Tonight I had THE most amazing and influential night of my life. I had the opportunity to hear speeches from 4 successful women in our world. Melani Chong, Katrina Hadden, Alexandra Orlando, and Dr. Natalie Archer. We sat down in a conference room and heard 4 women speak about their life experiences from hard times to success.

Melani Chong was the first influential woman that spoke to us. She was originally an athlete, a trackie I do believe I picked up from her speech. Same as myself! Her role models were track stars like Jackie Joyner. But her dad saw an ad in their news paper about Ford modelling agency doing a search in their local mall. She did not want to go, but her dad ended up tricking her into going. She ended up entering the contest at 17 then becoming a super model signed with Ford by 18. She gained contacts all over the world, all because she tried something new, outside the box. She was a very busy women who once she accomplishes something she feels she needs to greater things to better herself. She then focussed in on her passion of style and became a stylist working in great fashion shows with world renowned directors, photographers and models.  She stressed the fact “don’t forget there’s a lot of opportunities out there.” Her main point of her speech was that we must learn many skills and abilities so we’re not stuck on one idea and if when we don’t succeed on it we give up. She had a great message giving the suggestion to keep doing new things until you find one thing you love, stick with it for a while then move on to greater things once what you’ve finished is done to the best of your ability and exhausted to a point. Next in her life she pursued her love for heath and beauty and being a model and all wanting the best and quickest ways out there to take care of yourself, so with that thought in mind she created Soya Boutique a personalized “natural skin care” line of customized organic products that are useful for the whole family. She made sure that her products were both local and natural. During this she also went back to school. She confessed to us that its hard to be taken seriously when you’re a beautiful woman because you can’t rely alone on looks. She then told us a quote from Socrates, which I admired, a smart and beautiful woman, as if I didn’t get that from her earlier! I just gained a whole new level of respect for her because of her quote.. “wisest is he who knows what he does not know.” The fact you must take away from all advise because you don’t know everything, we should never stop developing skills. We’re always growing. This is never the end there is always so much more to come. I loved her sponge reference, like a sponge we must retain information, soak it all in. Her message to over achieve, educate yourself, and carve out your own path was beyond inspirational. I aspire to be in the same mind set as her because I do a lot of different activities and I know I’m not the best at each and everyone of them but to succeed I don’t have to be the prettiest, the tallest, or the skinniest: it’s how I carry myself and whether I can make an impact on someone. She encouraged us to believe rejection was a good thing because in the media its 90% rejection and 10% acceptance and that we shouldn’t give up and get discouraged, rather persevere, bite the bullet and be persistent. We will gain confidence through this. Her last bit was on our platforms. She insisted we must be passionate about our message and have a reason that it is near and dear to us. Sharing our cause is important because then more people are involved, interested, and make change. Which leads to her equation… passion= drive= core actions. Which is 110% true, because without drive, integrity, and determination we will never accomplish the task at hand. Melani Chong, such a successful woman with over 15 years experience in fashion and beauty, so well rounded also having 2 children.

The second successful woman we heard from was Katrina Hadden, a self- confident size 12 model. She told us all about her past as a kid when girls would make fun of her for being tall, calling her names like “Green Giant” and “Big Bird.” This touched my heart like no other because I’d gone through its as well, I mean every girl has.. Its such as sad fact, half the reason right there for the feeling behind my platform The Kind Campaign. Katrina did basket ball, her dream was to be in the WNBA until a knee accident put this dream on hold. She was devastated she couldn’t achieve her dream, but she realized she can’t give up. She decided she needed a new dream to pursue, her friends suggested modelling because of her height, she thought it was crazy, but tried anyways! She wasn’t petite, but wasn’t a plus size model either, just in the middle. She went to different auditions but never was the right size, either not thin enough, or they were packing her with padding to look curvier!

The sweet note Katrina wrote us all.

This resulted in her developing an eating disorder, she hadn’t planned to get one, but she did over come it by surrounding herself with nutritionists. She stated that when you have an eating disorder you put yourself in a bubble where all you care about is food and your appearance, disregarding how beautiful anyone else thinks you are. Last June I had a slight eating disorder, nothing major, but I could relate to the time about putting yourself in a bubble. Next she decided to pursue her modelling career further, but just at the size she was with a different agency, one that promoted diversities and introduced new ideas to the world of fashion. This opportunity led her to commercials, one specifically where she was picked over thin models because of her confidence. In 2010,
Sunny Wong designed a gown for her to walk in Toronto Fashion Week, and when she walked out on to the run way in the size 12 dress the audience cheered, applauded, and screamed. Her core message was through any bullying, self esteem issues, or shyness try to preserver and be unique in your own way because everyone has their place in this world. A few ways she told us to be good role models are take care of your body and health because it shows, find a way to escape reality doing something you love to get your mind off the seriousness of the world, carry an “attitude of gratitude” and always be thankful, and finally always be forgiving and never go to bed upset. My mom even says that line and I strongly believe in it, other wise you worry all night and make the situation seem worse than it really is. Katrina is now a health and wellness specialist, life coach for over 8 years, motivational speaker, author of the self help book “Making it in High Heels” -motivational reading empowerment directed toward females, all while still modelling. She was kind enough to write us all an individual letter about what she got out of our biographies on the finalists page. That was beyond sweet of her and would have been so much time, effort, and work to write almost 70 letters with unique messages. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her generosity and passion she brings to young girls like us to be over achievers and thank people for even the littlest things.

