Q&A’s with Mallika Saggoo
Where are you from? What place do you currently call home and why?
I come from quite a few places! My childhood was split between India and Ontario, which involved a lot of moving around. In fact, I’ve studied in six different schools before I joined the student community of the University of Manitoba. However, I would identify Punjab as my hometown. Something unique about my hometown is the wide range of street food it offers! I currently live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and am in the process of procuring a Bachelor of Health Sciences.
What community/communities are you part of ?
I am a part of quite a few communities, such as the student community, womyn community and POC community. All have had a significant influence in shaping me into the person I am today. As a woman in STEM and a POC, I have fairhandedly experienced the prejudice that I naively believed would never influence my life. A prejudice that now has taught me to value my femininity and culture and embrace it while standing on par with my male colleagues. As an academic, I have experienced failure in fields in which I was supposed to specialize. Failures that have since taught me that there is always more to learn. It is a blessing that I am a part of such inspirational communities that continuously push me to grow and teach me to become a better, kinder human.
What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
Something that I am passionate about and is very close to my heart is taking care of myself. I have found that in my darkest times, the guiding hand that I needed the most was my own. From this passion, many hobbies have arisen. Hobbies such as a love for any activity that involves physical movement and intellectual stimulation. For this reason, I find myself growing quite fond of a variety of puzzles and the relaxing practice that is yoga. Apart from yoga, I enjoy dance to a great degree. It has proven to be a practice that has made me improve the way I carry myself in public.
How did the idea for this project come to you?
I’ve always been incredibly interested in mental health, as it is something that may have quite detrimental effects if not taken care of. Growing up in such a wide variety of environments gave me the opportunity to realize that mental health was vastly underrepresented and stigmatized. Although the current student community in Manitoba is aware of the importance of mental health, this is still an issue that is very close to my heart as I have firsthand seen the consequences of neglected mental health. All these factors inspired a project that could aim to improve the way individuals dealt with the issues that life handed to them.
What was your motivation behind this project?
When I was presented with the opportunity to bring my project to life, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a difference in a community that I cared about so deeply. For me, this was the student community. I have seen many of my peers struggle with their mental health, and I have struggled with it quite often. In such an intense world it is crucial to develop appropriate coping mechanisms. While there were more than a few bumps in my project, it was the knowledge that I could help people that kept me going through the difficulties.
Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?
Initially, I had a slightly different project idea in mind. However, this project would later prove to be too much for me. A classic case of biting off more than I could chew, I had to request #RisingYouth to allow me to alter my project. I was lucky enough that they were kind and allowed me to fix my mistake. However, it taught me an important lesson about being careful with my time commitments and not overwork myself lest I burn out.
What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
To any youth that are considering doing a project, I would encourage them to go through with the project. This is an incredible opportunity that will allow you to learn more about who you are as a person and what communities you share a passion for. My experiences with #RisingYouth have pushed me to explore my strengths and weaknesses and I have come out of it a very well-rounded individual. I advise you to choose a project that is close to your heart, and to choose a community which you identify with.