baptiste, 12, was one of four students from Fort Providence who attended the first session at Western, from July 14 to 19, that focused on science, health science, engineering, medicine, nursing and dentistry.

The program was amazing, said Baptiste.

"It was the best time of my life," she said.

"I met so many amazing people."

Baptiste chose the science-based session because it fit with her interests.

"I like science and I'm good at science," she said.

During the mini-university camp, which is designed to give students a taste of university life, Baptiste and the other 24 people in her session lived in a university residence on the campus. Every day they explored different areas of study.

Baptiste said she enjoyed going to an avian research centre. The centre had a wind tunnel the students got to stand in. They also learned about how researchers capture migratory birds and outfit them with trackers that can be followed.

Baptiste also enjoyed going to the university's engineering facility. Prior to the camp, the Grade 8 student said she didn't realize how many different types of engineering there are.

As part of environmental engineering, the students were challenged to filter a mix of water, cocoa powder, dirt and blue food colouring using a variety of substances including activated charcoal, coarse and fine gravel, cotton balls and a coffee filter.

"Mine came out the clearest," she said.

Computer engineering was Julien Antoine's favourite field of study at the camp, "because you could make games," he said.

Antoine, 13, said attending the camp has made him want to attend university after he graduates from high school. He's still considering what type of program he would like to enter.

While Baptiste, Antoine, Derrick Vandell and Christopher Canadien looked at the sciences, during the second session from July 28 to Aug. 2, Wade Sanderson, Sahdeh Bekale, Ryanna Bonnetrouge and Erica Beck looked at arts and humanities, social science, business, education and law.

Beck, 12, said she enjoyed the fine arts portion of the camp including making a collage that followed the order of colours on the colour wheel. Her favourite part of the camp, however, was staying in the dorm.

"It was nice and quiet," said Beck, who is used to sharing a room with siblings.

Beck said she enjoyed the camp and would definitely recommend the program for other students. Before going to Western, the Grade 8 student said she already knew she wanted to go to university for photography. Being part of the program confirmed that choice, she said.

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