As we set our feet firmly into the new year, we interviewed youth leaders from our Learning to Lead™ program to highlight the great leadership work being done by youth in our community. Here’s what Sarah Kemerwa had to say as she reflects on some of her work and achievements in 2021, and anticipates the great adventures 2022 may bring.
Reflecting on the past year:
What are some leadership activities (programs, organizations, events, etc.) you did in 2021? What was the best part about this experience?
This year I had the pleasure of being a youth advisor for the Step-Up Youth volunteer program, at Island Health. Pre-Covid we would offer social/emotional support to hospital patients, pass out books and did arts and crafts with patients. This year, we had to adapt by shifting to virtual and digital ways of supporting the patients. For example, we created a holiday carolling video and put together a children’s audio book.
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?
Volunteering with the Step-Up youth program was one of the highlights of my year, because I got to see my group grow tremendously. At first everyone was reserved and too timid to share ideas, but by the end of the year that was no longer a problem!
In the present
What does being a leader mean to you?
Leadership is not monolithic, so it is difficult to define. I used to view leadership as a hierarchy, where one person dictates the actions of their followers. Now, I understand that a great leader is one who is on the same playing field as their followers, and who allows for healthy debates and reproach.
Do you have any advice for other girls who want to develop their own leadership, but don’t know how or where to start?
I believe, school clubs or community work are great places to start your leadership journey. When you find your niche or a cause that interests you, then you’re bound to excel as leader, because you’re truly passionate.
Looking forward to this new year:
Is there a word, or a quote, that’s guiding you this year?
One of my all-time quotes is from the poem “Harlem”, by Langston Hughes. “What happens to a dream deferred?” Such a poignant question that incites us to think about all the opportunities we’ve missed, by pushing our dreams and passions aside. I hope we pursue and live out our dreams in 2022!
How has being involved with Learning to Lead™, or Minerva’s other youth programs (e.g., Executive Days) prepared you for a successful year?
Participating in Minerva’s Executive Days was an enriching experience! I had the opportunity to discuss with executives from Best Buy and BC Hydro about the future of work, gender, and race (in regard to leadership). The conversations were thought provoking and enlightening. A notion that stuck out to me, was VUCA. Which means living in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (Bennis & Nanus, 1987). This concept perfectly describes the times we are living in, but also offers a glimpse of hope by highlighting the tenacity of mankind. All the best to all in 2022, in this VUCA world!
To continue to promote youth leadership and provide growth opportunities, Minerva has launched the Making Space for Youth Leadership program – a 10-month intergenerational learning program that brings together young women, transgender and non-binary youth, with business leaders from across BC.
Youth and established leaders will engage in reciprocal mentorship, have fun, and co-create a “learning exchange” in their community. Learn more about the program or apply here. Submission Deadline: January 31, 2022.