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Young Achiever: Emily pursues social justice

  • Commitment to service: Emily Sinclair, a student at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, is studying to become a psychotherapist for LGBT teens who struggled with their identity

A second-year university student is making strides in her lifelong committal to social justice.

Emily Sinclair, 19, spent her freshman year at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, volunteering with charities and community events.

Emily explained that she did so in her pursuit of becoming a psychotherapist for LGBT teens who struggle with their sexual identity.

Emily said: “As teenagers, we might not get people listening to us as much because we’re young and they might think it’s ‘just a phase’.

“But I think that, since we’re one of the most vulnerable populations, that’s the main focus I want to take.”

She added that, as a member of the LGBT community, she understood the importance of having a strong support system while coming out.

Emily explained: “When I first came out to my mom, she listened to me. That really helped me because I was a bit scared at first, as I’m sure many people coming out to their families are. When you listen, you’re taking a stance of caring about that person, so if I could be an avid listener for someone then I think that’s already changing their life.”

Emily, from Paget, said that she completed her volunteer work as a part of her university’s Social Justice Colloquium.

The programme required first-year pupils to volunteer in the community while taking courses in history, anthropology, and women and gender studies.

Emily said that she worked with L’Arche International, an organisation that works people with mental disabilities, in her college town of Antigonish. This required her to assist “core members” with everyday activities and recreational exercises.

Emily explained: “What I liked about it was that they called people with disabilities ‘core members’ so they knew that they were equal to the helpers.

“Working with L’Arche has changed my life in a way. It’s given me a different perspective and the knowledge that I can’t take anything for granted.”

Emily said that she’s had an interest in helping others since childhood because she understood the importance of treating others fairly. She added that she was inspired by local groups, such as the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, to become more involved with LGBT issues at home.

Emily said: “I see what’s been going on in Bermuda and how people treat us in negative ways. It’s not fair, to say the least.

“I want to get out more in my community to help more. Right now, I just need to figure out what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it.”

She added: “We’re getting a lot better as a community but there’s still a lot of people being discriminated against for their race and sexuality and even their gender.”

Emily said that she planned to volunteer with L’Arche Antigonish and other organisations as she continues to study for her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies.

She added that she hopes to return to Bermuda and use her skills to help the community.