Anika Robertson says the SFU Aboriginal camp exceeded her expectations and inspired her to aim for university.The full-time, month-long program gives the Grades 8-to-11 students a tantalizing glimpse of university life while they practice their skills in math and English.
The camp’s objective is to prepare them for success in university by helping them develop a solid foundation in math and English. The experience should also help them realize that attending university is a viable option. “Math and English are the two main prerequisites for them to succeed in post-secondary education,” says Veselin Jungic, the camp’s organizer, and a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics.“That’s why we have math and English classes every day throughout the camp.” Anika Robertson and Caleb Simpson, who are both 15 years old and entered Grade 10 in September, say the camp exceeded their expectations and affirmed their interest in attending university. “I want to try and get a scholarship,” says Robertson, who is from the Ojibwe Nation. “I definitely think I might try getting into SFU.” Simpson, who is Mohawk, adds, “There are a lot of awesome people that I met. I made a lot of friends, and math was a lot of fun.” At the camp’s closing ceremonies on July 31, it was clear from the hooting and hollering that these students had formed lifelong friendships. “I think the friendship and the bonds that they built among themselves are the biggest highlight,” says Jungic. “Just a month ago, they were a bunch of strangers from all over the Lower Mainland.” At SFU, the majority of Aboriginal undergraduate students are in the arts and social sciences. Jungic says the camp’s long-term goal is to change this trend. “We want to enable, and encourage, Aboriginal learners to enrol in programs that lead to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he says. The camp is organized and supported by the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), SFU’s Faculty of Science, SFU’s Office for Aboriginal Peoples, IRMACS Centre, and SFU’s Department of Mathematics. The NSERC PromoScience Program provides partial financial support for the camp.