The third woman we heard speak to us was Alexandra Orlando- a Canadian Olympic rhythmic gymnast, motivational speaker, and author of “In Pursuit of Victory” and “Breaking Through My Limits – Uncovered.” She wanted to make sure that we knew she didn’t want to preach to us, but hope we constantly learn from experiences. She told us about being a teenager and how we experience all our firsts here- with love, racism, heartbreak, diversity, and more. But its not when we figure out who we are, rather who we want to be. Realize what we stand for and what we’re passionate about. She emphasized how strong we are, and its much more than how strong we think we are. That even when we hit rock bottom, there’s still more to come. She always wanted to be an olympian since she was young, her life was eat, sleep, breathe gymnastics. In 2003 she missed standard by 1/10 of a point. That was the first time she had felt she didn’t get what she wanted. She got home and was miserable, she quit training for a while and her body changed. People put her down and said she had the wrong body and couldn’t do it anymore. Alexandra emphasized life is 90% rejection and 10% acceptance but we have to keep going against the criticism.  She later realized she loved gymnastics for her passion and how happy, healthy, and strong she was because of it, bot because of the few hours of the Olympics she could get to experience. She told us life isn’t just about winning, its the journey to get there. So we have to keep pushing on to get the best out of yourself. We have to put up a fight, never rely on natural ability because looks can usually only get you so far. She pursued her dream and qualified for the 2008 olympics! At this time she was doing much better in her life because it wasn’t all gymnastics and she had lots to rely on because she was so well rounded. She got her business degree during this time. She encouraged us to learn from experiences from winning or failing, but not to be scared of failure. She left us with words of encouragement that to try not to weak or vulnerable. Don’t hold back, just go for it, take risks, and even when things turn out badly pick yourself back up and try again!

Our final speaker was the host of the show who also introduced the previous speaker, Dr. Natalie Archeris, a Toronto dentist who began her career in 2001. She balances her career, family, all while building a career as a hospital dentist at Runnymede Dental Centre for seniors. She likes well roundedness and believes its fun to be busy. She talked to her kids babysitters and their main concerns in life were that they were worried they don’t know how their futures will be like. She gave us the advise to keep LOTS of opportunities open and get an education because even when you’re left with nothing, thats something no one can take away from you. She encouraged us to all find a good partner who brings out the best in us. Also especially to keep going with things even if we don’t like them, rather embrace the idea, finish it then move on. She emphasized we must plan and embrace new opportunities by building a web like a spider, a very intricate well thought out plan for any situation. She told us to be honest with ourselves, and make advanced planning, because things don’t happen by accident, we have to try for them and work hard. Sometimes we’re lucky, but we need to understand that things will only happen when we work toward them. 4 tips she gave us as a mentor were 1. to take calculated business risks, because woman are successful and need to prove it. 2. 38% of women are the ones who bring in the money to the home, although this isn’t half or higher, it is drastically higher than it has ever been, in the old days most women were stay at home moms while the men went out and worked to bring in cash. 3. make an effort to have children as they are one of the most enriching parts of life. and 4. to get involved groups and boards to eliminate all men groups, to decrease sexism and to question what isn’t right morally. Her main message was to plan plan plan and accomplish whatever task is at hand.

Our camera WOMAN!

I have never learned so much in my life in 2 hours as I did this night. These women are a true inspiration and amazing role models. One of my goals I aspire to achieve is being a role model, by grasping their motives and reasons for being driven to their cause I will apply their ideas to my own to help them grow and prosper into new ones of my own. I am so privileged to have met, spoke to, and listened to these successful females. I dream to one day be just like them, a well rounded woman with everything working out in the end. Overall their main message was to keep your options open because you never know where life’s path will take you, and what bumps you’re going to hit along the way.

Written by: Jasmine Gemmell Tagged with:,

2 Responses to Mentorship Night

  1. Rob Campbell says:

    Hi Jasmine. Go back over this piece and make sure the links to Dr Archer’s websites are under the text ‘Toronto dentist and ‘Hospital dentist’ also the link to Melani Chong Soya Boutique is broken and should be under the text ‘natural skin care’ but thanks for the extremely long copy post and very passionate piece of writing. You are going places Jasmine – I have no doubt.

  2. jasminegemmell says:

    Thank you so much! I fixed up those errors and checked the links this time, oops!

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