Home - Shanzah Zulfiqar

Tag: Shanzah Zulfiqar

GEMinar 5: Networking IRL

No matter what field you are in or decide to go into, networking is crucial. You shouldn’t miss any opportunity to do so because you never know how many connections the other person may have. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and networking but I never realized how it was such an important skill to possess. It will always be beneficial and aid us in our future career prospects.

Luckily enough, our girls got the chance to attend a ‘Networking in Real Life” GEMinar on Friday February 5, hosted by Lisa Orr of Orr Etiquette. Personally, I thought this GEMinar was amazing and I feel that I really needed this. It was especially relevant at this point of the school year and before going off to university, where I’ll be meeting new people every day. By the end of the event, I felt a lot more confident about the way I interact with other individuals and meeting new people.

GEMgirl Fatima Waheed said, “This was, by far, one of my favourite GEMinars and also the most applicable in real life. People say ‘first impressions aren’t the last’ but I think when it comes to job interviews, this isn’t true because people don’t have time to get to know you personally. First impressions do matter a lot but now I feel more confident about mine,” We couldn’t agree more, Fatima!

The GEMinar facilitator, Lisa, was very friendly and made the GEMinar fun and informative at the same time. When I came into the room, I saw a bunch of people in shiny, blue capes and stepped back thinking maybe I came to the wrong room. However once I stepped in, I realized I was just in time for the second activity, which was introducing yourselves to a new people and then having them comment on the back of your cape. I was astonished by the results of this and still have pictures saved of what was written on mine. Someone said “You’re very friendly, very confident and I could talk to you all day.”

Throughout the session, one of the most important things I learned was how to strike up a conversation by asking people questions about themselves. A simple “what’s your favourite book?” is a very good trick because who do people like talking about most? Themselves, of course.

To end off the event, we got the best swag bags ever; our own business card! Thank you to the GEM team and Orr Etiquette for that. Can’t wait to start giving those out!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.

2016, It’s a New Year!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again! The year is ending, it’s holiday season, winter break is here, exams are starting and 2016 is about to begin! The past year has gone by in the blink of an eye and I cannot emphasize its importance in my life. It has made me stronger, smarter and a much better person then I was in the beginning of the 2015, as I’m sure this is the case for a lot of the GEMgirls.

I’ve lost family members and friends but have many additions to the family and made even better friends then I had before. My mom always tells me “Patience is the key to success. Just give it time.” This year, specifically starting grade 12, has taught me just that. Time doesn’t stop for anyone; the most important thing however, is how you decide to spend it.

I’ve figured out my priorities and stopped over thinking all my decisions which, hands down, is my biggest accomplishment and the main reason I’m happier. The year had a rough start because of a death in the family and that affected my grades but second semester, I told myself I have to start working harder for what I want- which is getting into a good university. I realized that I don’t have a lot of time left with my friends and family because I’ll live on campus, so I spent the summer with them and I’ll remember every single moment for the rest of my life. Towards the middle of summer, I applied to GEM because of a friend. And look what it’s meant now! I’ve got so many new friends, an amazing mentor and a lot of women I can look up to. With grade 12 starting, I diverted all my attention to my marks and extra-curricular and now with the semester ending, I’m focusing on applying to good universities. The point I’m trying to make is, through all of this I was extremely stressed and didn’t think it would ever get better but in the end, it has all worked out. I’m positive that I’ll say the same thing at the end of 2016 too and laugh at stressing to get into a good program.

Being a senior, everyone expects me to have everything together- from my personal life to my marks and getting into coveted universities. Sometimes I don’t have it all together and I’ve learned to accept that. Sometimes I get confused too. So what do I do? I turn to my friends and my family. They’re my real treasure, my most prized possessions and even if I lose everything else, I’ll still have them. Not just in 2015 or 16, but for the rest of my life.

And to all the GEMgirls, we’re just in high school and there a lot of thing we haven’t figured out yet but all I’m going to say is that it doesn’t have to make sense right now. Our careers and even our lives have just started. Eventually the puzzle pieces will fit. Have an amazing year!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.

GEMinar #4 and the Power of Mind-Mapping

The human brain is probably the most complicated thing in the entire world ; even more than physics and calculus! People have been trying to understand how it functions since the beginning of time and yet find something completely new every day.

Have you ever wondered how many thoughts and ideas go through your mind all day? More importantly, how to you deal with them? The truth is, with all the school work and extracurricular activities, most of us don’t pay any attention to it.

