Shire Scholarship aims to coach students with ADHD
Zak Ericsson recounts the support and opportunities that he received from the Shire Scholarship
When Zak Ericsson was completing his undergrad at the University of Lethbridge, he was sure that he was just like other students — just with more issues of getting distracted and feeling uninterested. That is until Ericsson worked on a group project focusing on ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. “Before I found out I had ADHD, I thought I was just irresponsible and lazy. It was hard to motivate myself. I was assigned to do a presentation on ADHD, and as I was researching I realized this was me,” he said.
Now studying his masters in Neuroscience at the same University, Ericsson is able to focus and pay attention in all his classes in order to accomplish his goals. The discovery of his ADHD was met with the relief of finally being able to put a name to the things he thought were wrong with him.
When Ericsson first suspected he suffered from ADHD, he made an appointment with the campus doctor and psychologist. From there he was able to start medicating in order to improve his focus and condition in school.
Eager to continue improvements, Ericsson visited the school disabilities help center, where he was disappointed to find little support, only having the opportunity to meet with a fellow student who knew little about his disorder.
No fault of that student though, as Ericsson explained, “Few really understand ADHD.”
“I don’t think the general public knows a lot about the disorder. It’s kind of labeled as the hyper kid in the back of your class who wont sit down, but there is so much more to it.”
It was after the diagnosis and learning to cope with it, that Ericsson started to search for financial support offered to those with ADHD. That’s when he found the Shire Scholarship — a scholarship awarding people across Canada with $1,500 to go toward their education. But more importantly, one year of coaching to help them with their disorder.
The coaching, Ericsson said, is by far the most positive thing to come from this award.
“It is life-changing, the sort of skills you learn from your coach, and it is a whole new perspective on having ADHD in general.”
Ericsson is able to focus and outline what he needs to do, Thanks to his coach, whom he meets with once a week to go over his schedule and academic plan, he is also held accountable.
Ericsson was among the first of the Canadian winners of the Shire Scholarship, which has been running in the U.S. for the past four years. This year, however, the scholarship has expanded into Canada, reaching a wider amount of provinces, and giving away five scholarship packages.
Ericsson wants others to experience the helpfulness of a coach, saying that this experience has truly changed his life and is worth more than the money given from the scholarship itself — although he is grateful for that too.
Ericsson described the application process as simple: just fill out the application through the Shire website, write your personal essay and wait to hear back. The essays are judged through an expert panel and winners from five different provinces are chosen to receive the award.
For more information on the award visit the Shire website. The deadline for applications for this year’s awards is April 15.