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Congrats GEMerald Award Winners!

This year GEM started a scholarship fund called the GEMerald Awards. The intention is that every year the GEM community of mentors, supporters and donors will contribute to a fund that will benefit GEMgirls pursuing further education. This year we had a fantastic group of GEMgirls win 5 awards. Each GEMgirl was encouraged to apply and to highlight her contribution to GEM as well as address how the GEM program had positively impacted their life. Girls were chosen through an evaluation process lead by GEM Mentors that emphasized the written application and the strength of their reference.

The winners of the first ever GEMerald Scholarships were:

Zarah Ahmad – GEMerald Scholarship Winner, Apple MacBook

Hira Durvesh – GEMerald Scholarship Winner, Apple MacBook

Fatima Waheed – GEMerald Scholarship Winner, $1000

Aliza Fatima – GEMerald Scholarship Winner, $750

Hajar Seiyad – GEMerald Scholarship Winner, $500

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Career Spotlight: Thrive Natural Family Health

We all know about Family Doctors, and surgeons, and many of us pursue these careers, but how many of us know about complimentary health professionals? At our Thrive Medical coffee chat, GEM girls were able to sit down with a chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise, a Naturopath Dr. Kristen Heins, and a Psychologist Dr. Chelsea Sherrington to chat about their careers, and the path they took to get there.

It is an expectation, that by the time we get into high school, we have a career path planed out. As if we are supposed to know at 14, what we want to do for the next 50 years of our lives. Many of us choose obvious jobs in fields that interest us; if you are interested in medicine, you chose Doctor, if you are interested in the Arts, you chose painter, and if you are interested in Law, you chose lawyer. The Doctors at Thrive, thought us that the career you choose in high school does not necessarily have to be career you end up pursuing.

The three women, who seem to have everything planned out, and in order at their cozy midtown office, reveal that it was not always that way. In high school, Dr. Sherrington took advice on her major from a stranger on the phone, and ended up with many classes she did not like due to this Major in politics. Eventually she figured it out, and found a way to switch her majors and her classes to suit her interest in Psychology. Doctor Kristen, was on the path to become a lawyer, until she also eventually found her passion, and became a doctor.

The point is, being high school students it’s okay to not know, or to be unsure of what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life, and it’s okay to change your mind multiple times. That’s the point of University, you get to explore the different career options available in the field you’re interested in, or maybe even fields that you have never considered before.

Thank you to Dr. Wise, Dr. Heins, and Dr. Sherrington for hosting the GEM girls and for the insightful coffee chat.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

 

BSS Summer Academy Math Scholarship

The Bishop Strachan School and Girls E-Mentorship have a Summer Academy Math Scholarship available for young women entering Grades 9 and 10 next year. Last year, Isha received this scholarship. After her summer course, she was offered the chance to apply for a scholarship for Grade 9 at The Bishop Strachan School. The following is an interview with Isha about her experience and why she says she’s always on the lookout for new opportunities.

What made you decide to apply for the Summer Academy Math Foundation Scholarship?

Getting this scholarship was really important for me because I want to be a good role model for my younger siblings and I want to show them how it’s not impossible to do great things in life. Before this summer course I never thought it would be possible for me to ever do something this great in my life. I thought my life would be like my elder sisters, but I always wanted to do something different. I wanted to show myself that it’s possible to change the way life is going, that there are lots of different paths you can choose from. I really like the feeling of not knowing my future, now that I’m on a different path than my sisters. I think this helps you take more risks in life. My parents always said that I wasn’t ever afraid to try new things. They always tell me how nothing will ever stay the same and you can’t ever depend on anyone, that you need to write your own story, a story different than everyone else’s.

What was the Math Foundation course like? What did you learn?

It was like a regular course, but with less people. It was clear what was expected of you and what you need to do in order to be successful in this course. The course was really focused on math, and you had to keep up with the class, otherwise it was really hard to catch up later. The lessons were always well planned and there were always moments when you were allowed to do what you wanted. I thought it was a great course and I got to meet lots of new people. I’m really glad that I was able to get ahead by doing my grade 9 math course before I started high-school.

Why would you recommend the Math Foundation course to other girls?

I had a great time and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on this. It’s a one time opportunity. This course opened up lots of new doors for me and made me think about life in a different way. I love math and in my old school I couldn’t ever go ahead and learn new things, but this course made you explore and try new things. My teacher in this course encouraged me to explore grade 10 math.

What other opportunities did the Math Foundation course open up for you?

This course changed my life, and made it possible for me to get enrolled in a school like a BSS after the course was done. After taking this course I’m in grade 10 math, while I’m still in grade 9. Also, it showed me the real world and how there are so many great opportunities in life and you just have to look for them. You can’t ever stay home and just expect a great opportunity coming knocking at your door, you have to go out and look for them. Through this course I met great people, like Ms.Powell, Ms.Dias, Rochelle, Ms.Ranson and my math teacher Mr.Underhill. They guided me through the hardest moments, and were always there for me.

