Thinker with a Mission, Leader with a Heart series
By Nazra Shahnaz, 2T19, Class of 2021
Nazra Shahnaz, 2T19 - one of top five finalists of Halogen Foundation's National Young Leader Award 2021
‘Be the change you want to see’ - I especially enjoy this quote because my purpose as a leader is to embody it.
My name is Nazra Shahnaz, and I am a J2 student (2T19) from Catholic Junior College (CJC). I was nominated for the National Young Leader Award (NYLA) in March this year, and I never thought the 6-month journey would be one of the most life-changing experiences for me. It taught me how to carry myself as a leader, about the importance of communication, how to resolve a conflict in ideas and many more attributes I now hold close to my heart in being a leader.
My favourite phase of the award was the Leadership Trials. Though it was through a screen, I was able to meet many promising youth with such amazing ideas to bring to the table and this really amplified the faith I have in my peers. Through both the glory and shortfalls of my team, I was able to learn the importance of planning ahead, facilitating open communication, leveraging on the strengths of each team member to create a better outcome, and this shaped me to better prepare for the rest of my award journey and leadership opportunities to come. Meeting change-makers in a common place, finding middle ground with different inputs, and listening to the brilliant ideas everyone had helped me realise that I am not alone in my goals of creating positive change, and that leaders can better support one another through collaboration.
(Nazra receiving the Award from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat)
CJC has gifted me many leadership experiences; my teachers saw promise in me and wanted to help me develop it. My tenure as President of CJC Choir greatly shaped my leadership as navigating through the restrictions of the volatile COVID-19 situation left my team and I faced with many hurdles in planning and executing Choir sessions. Through the setbacks, we were able to learn to plan and brainstorm better and as a leader, I learnt to communicate better. I found that one of a leader’s key purposes is to exude a spirit of enthusiasm and proactivity so as to keep morale and productivity up when times were tough.
When I founded Shareducation, my goal was to help bridge the gap between students who had a headstart in their studies due to having access to tuition services, and those who did not have that luxury. This came from a place of understanding as I too, found myself in a similar situation growing up. But after NYLA, I realised that my cause is so much more than that. I empower others by teaching my beneficiaries to create goals and aspirations, and that no matter how big or small they may seem, they are valid. I empower my team of 30 volunteers by allowing them to make full use of all the resources available to create a bigger impact and serve the community.
For as far as my mind can reach, NYLA, Shareducation, and my leadership experiences in CJC have only taught me about my true purpose: to not just be a leader, but a servant leader. To think with a mission, and lead with a heart. To have a zest for life and a generous spirit in my leadership. I see my potential to serve, and regardless of the profession I pursue in the future, I would like to serve and change more lives. My hope for the future of youth is for more of us to find it in ourselves to step forward and build more inclusive societies. I am no perfect leader, but I am grateful that NYLA saw promise in me to do this.
Above all, having the honour to be a part of something as special as NYLA sparked a period of personal growth I never knew myself and the people I work with needed — and beyond the cameras, interviews and blue pantsuits, I’m grateful for that.
In Veritate et Caritate