Khadija Hamidzai is currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies with a minor in International Studies. Amidst her busy academic life, Khadija can be seen -pretty much everywhere – on campus engaging students in activities, collaborating with on and off campus organizations, and running events in Waterloo. I caught up with Khadija this week to see what it’s like being the president of Rotaract.
Can you tell me about Rotaract?
Rotaract is the youth version of Rotary – Rotary in Action. Rotary is the world’s largest network of professionals with 1.6 million people in thousands of Rotary clubs globally. Rotary focuses on six philanthropic areas: peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy and economic and community development.
Rotaract has four unique committees: Community Service, Club Service, International Development and Professional Development. Community Service works with the local KW area to raise funds for pressing issues or organizations hoping to engage UW students in the area. Club Service aims to create a safe and enriching space for club members to get to know one another better – focusing on effective teamwork. International Development as a committee raises awareness and funds for global issues. The Professional Development committee works on providing networking opportunities for students on campus and ensuring that they are well equipped to head out to the real world after they graduate.
What has Rotaract done on campus so far?
Winter 2015 was our first term on campus that we planned and executed events so it’s been incredibly exciting and busy. Firstly, we hosted a bake sale and coffee house with Model UN in the SLC Great Hall where all proceeds went to the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. Then we ran a mystery date night event to raise funds and awareness for the A21 campaign- an anti-human trafficking organization working towards abolishing slavery in the 21st century. Finally, we collaborated with the Laurier Rotaract to pull off a speed mentoring day with members of Rotary International; students from both campuses had a chance to meet with Rotarians in various fields and got a much deeper understanding of what they can do with their degrees. In between those three major events we also had a movie and pizza night for all our club members! For our weekly club meetings this semester we have had some pretty fantastic guest speakers; most notably the previous Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran (newly a Rotarian woot!) and the CEO of Communitech Iain Klugman.
What made you want to get involved in Rotaract?
My friends started Rotaract in Winter 2013. There was a Rotaract club a couple of years ago and it had fallen apart. So we picked it up again by revamping the club constitution and becoming Feds approved as a registered club on campus. It was when I saw my friends live their lives as Rotaractors – exuding love, unity, and kindness – that I became intrigued with Rotaract. I am continuously overflowing with passion and desire to create something in my community. I want to be a transformative force in the lives of others. That is why Rotaract feels like home – it’s a way that I can serve the people and causes I admire that need immediate attention.
Describe your greatest accomplishment as an organization so far!
Rotaract’s biggest achievement this term has been that we just kept moving. Even when we weren’t sure if something was going to work out we got it done. We focused on solutions and not problems. As soon as we hit a wall we made sure to power through and not get hung up on the setbacks. We went back to the drawing board to plan new bigger and better avenues. If the process is slow it is slow and that’s okay. We are trying and we are falling but that’s okay — because we are inching away to create the final product. There’s always been a progression of things. There’s no stopping. There’s no halting. Because we know as long as we’re doing something to help us achieve our end goal for whatever fundraising or awareness event we’re planning we’re going to be okay. Right now, we’re just trying to get our name out there and distinguish ourselves from other clubs.
Do you have any accomplishments you want to talk about as a president?
I have made sure to first and foremost keep myself accountable to myself and the club. I meticulously plan out every single board and club meeting and have learned to think five steps ahead in order to make sure that all parties are assembled to achieve any plan of action that we have. I like being organized and looking at the big picture so connecting the dots between thought and action is something I have gotten better at doing this semester. I also recognize that I’ve become a lot better at understanding people and knowing how to converse with them in a concise and open manner. I am more empathetic and in tune with people around me.
Something that we all struggle with is learning to take up space and owning our decisions and feelings. Self doubt causes us to think: “Why me? What makes me good enough or worthy of doing such and such?” I worked on instead telling myself: “Why not me?” when I started to doubt myself or question myself for any desirable outcome. It feels fabulous when I consciously work on being my biggest supporter instead of my worst critic. No one should allow harmful thoughts like that to take up precious space through their powerful thoughts.
What is your biggest learning experience?
I have this desire to do everyone’s job. That’s not okay. People aren’t going to become the very best version of themselves if you don’t let them try and if you don’t let them slip up. And frankly, you’re going to burn and hit the wall. If things go well, it’s going to be on you. If things don’t go well, it’s going to be on you. It’s too much of a burden on yourself. I’ve learned its more important to work with people to help them work on themselves and help them achieve their goals. What you do is not as important as who you become. So if your view on life, how you treat others, your goals and discoveries and who you are emulate someone you’d admire then that’s the greatest thing you can get out of anything.
Who do you get your inspiration from?
I was in a program called Pathways to Education – a non-profit organization that helps students from low income communities get mentored, tutored, and transition successfully from high school into post secondary education. As a Pathways alumni I am still able to connect with a whole bunch of mentors from there. I would say my Pathways family has been my biggest inspiration. They’ve helped me realize that anything I want is attainable. I can be who I want to be. I can craft my journey here on Earth in any way that I choose. I know that’s a very simple idea but as a minority woman I struggled to have people relate to me and help me decide where I want to see myself in 10-20 years. Having mentors that work with a diverse range of students has allowed me to connect with so many different thought processes and walks of life. I have understood that my options are limitless when it comes to embarking on any future projects.
I also have the coolest and most supportive friends around me! If you are reading this, you know who you are and I love you endlessly! They are always there at the drop of a hat to offer some golden advice or a laugh or a hand when I feel like I am sinking. They are family and I only hope I can be to them what they have been to me. Everyone who has ever inspired me motivates me to give myself and my strengths to others because I know the importance of investing in others until they feel empowered enough to soar.