Jasmin Khanom, a 2016 Catalyst alumnus from Luton, shares her experience shortly after graduating from the programme.

Although this may sound cliché and far-fetched, but believe me when I say catalyst changed my life, it really did. Catalyst for me really opened my mind in a way that I didn't know before, it broadened so many horizons and opened so many doors for me. Catalyst taught me so many new communication, leadership, social, and interfaith skills that I don't think I could have ever learnt anywhere else.  We are not often taught about parliament and politics in school and I must say the sessions we had really pushed my passion in wanting to become an MP and giving back to my town.

"Catalyst taught me so many new communication, leadership, social, and interfaith skills that I don't think I could have ever learnt anywhere else."

Catalyst taught me confidence and public speaking skills which really helped me as I was bestowed with the great honour of being invited to the US ambassador’s residence where I shared a stage with the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and performed a poetry piece in honour of Muhammad Ali for black history month in front of over 200 individuals. These included Sir Trevor McDonald and many other esteemed guests.

I am now also a Young Leader for the US Embassy in the UK.  I've also been accepted into a programme where I'll be travelling to Poland for a week and will have the pleasure of shadowing/working closely with much respected surgeons and consultants. I'm now taking the Duke of Edinburgh Award and believe it or not after completing the Catalyst programme - as I am a fire cadet - I along with my team won our intercounty competition and went onto the national competition! I can honestly say it was the team work and confidence skills that I learnt from Catalyst that really helped me.

I have also been involved in many more initiatives, campaigns, programmes in my community then I would not have dreamt of doing before this programme. I now find myself constantly challenging stereotypical views and getting into discussions about daily issues, and I must say I quite enjoy having debates now, I'm way more confident in engaging with different cultures/faiths and feel very strongly about the need for more inter-faith activities. I'm always on the look-out for new opportunities to get a hold of! 

On a whole, Catalyst helped me grow stronger as an individual. I now have big dreams of going to Oxford University. Catalyst was a turning point for me and I will never ever forget the instructors who went the extra mile for us. I sincerely thank everybody who helped to organise this amazing opportunity, catalyst truly does shape the young leaders of the future!