Impact Interview with Alumni, Bre McQuade

Future Leader Bre McQuade on ‘Making it Happen’ in her community.

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“We are all capable of making an impact. This can be a small act of kindness, listening (non judgmentally) to someone when they need to just let it out, pull people up when they are discriminating others or hating on the planet. What makes us who we are is how we learn from our past selves and make a difference now, to support an amazing future.”

Bre is a 24-year-old, self-described whanau and education oriented feminist, mental health advocate and a massive foodie. Bre who was born in Upper Hutt but has lived in the USA and the Netherlands, and is part of our Palmerston North Future Leaders rohe.

She identifies as being the “make it happen” person. And loves making it happen for mental health support, sustainable and ethical lifestyles and reducing our waste as a country. Bre enjoys being a cheerleader for her community and gets involved in whatever she can, so if you have the ideas she wants to make it a reality.

Despite all this, she still suffers from imposter syndrome and is working on loving and knowing herself more each day. She continues to push boundaries and create exciting change by drawing inspiration from the rangitahi of Aotearoa.

Over the past year through the programme, Bre has been involved in a number of community events, boards and surrounded herself with inspirational young leaders. This has helped her be confronted by what it is she wants to get out of life and how to celebrate each individual and their mahi.

Festival for the Future, an annual event run by Inspiring Stories, which Bre attended as part of the Future Leaders programme, gave her a chance to reflect. Reflect, on how she got to where she is, her values, her potential. Bre said  it most importantly made her realise “how making change is going to be hard and uncomfortable but that is the beauty of it and it allows us to embrace and celebrate exception people who are authentic to themselves and their communities”.

We asked Bre to reflect just as she had done at Festival but on her Future Leader journey.

Having lived overseas and in Wellington settling in Palmerston North wasn’t an absolutely smooth journey for Bre. Missing her base of friends and family, the rush of people, hip bars and cafes and a bustling waterfront. In 2018 however, with the encouragement from those close to her, Bre was ready to invest in building a strong and healthy relationship with her community and Future Leaders seemed like the right thing.

Having experience in leadership programmes she thought she knew what she was in for. But, the programme had more impact than she expected. Opening her eyes to the challenges Palmerston North faces, but also connecting her to a variety of groups and individuals who work tirelessly make a difference in their backyard.

She still feels that sometimes there is a lack of involvement from people in the community and often people get minimal recognition for what goes on behind the scenes. But, the Future Leaders programme allowed her to learn about rural provincial communities she had not heard of before and meet young people who jump on opportunities to create the change they want to see in the world. She is grateful for the encouragement and authenticity of the exceptional leaders that are alongside her in this journey.

“This programme was much more than a leadership programme providing personal development and a way to support the local community. It has been an experience which has allowed me to see the world through the eyes of others.”

After the programme, Bre feels prepared to believe in herself and the change she can make. Over the next few years she is excited to do mahi with local schools to promote mindfulness, collaborate with organisations to measure their environmental impact and support social enterprises to make their vision a reality.

Finally, we asked Bre what she would change if she were Prime Minister for a day. Instead, she wanted the readers to think about what they would do if they were the Prime Minister of their own life (which they totally are).

“What would you change? What is one small action towards this that you haven't taken yet? Why? If you did, would it have a positive impact on your life or those around you?”

Bre believes every small action can create a big impact. And we can’t wait to see what big impact Bre creates after the programme.