Another Aramcon Earns a Toastmaster First

For Akanke Abdul-Khaaliq, winning the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) was a dream come true. But it was a dream that required much hard work, perseverance, unwavering determination and personal commitment. In late July, the Aramcon earned the highest honor for a Toastmaster in Saudi Arabia by being named Toastmaster of the Year for the 2014-15 term. This was on top of earning the highest educational award given by Toastmasters International — the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) — earlier in the summer. Abdul-Khaaliq is the first woman to win the Toastmaster of the Year award in the Kingdom in 35 years. Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization whose mission is to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. The organization has four core values: integrity, respect, service, and excellence. Abdul-Khaaliq's DTM award was the culmination of achieving other prerequisite milestones required on the communication and leadership tracks of Toastmasters Internationals advanced curriculum. Multiple tiers of certifications must be earned before being awarded the DTM award. Abdul-Khaaliq received the 2014-2015 Toastmaster of the Year award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the success of communication and leadership development for Toastmasters in Saudi Arabia. It also recognizes her tremendous personal achievements and contributions made in outreach activities outside of Toastmasters. The founding president and immediate past President of the Dhahran Women’s Toastmasters Club, she was one of 10 nominated nationwide for this award. She follows her husband, Nashid Abdul-Khaaliq, a technical adviser working at the Upstream Professional Development Center, who was named the 2013-2014 Toastmaster of the Year. Abdul-Khaaliq has been a successful creative writer, TV host and producer of talk shows, a counselor, a mentor, an artist, and a devoted and supportive wife and mother. Her journey in Toastmasters started in 2009, when she realized the need to hone her public speaking skills in order to address, inspire and motivate large numbers of people. Being a successful TV host, there was no dearth of confidence, but the anxiety of communicating with large audiences in person in a free flowing, dynamic and interactive way challenged her. It was this very need that brought her to Toastmasters. She accepted the challenge and performed admirably in delivering more than 40 speeches, winning numerous speech contests, becoming an innovative leader and founder of Toastmasters clubs, mentoring new and inexperienced toastmasters in Division M, and hosting many workshops and seminars which culminated with her earning the DTM. We salute you, Akanke, for your significant accomplishment as a DTM and for being recognized as the Toastmaster of the Year 2014-2015 for all of Saudi Arabia. Congratulations!