In a time when most graduates rush to conclude their high school years and begin their next academic chapter, opting for a year-long delay before university might seem like squandering time. However, such is not the case for one of our most recent Concordia graduates from the Class of '23.
This individual has chosen a gap year before commencing studies at Georgetown University, the alma mater of former US President Bill Clinton. During this hiatus, she will engage in a leadership training program with a Georgia-based organization, Impact 360 Institute, which will provide her the opportunity to gather new perspectives while learning about herself and her values and explore diverse life possibilities.
Natasha Sung, aged 17, has a passion for music and service. She was a skilled clarinetist in the high school band and held a leadership role within Concordia's Global Issues Network (GIN) club. Beyond this, she enjoys collaborative writing, demonstrated through her involvement in crafting a children's storybook with classmates. It's evident that Natasha, along with her peers at Concordia, defy simple categorization
Looking Beyond School Boundaries
Natasha's journey has consistently extended beyond the school wall, as she has consistently aspired to embody service, social justice, and global citizenship, values she cultivated during her secondary education. Starting in middle school, Natasha and her peers immersed themselves in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which she carried over into her high school courses and extra-curricular activities as well.
In fact, her passion for effecting positive change is what led her to apply to Georgetown. Natasha claims she was inspired by the “spirit of the university” which she feels inspires students to drive collective change by empowering individuals.
Natasha's perspective continued to grow during high school, embracing the intricate tapestry of social realities. Interning with NGOs during the summer of her junior and senior year deepened her understanding of sustainable impact. She realized that her passion aligned with fostering collective change at an individual level, igniting her interest in sociology. Through diligent study, including AP English Language, AL Global Development, and Global Online Academy courses, she explored themes like educational and economic development, foreign aid, and migrant workers' rights.
"Concordia has offered me boundless opportunities to delve into my interests independently, take charge of my learning, and engage deeply with issues I hold dear," affirms Natasha. These experiences solidified her intent to study Sociology in college, focusing on global educational inequality.
Cultivating Leadership Skills through ECAs
The Global Issues Network (GIN) has been a vital part of Natasha’s high school years, motivating her to adopt a diverse perspective of the world to better herself and positively influence others.
GIN is a global network of empowered GIN student changemakers, spanning the globe across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America, South and Central America. Concordia’s GIN chapter is made up of 7 subgroups, each focusing on its own Sustainable Development Goal. Students in each subgroup brainstorm projects to advocate, fundraise for, and pursue their respective goal.
Natasha joined the GIN club at Concordia in her first year in high school and took on the role of a GIN student leader as a junior, overseeing 7 global development-centered subgroups. One of these subgroups, the Lily Project, focuses on eliminating gender inequality and empowering underprivileged women and children. Natasha and her peers organized activities in schools to raise awareness about female hygiene and gather funds for the EGRC charity. Another subgroup, Sustainable Success, is dedicated to promoting physical and mental well-being among students, covering lifestyle habits and mental adjustment to help everyone achieve sustainable success.
However, behind each activity lies hours of brainstorming and preparation. Guided by teachers, GIN student leaders also conducted workshops to enhance their advocacy skills, such as how to use storytelling and positive student actions to raise community awareness about global issues.
Cultivating “active global citizens” and “principled leaders and team members” is the goal of Concordia’s educational philosophy. This sense of social responsibility extends beyond national or regional boundaries, and every student at Concordia is encouraged to make their own effort as a global citizen.
Over the past school year, Natasha volunteered at a GIN extracurricular in the elementary school—GIN for Kids, where she shared her experiences in creating solutions for global issues.
“I love the way Concordia empowers its students to practice leadership in different ways,” says Natasha, acknowledging that gaining leadership experiences early on have helped form her into a more empathetic, patient, humble, and driven person. “I believe the skills I’ve garnered through these experiences are preparing me to be a servant leader in the workplace.”
Values-driven Transformation: Empowering Self and Others
For Natasha, Concordia's uniqueness lies in the diverse talents of its students. Each individual contributes a unique piece to the mosaic. Her time at Concordia shattered initial introversion, with peers and teachers encouraging her to embrace her potential.
Drawing from her own experience, she underscores the significance of high schoolers identifying their values, as they help drive their decision making in terms of what classes to take and what extracurriculars to focus on. When one’s choices line up with their values, they are more intrinsically motivated a person, as what they do genuinely overflows from a place of passion and purpose. This authenticity shines through on college applications as well and is what admissions officers are looking for.
For the next nine months, Natasha will be fully immersed in the Impact 360 program, which promises to be a transformative experience that combines classroom learning, local nonprofit service, and international travel. “I am anticipating this to be a year of growth for me!”!" she exclaims with indescribable excitement.
As for her future, Natasha envisions a career in the nonprofit sector, driven by her desire to create a meaningful global impact. Georgetown University, renowned as a "changemaker school," perfectly aligns with her aspirations.
In summary, Natasha Sung, a remarkable graduate from Concordia's Class of '23, exemplifies the power of embracing diverse opportunities, nurturing values, and aspiring to be a positive change agent in the world.