Fostering a family culture among students
A dedicated UNITE student, Samantha reflects on her journey to young leadership. After being bullied in primary school, Samantha regained her confidence with the support of her mother and the UNITE team – to become the head girl of Heideveld High School.
Home, a loving place
When Samantha speaks about her school, her face lights up. “High school has brought with it some of the most amazing experiences. But this hasn’t always been the case” explained Samantha. Her expression changes and the mood in the room turns sombre. When Samantha was in primary school. She was bullied by her classmates. As a result, her self-esteem took a blow, which led her to become shy and socially withdrawn.
Although school was not a positive space for Samantha, she always considered home to be a loving place. Motivated by the kindness and support shown to her by her mother. She was determined to shape high school into a different reality. “From a young age, the only person that was really helping me in my life is my mom, and everything I am doing is for her”.
When Samantha joined UNITE, she did so with the intention of improving her self-confidence – “and it did, it really did.” The interactive workshops and active engagement from the UNITE students helped build Samantha’s confidence. “Initially, it was daunting for me to speak in front of crowds, but the environment was so warm and encouraging. I eventually ‘came out of my shell’.” Being made to feel to feel like a part of a family, Samantha explains that she learnt important life skills, such as “effective communication, the importance of differing perspectives and the value of teamwork.”
Two years after joining UNITE, Samantha went on to become a young leader. Elected by her teachers, for her contentiousness, academic performance, and approachability. Samantha is now the head girl at Heideveld high school. This has proven her remarkable resilience in learning from her limitations.
When she found out that she was chosen, she was pleasantly surprised and felt well-equipped for the role. Though she knew the weight of her responsibility, “being a leader means that you have to always think about others’ needs first. You have to act selflessly”. Which according to Samantha, is fundamental to any leadership role.
The road ahead
As the school year is coming to a close, Samantha reflects on her time as head girl. She hopes that she has led by example in fostering a family culture among students. One that encourages collaboration, support, growth, and kindness. Although saddened by the thought of leaving high school behind, she is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Wanting to follow in her mother’s footsteps of caring for children, Samantha plans to go to university to fulfil her ambitions of becoming a paediatrician while working in radio.