She Leads by Example

Among an array of responsibilities outside of school, NASH senior Lamees Subeir has learned the importance of balance.

Deeksha Rachupalli, Staff Writer

What extracurricular activities do you participate in and what are your leadership roles in each?

I participate in many extracurricular activities, but I’d say I spend most of my time in four of them. I have been on the Speech and Debate Team for the past four years, and I am the president and event leader of Lincoln-Douglas Debate. I also teach middle school debate. Next, I’m a member of the NA Marching Band, where I am the clarinet section’s music leader. I am also a member of Key Club, where I am the Division 3 Lieutenant Governor, and Model UN, where I am an Education Director. I also serve as the co-president and co-founder of the Black Student Union and the events chair of NA For Change. Furthermore, I participate in other extracurriculars, including Muslim Student Association, the Pittsburgh Youth Concert Orchestra, NHS, and NEHS.

How do you balance academics and extracurriculars?

It is definitely difficult to manage the two, but I’d say the most important thing has been knowing what motivates me. If I did things for superficial reasons, it wouldn’t be worth the stress. However, I know that staying on top of my homework and academics will benefit me in my career and college experience. Additionally, I truly love all of the extracurriculars I do, and that motivates me to want to make as much of an impact as I can. Other than that, staying organized is obviously important. I have a huge Google Keep where I keep lists of things I need to do for each of my clubs, and my Google Calendar is truly my best friend.

What are the biggest advantages of multiple leadership positions?

The biggest advantage for me is being able to contribute where I function best. I’m good at organizational tasks and getting things done, so leadership roles play to my strengths. I’m also a people person. I want to make sure people are having the best experience that they can, and I love working with other students to make sure everyone’s opinions are equally valued. I love mentoring, and my roles in Marching B and and middle school debate have really allowed me to do that. Especially with Marching Band, it’s amazing to watch a freshman musician go from knowing nothing about marching to memorizing drills and music for an entire three-movement show, and I’m glad to have even a tiny piece in that.

What is the worst part of having multiple leadership roles?

This answer may be expected, but it definitely is stressful to balance things at times. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I have to take things one step at a time. I will pick out one task that I can accomplish right now, focus on it and complete it, and then move to the next one. This way, I’m not thinking about 5,000 things at the same time and they don’t consume me. It is also tough to accept that I can’t always do everything. I want to go above and beyond in everything that I do, but sometimes I have to know what I can handle and be proud of myself for what I am accomplishing in one certain moment, even if I want to do more.

Has your identity affected your journey in becoming a leader?

It definitely has. In terms of my personality, I have struggled with self-actualization (learned that one from Mrs. Failla), or the idea that I could always be doing more. I definitely still struggle with this, but taking it day by day as I mentioned before has allowed me to balance everything. But more importantly, girls of color have come up to me multiple times and told me that they were really happy to see a woman of color in a leadership role at our school, and that’s been a huge honor. Going through high school, I had never seen a black woman in a leadership role in any of my clubs, so it is really fulfilling to know that I could do it. Obviously, my identity as a Black Muslim led me to both co-found the Black Student Union and join the Muslim Student Association, and I’ve loved connecting with fellow students with similar identities.

Has your outlook on being President of Debate been positive or negative thus far?

I’m not going to lie, it can be pretty stressful at times. Right now, the officers are planning the team’s trip to Yale for their National Invitational Tournament. That means organizing flights, hotels, shuttles, and registration for more than 25 people. I spent two hours on the phone yesterday with Khushi Pasrija, our publicity director, arranging shuttles. There are also 120+ students on the team, so there are a lot of things to do regarding Debate. However, all of the officers as well as our wonderful Coach Wolf share the responsibility of these tasks, so that makes it less of a weight. But that being said, I’ve hoped to get to do this since freshman year. I love meeting everyone on the team and being able to answer their questions, and I know that once we see the final product of planning these trips (we have upcoming trips to George Mason and Harvard as well), it’ll all be worth it.

If you had to choose your favorite extracurricular, what would it be?

I have to give it to Debate if you make me pick. There’s really no other option. Debate has profoundly impacted my life in ways I can’t fully describe (shoutout to Mrs. Volpe). It’s given me something I can be good at, some of the best friends I know, and a reason to keep being motivated through a really tough time in my life. I have probably complained about it a lot over the years; writing cases at 4 am and having that nauseous pit in my stomach before going into a final round can be stressful. But I know that I’ve had so many fun times. From our singalongs at Secret Santa parties to ingesting some pretty bad mac and cheese at a certain school, Debate has given me so many memories and opportunities that I can’t hesitate to say it’s my favorite extracurricular.

Which activity or extracurricular requires the most rigor?

An extracurricular that I haven’t talked about much that can be pretty tough is NA For Change, not in the amount of time but in the difficulty of the work. NA For Change is focused on creating a positive, inclusive, and nurturing environment for marginalized students that aren’t always afforded attention or respect. It can be very challenging to convince people, especially adults, to listen to the needs of students and make actual changes to help students. For every person who thinks the problems we address aren’t real, there’s another student who feels seen and included through the club.

Did you expect to garner this many leadership roles? Why or why not?

I definitely did not expect this many roles. I never sat down with a list my freshman year and said, “These are the roles I need to get.” I think they all came with wanting to be more involved with the clubs I’m in. I didn’t want to do the bare minimum when I knew I could be doing more, and I love the roles I’m in. That’s why I applied for them in the first place, so it’s never really something I’ve thought about.

How do you think your leadership is going to help you in the future? 

Leadership in the extracurriculars I participate in has largely shown me what I want to major in. Exploring foreign policy related topics on the Debate Team has given me an interest in International Relations, and learning about problems like gentrification and redlining that affect marginalized communities through NA For Change has led me to possibly pursue a career in urban planning someday. It has also given me skills like communication, problem-solving, compromise, delegation, trust-building, and much more that can all be very useful in a work setting. When it comes to social life, I think leadership has made me much more rational and practical. It causes me to look at frustrating situations from a more mature and factual point of view, which has allowed me to accept the reality of negative situations and harmful relationships and do something about them. Overall, the leadership opportunities I’ve been given have shaped me as a person in so many different ways, and I wouldn’t be in the same place without them!