Shiela M. Cancino, DTM, of Hong Kong, credits her mother’s work ethic and dedication to her family for inspiring Cancino’s own hard work. Cancino studied diligently and became a certified public accountant. In 2010, she officially launched 4S Share a Secret Spread a Success Inc., to provide scholarships to underprivileged students in the Philippines. While she was able to provide financial resources, Cancino also saw that these students sometimes need additional motivation. Inspired by her time as a Toastmasters Division leader in 2014, she launched a new program called I-Taas Kaalaman, which translates to “Knowledge Advancement.” After watching successful Toastmasters share their stories and improve their talents, she realized inspirational speeches could change lives. I-Taas Kaalaman invites successful individuals who grew up with few opportunities for success to speak to 4S students—and it helps! To date, more than 50 4S scholars have finished their studies and can support their families through their careers.
“The first thing every Toastmaster needs to do is enlist the help of a mentor. Your mentor is your number one well-wisher,” says Kamala Nellen of Ojai Evening Toastmasters. She experienced this firsthand with her mentor Pat Peake, who passed away in April 2020. The two met at Ojai Valley Toastmasters in Ojai, California, U.S. She says Peake always engaged the room, shared stories of vulnerability, and regularly won speech contests over the years. He challenged Nellen and taught her to give speeches showing vulnerability even when she felt uncomfortable. “I am so much more open in my speeches now and less concerned about how I will look or sound,” she says. “My goal is to speak my truth. Pat’s words ring in my ears: ‘Speak from your heart. Grab their hearts.’ What a blessing he gave me!”
When Sonali Subasinghe (pictured left) joined Kegalle Toastmasters in Kegalle, Sri Lanka, she lacked confidence and was seeking the opportunity to improve her self-esteem and learn to share her knowledge in front of an audience. Prarthana Liyanaarachchi became her mentor and helped her through the beginning steps of improving her speeches and going beyond that. Subasinghe’s skills improved, but recently she gave a speech that lowered her confidence. Luckily, Liyanaarachchi was there to give valuable advice: “Believe in yourself in every situation and do not let emotions control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” These words stayed with Subasinghe, who uses them as a reminder to stay confident. “My mentor is very supportive and caring. I will be thankful to her forever,” she says. “She is my pillar of strength.”
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