EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE TO REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL | KELY

Samantha Yung

Samantha Yung

Lawyer, KELY Alumna

"Be brave and believe in yourself. The sky is your limit. You can do it."


Growing up, my parents were both very busy, so I was on my own a lot. Without the support and affirmation of my parents, I felt unsure of myself. At school, I struggled with my identity and tried to gain the approval of my peers by copying the cool kids. At home, I felt lonely and sad. I would cry all the time and I felt like nobody could help me.

In a year of high school, I joined KELY peer support programme. The KELY volunteers who led the programme were like big brothers and sisters - they were so welcoming and friendly. They taught me about empathy and that I didn't always have to follow the crowd. They encouraged me to be confident in myself.

I was afraid to try things because I didn't want to fail. The KELY volunteers helped me to see that I could make a difference and encouraged me to take initiative. With their support, I helped to organise an event to encourage everyone on campus to show their love to each other through personal notes and hugs. It was the first initiative that I led, and it was so moving to see that such a simple idea could make such a difference for others.

Later that year, I went on a trip to Malaysia with a group of my classmates to hike the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia. At first, I was reluctant to go. Then I thought, even if I didn't make it to the summit, surely I could try. When we made it to the halfway point, we had a choice - we could continue on to the top, or we could end our journey there. At that point, I felt like something had shifted in me. Even though continuing on would take me way out of my comfort zone and I had no idea what the outcome would be, I decided to take on the challenge.

I remember shining my headlamp in the dark to see the route ahead - I saw how steep the mountain was, how far away the summit was, and I felt so discouraged. I told myself I had already made the decision to continue, so I would just take it one step at a time.

At that moment, as I looked out at the clouds below us, I realised that I could do more than I thought possible, that my ability was greater than I had imagined. That experience really changed the way I face challenges.

Without the encouragement of the KELY volunteers and my experience on that mountain, I never would have been able to make it as a lawyer. Law school is extremely competitive and the legal profession requires a lot - if I didn't trust in myself to take on this challenge, I wouldn't be here today.

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