Name: Thenu Herath
School: St Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School, Adelaide
yLead involvement: The Alliance of Girls’ Schools Student Leadership Conference – Participant 2015, Mentor 2017
Favourite quote: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible'” – Audrey Hepburn
A: Hey there Thenu! Since being a mentor at SLC at the start of 2017, this year sure has sky rocketed for you! Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to…
T: Hey A-Par! Wow, it’s been a crazy but awesome year so far. Since SLC, I have got back into my second year of studying at Melbourne Uni. While I was studying Physics for the past year, I have decided to try something a bit different and major in Politics and International Studies! It’s a bit of a change but I am enjoying it so much!!!!! I’m also currently working for Elevate Education,volunteering with TABOO as their director of outreach and very excited to be recently elected as president of my college. So it’s been quite busy to say the least!
A: Man, I can only imagine what your diary looks like! I’m picturing a lot of highlighted colour co-ordination and sticky notes! Can you explain for us what Elevate Education does and your role within that.
T: Of course! So Elevate is a study skills company that operates worldwide and all over Australia. The company delivers seminars on a wide range of study skills to high school students on how to achieve their personal best. I work as one of their presenters and travel to different schools to deliver the content to students.
I’ve presented at quite a few schools now across SA and VIC and i can’t imagine another job where i can wake up in a bad mood and actually feel better after a couple hours of work!
A: That’s so awesome! You also volunteer for TABOO, which for those of you playing along at home is a brand of pads and tampons sold in Australia, designed to generate profit for the sanitary care of women in need. What made you want to get involved with an organization like that?
T: I’ve always been really passionate about the empowerment of women in developing communities. I was part of a team that won a few awards at this design competition last year that focused on a menstrual hygiene management program in a refugee village in Zambia. I suddenly got super passionate about periods! This natural cycle is literally the reason for human existence, yet so many women around the globe are ostracised as a result of it. I was scrolling through FB one day and I saw these two lovely ladies pop up with a brilliant idea they were planning on putting into action; a social enterprise where 100% of the profits will go to fund programs such as the one that I had just designed. These girls, Izzy and Eloise, happened to live in Adelaide (my hometown) and were part of SLC 2016!!!! I mean, what were the chances?!?!!? Call me crazy for believing in signs but I figured the world was trying to tell me something. So I got into contact with them and the rest is history!
A: Now I may have seen via a cheeky Insta stalk that you were a guest speaker at the World Vision Youth Conference 2017 (alongside yLead fave Justine Flynn of Thankyou #fangirl)… how did you get that epic gig??
T: I still can’t believe that happened! I was asked earlier this year and could not hold my excitement. I was first inspired at one of these conferences, so to be asked back to give a keynote address was out-of-this-world. I was a Youth Ambassador for WVA last year so I was asked to share that experience along with my latest work in Women’s Health (as described just before). To work alongside speakers like Justine (I am also a massive fan girl, imagine my excitement!), Deng Adut and Abe Nouk was a dream come true. The vibes in all 3 cities were incredible.
I was so grateful to get the chance to tell school leaders across Australia that we really can make a difference in this world.
It was emotional, life-changing and a time i will never ever forget that’s for sure!
A: With uni, work, and all these extra commitments, what would be your top tip for our yTeam in terms of time management and making sure you get a good life balance?
T: I’ll be the first to admit that my ‘organisation’ is not very conventional. I try to get the sticky notes and calendars going, I really do! However, they usually get chucked in a random draw after 2 weeks and I adopt a more ‘go with the flow’ approach. I focus on one thing at a time (usually the thing that is due next) and overall remind myself that there’s no point in doing any of this if I’m not having fun. Maintaining a good life balance is something I have by no means mastered but by keeping the things that I value most at the front of my mind, I manage take a few seconds every now and then to just breath and be in awe of this incredibly awesome world around us.
A: What has been one of the most valuable lessons that you learnt at yLead that you carry with you through all these incredible achievements?
Four words: We Can Be Heroes.