Country of Origin:
Asian Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Human Rights & Social Justice, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity
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I am driven by the mission to empower youth, as my experience founding BrockU Talks - a speaking event held at Brock University that provides youth leaders a platform to speak about their passions - has demonstrated the need to recognize youth voices as they share their achievements and experiences. Being a part of these young leaders’ journeys as they bared their life on stage was irreplaceable as they gained confidence and courage to share their stories. BrockU Talks is now a fundamental part of the Brock University community, and has shown incredible growth within a year of launch.
This drive to help youth also led to the conception of The ReConnect Movement to bridge the gap between university students and marginalized youth in the Niagara region.
My work with The ReConnect Movement as well as BrockU Talks has given me the honour of being recognized as one of the young leaders profiled for the 2 Billion Under 20 community. As defined from their official website, “2 Billion Under 20 is a community of inspirational young individuals who refuse to believe that age is a barrier to achieving greatness.” I was also recently awarded the 3M National Student Fellowship Award by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, an honour award to youth who have "demonstrated outstanding leadership in their lives and at their college or university."
I am also a National Youth Ambassador for Passages Canada, an organization that works to project immigrant stories to the public. I currently serve as the eighth and youngest Youth Ambassador nationwide.
In my free time, I curate my own writing blog (aniqahzowmiwrites.tumblr.com), and spend my days haunting neurobiology labs at Brock University. I hope to pursue a career in International Human Rights Law, with a concentration on work in the Middle East with marginalized populations.
I am a visible minority, the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who came to Canada in 1995, the same year I was born. I lived in a dominantly white neighbourhood, and words cannot express the struggles I experienced as I tried to come to terms with my visible South Asian heritage in a community where everywhere I turned, I was faced with what I wasn't. I wasn't white, I wasn't truly Canadian - and this challenged me everywhere I went.
The media's impact on me didn't help. The same standards of beauty I was faced with in a community of largely heritage Canadians were perpetuated through the media. As a female, it was hard growing up and being an adolescent in a society where realistic role models, those of South Asian heritage, were not present. As a result, I am strongly driven to share my own experience to eradicate the same feelings of insecurity and worthlessness that I fought as I grew up because role models were not present in my own life. I want to one day become the role model I never had.
I was able to overcome the struggles that surrounded me in my younger years, and have accomplished so much. However, the struggle does not end with me. There are hundreds of thousands of girls not only in Canada, but around the world who are facing the same issues that I did. I hope to show them that they are not alone, that they should not be ashamed of their differences. Rather, they should embrace what makes them unique, a concept that took me years to resolve.