New Student Leaders
Wenona’s newly-announced 2022 – 2023 School and Cadet Leadership Teams comprise an exceptional group of young women. All were elected by students and staff for their commitment to lead with (among other things), integrity, authenticity, compassion, and joy.
At the helm of the School Leadership Team are Head Prefect Jemima and Deputy Head Prefects Nashara, Kalara, and Sophie.
Extracts from their campaign speeches are reproduced below:
I resolutely believe in leading with great passion and empathy. Only when someone truly cares about the cause and the people they are advocating for, are they able to do their best. We are growing up in a world that is incredibly divided. More than ever, it is challenging to achieve healthy and productive discussion, as people are so quick to attack and alienate one another for their opposing views.
Leadership relies on the strength and grit to stand up for a cause in the face of adversity. However, it also requires a spirit of compassion, empathy, and an eagerness to listen and understand. It requires an individual who considers voices from all seats at the table and works towards productive solutions, compromising when necessary. What is needed is an individual who doesn’t silence people they do not agree with, but instead, seeks to understand why they invest in their perspective.
As the buffer between two brothers, over the years I have become an excellent ambassador for negotiation and peace - a well-practised Switzerland. I have grown up with a strong sense of family and community and a love and respect for all living things. My experience as a debater and public speaker has allowed me to develop my diplomatic and research skills and understand the issues faced by different global populations and cultures, as well as speak in a way that inspires action and union.
I am an avid participant in a harlequin of different activities within the Wenona community, from Cadets to public speaking and musicals to Netball and The Enviro Club. These passions have allowed me to foster wonderful relationships, and develop my ability to speak with decorum and ardour. They have informed my understanding of leadership and nurtured my emotional intelligence.
My extensive commitment to debating has provided me with insight into the dynamic world around me and an appreciation for issues bigger than myself. Within the tight-knit debating family, we share a common passion, tenacity, and determination, while conducting ourselves with grace, sportsmanship, and good humour. The ability to speak passionately and insightfully is an invaluable skill that I have further developed through my public speaking. I love the process of writing speeches that represent different perspectives and stakeholders, comment on the world around us, suggest solutions to problems and provoke contemplation and progress.
Additionally, my love for the dramatic arts and my tendency for weird and wonderful theatrics, are integral to who I am. I cherish immersing myself in a character, working in a team, creatively thinking, and having fun on stage.
I believe firmly that vision and leadership must be paired with legitimacy, efficiency, and authenticity. As a leader and ambassador for the School, an individual must take genuine action to implement practical initiatives. The opportunity to advocate for you all, to listen to and act on your concerns, frustrations and hopes, to truly make positive change within our Wenona community, would be a privilege. I am incredibly grateful for all Wenona has provided me and would be honoured to serve our wonderful school community.
To my mind, the role of a Wenona leader greatly differs from that of a general leader. I perceive both roles to share the qualities of empathy, fairness, conviction and more. But I believe a Wenonian leader needs to lead with the School’s values on the one hand and gratitude on the other. Gratitude changes the way an individual approaches every situation. As a scholarship student, I carry gratitude with me every day.
I recall joining Wenona as a timid Year 7 student who didn't know anyone at the School. However, I didn't let this deter me from diving into opportunities, so I seized the first chance to sign up for Open Dance. I have always had a strong attachment to dance over other sports as it allows me to express myself when words fail. Dance gave me the gift of knowing when to shine in the spotlight but also when to lift others up.
I have always held a strong connection to the Wenona value of becoming a woman capable of serving the community as a goal rather than a standalone action. My proudest accomplishment is the work I've been doing as a part of Wenona’s Global Diversity Club since 2021. I initially joined to learn more about the cultures of the globe. Unexpectedly I also opened a door of belonging that I hadn’t experienced before as an Australian with a Sri Lankan ancestry. I then applied to lead the Club, in the hope of spreading this knowledge and positive environment to others.
Overall, while I have experience in leadership both inside and outside the Wenona community, I am aware that there is always more to learn. That is why I always aim to throw myself into different parts of School life, to learn what I don't know and expand on what I do. It is innate for human beings to always be learning.
