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Photo by Jenny Fisher

Nader Nadernejad, a local programmer at Trent Radio, will be competing for the title of Canada’s smartest person on the CBC’s hit TV game show of the same name.

Nader, who’s now in grade 12 at Lakefield District Secondary School, was just 16 when the show filmed this summer, making him the youngest contestant.

That being said, Nader’s young age should serve as no indication of life experience or wisdom. He has had an interesting and unique upbringing, which has led to him having more ‘friends’ than you’d think.

When Nader was in grade nine, he made a love video for his girlfriend at the time. This love video was meant only for her eyes, but, unbeknownst to him, it was leaked onto the online social forum Reddit where, within days, it went viral and had several million views.

The video has since been removed, but not before millions of people (including everyone in his high school) saw it.

This is where Nader showed a form of intelligence and wisdom far beyond his years age. “I thought instead of crying about this situation, I’m going to use it to my advantage.”

Using his newfound Youtube fame, Nader ended up partnering with a website called FullScreen and continued making videos. He says, “I loved the idea of being able to say anything and then have so many people turn around and respond to it.”

Currently, Nader has over 120 thousand twitter followers and the views of his Youtube videos are usually in the hundreds of thousands. When asked about his fame, Nader responds with another comment that contradicts his youth.

“It feels good to know that your community is supporting you, but I wouldn’t say that I’m famous. I tend to question myself sometimes. I’m just doing what I love, I’m not really caught up in what I’ve accomplished as much as I’m caught up in what I love.”

What Nader does love is talking. Indeed, his show at Trent Radio is called Talking, Never Stopping. Rather than talking about his own show, however, Nader prefers to highlight the great things Peterborough’s own community radio station. “Trent Radio is amazing, he says, “it’s a place where you won’t be overlooked because your different. That’s what I love about it.”

This sentiment is particularly important for Nader because of his childhood. Nader grew up in the Mississauga area until he was about 13 years old. That’s when his family moved to the little village of Lakefield. “When I moved up here it was totally different, he recalls. “The vibe was different and also, with my background, I was noticeably different. I’ll just put it at that.”

This unfortunately lead to instances where Nadar was targeted because of his difference. “Classmates would say things like ‘you’re not a real Canadian’. It was real discouraging, I wondered how I was going to deal with this.”

Much like his response to the love video going viral, Nader decided to deal with it by embracing his differences rather than hiding from them.

When he got to grade nine, he joined the concert band and picked up as many instruments as he could. This led to him playing saxophone in front of the entire school to an awkward dance.

As Nader’s videos continued to grow in popularity on social media, his goals evolved as well. “I thought instead of making people laugh at my demise, I could inspire them, or at least I wanted to.”

It was perhaps what that led him to Canada’s Smartest Person. Sitting on the couch one day, Nader saw a commercial for the show that said to apply if you have new smarts. “I thought, well I don’t have book smarts, so I must have new smarts,” he says.

Perhaps new smarts is characterized by the willingness to overcome obstacles that try to align an individual within a set of norms. If this is the case, Nader might just be Canada’s Smartest Person.

Nader won’t say whether or not he was actually crowned Canada’s Smartest Person since an agreement with the CBC prohibits him from being able to reveal any details about the show.

You can find that out for yourself, though, when the show airs on Sunday, November 9 at 8pm on CBC. “Do I believe it myself?” Nader added. “No … I didn’t believe it from the beginning. I have to be honest here, I don’t think that I’m in any way smart. However, do I have the most unique smarts? Well, maybe that’s a different story.”