Calling a Minga: Influencers of Tomorrow Summit

The call of a “minga” is a very powerful thing. We came together on April 16, at the annual Influencers of Tomorrow summit, to benefit all people. That is essentially what the call of “minga” is, at least according to Marc Kielburger, the co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We. The Influencers of Tomorrow Summit, was organized by ten young women from Girls e-Mentorship (GEM) and The Bishop Strachan School (BSS), and consisted of many influential guest speakers, with various activities, and amazing SWAG bags at the end of the event.

IOT Summit was all about how we can make Toronto more inclusive? and how we can get more women accepting leadership roles? We had influential women from all over Canada to speaking at the event. Canadian physician and womens rights advocate, Alaa Murabit, Canadian ambassador for UNICEF, Zahra Al-Harazi, Premier of Ontario and Women’s Advocate, Kathleen Wynne, and Humans Rights Watch, Jasmine Herlt, and Independent Film Director Shadeism, Nayani Thiyagarajah. As well as a musical performance by Nefe.

An average 16 year-old might just be finishing the eleventh grade, but Alaa Murabit, finished high school at 15 years old.  Alaa then moved on to finish medical school, at 22. Alaa’s secret to achieving her level of success, was that she thought she knew it all. It didn’t make her popular, but it made her successful, it made her an ‘overachiever’. It made her intellectual, understanding, confident, and finally it made her the voice of women in Libya. It made her women’s rights and youth activist. At only 26, Alaa has achieved more than one can imagine. Alaa said that only 1-in-10 women ask for promotions, while 9-in-10 men do. Women are capable of being leaders, so why shouldn’t they ask for a promotion? One of the most important things Alaa said in her captivating speech was that the IOT summit was not impressive, it was expected. We as women, should be expected, to come together, and talk about how we can create change, how we can shift the paradigm, and work towards a better future. It is expected of us to put in work, and get results.

Kathleen Wynne is the Premier of Ontario, but she is also the first openly gay head of government, and only the second in the entire English-speaking world. She not only represents women, but also the LGBTQ community. When she first decided to run for school trustee, she didn’t know much about what it entails, but she has learned along the way. She has learned to make educated decisions, by not only listening to the citizens, but also listening to scientists, and professionals who she can trust. Kathleen Wynne has learned that everyone will never be pleased with you, but the best thing to do, is what’s best for the country.

Throughout the day, we heard from many other influential people, like Zahra Al-Harazi, who spoke about her personal experience of getting married at 17 and then moving back and forth from Canada to Yemen to finally having a successful marketing and communications studio. We got to listen to the beautiful voice of Nefe. Canadian Olympic Gold-Medalist, Clara Hughes also sent a video message talking about how she overcame depression, and came to win multiple medals in speed skating, and cycling. 

Thank you to all the guest speakers, and sponsors Burgundy Asset Management, RBC Canada, Empire Life and MaRS Discovery District. The IOT summit, was both rewarding, and influential.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

 

Top 3 Reasons Carmen The Opera was Awesome

What an evening! I found myself completely mesmerized by the performance at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. That’s how I and 19 other GEMgirls and mentors got to spend our Saturday night, attending the final dress rehearsal of the Canadian Opera Company’s performance of Carmen, on April 9. The distinguishing reasons that made the breath-taking phenomenon so spectacular were the live orchestra along with the phenomenal performance. The icing on the cake was the appearance of the two most renowned Carmen’s in the world!

Live Orchestra. You’d think 3 hours of watching a performance would get boring, but I was hypnotized the way Orchestra and Chorus played Georges Bizet’s compositions, and the hours drifted away right in front of my eyes. What captivated me was the thrill and excitement of being taken on a musical journey and I believe the Orchestra and Chorus did justice to Bizet’s masterpiece, Carmen.

Phenomenal Performance. Even though it was a full dress rehearsal, it was nothing short of a flawless performance. The performers were effortlessly able to transport the entire audience back to the 1870’s, into the exciting, romantic, and tragic story.

Two in One. The appearance of two of the world’s most renowned Carmen’s made the performance extra special. How often does one get to see two of the five most famous Carmen’s to perform in one opera?

DSC_0389My special gratitude to Katherine Semcesen for not only familiarizing us with the classical architecture behind the venue but also answering our questions during the intermission. And a special thanks to all the GEM mentors for taking out their time to accompany the mentees.

This was my first experience attending an opera but definitely not the last. As for the Canadian Opera Company, you’ll always find me in the audience!

To see more photos from our special night out click here.

Written by GEMgirl Aliza Fatima