We have these plans in our heads about how our future should be and we want to accomplish them but we never think of the steps we need to take for us to be able to reach those goals. In order to do this properly, all of us need to learn to make mind-maps, get a sense of what our priorities are and things we should start changing.

Luckily for us, the team had a GEMinar on mind-mapping, which, personally, was extremely helpful and helped me clear up a lot of things. For those of you that don’t know what mind mapping is, it is a graphical way to brainstorm ideas and concepts and the GEMinar was focused more on ideas about our future. One of the first activities we did was brainstorming our future goals and the steps we need to take in order to accomplish them. This is something all of us should do every once in a while. Here a few tips:

  • Come up with a central idea- the basic problem you have that you want to solve.
  • Write down your goals/ dreams/ aspirations no matter how difficult they might seem – the mind map doesn’t work unless you do!
  • Now jot down the steps you’ll have to take, in order to achieve that goal.
  • Be sure to think about how each of those steps will affect other things in your life, ie living on campus and finding a part time job to pay for it.
  • Go out there and do it!

After creating our maps, we were asked to explain it to a friend first and then a stranger. Something very interesting I learned was that the more I explained it, and the more I talked about it, the clearer it all got for me.

Since we need to be relaxed to make our mind maps, the GEM team gave out yoga mats towards the end of the program. What better way to take a break from all the busy things going on?

Overall,like every single GEMinar in this year, this was amazing as well. As GEM girls, we are getting opportunities that many other students wished they had- Lets make the most of it!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.

GEMinar 2: Beat the Busy Brain

On Friday October 2nd, we had our second GEMinar at the Aga Khan Museum and I wouldn’t be wrong if I said it was the best so far!

All of the girls in the program are in high school and many are in their senior year aka stress year. In order for us to get through this tough time, we need to learn how to tackle stress and keep our minds healthy. The GEMinar we had showed us some great tips on how exactly to do that, thus getting its name- Beat the Busy Brain!

We had Dr. V. Wilson come in to teach us a few very important techniques to combat stress based on our own biofeedback. She has worked with many professional athletes and her job is to teach them how to recognize stress in their bodies and stay calm under intense pressure and stress. Personally, she had me all ears when I saw her hooking up Hajra to the lie detector and all of the other biofeedback equipment.

Using Hajra as an example, Dr. Wilson showed us what happens to our brain activity when we are stressed by asking Hajra a bunch of progressively harder math questions in front of the group…definitely a great way to make her feel stressed!

I learned a lot from this GEMinar:

  1. Many of us have short attention spans, particularly me.
  2. I’m breathing all wrong! We learned to calm ourselves by breathing into our bellies instead of our shoulders! What your body does can make you even more stressed!
  3. Focus – when in a boring lecture and our brains get really busy – focus on words by saying them or writing them down to better focus and “Beat the Busy Brain”

I genuinely feel that this GEMinar was helpful and something all our girls and staff needed at this point in the year!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.

Parent’s Night

Shanza Zulfiqar is a Creative Writing Intern for GEM and she recently attended the GEM Parent Night to see what our GEMgirls and their parents thought of the evening.

On Wednesday Septembers the 30th, GEM had its first Parent’s Night at the Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office, which turned out be a huge success. A lot of the girls showed up with their parents and all of them only had one thing to say; “It was a great event, very informative and our parents look very satisfied.”

This event was a great way to communicate between the team and the families and let them know what we girls are up to. Our team took a lot of time to explain, individually, to every parent, as to what the program is about, what we do at the GEMinars and what the overall purpose of what GEM is.

All the girls in our program are from the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon area which are home to a lot of south Asian people. There are many stereotypes which give the message that people from this culture are very over-protective of their children.

Personally, I think wanting to know more about where your little girl is going every week, isn’t being protective. As I was asking the parents what they think about the event, many responded that it was very informative and cleared all the doubts they have.

“I am much more confident about Sadeka’s involvement in GEM, now that I know where she goes and what it is exactly that she does. As a mother, it is my job to look out for my kids and now I know this is one less thing I have to worry about” said Mrs. Memon.

Out of all things that happened, my personal favorite was the refreshments, as there were a variety of ethnic snacks.

Overall, everyone had a great time. We concluded this event by discussing the various trips we can plan with the GEM team and girls. I would like to say a special thank you to the GEM team for being so involved with our families and planning parent’s night. Most parents were impressed with the GEM for creating such a unique program for their girls. We love your passion and dedication – we owe it all to you guys!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.