I never knew Jarrah Young, nor did she know me. But just her name, her personification, and her legacy have been such a great influence on my life since 29th April 2013 when I received the inaugural Jarrah Young Scholarship.
It was the night of Bara Khana (the monthly formal dinner at International House [IH] Brisbane, a residential college at The University of Queensland) and I was as usual savouring the festive food, laughing, chatting, listening to, clapping, and cheering for the speakers, when Laura Stokes, the Advancement Director, took the stage and started sharing her heartfelt story of the late Jarrah Young. Jarrah was a member of the IH Student Club Executive as Inter- College Council Vice President, O week Convenor, Soiree Convenor, and A Tower Senior Resident (SR), who left a legacy of compassion, excellence, passion, spirit, and inspiration to not just the IH community, but also those who came to call her a friend. Laura then invited Joel Young, brother of Jarrah, to share more on the life of his beloved sister and to announce the recipient of the first ever Jarred Young Scholarship. Tears welled up as Joel spoke of how dear his sister was to the Young family and how they would like her legacy to be carried on at IH. Before I could hold back tears from such touching and inspiring speeches, Joel, on behalf the Young Family and the most generous donors, named me as the first Jarrah Young scholarship award recipient in front of the whole International House family. The next thing I knew, I was receiving the beautiful plaque from Joel.
Let alone giving a big speech, I was muted with shock and overwhelmed with emotions, and all I could manage was to mutter “Thank you…thank you so much” again and again in my shaking voice to Joel. I didn’t know Jarrah but her presence even in that moment showered me with thankfulness and honour. I was so humbled that night that I have never looked back, with the promise to live up to Jarrah’s inspiring and loving memory, her passion, and her energy.
Fast-forward one year, speaking at the College Day (Housie Day 2014) Bara Khana where the next recipient would be announced, I looked back and reflected upon whether I have delivered my promise. I found myself trying to pinpoint specific examples where I can say I have lived up to it. Factually speaking, I have stepped up beyond what I could have imagined, including becoming the President of the International House Student Club, a Senior Resident for another year, and even being appointed Brisbane International Student Ambassador for Burma and Singapore by the Lord Mayor. Yet I couldn’t pick one incident and say that’s where I did what I promised. Why? Then I realized that it was because Jarrah’s inspiration was not bound to one happening or one time. Her principles were embedded in all that I strived for and did. It was through this subconscious inspiration, I learnt about the three guiding principles that Jarrah lived through.
1. Being good for yourself is not good enough until you have made it good, if not, better for the ones around you.
Before we can fill up others’ cups, we have to fill ours first. But sometimes, we get too caught up in filling our own cups that we focus less on others who need the help. We seek for the best and when we get what we want and when we are given the best, we tend to get complacent and too comfortable. Jarrah could have stayed in Australia and enjoyed the advantages she was given by life here, but instead, she went all the way to Kenya to serve with the positive difference she could bring. And the image of Jarrah reaching out to the residents of IH as a loving resident leader always reminded me to go beyond the call of duty and do that little extra thing for others even when I get tired. After enjoying my second year in college and serving as the Treasurer of the Executive Committee, Senior Resident, and previously the Charity Convenor of the General Committee, I could have moved comfortably onto the non-college world. But by wanting to keep IH’s true spirit and preserve IH’s true culture so to provide the best year to another cohort of residents, a vision came to me and through it, I backed myself to give back by running for IH’s next President. Jarrah’s heart was full of love, but she didn’t keep it to herself, she spread it to the world she knew instead.
2. Recognition and support is possibly the best way to nurture a person to become a better human being and a leader.
As we keep growing throughout life, we try to find our footing in doing what we think is beneficial to those around us. Yet often our efforts go unrecognized. And all it takes is just one person to notice and appreciate your efforts so that you are assured that you are heading in the right direction and to keep going ahead with full force. The Jarrah Young Scholarship has helped drive me to continue to serve others around me. And in return, I have been doing my best to nurture future leaders for the IH family, through the same approach of recognition, appreciation, and encouragement. As such, I truly believe that Jarrah will continue to empower many individuals in the IH community and beyond in the years to come, through this scholarship.
3. Innate goodness creates the biggest ripple effect, which transcends all the boundaries known in life.
I agree that leaders are made, not born. But I also believe that the natural leaders are the ones who are most true at heart. And Jarrah was this genuine natural leader. It still amazes me every time I hear about Jarrah from someone who was privileged enough to have known her as a person. Every time, they are reduced to tears in remembering what an innately beautiful person she was. She lives through their words and memories, and this strikes my heart in knowing how great a person she must have been and how many lives she must have touched, as she left such a positive impact wherever she went. Her humble aura teaches me to just be good and do what is right, and to believe that this will gradually go on to change the things for the better. When pure and powerful, nothing can stop the force of goodness, just like how even a stranger’s life, like mine, can be transformed by Jarrah’s story.
Jarrah is a legend, and I have never been more proud and thankful to be able to carry her name in my honour. I am forever thankful to her generous family, especially her parents Peter Young and Andrea Harris, who shaped her into the person she was and also taught me priceless lessons through this scholarship. I am grateful for the most compassionate donors and everyone who made this possible by encouraging such beautiful love in this world. This scholarship has given me the strength and kept me going through challenges, because I know Jarrah would have never given up in serving others, till her very last.
Till today, I wish I could have met her. Nonetheless, her principles have guided me in just striving to become a better person for others. I hope this finds everyone in the beloved IH family and the world all happy, healthy and well, and I also hope the next recipient will too be grateful of this prestigious honour and continue to spread the positive influence and goodness in IH and the world beyond.
With all my heart,
Soe San Htike (PiPi)
The Jarrah Young Scholarship Recipient 2013
To learn more about the scholarship, please follow this link : http://inthouse.uq.edu.au/jarrah-young-scholarship/