Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Yashpreet Birdi, Contributor 

Demonstrating leadership is a concept that we have all likely come across in our course outlines, student club activities or job postings. Figuring out how to show others your leadership capabilities can be scary for those of us who identify as introverted. But maybe we should focus on redefining the term “leadership”. I have realized over time that there can be many opportunities for introverted students to become leaders.

McMaster University is constantly promoting initiatives such as Welcome Week, student elections and executive positions for student clubs. These activities are constantly tied to being extroverted and well-suited for future leaders.

For example, these opportunities usually consist of campaigning and delivering speeches which require you to be comfortable engaging with others. In other words, you can’t experience terrible anxiety when you’re put on the spot!

Because of the popularity of such initiatives at McMaster, it can become difficult for introverted students to realize that there is also space for them to demonstrate and develop strong leadership skills. If you are introverted, here’s how you can become your own type of leader.


Dare to challenge traditional perceptions

When I, an introvert, used to hear the term “leader” I would automatically visualize an extroverted person confidently standing at a podium, making motivational speeches that would eventually propel others towards a brighter future. I would rarely imagine someone who is seen as more “behind the scenes”. Why are these quieter personalities not often described to be motivational, ambitious, influential and powerful? It’s interesting to see how our brains automatically connect certain terms with specific visuals. But my stereotype visual is not the only possible depiction of a successful leader.

Through my recent observations, I have seen that leadership can be diverse. In our everyday life, we can see the several personality types that surround us — not just limited to introverts and extroverts. All personality types have different abilities, strengths, goals and preferences.


Create your own definition for ‘leadership’ and ‘success’

The dream of becoming the next great leader forces introverts to reimagine their idea of success and leadership. Try the simple practice of closing your eyes and visualizing yourself as a powerful and successful leader. What do you see? What are your strengths? What do you bring to the table? When you have a strong passion to contribute to making the world a better place, you must not let biases against your personality type prevent you from working towards your goals.


Take advantage of unique opportunities

There are many opportunities for introverted students to showcase their skills without having to change their personalities to fit into traditional ideologies of success. 

Attending lectures and office hours for me is not only an opportunity to gain knowledge from experts. It is also a chance to get inspired and examine the hard work that professors perform behind the scenes to prepare for their academic duties. These experts have the amazing ability to influence various policy, health, science, politics and religious debates. Just by looking at these leaders, you can see endless opportunities for introverts. Think about the possibility of conducting research with your professors to contribute to their efforts of influencing the world.

Additionally, I believe that the best opportunity for us to demonstrate leadership is to exercise our right to vote as Canadian citizens. Commit to voting in the upcoming Canadian federal election on Oct. 21, 2019! If running for elections is seen as a leadership initiative, voting should be seen in a similar lens.

By making the firm decision to vote for the upcoming election, you not only take the initiative to take action, but you also strongly voice your opinion, and attempt to improve how our society and country operates. Does this not sound like taking a strong step towards leadership and making an impact?


Reflect, Define, Proceed, Repeat!

We should always remember that Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

It is essential to reflect on your personal missions, define what success and leadership mean to you and confidently proceed in your individual path. And don’t forget to repeat this process whenever you feel overwhelmed during your journey towards success and strong leadership!

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Photos from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Graham West

Ahmed Shamiya is one of McMaster’s newest head coaches, taking the reins of the wrestling team from Nick Cipriano. Mac’s long-time former coach was a staple of the wrestling program for the past 35 years and was recently inducted into the Wrestling Canada Hall of Fame in January.

Shamiya is one of McMaster’s most decorated wrestling alumni, having helped the team win the Ontario University Athletics Championships in 2015, with many more individual accolades in his decorated career. Still competing, Shamiya most recently placed silver in the 86-kilogram category at the Canadian Senior National Championship in March.


Shamiya knows the inner workings of the program and will apply this knowledge to how he runs things, and it will allow him to make the necessary changes to get to the next step.

“I know a lot of the things our program did really well,” Shamiya said “We’re not here just for performance but we’re here to build great people, great student-athletes and a great experience. That’s the ultimate goal. I want to continue that legacy and then just minor tweaks here and there that I think will improve the program or help the student-athletes.”

Cipriano left big shoes to fill after being named the national Coach of the Year four times, and won Mac multiple national championships, but Shamiya’s experience in Mac’s wrestling program means he shouldn’t have any issues taking over.

“It’s a little overwhelming, they’re definitely big shoes to fill, the man is a gentleman and a scholar, and he's done a lot for the program and the school in general,” Shamiya said. “The fact that I’m following him are definitely big shoes to fill, but the fact that he trusts me with the program after all that he's done gives me a lot of confidence.”

Coaching wasn’t always something on Shamiya’s mind, but is something he naturally has the capabilities to excel at because he’s always been a strong leader who was helpful to his teammates. His knowledge of the challenges student-athletes can face is going to be especially beneficial for the wrestling team going forward.

