Dreaming BIG with Cindy Tan
Cindy was in Year Nine when she realised that her skills and abilities in marketing and creativity could be used to create change in the world. This discovery led her to create her first website and advocacy campaign. Cindy’s story of unlocking the best within herself stirred her passion for strategic marketing and championing of young people. We are so grateful to have had Cindy join us at our Sydney Altitude Day, inspiring the hearts and minds of many students; Cindy is a valuable member of our yLead community!
We asked Cindy a few questions about what it takes to dream BIG:
What was a dream you had in high school (or Year 9 specifically)?
I wanted to become a biologist and environmental activist! I didn’t end up becoming a biologist but I’ve still been able to drive environmental activism through advocacy skills that I’ve picked up in my world as a marketer and of course as a volunteer. This includes monthly beach cleanups with my friends and the choices I make daily as a consumer.
Can you share with us a goal that you have achieved and what it meant to you to achieve it?
One of my biggest goals was to help a village in Uganda called Kyakadali access clean water. Mothers and children would often have to wake up early in the morning to fetch water, a 2-hour process that they’d eventually have to repeat in the evenings. This chore would make it very difficult for students to do homework after school as the sun will have set and therefore there would be insufficient light. By 2018, after relentless fundraising campaigns we managed to complete the building of a 2,160m3 dam.
Achieving it meant the world to me. It was a personal goal of mine but the true custodians were the wonderful locals and engineers in Uganda who brought the project to life. I learnt that we’re all better together and although it was my project, I couldn’t have done any of it without so many others.
Cindy speaking to students at Altitude Day, Sydney.
"Cindy was very inspirational because of all the charities she is involved with. It was quite inspiring." Student Testimonial
While chasing dreams there are moments of highs and lows (mountain tops and valleys if you will)… what motivates you to continue chasing that dream when you’re in the valley?
When I’m in the valley, I always think about my ‘why’. My purpose and core values are my north star. The biggest threat to progress can be motivation and perfectionism so sometimes you need to just step back, reevaluate and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What piece of practical advice would you give to young people who want to start, or are in the process of chasing a dream?
It sounds cheesy but you don’t need to be great in order to start, but you need to start in order to become great! My biggest advice is just to lean in and try new things. Look at your goals and see whether or not you can break them down into smaller steps.
Example 1: If you want to raise $2,000, set yourself smaller targets and spread them out over time i.e. $400 over 5 weeks.
Example 2: If you want to become a business owner, who might be a mentor that you can reach out to or perhaps someone you can observe for a day?
Example 3: If you think public speaking is a skill you’ll need in the future, what can you do today to help build this skill? Is there an online course you can try, or perhaps you can put your hand up in class more to answer questions. How can you build yourself up towards other things like joining the school debating team or SRC? I was terrible at all of these things to start with but over time, I got better at it and it got easier. Growth starts at the edge of our comfort zones, what’s one thing you can do to step out?
All dreams, big and small, are valuable. What are 5 dreams you are currently chasing?
Five dreams I’m currently chasing are:
- Finish building a school in the same community where we built the dam.
- Publish a book on refugee & migrant stories (working on it).
- Complete my Juris Doctor degree.
- Participate in a full marathon (42km).
- Climb Mt Kilimanjaro.