The Volunteer Spotlight is a feature that takes a look at the volunteers who are involved with ACE and whose efforts make the work that we do possible.
This time around we shine the spotlight on Queena Lee who has been volunteering at our GCSE session for two years, as well as coordinating dozens of volunteers from Cardiff Sixth Form College who attend various homework clubs around Cardiff on a weekly basis.
Tell us a bit about yourself – how long you’ve been in Cardiff, where else you’ve lived, hobbies etc.
I’ve been living in Cardiff for 14 years, settling here after my family migrated to the UK from Malaysia when I was 4 years old.
I’m currently a scholarship student at Cardiff Sixth Form College, studying Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and History with intent to pursue a career in Dentistry in the future. I’d certainly say that the importance of a hollistic education and a continual pursuit of knowledge has been deeply embedded into my upbringing- of which has shaped much of my character.
I’m generally an outgoing, rather eccentric and ambitious personality. I’m a keen pianist and violist as well as a fiery debater and public speaker. In my free time, you’ll often find me with a nose in a book or co-ordinating volunteers for one of the homework clubs for the week!
How long have you been involved with the TLC and why did you get involved initially?
I’ve been volunteering with ACE for around 2 years now; getting involved with both the TLC and the ESOL programmes. I initally began volunteering to enhance my CV for university applications; but came to realise I was getting myself in for much more than that.
Volunteering with ACE is as much about my personal journey as the kids that I work with. Moving to the UK at the tender age of 4 (not even speaking a word of English!); I never would have thought that the teachers that I’ve been blessed to encounter would inspire me to attain top grades at both GCSE and AS Level as well as firing a thirst for knowledge and the undoubtable desire to succeed in everything that I pursued. Reflecting on my own transformation, I set out to provide that same level of support and inspiration that I received from my own teachers all those years ago!
For me, volunteering is about inspiring and empowering young people to realise their individual potentials. It’s about breaking socio-economic barriers to education and providing young people with the tools they need to realise that they can do whatever they set their hearts on in life.
What do you enjoy most about the club?
Arguably the best thing about volunteering with ACE is the pure satisfaction from watching the growth of confidence in the young people that you work with on a weekly basis. It’s the idea of empowering capable young people to achieve their dreams (cliché I know!). But when that concept they’ve been struggling with for weeks at school finally clicks- you just cant help but smile!
It’s the challenges I enjoy most- working with kids that don’t think they have the ability to achieve in school but end up realising their true potentials. The story of a young man that told me they ‘hated everything about school- especially maths!’, yet ended up pursuing Further Mathematics at GCSE sticks with me to this very day.
What do you enjoy least?
The aspect I enjoy least would probably be having to witness the doubt and lack of confidence when you first meet some of the young people. It’s easy to talk about the success stories, but everyone has to start from somewhere (and that usually isn’t the top!). Having to watch a capable student struggle and get frustrated is probably the part I least enjoy. Patience and perserverence is key however!
Tell us about your other volunteering work and the importance of volunteering for you
I co-ordinate approximately 90 volunteers from Cardiff Sixth Form College- who act as volunteer tutors and teaching assistants for ACE Homework Clubs all around Cardiff. Being fortunate to study in a college with like minded people that value education as much as I do has driven me to try and spread the mindset across Cardiff. There shouldn’t be barriers to knowledge and learning, which I very much learnt through my summer volunteering at the ESOL classes.
When I imagine growing up without the support of my mentors and teachers, I really don’t think I would be where I am today. In this very way, volunteering offers me a viable way of giving back to the community that nourished my love for learning and bolstered my self confidence.
Anything you’d like to mention to potential volunteers?
If you’re considering volunteering, then don’t be afraid to give it a go! It’s something that you really won’t regret. It requires a certain level of dedication and patience on your part, but I assure you that the rewards are so worth it! You learn so much more about yourself, develop vital interpersonal skills as well as offer a young person the vital help and support that they need.