Bilvika and Nandika were formally announced as the City’s Youth Ambassadors for the coming year at a presentation dinner at Bowman Hall, Blacktown.
The pair impressed a panel of judges through several rounds of interviews, assessments and public speaking and were selected from a group of seven finalists to represent the youth of Blacktown City.
Outgoing Youth Ambassadors Riley R. from OLMC Parramatta, and Demi Marie S. from St John Paul II Catholic College, Schofields, handed over the baton to the new representatives after a year of proudly representing the City.
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Bilvika said being given the prestigious role was a “dream come true”.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for two to three years. I’ve been to citizenship ceremonies and I’ve heard youth ambassadors talk, and, as a 16-year-old in Year 12, this was my last shot,” she said.
Born in the UK to Indian parents, Bilvika said receiving Australian Citizenship with her family this year drove home her connection to Blacktown City.
“Blacktown has always stood out for me. The people here are incredible and we have a diverse community of 188 cultures.
“From my school being super supportive, to Council and to positions like the Youth Ambassador and Youth Advisory Committee, I have been given opportunities I don’t think I would have received anywhere else.”
Nandika, who is also in Year 12, applied for the program alongside her cousin after hearing about the role from her teachers.
“I have lived in Blacktown my entire life and it is the one thing that has been constant for me. I thought this would be an opportunity to give back to the City that has given me so much.
“I want to take on a role that will make me feel like a more active and valuable person in society.”
The 18-year-old hoped to use her position to inspire other young women of colour to aspire to leadership roles.
“I’m a woman of colour who is very passionate, so I think that is very inspiring for other women of colour. It’s empowering because we don’t really see a lot of people that look like us in the media.”
Bilvika brings to the role a raft of experiences, including as the assistant advertising manager of VolunTutor, a non-profit organisation that provides free tutoring for disadvantaged students.
She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, The Ponds High School Gazette, and has held numerous school leadership roles.
Nandika is School Captain of Evans High School and has represented her peers in leadership roles throughout her school years.
Her leadership highlights include organising International Women’s Day events, as well as days for autism and anti-bullying.
For almost 40 years, the Youth Ambassador program has provided young people the chance to gain invaluable experience representing Blacktown City, speaking at public events including Citizenship Ceremonies and Civic Receptions.
Ambassadors have the opportunity to meet high-profile individuals at special events and have the chance to attend a Local Government Conference. They also get to participate as members of both the Sister Cities and Youth Advisory committees.
Council wishes to congratulate Bilvika and Nandika on their appointments and thanks Riley and Demi Marie for their service over the past year.