Age: 16 (May 4, 2005)
School: Grade 11 Student at Westwood Community High School for School Year 2020/2021
Future Goal: To pursue a career in government
Written by Fareedah Sadek, MACOY
Irene Olayinka is a 16-year old Westwood Community High School student that strives to create social justice in the community and around the globe, using her ambition and incredible experience.
“I want to contribute to social leadership in a meaningful way, and would love to participate in movements that push society towards principles of equity and diversity from a position where I can directly impact change,” she said of her future goals.
Irene is a high-achieving student who balances a heavy course load while participating in many extracurriculars, including Student Council treasurer and the Principal’s Advisory Council secretary.
“I want to contribute to social leadership in a meaningful way, and would love to participate in movements that push society towards principles of equity and diversity from a position where I can directly impact change.” — Irene Olayinka
She’s also a member of the Green Initiative and a member of the Westwood Cross Country team and basketball team. She describes that her goal is to achieve the level of dedicated advocacy work practiced by organizers within the Fort McMurray community.
“Educating myself on the subsequent issues that have occurred as a direct result of this process, as well as sharing what I learn with those around me through my participation in student leadership councils, is my strongest passion,” she said.
In the community, she works hard to be a voice for youth as a member of MACOY (Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth).
She is also a member of the TUXIS Youth Parliament of Alberta and the assistant marketing director for Queens In Code, a youth-led non-profit organization to help and uplift girls in STEM.
Irene was recently awarded the Sana Elache Student Empowerment Award 2021 from the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo. Her hard work and quick adaptability are just as admirable as her humility. Working in all of these initiatives highlights her hard work, dedication and commitment to the betterment of the community.
“People my age, myself included, are prone to constant comparison, which is an ineffective approach to personal growth for two main reasons. The first is that it fosters an overbearing sense of rivalry,” she said.
“Secondly, the most valuable type of learning is always self-directed. There will always be somebody better than you in a given field, but this should not be a source of anxiety. Instead, we should be glad to know that opportunities to learn are presented to us at every turn.”
She has also chosen a much more positive outlook on the COVID-19 pandemic, something we could all appreciate just as much.
Irene said she has “appreciated the fact that virtual platforms have hosted most of this year’s activities. Attending events that would not have been available to low-income people, people with disabilities, or even people who live on the other side of the world has suddenly become possible at the click of a button.”