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"Being involved has made me realise that I have useful things to say and contribute. I’m quite a shy person and feel anxious when I speak in front of people."

Hana - Volunteer
Hana - Volunteer Hana (right) pictured with Youth Worker, Mim.

Aspiring Emergency Department Nurse, Hana, isn’t waiting until graduation day to help people live healthier.

The 20-year-old says high school sparked her interest in human health. She is her second year of a nursing degree at Western University and recently completed an internship with the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association. 

“As a child, I didn’t honestly know what I wanted to do. I always liked the idea of going into health and I really enjoyed biology. One day, the thought popped into my head: ‘I wouldn’t mind doing this’.”

While it was camping and hiking that initially attracted her attention to the Y (pursuits she’s yet to fit into her busy schedule), Hana’s interest shifted to a community focus she walked into The Y Space Parramatta on impulse and spoke with the team.

“Mim was so nice to me,” said Hana. “When I told her about my interest in social justice, she told me about the upcoming celebration for International Women’s Day and the Empowered Minds Festival. I thought it sounded like a very exciting time to be at the Y.”

Hana got involved in the Empowered Minds Project which allows people aged 16 to 25 to design, implement and spread mental health awareness to help improve community understanding and connection. 

“I’m on the Youth Committee Working Group. We’re consulted about how we want the festival to run and what we would like to see included. Currently, we’re thinking about the performers – I put forward some contacts from Western Sydney who have never had an official gig before but are great, it would be so good for them,” Hana said.

Asked to name a particular highlight, she describes the day she saw the Y’s Youth Parliament present a Bill to The Hon. Rose Jackson MLC, Minister for Youth, and sitting down with her and Donna Davis, Member for Parramatta, to talk about how the mental health of youth can be improved. 

On a personal level, the Y’s Empowered Minds Project has helped Hana build self-confidence.

“Being involved has made me realise that I have useful things to say and contribute. I’m quite a shy person and feel anxious when I speak in front of people. I have a speech impediment when I’m nervous – it’s still there but it’s not as bad. 

“The meetings are such a nice environment - we do a check at the start where everyone shares what’s happening in their lives and I think of them as friends,” said Hana.

Despite her hectic schedule, Hana finds time to look after her wellbeing. She enjoys walking along the ‘lovely’ Parramatta River and has two books on the go (‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel and the semi-biographical novel ‘No Longer Human’ by Osamu Dazai).

Hana encourages other young people thinking about getting involved in the Y to ‘go for it’ and feels optimistic about the future.

“You can make a change in the world. One voice can make a change in the world. You don’t need an army of people or Prime Ministers. You as an individual can make a difference to someone, to your community,” she said.

“Those feelings of dread, that you have no friends or anyone to talk to – they’re awful feelings. I’d like to be the sort of individual who knows what to do when my peers are distressed, mentally and physically as a nurse. 

“I hope to live in a healthy society that is not just physically well, but also mentally well. Where we look out for each other and don’t ever feel alone in this journey of life. 

“Healthy mind and body. Living lives that are fulfilling. Who’s to tell? Maybe in a few years, I might even give medicine a go,” Hana smiles.

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