Seneca Media Unscripted: Seneca Grad Runs for Office – Naila Mahmood on Mental Health, Women in Politics, & Pursuing Her Passions
Last week, we had the honour of speaking to a Seneca Grad who is now running for office in Mississauga in the upcoming municipal elections. Naila Mahmood, who graduated from the Government Relations program from the School of Media, is currently campaigning for the position of School Trustee in Wards 3 & 4. As you can imagine, it’s quite the journey, and certainly not one that has been easy.
Inspired by Naila’s determination to pursue her dreams, we knew we had to bring her onto the Unscripted Podcast. We wanted to chat with her about how she transitioned from being a student to successfully managing her own political campaign, as well as why she is passionate about politics. What ensued was an incredibly uplifting discussion about Naila’s platform to support mental health education in schools, as well as her fight for representation within the community. She wants to make a difference in the world, and her dedication to standing for change is refreshing.
With extensive experience working in mental health awareness and assistance initiatives, Naila’s campaign is built around ensuring that those in need are connected with the proper resources; that awareness is increased, and stigma is decreased. She talked about her first-hand experience with bullying when she was in school, and its negative impact on her emotional health. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, as mental health often takes a backseat to other considerations, but Naila emphasized throughout the podcast: “Mental health is as important as physical health.”
We were truly inspired by Naila’s ability to draw from her own past, to actively ensure that no other child suffers on account of mental health in the future. We were in awe of her strength to be able to speak up about these issues and encourage an open dialogue. This is a cause that she champions with all her heart, and her empathy and passion for it were visible throughout our discussion.
While mental health is her focus, and the driving force behind her decision to run for office, Naila is also heavily involved in the cause for representation within the community.
“As a woman who comes from a minority background, you don’t see that representation in our political world and if I can put my name forward and take that step to help inspire other girls who are like me do something great with their life, to provide a positive role model for them, it would be amazing. So, I took my chances, and I put myself out there.”
These were her words. Inspiring, strong and certainly very compelling. Women are a whisper within Mississauga’s collective voice, and women of color are quieter still. Naila cites that 57% of the Mississauga constituents belong to visible minorities, and they lack representation on the board. Naila is working hard to change this, to be the voice of the people and give young women across the city a role model to look up to.
Naila attributes a lot of her confidence to the support and education she received at Seneca. She praised the instructors for building her belief in herself: “The amount of faith these professors have in us is amazing.” She credits the applied learning methodology of the Government Relations program for her teaching her the necessary tactics. The importance of “doing your research” was stressed, as well as how “press releases helped me promote myself – to pitch myself!”
With the core attribute of empathy informing her campaign, equipped with the discipline and skill set of a seasoned communications professional, and the societal responsibility of making sure unheard voices gain an audience, there should be no doubt in citizens’ minds that they have found their representative in Naila Mahmood.
While we wrote quite a bit (we couldn’t help it), this is only a small part of the conversation. Naila shares more about her experiences with mental health, her journey as a visible minority seeking representation, and how Seneca better equipped her for managing her own campaign on the podcast. Be sure to give it a listen, and of course, no matter where you are, exercise your right to vote on October 22nd!