A 2017 SMART START Youth Summit ambassador shares his story.
Written by ILANA REIMER
Recently, Moïse Oke, 26, has been thinking a lot about how people get judged based on the group they belong to, and how that changes our perception of that person. “This goes from being an introvert all the way up to racism,” he said.
Moïse, a Nigerian-Canadian, is introverted himself and has struggled with being shy. For a time, his fear of critics held him back from putting forward his opinions and ideas.
However, much of this began to change after he became an ambassador at the 2017 SMART START Youth Summit. “Joining YLAC really helped me embrace the fact that some things are kind of nerve-wracking, but you just have to rise above it and be a leader,” Moïse said. “My ability to speak in public has improved several-fold, just because I’ve learned to be confident in front of a crowd.”
He is now in his fourth year of economics at the University of Ottawa; he’s interested in getting into data analysis after graduating. Moïse enjoys gaming and playing soccer. He describes himself as “a sucker for sci-fi and cyberpunk” novels—his favourite being Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Before joining YLAC, Moïse had volunteered for a francophone organization in Oshawa, but he felt that he was lacking leadership experience. This motivated him to become an ambassador. “I was a bit stuck behind the books and the theories and all that,” he said. “I wanted to put boots on the ground and really make a change with my own hands.”
Moïse especially values that YLAC focuses on showing younger people that being a leader is a good thing. The entire summit is a celebration of diversity and new ideas, where the leaders get to take a back seat and let the focus be on the youth and what they have to offer.
“I saw it as patching up my leadership skills,” Moïse said. “But also, reaching a younger me in the body some other kid, and be part of inspiring that kid before they get to my position, where they have to catch up.”
Since last year’s SMART START, Moïse has been involved with YLAC’s community events and has participated in the monthly general meetings. This has provided valuable experience in being a part of executive meetings and learning how an organization works from the inside.
“I’ve definitely learned that I can do great things by putting myself out there,” Moïse said. “By putting my ideas out there and moving forward and seeing the betterment of other people through being a leader.”
In the future, Moïse is considering writing essays or a book on how generalization can restrict people’s freedom. He’s not sure where he’ll end up, but he does hope to travel and live in different countries. He sees himself fitting in quite well in Germany because he likes their punctual, straightforward culture.
We would like to thank all those who have applied to be either an ambassador or a delegate for our 2018 SMART START summit. The selected candidates will be announced soon!