So, from the playing field to the classroom, I aim to be a Wenonian leader who aspires to serve and help grow Wenonians, with the intent to always learn more. In fact, I am making a declaration of promise to serve the School every day, whether wearing a badge or not.
“Don’t worry, I’m a cool Asian”, is a phrase I used to tell myself and others constantly, as if it were an achievement. Somehow to me, those two things were abnormal - mutually exclusive. Being cool meant not being Asian and being Asian was definitely not cool. I let myself be defined by a label - one single thing. Yes, it is a part of me, but it is not who I am. It is safe to say I’ve come a long way from those days.
Coming from a diverse background, to a School with a pretty homogeneous demographic, I made a conscious effort to contribute to my full potential within the School community. I felt a strong responsibility to be a role model for someone just like me, especially in the younger year groups, who may feel underrepresented and unheard. I know that feeling all too well.
Leadership is much more than just a title or a badge. It is not only an incredible privilege that must be utilised to create a positive impact but an incredible responsibility. As a leader, the two main principles I hold myself accountable to are respect and integrity. This means building and nurturing interpersonal relationships, working to truly understand others and having compassion for the greater community. It also means being true to myself and sticking to my values even when I have to make a tough call.
If there is one aspect about me that I would not change for the world, it would be my passion. My commitment and dedication to engaging with the School community are fuelled by my desire to make a change, be impactful, and fulfil my goals. Whether that be through my contribution to class discussions or my dedication to developing myself as a debater.
When I first applied for the Student Representative Council in Year 10, I had a vision “to make Wenona a School that everyone feels they have a place in”. This is a goal I aim to continue working towards, irrespective of whether I receive a formal leadership role.
Among the various activities I partake in, two that I am most passionate about are my service in the SHORE Cadet Unit and The W. During my time as a Corporal, I have been ignored, disrespected, and undercut by my peers. But despite how difficult it was, I forced myself to persevere to the point where I felt comfortable in my role and found my own personal leadership style. Consequently, I have had the privilege of witnessing my leadership skills grow and can now say that I have made a large impact by significantly influencing the engagement and attitude of the Cadets in my care. My passion for The W meanwhile, is unmatched. I aim to create a space where student voice is communicated and given justice, where everyone feels as if they have a place.
Wenona’s values reflect a kind, supportive, and resilient community that I am grateful to be a member of. I believe our greatest strength lies in our interconnectedness and diversity; our kaleidoscope of courage and perspectives that make up our collective experience. Wenona has provided an environment for us to grow and make mistakes, shake off the impossibility of perfection, and learn to be the best version of ourselves.
Throughout my time here I have endeavoured to exhibit the School’s many values. Whilst sometimes falling short of my own expectations, Wenona has taught me to persevere. Leading this community means fostering a positive learning environment, where the opinions of all students are heard, and I strongly believe that respect and collaboration are essential.
Through my participation in Knitting Club, Math Buddies, ESL Support, SRC, STEM Challenge, and Gender Equity, I have been incredibly fortunate to learn the value of service, while developing friendships with girls from different year groups. I have witnessed girls grow in confidence and ability through the Buddies Program, where I have developed my persistence and experienced the benefits of connection with younger students.
My involvement in the House leadership and connection programs, accelerated classes, and School and representative sports have allowed me to be mentored and supported by incredible older students. Here I have gratefully welcomed advice when I have been concerned about School life. This mentorship, an integral part of Wenona’s character, has inspired and enhanced my growth and provided me with a template of remarkable leadership. Through my increasing involvement in club soccer outside of school, I have learned the importance of commitment, time management, and prioritising that which resonates with my own values.
If I were fortunate enough to be elected, I would greatly appreciate the honour and value the trust that the staff and my fellow students placed in me. I take the responsibility of student leadership seriously and have formulated ideas for a number of initiatives to benefit the School. I have always attempted to conduct myself with integrity and strived to be an inclusive, respectful, and empathetic member of our community. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be considered as a 2022/2023 leader at Wenona.