Leading By Example
“The gift of life and good health. Not many woke up from their sleep today, and I am privileged to have the luxury of seeing a new day!” What better way to kick-start an interview than to take a second and think about one or two things you are grateful for today.
Ms. Theodora Abena Yeboah, a Ghanaian aged 27, is not just a student at Curtin Malaysia. She is now the President of Student Council 2023. Currently pursuing her Bachelors of Communication, majoring in Public Relations and Journalism, she’s as organized, strategic and expressive as her major!
Theodora’s journey to becoming the President for 2023 wasn’t an overnight event. Rather, it was the sum of her tireless effort and commitment throughout 2022, as the representative of the International Sub-council of Student Council 2022. In simpler terms, she is the voice of the international students present at Curtin Malaysia. While navigating things as a student studying in Miri, Sarawak; she was given the responsibility of being the go-to person when international students had requests and complaints. Being apart of the student council has made her realise and understand the need for mutual understanding and respect amongst the diverse cultures. That sense of realisation was in fact her ultimate motivation to take part in the 2023 nominations. According to Theodora, “things begin to fall into place,” from unexpected connections to now her fellow team members.
(Theodora Abena Yeboah, President of Curtin University Malaysia's Student Council of 2023)
Now let's get into the interview section below!!!
1. How would you describe your journey of being elected as the President of Curtin Malaysia’s SC for 2023, in three emojis ?
Lady dancing in the red dress 💃
It signifies the joy and happiness of being presented with the opportunity of leading the student council.
Black-faced moon 🌚
The shock she felt after receiving the voting results, and even a sense of disbelief considering that she is an international student who has won the students' trust in a foreign country.
Two palms facing each other 🙏
Grateful to her God for being presented with the opportunity to lead.
2. Did your past role as the International Sub-council representative help shape or guide your path to being the face of Curtin Malaysia now?
Theodora mentioned that being a serving the student council back in 2022 has helped her learn things from scratch, in various aspects which will be instrumental in running the council for 2023.
When asked about the useful skills and qualities that she has picked up throughout her time of serving back in 2022, Theodora highlighted the following: -
Decision making skills 💡
Her decisions had a two-way impact on the international students’ experience and satisfaction. It’s not just about meeting the needs of the students, it involves open communication, understanding different perspectives, liaising with the management and to come up with a solution with the resources at hand.
Reaching out to authorities 🤝
Approaching authorities for sponsorship & partnership matters, which is mostly required during event planning.
Working with a team (note how it says 'WITH' and not 'AS') 🌐
Being a solo player, running a one man show for most of her tasks at hand has been one of the notable challenges when she joined Student Council 22. “Delegation came easy, but working cohesively was a challenge.”
Offering basic office work 🗃️
Such as administrative tasks, printing and binding services for students who walk into the office. “Members were trained to cater to the students’ requests and needs, ensuring we were well-equipped and informed.”
Professional writing 🖥️
Theodora highlighted the difference of scale in terms of drafting an email here as the student representative, as compared to drafting up one back at her hometown Ghana, where it did not require as much formality. She views it as a transferable soft skill.
3a.“Through True Unified Diversity” is the tagline of your team.
What are some of the aspirations you have for Curtin’s student body at the end of 2023?
“For students to realise that Curtin University Malaysia is an international university. I hope that the voices of the international students who travel from abroad will be amplified and valued.” Theodora’s concern goes beyond amplifying their voices, she does not intend to overshadow the concerns and wants of the local students as well.
She hopes that a better and much enhanced student experience will be cultivated on campus, as well as catering to the needs of the students accordingly and to promote love and respect for one another in the face of diversity in all aspects of life. Be it nationality, race, religion, age, skin colour, status, varied opinions, and practices. Theodora seeks to embrace inclusivity amid a diverse university environment. She seeks to achieve this by showing it in action which will cause students to willingly embrace different cultures present here at Curtin Miri.
3b. I admire the importance you place on respecting diversity and embracing inclusivity. As much as you would like to amplify the voices of the international students here who might be overlooked in certain circumstances, do you acknowledge the various ethnic groups present here in Miri, Sarawak? Do you have plans in place to amplify the voices of Sarawakian or Sabahan students here at Curtin?
“Thanks for the question. Yes, I acknowledge the diverse community here made up of different ethnic groups. I believe there is a lack of representation of the ethnic groups even here in Miri.” She went on to explain that the Sarawakian & Sabahan students will be given equal importance and care as the international students. “Here at the student council, we want to educate and inform the international students to identify and respect the locals.”
When asked on how they plan to amplify their voices, she drew on her immediate student council team, which is made up of individuals from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities. Most importantly, Theodora emphasised that she made it a point to include Mirians to make up the dream team. Not for the sake of filling up seats and fulfilling requirements. Rather, she was highly concerned about having local representatives and to get their views and ideas to deliver only the best to the student body.
In fact, the current team has three Mirians and even Sabahans, each from a different ethnic group. A team comprising members from different parts of Malaysia, from middle-eastern & African countries portrays the unity this diverse team holds in wanting to achieve ‘Through True Unified Diversity’!
4. Any last words of advice you would like to offer to fellow students who might be interested to tap into their leadership potential?
“Begin with an area of focus, that’s a good starting point.” She believes that it’s crucial to identify the kind of leader you wish to be, that will set the path. Next, she recommends looking into the area you would like to serve in by doing in-depth research to get a gist of what is expected and how to perform well. Moving on, learn from a mentor whom you can closely relate to and inspires you.
In Theodora’s case, her dad was her role model. Observing the way he handles his 9-5 job and focusing on his business after work has been a great motivation to her. She did not stop just at motivation. But she put in the effort to follow the footsteps of her father by writing articles for the local newspaper. Perhaps, that was when her interest for journalism sprouted. “It’s not always going to be smooth. Don’t let bumps along the way break you down.”
5. How would you like to sign off from our interview today?
“Be the change you want to see!” ~ Theodora Abena Yeboah, ‘23 March 22.
By Naomi Melissa Mathew Journalist, Charisma Movement 22/23.