At 20 years old, third year university student Sophia Qaderi is passionate about gender equality, climate change, lack of education, poverty, refugee crisis, and renewable energy. An advocate for human rights, Sophia has always been attracted to the idea of becoming more involved; engaging in debates and creating discussion about what she would see on the news.
“As I continued to learn about government and they ways and means of international relations, the vision of getting more involved within my community grew,” Sophia recalled, remembering that ever since she was young, helping and advocating for others was always second nature to her.
Sophia’s involvements include Plan International Canada, Optimist International, a delegate for Canada, a Youth Councillor for St. Albert, Humboldt remembrance Committee, and a MacEwan Ambassador. Through these multitude of engaging extracurriculars alongside experiencing first hand through traveling to certain countries, Sophia became aware of inequality occurring around the world, and plans to continue advocating for others, striving for a global, social change. Some of her biggest accomplishments she is most proud of is receiving the Sovereign medal from the Lieutenant Governor, being named Top 30 under 30 for Global Cooperation, and hosting ET Canada which allowed her the opportunity to promote gender equality.
Working with numerous organizations, meeting with like-minded individuals, constantly witnessing world leaders making verbal commitments and actions, and being a strong believer of action all contribute to motivating Sophia to become a strong, inspirational leader and advocate. Despite motivating factors to spark the fire in Sophia for change, at the end of the day, she thinks to herself, “What can I do, even if I’m just one person?” “This is what motivates me; nothing will be completed if the proper implementation of energy is not put towards the issues,” she says. In addition, a huge inspiration to motivate Sophia to act for change are her parents. Fleeing from their native land in order to provide their children with opportunities and possibilities, her parents came from a background in which political conflict greatly impacted their respective opportunities of receiving an education. Reflecting back to her voyage to India, Sophia witnessed innumerable boys and girls her age and younger, working all day in order to feed their families and survive. “It really was a wakeup-call as to how much we take for granted.”
Coming from a family of 8, Sophia worked several part-time jobs starting at the age of 14 in order to afford school, extracurricular activities, and bills, without depending on her parents. Despite many stressful days of balancing school, work, other activities, all the while taking a toll on her social life, this experience has truly made Sophia a stronger individual, growing in areas of organizational skills, focus, and independence. “There will be sacrifices needed in whatever you take on, but sometimes the barriers are more beneficial than one may think, and may not be barriers, after all, just something needed to push you further in growing your background as a leader,” says an inspirational Sophia.
What’s is store for Sophia is continuing her passion towards social justice issues and working on expanding her leadership background. And some parting words of wisdom to youth who would like to make a change in their communities form Sophia, “Don’t stop. It can get hard, frustrating and some days make you question your ability and why you are even doing anything in the first place. But the results are very fulfilling. Just don’t let negatives distract you from your overall goals.”