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Your hardships can be your superpower!

Coming into University I didn’t know what to expect of the Global Leadership Program (GLP) and where it would lead me. In fact, I was more so afraid that I was going to be a failure in the program because I just thought of myself as not being good enough to be a leader.

Life’s challenges and hardships try to weigh you down in this way, and place you in a pit of low self-worth and diminished determination. In my life, abuse, severe financial hardships, mental illness and trauma, and disability within my family, are factors that some say would manifest as negative contributors and should deter someone like me from having hope in persevering in my education. But three years into the GLP, I have learnt that those hardships can be your biggest drives for success and give you an edge to create impactful domestic and global change.

The journey began through the Global Leadership Entry Program (GLEP) program. It gives students who have developed a capacity to triumph over hardships hope that someone out there believes in their leadership proficiencies, despite having an extremely rough and emotional journey to completing school. This entry scheme looks beyond the ATAR and allowed me and many other students the opportunity to showcase how much potential is yet to be unlocked within their capabilities.

Those 2.5-hour Colloquia may seem like an obligation but I’d challenge you to look at it as a way to explore your weaknesses, your strengths, a way to contest what you already know in society and a chance to foster unique perspectives and engage in lively discussion with students from many disciplines. To put this into context, often individuals who have gone through hardships feel an insane fire to start an innovative movement that addresses their experiences. The colloquia on Social Entrepreneurship delivered by Debbie Haski-Leventhal, opened a new world of possibilities to me, as to how change can be operationalised in the business and non-for-profit sector. Many students that I interacted with, left feeling a sense of heightened empowerment that the social problems that they are passionate about can be addressed through business knowledge, tools and models.

It’s effective to carry on a personal motto, especially in your journey through GLP. This motto can be an anchor to motivate yourself to achieve the best you can despite obstacles that stand in your way. My personal motto below does just that for me.

“There is always something else I can do, and my experience can enhance and change the world.”

As a LEAP Mentor, you are able to engage with high school students of refugee background that have been through circumstances that affect their entire livelihood. You develop a sense of connectedness because you as a mentor with significant hardships, feel they can be a beacon of encouragement to the young people who may think they don’t have a chance to break down the same walls you did, and achieve their educational dreams. You also feel less alone in your own journey, because there is something powerful walking side by side students with challenging circumstances.

At times as an equity student, you may feel like some GLP activities that you’d really like to endeavour on are out of reach. But the GLP looks beyond your “status” and shows that you should always give activities a shot. If you feel like the activity has that inherent focus on a topic that will expand your cultural competency and leadership, then go for it, because the GLP not only provides you with opportunities, but also the support in getting you there. Despite having a multitude of financial stresses in my family, I found myself at the University of Cambridge studying in their Cambridge Summer Science Program (2017). GLP played a big role in getting me there to studying how Autism Awareness needs global attention and how advances in Microbiology have changed the outlook of global health. My grades were not the best, but being able to demonstrate willingness to participate in extra-curricular activities shone through, resulting in my acceptance.

Despite challenges standing in the way, the Experiential Credit and Colloquia goal is so attainable. Look at the Global Leadership Program beyond just a sentence on your resume. GLP is an avenue and instrumental program that profoundly shapes your direction on a domestic and global scale. GLP helps look beyond what society says about what you’ve been through, but uncovers increased self-awareness and determination to use experiences as an advantageous tool; to be a leader with cross-cultural competence, who enjoys life’s journey of development and growth.

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