Alicia Wallace: My Queen's Young Leaders Experience
By Alicia Wallace, The Bahamas
Dec 18, 2015 - 2:21:30 PM
In the top photo, Alicia is standing directly behind Her Majesty the Queen and sports celebrity David Beckham sits to the Queen's left.
As my year as one of the first Queen's Young Leaders comes to a close and I prepare to hand the baton on to the
2016 winners, I have begun to reflect on how my journey will continue far
beyond this inspiring year as an Awardee.
people were interested in my thoughts about meeting Her Majesty The Queen when
I was announced as a winner, my mind was on the 59 other Queen’s Young Leaders.
Above all else, I looked forward to sharing space with them, learning about
their work - successes, challenges, opportunities, ideas - and their long-term
goals. I wanted to learn about the issues affecting young people in their
communities, and the actions being taken to address them. The thought of cross-country and cross-regional
collaboration excited me, and I found it difficult to wait to explore the
possibilities. Once we were connected in a private group and I had seen the
other winners’ biographies, I started contacting people whose work and
interests aligned with my own. Conversations started, relationships
developed, and understanding of our work expanded.
One of the most
valuable components of The Queen’s Young Leaders programme has been the
connection to scores of other young people who are passionate about their work,
and determined to create change for themselves, their peers, and their
countries. Through a concerted effort, I made quality connections with people
I’m sure I will continue to work with, learn from, and support.
A highlight of Leading
Change, The Queen’s Young Leaders programme - developed by the University of
Cambridge - is that it is unlike any other professional development programme.
It is an educational portal, platform, and resource that has benefitted every
participant who took full advantage of its offerings. The Leading Change team
attracted a strong group of instructors who recorded lessons, gave us
thought-provoking and boundary-pushing assignments, held small group sessions,
and provided feedback on our ideas and responses to their presentations. The
team also recruited a diverse group of mentors to help us develop our projects
and provide feedback on other issues and ideas we shared with them. I am
confident that I was matched with the best possible mentor who truly listened,
considered my cultural context, pushed me out of my comfort zone, provided
constant encouragement, and challenged me every step of the way. My year would
not have been the same without her in my corner, cheering and challenging as
Not only did we
have a world-class leadership course and mentorship, but Leading Change also
gave us a pool of advisory mentors and peer mentors, focused on any area of our
choosing. We had one-on-one time with experts in a wide variety of fields who
generously gave us their time, networks, and resources.
week in London - complete with visits to BBC World, 10 Downing Street, and
Buckingham Palace - was busy, but energising. The highlight, for me, was the
programme at Cambridge University. In beautiful surroundings, we had full days
of sessions with brilliant people, sharing revolutionary ideas and challenging
us to think and act differently.
educational tools to informal chat sessions, the Queen’s Young Leaders programme
brought a group of dynamic young people together, and gave us a buffet of
opportunities. We had the freedom to choose the parts that would benefit us
most, and put our energy into them. Recognising the value of the programme and
the network it created, I committed to full participation in every component
possible, and I’m looking forward to graduating from the programme.
leaving and making room for the newly announced winners, I carry the new
friends, respected contributors, and newfound knowledge with me. They have all
helped me to further develop GEMINI - an after school life skills training and
mentoring program for at-risk girls - which will be piloted as a summer camp in
2016. The work continues, and I march onward, looking and working toward the
better Bahamas we all believe in.
Wallace is a Bahamian writer, blogger, and social and political commentator. She
holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from St. Mary's University,
Halifax, NS. She is a women's rights activist, passionate about public
education, community engagement, and the empowerment of women and girls.
Alicia is the Director of Hollaback! Bahamas- part of a global movement to end street harassment - and Co-founder of the Coalition to End Gender-based Violence & Discrimination. She serves
as the Youth Ambassador for The Bahamas to End Sexual Violence, and is one of 60 recipients of the Queen's Young Leaders Award in 2015. Alicia lives in Nassau, Bahamas. Connect with her on Facebook.
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