A Shocking Confession
My name is AJ Wipf and I’m a grade 12 student here at Master’s.
I have a confession to make…
I don’t really want to go to university.
Shocking, isn’t it?
With a desire to start a business, I have reservations about what skills university will actually teach me, as opposed to starting a business straight away.
Grade 12 is the year where every second question seems to be, “Where are you going to school next year?”, and there is a certain amount of underlying pressure to have the name of a fancy university quickly roll off your tongue. After all, why did my parents invest in a top-quality grade school education if it wasn’t for me to get into the best university possible?
When I have voiced my concerns that the drawbacks of university might actually outweigh the benefits, I have consistently been told by the adults around me that the point of university is not necessarily what you learn, but who you meet. They say that the social network created in university carries over into the business world after you graduate, and greatly impacts the rest of your life.
It sounds like the old proverb holds true: it’s not what you know, but who you know that really makes a difference in your career path.
Making an Impact in Grade 12
This refreshing outlook of the importance of a strong social network has greatly challenged my beliefs about university because I am able to conceptualize the importance of relationships. Growing up at Master’s I have learned the value of creating relationships with everyone who is around me, including teachers. The strong bonds I have formed with my peers are ones I hope to have for a lifetime.
Every year in grade 12, students are assigned what is called the Impact Project. The purpose of the Impact Project is for each graduating student to make a measurable impact in a community that they are a part of. The impact doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, which allows for simple, yet effective ideas to flourish.
The necessity of creating a strong social network, along with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, have framed my approach to the Impact Project. Let me explain this further.
The Need for Strong Community and Relationships
When I observed the community around me during the past few months, there were two main issues that jumped out at me. On every level of society, people have been struggling with a lack of social interaction, and many are hurting financially due to the massive decrease in economic opportunities.
On the side of mental health, a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that four in ten adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression since the pandemic started. This number is up from one in ten prior to the pandemic.
From the economic perspective, Statistics Canada determined that in the first two months of the pandemic, more than 19,000 businesses closed in Alberta alone. That’s almost double the average amount for the given period of time. Statistics like these show the truly detrimental impact of the pandemic.
I decided to address the issues in my Impact Project by creating the Master’s Family Business Directory. Once completed, the directory will be an interactive website located in the Master’s Parent Portal. It will allow you to search for a business or service, and all listings displayed will be businesses associated with the Master’s community. This will encourage the use of businesses and services within our community, and will greatly expand networking among Master’s families.
My Impact Project as a Solution to the COVID-19 Pandemic … The Master’s Business Directory
How important is developing your network of contacts?
I’ve come up with a quick and easy way for you to introduce yourself to nearly 400 families, while simultaneously supporting local businesses!
Behind every business are people, and people interact in society through building relationships. The people who run businesses in this directory are ones that share the qualities that seem to be ever-present at Master’s: integrity and leadership.
This directory isn’t just for people who own businesses—any place of work is welcome, so long as you receive permission to share the company’s information.
How do you sign up?
By completing this form, you are not only ensuring a spot in the directory, but also unlocking countless networking opportunities for your business or place of work within the Master’s community. You might end up doing business together, or you might end up becoming friends. The potential benefits of either outcome are enormous.
It doesn’t cost you anything to join us on this journey, except five minutes of your time.
Responses are due by Friday, March 12th, 2021.
Back to the Shocking Confession
I know what you’re thinking…
By now I should be telling you if I’m going to university next year or not.
I still don’t know, and haven’t made a decision one way or another. But I’m definitely considering the benefits of creating a larger network for myself.
After I finish connecting all of you parents, I’ll give some more thought on how best to continue adding to my own network of contacts. Thank you for supporting local businesses, and I hope to meet many of you in the business world someday.
Hudes, Sammy. “COVID-19 Pandemic Caused ‘Significant’ Spike in Alberta Business Closures: Statistics Canada.” The Calgary Herald, Calgary Herald, 6 Aug. 2020,
Nirmita Panchal, Rabah Kamal, and Feb 2021. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” KFF, 10 Feb. 2021,