President Halimah Yacob poses for a photo with Canossian assistant head girls (from left) Alessandra Anthony, Hannah Tan and Kok Xiu Min.

Canossian school students learnt what it meant to be a leader from President Halimah Yacob and other speakers at a recent leadership symposium.

Leadership is first and foremost about service to others, Singapore’s first woman president told some 400 girls, teachers and Canossian Sisters at the opening of the Be Empowered – a Canossian Girls’ Leadership Symposium on April 4.

She reminded the girls how important it was to be always fully present in school, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

President Halimah also encouraged participants to take on leadership roles and shared that she hoped she would not be the first and only woman president in Singapore.

Participants at the opening of the three-day symposium included Canossian student leaders aged 10 to 16; nearly 40 others from Canossian sister schools in Malaysia, India and the Philippines; and student leaders from the East Zone Cluster Schools 4 and 5.

The symposium was organised by Canossa Convent Primary, St Anthony’s Canossian Primary and St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary schools. It aimed to inspire young girls to dare to take up leadership roles to make a difference in the world they live in.

Canossian student leaders at the Be Empowered – a Canossian Girls’ Leadership Symposium.

Over the three days, the Canossian student participants attended talks and workshops on following in the footsteps of St Magdalene of Canossa, founder of the Canossian Religious congregation, and explored what the virtue of charity in humility meant to them as leaders.

Canossian Sr Angela Ng also shared with them about life as a missionary and the work of the Canossians in Myanmar.

She spoke of how compassion was key in helping others and alleviating their sufferings.

The girls also took part in breakout workshops on sports, the arts, the cyber-world, the environment and community and mission.

They problem-solved issues pertaining to their school through the use of the basic protocol in design thinking and had many platforms to work in teams and share their thoughts with other student leaders.

Girls problem-solving in groups during the symposium.

The closing address on the last day was delivered by Ms Janet Ang, vice-president of Industry, Solutions and Business Development at IBM Asia Pacific; and chairperson of Caritas Singapore.

She shared the importance of being clear with what one wants to achieve in life, to set priorities right from the beginning while at the same time valuing one’s family.

She also urged the girls not to be afraid to take on leadership roles when opportunities arose.