This is the seventeenth in our series of stories celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of youth in our community. These inspirational young adults are enriching our lives with their passion and commitment to the betterment of society.
I first met Lizzie briefly at the Democracy in Action Youth Conference in Victoria on October 28, 2014. Within minutes of chatting with her I recognized that she was an incredibly talented, articulate and motivated young woman. She immediately struck me as just the type of inspirational young person that Judy Fainstein and I try to feature in our Celebrating Youth in our Community series. On November 21, just a few weeks later we arranged to interview Lizzie at my constituency office. To say we were impressed with Lizzie’s passion for politics and democracy, as well as her long list of accomplishments, would be an understatement.
Lizzie was nominated by Mount Doug’s principal and subsequently selected as one of only thirty BC youth leaders to attend the Democracy in Action Conference sponsored by the Rotary Club. It was a pilot initiative of the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, where youth were provided with an opportunity to meet government leaders, learn about the electoral process and the operations of government. Vicki Huntington the Independent MLA from Delta South and I were honoured to speak with the thirty leaders of tomorrow and were profoundly impressed by the engaging discussions that ensued.
Lizzie was born in Victoria and moved to Port Alberni at age three. There she attended Wood Elementary School, followed by École E. J. Dunn Middle School where she was schooled in French Immersion from Grades 6 to 8. In March 2011, Lizzie applied to the Mt. Doug Challenge Program for Gifted and Talented Students. The application process included a three-hour exam. Lizzie had done her research and determined that Mt. Doug’s Challenge Program was the best fit for her. Needless to say she was accepted. At the age of just fourteen, she packed her bags and moved to Victoria to live with a family member so that she could start the challenge program in grade nine. Lizzie has thrived at Mt. Doug and has immersed herself into so many aspects of her high school, that it would be hard to cover all her activities – and there are so many.
Lizzie has maintained a high academic standing throughout high school. Her academic load in Grade 12 includes Advanced Placement Physics, Pre-Calculus and Calculus, Chemistry and English Challenge. In addition to academic excellence, Lizzie has taken on many leadership roles in the school. She currently serves at Prime Minister in the school’s Student Council (one of three “Tri-Ministers”), which is modeled on the Provincial Legislature. Lizzie is a natural born leader with a talent for pubic speaking. This is her third year on Student Council. In Grade 11, she was Co-Minister of Environment and in Grade 10 she was Junior Minister of Environment.
Lizzie was a founding member of the Mt. Doug Model United Nations Club. She is very interested in international politics and works hard to hone her public speaking and debating skills. At a Model Commonwealth Conference at St. Michaels University School in October 2014, Lizzie represented New Zealand.
Lizzie’s other school club involvement includes the Youth Combating Intolerance Club and she was a founding member of the Mt. Doug Club Council, which was started in September 2014. When asked what makes her upset, Lizzie immediately, and without hesitation responded “Bill 2“. She informed us about her recent visit to the legislature and watching Question Period and the debate on Bill 2 — Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. There she recalled feeling outraged at the government’s singular focus on LNG and their dismantling of greenhouse gas emissions control legislation. She described a passionate exchange between two students who were wondering “is there anything we could do?” On the lighter side, when asked what makes her happy, Lizzie offered “waking up early at 5am to watch Disney Movies” and, oddly, Broccoli!
Athletic endeavors are a big part of Lizzie’s school life and she has joined several school teams at Mt. Doug. She was on school volleyball and curling teams in Grade 9. Since Grade 10, Lizzie has been a member of the Cheerleading Team and this year she is the Team Captain. When she joined cheerleading, she did so because “my friends bet me I couldn’t, so I decided to prove them wrong”. Although she told us “everything I do starts as a joke”, it is clear that Lizzie puts heart and soul into her athletic endeavors and her hard work pays off. After only 2 months on the cheerleading team, Lizzie broke two ribs during practice, but she persevered and her dedication has led to her becoming team captain. She loves the team bonding and appreciates that she has learned so much from the experience. She loves to see her teammates and especially the younger cheerleaders improve, recognizing that the “team is more important than me”.
With the same enthusiasm and dedication, Lizzie has been a member of Mt. Doug’s Track and Field Team since April 2013. “I took to the hammer throw event immediately” upon giving it a try, after joining the track team “so I could do stuff with my friends”. She has become a formidable competitor in hammer throw, discus and shot put, placing very well in BC High School Track and Field Championships. Her best result in the provincial meet was 3rd place in hammer throw in 2014 (with an impressive distance of 48 meters, 26 centimeters). Within 16 months of taking up the hammer throw, Lizzie placed 5th nationally in her age category. To achieve this success, Lizzie spent 8 hours per week at practicing and 4 hours per week in weight training.
Not surprisingly, with her enthusiasm and outgoing nature, Lizzie loves volunteering as the school mascot — the Mount Doug Ram — which she has done since arriving at Mt. Doug in 2011.
After hearing a presentation about Our Place Society in 2012, Lizzie decided to become a volunteer there. Through this experience, she has had her eyes opened up to the societal impact of poverty and homelessness. “I could have said no, this is too hard for me to do, but I didn’t, I went back” and this volunteering has become an important part of her life.
In terms of career plans, Lizzie has a very clear vision of where she is headed in the future. In her own words:
“In the near future I would like to pursue post secondary education, studying either physics or mathematics as well as political sciences. Afterwards, I would like to begin a career in politics, starting first as an intern at the BC Legislature. Later I would like to begin running as an independent. If I should get into office I would like to push for increased funding to low cost housing, better work placement programs and better rehabilitation and drug prevention programs. To do this I believe education is the place to begin.”
Lizzie has tremendous drive, passion and is highly motivated to succeed. She is a powerful and articulate communicator who is not afraid of stepping up into a leadership role. For example, when she wanted to learn more about politics and the workings of the Legislature, she organized a field trip for the Mt. Doug Leadership class. She followed up by inviting me to participate in a broader discussion with the many leadership students at Mount Doug who were unable to participate in the tour.
Lizzie is destined for greatness. She is a leader with a vision. A vision that so many find easy to rally behind. Thank you Lizzie for inspiring those around you.