Sahasra Nandela – Empower And Help Student Ambassador 2020, 2021.

After thoroughly enjoying being a 2020 Ambassador, I was profoundly excited to come back as a 2021 Ambassador. The Ambassador Program is an opportunity that is so enjoyable you can participate in it as many times as you want and never feel the urge to leave. It teaches you skills, such as leadership, collaboration, communication, time management, and organization in a comfortable learning environment. 

During the program, I participated in many Leadership Workshops including, the Power of Thoughts, Powerpoint Karaoke, Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness, Preparing For an Impactful Presentation, Powerful Self Confidence, Communication Skills, and Creative Writing Workshops. I improved my mindset and mental/emotional health by using the strategies mentioned in many Leadership Workshops. Aishwarya Panchal and Aditi Verma helped me change my perspective on concepts related to my emotions and thoughts in a relaxing, fun way. The group discussions were so insightful, and I gained new knowledge by listening to the points of view of my peers on many issues regarding emotions and mental health. In the Creative Writing Workshop, I walked through the publishing process of writing. I crafted a story using my imagination and interests, taking in feedback from Elke Lopez, the instructor. 

While taking part in workshops, I also engaged myself in group activities such as Social Media, Newsletter, and Book Club. A couple of months before the beginning of the Ambassador Program, I had joined the EmpowerandHelp Social Media Team. I created social media posts on a plethora of topics including, but not limited to the Global Challenge, 2020 Ambassador Contributions, and Holidays. I continued to be a part of the Social Media Team as an ambassador. I took on a leadership position to help the others create graphics through Canva. I contributed ideas for posts and crafted graphics for social media posts about Malala Day, Leadership Workshops at EmpowerAndHelp, and National Nonprofit Day. I loved using my artistic vision and creativity. As an ambassador, I also worked on the Newsletter Team. I worked with other volunteers to publish the July and October Newsletter. I made a Summer Vacation Bucket List and assisted in piecing the content of everyone in my group together to create the final product of the July Newsletter. In the October Newsletter, I wrote about Celebrity Birthdays and helped create the final Canva product. By working on the Newsletter Team, I strengthened my communication skills and leadership skills. Lastly, I took part in the EmpowerandHelp Book Club. I am an avid reader and love sharing my thoughts, so joining a Book Club was up to my alley. Natasha Toth, the mentor for the Book Club, assigned us thoughtful books such as “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan, a picture book, and the “Island of Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell, a book about a Native American girl left on an island. I also crafted the arrival story of my family. That allowed me to dig deep into how my family arrived in the United States as an immigrant. 

Sheryl Sandberg once said, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” I discovered how inerrant that statement is while leading my article publication, Community Drive and Fundraiser. As a STEM lover, I have always invested time in mentoring and helping others learn the importance of STEM and led many STEM-related clubs/workshops. I am passionate about eliminating the gender gap in STEM. It might not seem like an urgent issue right now. However, we still have to make progress. That is why I constructed an article on the Gender Gap in STEM, which included an overview of the issue, causes of the problem, the solutions, and a highlight of organizations helping break the Gender Gap in STEM. It required a lot of research, time, and thinking to create the final product. While writing my article, I also peer-reviewed articles written by my fellow ambassadors. I learned a lot during this process of publishing and reviewing that I will implement in future projects. Over the summer, I also led a Community Drive for a local nonprofit, Read and Feed, which provides many low-income families in Wake County, NC books, clothes, and school supplies. I not only conducted a Community Drive but a Fundraiser as well. My fundraiser was for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a hospital providing free cancer treatment. Being a leader is not an easy task.  You are taking on a project with the responsibility of completing it effectively. My experience as a leader helped me grow as an individual and, it is one I will never forget. 

It is easy to preach about injustice in this world using “armchair-activism.” Volunteers go out of their way to act on the issues they feel the passion for. As one of three mentors in the Remote Mentorship Program with Edseed, I had the chance to work with a 22-year old Syrian student currently located in Lebanon to help improve her English. I created lesson plans on various concepts in grammar like Nouns, Research, and pronunciation. I helped lead the Alwida-Farewell Fundraising Event. This fundraiser made a direct impact on the education of my mentee. I guided my mentee through the research and article publishing process, helping her write an article about compassing a healthier lifestyle. We read short stories like the “Gift of the Magi,” watched music videos, and had conversations in English to improve speaking and listening skills in English. I worked 1:1 with my mentee, giving her English lessons across oceans with passion and empathy. I watched my mentee transform her English week by week over the summer. Every  Monday and Friday, I would enjoy talking and mentoring my student. Instead of pitying, I volunteered to take action. That’s the greatness of volunteering. You get to see what kind of difference you make in the lives of others. 

Over the summer of 2021, I empowered myself and others and helped out my community in so many ways. You are the change you want to see. Don’t wait. Just take action. If you are passionate and strong-willed, you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish. Yours truly, Sahasra. 

Link to Creative Writing Article: Stuck Living In Secrets

Link to publications by Sahasra:

The Gender Gap in STEM