“I’ve always just had a knack for wanting to help others on the team, and I’ve always been passionate about leadership,” Shamiya said. “To be honest, I didn’t really pursue it, the opportunity just sort of fell into place. I feel like it was right place right time…You know what they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Even though he is young, Shamiya has been mentored by Cipriano for years, transitioning from one of his athletes to his assistant coach. Although being recognized for his capabilities and earning the head coaching job has presented itself with its challenges, Shamiya is facing all of them head-on.


“It’s such a specific job with such a specific niche that having a mentor is great and Nick has been the best mentor ever, he’s helped me a lot,” Shamiya said. “It’s still a lot to adjust to all at once, although I’ve been enjoying it and embracing it, I think the fact that it all happened kind of overnight and not a slow transition into it was a good challenge.”

Passion and love for what he is doing is not something that Shamiya is short on. His love for wrestling is definitely something that will help the Marauders reach their potential during his tenure as head coach.

“It doesn’t feel like work at all, I’m spending my time doing exactly what I love, helping people that are in a great position in their lives where they’re student-athletes,” said Shamiya. “They have the opportunity to build themselves into something really good over the next few years. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m really enjoying this and it’s the job of my dreams basically.”

Shamiya may be young, but he will no doubt carry on the tremendous legacy that has preceded McMaster’s wrestling team as he himself was on many winning teams. His capabilities as a leader and knowledge of not only the program, but how wrestling itself works, will certainly lead the team on a path to gold next year.


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Photos by Kyle West

After bringing home the provincial silver medal last year, McMaster’s women’s volleyball team missed the Ontario University Athletics playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004. At the end of last season, a large part of the team’s veteran players decided to move on from the program, leaving an obvious hole that needed to be filled.

Jessie Nairn, a third-year commerce student, suddenly found herself as one of the more veteran players on a young squad in a new starting position. One of the youngest players on the court a season prior, Nairn took some time to wrap her head around her new role.

“It was definitely a big change, but I think I'm starting to really enjoy the role of being a leader on the team, and we're definitely really starting to try understand what our new culture is,” Nairn said. “Being able to shape that as a leader on the team is definitely super cool and something I'm really excited for, even the next year coming.”

While they were not able to ultimately finish where they wanted, the team played well considering their drastic roster changes and the fierce competition in the OUA West. The young Marauders were able to stay right in the playoff race until the very end of the season.

Although they didn’t really consider themselves underdogs, they knew the road to the playoffs wouldn’t be easy. As the team adjusted to having significantly less upper-year players than last year, including several OUA all-stars, the Marauders needed to find what their new identity would be.

“I think this year was a big start to try to decide how we want to be as a team, and really how we want to act and prove ourselves.” Nairn added. “I think we're ready, we know what we have to do next year and we're excited for sure.”

One major highlight of the season for this year’s squad was Nairn’s nomination to the OUA All-Star First Team. Making the most of her opportunity, Nairn posted team-highs in aces (34), kills per set (2.97) and points per set (3.8).

“This summer I realized I'd have to step up and be a big role on the team coming into this year,” Nairn said. “From there, I was never really aiming to be on a First Team or Second Team, but I was more so aiming to do everything I could to get the wins for our team and do the best I could.”

As one of the tallest people in her Grade 8 class, Nairn was originally convinced to play volleyball because “you can’t teach height”. Her love for the sport snowballed from there and her talent soon followed as volleyball became a large part of her life.

“I was definitely big into volleyball and I knew that volleyball is kind of what I wanted to do, so I knew I needed to go somewhere where I would have the training that I could trust in,” Nairn said. “Tim Louks is just one of the best coaches out there, and definitely in the OUA. So, I was really honored when he asked me to be on the team and that's definitely one of the major parts of why I came to the school.”

Also initially attracted to Mac’s engineering program, Nairn entered into Mac and soon found herself surrounded by all-star talent, inspiring her in her young volleyball career. With many nationally-recognized on both the women’s team and the men’s team with whom they are close, Mac’s volleyball program has a palpable competitive environment of success, which helped push Nairn in her career.

This aided in Nairn’s transition from second-year double-sub to third-year starting right side. While the move was initially shocking, she was ready for it, spending much of last year in the front row blocking, which got her excited to attack the offseason with enthusiasm.

“Starting this year was definitely, but more so mentally, to get into the game and be a big role on the team was hard to get used to,” Nairn said. “But once I did, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself, and I think this year for me was just a really big year, and kind of proved to me what I can do and the places I can go and what I want to do with it.”

Heading into next season with a much more cohesive team, and the incredible administrative and fan support the team receives as praised by Nairn, the Marauders are poised for an exciting season.

“I’m excited. I think our team is going to be very strong next year mentally and physically because I think this offseason is going to be one of the hardest we've ever had just because of the outcome of this year,” Nairn said. “I think it's really going to drive us to be a very good team. I'm excited for the competition because I know none of the schools around us are getting any weaker, they're only getting better.”

While this might have been the first year they have missed the postseason in recent memory, having players like Nairn, Hailey Kranics and Zoe Mackintosh, along with an assortment of rising stars, the future looks bright. There probably won’t be any missed playoffs anytime soon.


