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Mr Obama’s speech reflected the possibility for a better and brighter future for my gender and our generation

NYSF 2014 alumni Sophia Aston attended US President Barack Obama’s speech at The University of Queensland during his visit to Brisbane in November for the G20 summit. She was part of an audience of young people – for whom the President’s landmark speech was intended – alongside of four other students from her school, chosen because of their academic achievement and leadership involvement.

Sophia says that throughout the speech, Mr Obama conveyed various pertinent key messages. “Among the three that stood out to me in particular were: the need for action regarding climate change, the importance of gender equality, and the value of collaboration across nations.”

"Citizens, especially the next generation, you have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and that is healthier and that is sustainable, but that's not going to happen unless you are heard." President Barack Obama, November 2014, The University of Queensland

“I thought it was wonderful that President Obama used such a high profile moment to convey such a vital message. The need for us to protect the environment for generations to come is undeniable and for him to recognise this and encourage people to take individual responsibility for their actions certainly reflects a step in the right direction.

On the issue of gender equality, the US President said,

"I believe that the best measure of whether a nation is going to be successful is whether they are tapping the talents of their women.”

“It was so encouraging for me to see such a prominent leader reinforcing the importance of gender equality,” says Sophia, “particularly for a young woman seeking to contribute to the scientific domain. Mr Obama’s speech reflected the possibility for a better and brighter future for my gender and our generation.”

President Obama clearly recognises the need for collaboration not just between people, but also between nations, in order to achieve excellence in innovation, to assist developing countries, and, through travel and educational exchanges, a greater level of cross-cultural understanding and thus, global harmony.

One of Australia’s great writers spoke of this – a son of Brisbane and a graduate of this university, David Malouf. And he said, ‘In that shrinking of distance that is characteristic of our contemporary world, even the Pacific, largest of oceans, has become a lake.’” President Obama

“It was a privilege to be addressed by such an articulate and powerful leader and to hear first-hand the vital messages that I – and I hope many other youth – will take on board in order to work towards a brighter future for our global community.”

Sophia attended the NYSF in January 2014, and was endorsed by the Rotary club – The Gap, Ashgrove in Brisbane.