Written by Heidi Song January 16th 2022
For the month of December, Youth Insight’s held a government and international relations event on December 19th featuring three special guests, including Maame De-Heer, Walied Khogali, and Kamiliya Akkouche.
Maame De-Heer serves as a policy analyst for the Government of Canada in the Public Health Agency of Canada division and has 9 years of academic and professional experience in healthcare. In terms of her educational background, she graduated with a bachelor's as well as a master's in Public Health. She helps contribute to community-led mental health interventions and has executive and leadership roles within the Government of Canada, such as being an Inclusive Staffing Working Group Member. Additionally, she is the founder of Power of Love Foundation Canada.
Walied Khogali dedicated himself to public and community service and has done work to resolve issues such as “affordable transit, environmental stewardship, equity and human rights [in communities]”. He has gained a lot of experience, from working in communications at the Labour Community Services of Toronto to being the president of the Toronto Environmental Alliance as well as being one of the founders of TTC Riders. Through his work, he has been known to “create safe, inclusive, sustainable communities that are free from discrimination and hate”.
Kamiliya Akkouche studied International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa and has also studied at the University of Oxford. She started a career in diplomacy in 2015 and is a Foreign Service Officer for Global Affairs Canada. One of her first experiences in diplomacy was attending a Model UN Conference, and she uses her current role as a Foreign Service Officer to “provide advice to the Canadian government on foreign policy matters”.
In terms of career inspiration, Maame De-Heer has been inspired to continue her work with the Mental Health of Black Canadians Initiative as she is always fulfilled by the work she does. Walied’s career is inspired by his passion to “[build] a society in which all people can reach their full potential”, as seen by a lot of the work he has done. For Kamiliya, one of her biggest inspirations to pursue her current career has been her father, who has allowed her to learn one of her first lessons in diplomacy. Additionally, he has also helped her to be where she is right now by encouraging her to pursue arising opportunities.
Out of the three main pieces of advice Maame De-Heer provided, the first one she highlighted was that it is alright to be unsure of what students want to do when they grow up because it is through experience that helps them understand the career path that works for them. Secondly, she emphasized the importance of opportunities by conveying that they create experiences for students. Lastly, she talked about networking and how speaking to individuals you know can help you explore and better understand different career fields.
One of the main pieces of advice given by Walied Khogali is to get involved even if it is only in a small way as it can help with personal development. Another piece of advice that was provided by Walied is to “be an instigator and agent of change”. Finally, he also mentioned having friends as both yourself and your friends have the ability to help and receive help by investing in each other.
Out of the three pieces of advice given by Kamiliya Akkouche, the first one she discussed is to build relationships early on as they can be extremely valuable in helping to achieve specific outcomes. Additionally, she talked about how even if students believe they are incompetent, it should not stop them from getting involved and taking initiative. Through this piece of advice, she also added the importance and benefits of getting involved, such as how it can give you skills that can be helpful in the future. To end she brought up the advice of “staying committed to finding your own unique voice”.