Hope Blooms teen gets accepted to Stanford University

Bocar Wade was part of the original group that pitched the now-signature salad dressing on CBC's Dragons Den.

Bocar Wade was part of the original group that pitched the salad dressing on CBC's Dragons Den

Bocar Wade was part of the group that originally pitched the salad dressing on CBC TV's Dragons Den. That's him when he was 12 on the far left of the poster. (CBC)

As Hope Blooms prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala fundraiser featuring Dragons' Den star Arlene Dickinson Wednesday night, one of its original members is getting ready to go to a top American university.

Bocar Wade has been accepted to Stanford University with a scholarship. The first year alone at the school costs $68,000.

"I'm really excited to go there, it's going to be an amazing opportunity," Wade said.

Bocar Wade is one of five Hope Blooms members graduating from high school this year and moving on to postsecondary education in the fall. Each student will get a Hope Blooms scholarship as a reward for their hard work. (CBC)

Wade started with Hope Blooms when he was 12, learning to plant the herbs and make the salad dressing that became renowned after winning the Dragons' Den pitch back in 2013. He was in the group that made the pitch to the Dragons.

"We were really nervous, they put makeup on us and then we were into the Den and it was over. It was really exciting," he said.

The Hope Blooms salad dressing they first started selling at a Halifax farmers' market is now sold in nine Loblaws stores.

Stanford dream come true

Wade's success is being celebrated by Hope Blooms founder Jessie Jollymore. When she found out he was getting a golden ticket to Stanford, she cried.

"Bocar had a dream since he was a little boy of going to Stanford University. That's what all the work is for, is to see them successful and going out in the world and having a dream," Jollymore said.

Jessie Jollymore, founder of Hope Blooms, said she cried when she learned Bocar Wade was accepted to Stanford. (CBC)

'Proof of the excellence'

Located in Halifax's north end, Hope Blooms founders say the youth-centred project is an effort to overcome the negative stereotypes that often plague area residents.

"This is proof of the excellence that can come from the community. We've been talking about it for a long time, that Hope Blooms is great and it offers a lot to the community. I know that kids look at Bocar and they are inspired," said Alvero Wiggins, who does programming for the organization.

"That's what Hope Blooms is all about. It's about taking ownership over something — your own life — and then following your dreams. We are so proud, we are bursting."

Hope Blooms salad dressing. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

Wade juggles getting top marks, working at Hope Blooms and being co-president at Citadel High School seemingly with ease, but he's learned a lot of those important time management skills at Hope Blooms.

Sharing skills

"You get leadership experience, community experience and of course gardening skills and business," Wade said.

He'll head to Stanford in California at the end of the summer where he'll study computer science. He plans to share those skills with his neighbourhood.

"My community, we are family. We support each other and we've been through it all together."

Wade is one of five Hope Blooms members graduating from high school this year and moving on to post-secondary education in the fall.

Each student involved in the project for at least four years gets a Hope Blooms scholarship worth $8,000 as a reward for their hard work. All profits from the sales of the dressings goes to support the scholarship program, said Jollymore.

About the Author

Colleen Jones

Reporter

World champion curler Colleen Jones has been reporting with CBC News for nearly three decades. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleenjones.