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Lauren Tam took the Learning to Lead™ program when we had to move our programming online because of COVID-19.

“I learned so much, strictly through Zoom, which says volumes about the program.”, says Lauren. This young leader has shown immense growth since completing the program, and is now inspiring other girls to become confident leaders. We talked to Lauren, here’s what she had to say 👇🏽

What does being a leader mean to you?

A leader grows people. The value of leadership stems from whether you can develop your team, not your project. Developing the creators can produce a hundred more projects, but only developing the project leaves you with one. The best leadership is not about creating followers but about creating other leaders. Ideas and skills aren’t worthy if they can’t be shared and appreciated by others.

I’m so proud of the girls I’ve quietly guided to be leaders. I get to watch my club vice president take charge with assurance and confidence. I get to admire my younger coordinator partner supporting our mentors with kindness and care. I’ve gotten to grow myself while guiding others to do the same. This is the type of leader I aspire to be: well-spoken, attentive, and kind.

Were there any leadership experiences that stood out, or inspired you, during the past year? What were they, and why were they meaningful for you?

I am one of two workshop coordinators for the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference (VSBSC). VSBSC is a youth-run event consisting of various workshops, speakers, and mentor sessions to promote sustainability innovation and awareness. Each year, we partner with different NGOs and organizations around BC to expand the reach of educational opportunities for high school students. A big part of my job is creating, planning, and hosting online events and a full-day in-person conference that will (hopefully) be hosted in April. I’m constantly communicating, emailing, and writing up documents. Along with that, I am networking and sourcing workshop speakers and facilitators. It is a very hands-on and fast-paced position.

I’m so grateful to work alongside my coordinator partner. We work together with a cohesive vision and constant communication; there’s not much more I could ask for. This role has enlightened me without a doubt. I’ve learned about creating, organizing, and leading for a large audience. It is fascinating to see the impact the team makes under VSBSC. The feedback we’re given pushes me to work even harder for our attendees. I’m eagerly looking forward to the preparation of our April conference.

Are there any leadership events or opportunities that you’re especially excited about?

Yes, absolutely. I’m in the Mini program at my school, and within it, there is a Youth Leadership Development Program. I am excited and honoured to be the leading student member in its development. In collaboration with teachers, parents, and now students, we are trying to elevate the program with student voices involved. From my side, I’m emphasizing “operational definitions”. I want to implement a common, universal language among students and adults alike. I hope to bring everyone’s familiarity to an equal level, therefore, being able to learn and guide under the same understandings. These terms and a Mini-wide survey are my first big projects. In less than five months, I’ll be graduating from high school. This is my way of giving back to the community and leaving behind something that could benefit students years later. I want to do as much as I can while I’m still here.

What would you say to other girls who are considering joining Learning to Lead, or another one of Minerva’s youth programs?

I feel that the timing of Minerva’s programs has catered to my needs. I learned so much, strictly through Zoom, which says volumes about the program. While participating in Learning to Lead™, I felt immediately welcomed by Ashley, the Youth Programs Manager. She built a safe place where ideas and stories could be shared openly from the first day and throughout. I recognize my growth since my time in Learning to Lead. I remember how nerve-wracking it was to go near the unmute button. I was afraid I would cut someone off or answer the questions at the wrong time. Now, I may get nervous from time to time, but I am less anxious and more eager to share my thoughts.

I say go for it. No matter what you want to pursue, leadership will always be present, in one form or another. Please take this opportunity to make your dreams into your goals. I would love for girls and non-binary individuals to experience this program in person. There is something to learn from every person there. The most apparent form of leadership is of people, but that doesn’t negate the importance of leading a single person. Leaders don’t require a specific personality. Therefore, everyone can become a great one.

Is there a word, or a quote, that’s guiding you this year?

The word would be growth. It’s my favorite one so far; it encompasses so much. It acknowledges that there is a process, and that there is always room for improvement. But it also recognizes where you’ve come from and how much you’ve achieved. Physically, you can see the difference as you grow, so it shouldn’t be too different for your head. I think it’s so special when it comes to your mind’s growth. It’s almost like a superpower you’ll reveal to people through your output and energy. It is empowering to see how a certain mindset changes everything.

As for the quote, it comes from a TV show that was quite inspiring to me. It says, “Don’t let the opinions of others become your reality”. I’m most proud of the moment I began caring a little less about what others think of me and a little more about what I think of me. I’ve spent so much energy on how people respond to what I’m doing or how I’m acting. That energy could have had so much more purpose. A huge thing in all of this is self-love. You have to be ok with the person you are, since you’re the only person you’ll be with forever. While you’re here, you should make your headspace a good place to be. Encourage yourself, keep yourself happy and love yourself. It’s a goal of a lifetime, but I know it will be the most rewarding in the end.

Applications are now open for the Learning to Lead™ Spring 2022 Cohort. We are offering the interactive, virtual program, in a 4-week (1 session/week) format. Participants will attend 2-hour Zoom sessions once a week for 4 weeks. 50 self-identified girls (in Grades 10-12) will be selected to attend each 4-week program (200 in total). Indigenous youth are encouraged to apply. Acceptances are made on a rolling basis, so get your application in early to SAVE YOUR SPOT!

There is no cost to participants of the Learning to Lead™ program, thanks to the support of our generous donors.

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