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Photos by Kyle West

By: Graham West

Hard work, toughness and focus are the key elements that have led to Hilary Hanaka’s outstanding success at the university level. After recently achieving the milestone of 1000 career points, Hanaka is looking forward to a season filled with promise.

Hitting 1000 career points is a huge career landmark and it meant a lot to Hanaka, although she stressed the importance the team has had in contributing to her being able to achieve it.

“It’s a pretty big milestone to hit and it means a lot to hit that point,” Hanaka said. “But, of course it’s a team sport overall, so I think I’m more excited to figure out where our team will end up this season…  it's obviously nice to hit that point, but I obviously wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the help of my teammates and my coach.”

It has not always been easy on the path to greatness for Hanaka as there have been challenges with balancing academics and being a varsity athlete.

“There are positives and negatives. Coming into first year, that was when the big adjustment hit,” Hanaka said. “Obviously, it’s a much bigger time commitment being on a varsity team and having classes every single day, practices every day and you’re away on weekends and just making sure you find the right balance to do everything.”

“With that being said, you’re surrounded by an incredible group of girls, coaching staffs,” Hanaka added. “We have so much support through the athletic department, so whenever things were going downhill, you always had someone to pick you back up.”

Hanaka’s experience with the difficulties athletes can face and her expertise on the court are some of the things that make her a great leader. Being there for her teammates on and off the court is instrumental to the success of the team and something that is incredibly important to her as well.

“Off the court is just as important as on the court when it comes to varsity sports,” Hanaka said.

“Being a veteran player, I’ve been around for five years so I’ve been through most of the things that bring you down and that go on. So just being able to be there for the girls is something that I really strive to do.”

“Just knowing that I’ve been in the position of a first-year, second-year, third-year and even a fourth-year player and things aren't always fun and games there’s always going to be those lows,” Hanaka added. "Being able to make sure the girls are aware that I’m always there for them, whether it’s something basketball-related, life-related, school-related, whatever it might be, that just because I’m a leader on the court, doesn’t mean I can’t be the leader off the court. ”

Whenever Hanaka’s career as a player ends, it will most certainly not be the end to her basketball career. When you have a particularly knowledgeable player who is a natural leader, coaching is always on the horizon. It is something Hanaka is interested in, and given her success as a player, seems very possible.

“I would love to be a coach. Growing up I’ve always been surrounded by basketball and it’s been a huge part of my life,” Hanaka said. “Being a player has been incredible, but I think I’m kinda ready to hang up the shoes and move forward. Hopefully down the road, coaching is something that I’ll be put into.”

Always one of the first people in the gym, Hanaka has had an outstanding career so far in the maroon and grey and looks to only improve. The team is one to watch as they continue to play their way to a return to nationals, with their eyes clearly set on taking home gold.


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Alex Ramirez / The Silhouette

Hugo Chavez was a unique political figure, controversial for his political stances, his vocal out lashing of former U.S. President George W. Bush (calling him a donkey, as well as the ‘devil’ during a United Nations General Assembly speech) and forging close friendships with some of the Western world’s gravest enemies; Mahmoud Ahmadineajad of Iran, Fidel Castro of Cuba and the recent Muammar Gaddafi of Libya – to name a few.

Yet, most people fail to acknowledge what Hugo Chavez truly represented not only for Venezuela, but Latin America.

You can disagree with his political, economic or ideological stances, but one thing that cannot be negated is that Hugo Chavez has entered the history books as one of the greatest Latin American leaders in the history of the Americas.

Having won 13 out of 14 elections and referendums throughout his 14-year tenure as President of Venezuela - elections that even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated, “…as a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve [The Carter Center] monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world” - you will have a tough time arguing he was a dictator, unless you were threatened by his radical political and economic agenda.

Understandably so, some did not benefit from Chavez’s sweeping reforms, in particular those who benefitted from the previous economic order in which he was radically transforming.

If you want to make an omelette, you have to crack some eggs. Chavez was never afraid to make his revolutionary omelette regardless of the powerful enemies he would make.

Even when the traditional oligarchy of Venezuela illegally removed Chavez from power in a short-lived coup d’etat that lasted less than 72 hours, this did not intimidate or scare him into reconsidering his political course. Instead, it added fuel and conviction to his fire.

What could have been his fire?

Some will say social justice. Some will say a tyrannical quest for power.

I argue that it was his desire to reclaim a historical debt.

Hugo Chavez was a son of an Amer-Indian and Afro-Venezuelan; the two most victimized racial entities in the historical development of Latin America. He (literally) embodied the moral authority to reclaim the historical debt owed to the most marginalized and impoverished populations of Venezuela, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The proof is in the pudding: he single-handedly fulfilled that moral authority, highlighted in the fact that his death will have reverberations beyond the boundaries of Venezuela.

Chavez leaves a legacy and an example in the history of the Americas.

He is a legend that will be spoken about for decades and centuries to come.

It is a tough pill to swallow for his political adversaries, especially for Venezuelans who opposed him. But in the words of Winston Churchill:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Hugo Chavez certainly had some powerful enemies.

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