Keagan Tait was sitting in class at Belmont Secondary in March when he received an email confirming that he was one of 40 students chosen to work as a Page in the House of Commons.
“I felt every emotion in that moment,” said Tait, Belmont’s valedictorian. “My friends were asking why I was so excited. With coronavirus becoming a pandemic, I was so stressed that I wouldn’t be able to do anything in the upcoming school year.”
To qualify, students have to achieve a minimum of 80 per cent in Grade 11 and 12 and be able to speak French fluently.
He applied and completed a language proficiency test, before completing another screening in English and going through two reference checks.
Tait aspires to work for the United Nations one day.
He sees the chance to work at the House of Commons as the next stepping stone in his hopes to work on an international scale or at a federal government level.
By the end of August, the 17-year-old’s life will look a lot different.
He will assist with state visits, perform duties related to the sittings of the House and work with Members of Parliament from a non-partisan position. Until August 2021, he’ll be required to work a minimum of 15 hours a week while studying full-time at the University of Ottawa.
Tait will study a Joint Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Political Science and will live in residence while studying online, due to COVID-19.
But before he heads to the country’s capital, he has to learn all 388 Members of Parliament by name, riding and what they look like. In his first week, he’ll be trained and tested so if he should bump into someone, he knows who he’s talking to.
“He’s always been an extrovert and passionate about opportunities that come his way,” said his mom, Shannon Tait. Keagan’s parents were hoping to move him into residency come August, but due to the pandemic they’ll see him off from home.
“He’s our only child and this has been such a defining year for him and all the grads of 2020. We’re extremely proud of him. We can’t wait for him to come home during the holidays.”