Leaving a positive legacy is a top priority for ACG Strathallan 2022 Head Girl Mia Willis.
The community-spirited teen is passionate about working with her fellow student leaders to do great things with and for the school and create a lasting impact beyond the school gates.
"I would like the legacy of the 2022 Prefect team to be that of efficiency and effectiveness, getting stuff done and doing the mahi. I'm so proud of the unity and the cohesive, secure and respectful environment we have fostered within the team," Mia explains.
"Ultimately, I'd like people to see a united, proactive team that reaches its goals and fulfils its responsibility as the link between students, teachers and the wider community."
A perfect example of Mia's enthusiasm is her efforts to organise the recent Pyjama initiative, which brought students together to support the Papakura Marae and local children in need. Helping drive meaningful events such as these is part of what makes her role so rewarding. So too are the opportunities she has to motivate and support others.
"It's such an honour to have a head leadership position. It's a chance to develop my leadership skills further, learn more about what kind of leader I am and what different leadership styles are most effective.
"I want to be someone who encourages and inspires other young leaders – and I'm privileged to be able to support that as Head Girl. Heading the student leadership team means a huge opportunity to learn, grow and contribute positively to life at ACG Strathallan."
But Mia is quick to point out that being part of the leadership team isn't the only way to be involved in student governance at ACG Strathallan.
"There are so many other leadership positions in the school, ranging from sports teams to one of our many committees. Many senior students help us set up, pack, and run events. So, while I would recommend getting involved in the leadership team, it's just as important to get involved in other things the school has to offer and support the Prefect events and initiatives, from inside and outside the team."
Being selected as a Prefect and Deputy House Leader in Year 12 enabled Mia to start developing her leadership skills, laying the foundations for her role as Head Girl.
"I've learnt that you have to make decisions and ask yourself what your priorities are because there is only so much time in the day. It's about finding balance and understanding that if you try to do it all, you become so overextended that everything suffers."
"This year, I played club water polo and was in the school's summer volleyball squad. I was also a lead in our musical production, tutored maths at IGCSE level, and was involved in five additional committees and teams at Strath. I juggle these responsibilities with my part-time job teaching babies and children water confidence, safety and how to swim."
With plans to complete an engineering degree focusing on cybersecurity, Mia already has an eye toward her university years. However, she is currently making the most of her last few months at a school which inspires students to reach for the stars.
"I like the sense of independence that ACG Strathallan instils. As a senior student, you are given the opportunity to take charge of your learning and the responsibility for the path you take. Our school allows us to become well-rounded or specialise; it's our choice. This approach prepares us well for university study and our future careers."
So, what words of wisdom does Mia have for those aspiring to become student leaders?
"Leadership is about making sure everyone feels valued as a team member, thinking ahead and planning, effectively delegating tasks, promoting a common understanding of the goal or purpose and giving a sense of support and oversight.
"Aim to be the leader you've always wanted. You can't always be perfect; all you can do is your honest best. Admire other leaders and acknowledge the traits you like to be led by, but don't attempt to mimic others directly. Be your own leader."