This is the 22nd 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.
Ruby was one of a group of students who visited my MLA office in April of this year. Across BC similar groups were visiting MLA offices asking MLAs to commit to do what they can to stop attempts to increase thermal (as opposed to metallurgical) coal exports through BC ports (I‘ve written extensively about this in the past). It was the first time I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Ruby and I was delighted to sign the pledge (and subsequently mount it and hang it in my constituency office). I was also profoundly impressed by her commitment and passion.
Ruby is a multi-talented young woman who excels at school and is working towards the betterment of her community in so many ways. She was born in Victoria, attended Willows Elementary School and Monterey Middle School before attending Oak Bay High School. This week Ruby starts her final year in the newly built Oak Bay High School.
Ruby loves languages and learning about diverse cultures. Her parents immigrated to Canada from mainland China (near Guangzhou in Canton Province) when they were young adults. Ruby has studied at the Victoria Chinese Public School and speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. She received academic awards every year from 2009 to 2014 and a Chinese Painting Award in 2011. She remains closely affiliated to the school through acting as a grade one teacher’s assistant and (starting this fall) as an assistant in the Chinese water colour painting class. In addition, Ruby helps teach and rehearse Chinese cultural dance to younger students, aiding them to prepare for performances including the Chinese New Year celebrations and the Victoria Day parade.
At the Victoria Chinese Public School, Ruby has taken a great interest in the history of Victoria’s Chinese community. She has been able to transcribe or transliterate from Chinese (Cantonese) to English and she helps out as a volunteer at the Royal BC Museum. Her volunteer duties have included doing research for the human history department at the Royal BC Museum.
Ruby is a very accomplished musician. A student with the Victoria Conservatory of Music (VCM) since 2005, she has achieved the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Grade 10 level in piano. She is currently working on achieving an Associate of the Royal Conservatory (ARCT) Diploma in piano performance. This is the highest academic standing for performance awarded by the Royal Conservatory. Included in her list of awards are the VCM Millicent Lavoy Piano Award (2014); the Hilda King RCM Theory Award (2013) and the VCM David Foster Piano Award (2011).
Ruby started learning to play the violin in Grade 5 and was in the School Districts’ Strings Program until Grade 10, enjoying many opportunities to perform at school concerts, during school tours, community performances and arts festivals.
An exceptional student academically, Ruby has achieved a Grade Point Average of 5.0 with Distinction in Grades 9, 10 and 11 (averages above 90% each year). When we interviewed Ruby for this article, it was during the summer and she was attending summer school to complete English 12 – to get it done so there would be more time for the many activities Ruby will pursue in her graduating year. For example, she will be co-leading the Environment Club, participating in the Debate Club and continuing a project she is working on (and co-founded) with students from two other high schools called Victoria Youth Matters. The aim of Victoria Youth Matters is to “engage youth in politics and engage politicians in youth”. With a federal election coming in October, Ruby and the other co-founders will be holding all candidates forums for their local electoral ridings. The topics chosen would be based on a survey of youth’s understanding, interest and opinions on politics.
Ruby has received many awards and accolades for her achievements at school and for her leadership and service to the broader community. In 2015, these have so far included being the Community Leadership and Philanthropy Pillar Representative at the Old School Farewell Ceremony, receiving the Oak Bay High Difference Maker Award, Best Overall Leadership Student Award and the Most Involved in the Community Award. In the community, Ruby received a District of Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star Award in 2014 and in 2015 she was the keynote speaker at the Young Exceptional Stars annual event.
Ruby was Student Council Community Leader Representative in Grade 10 and Student Council Treasurer in Grade 11. Other school involvement includes the Cops for Cancer Campaign, Peer Tutoring and helping new students settle in at Oak Bay High. She has assisted the school counsellor by translating between English and Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) for new students (and their parents) from China. In Grade 12, Ruby will also lead the Amnesty International Club at her school.
We are not sure where a person would find the time and energy to do more, but there is much more on Ruby’s plate. She has been very active in the Rotary Club’s International Action Club (known as Interact Club) at Oak Bay High. In Grade 11, as Interact Club President, she conducted meetings, organized events and worked on projects that benefited the school as well as projects that promote international goodwill. She was fortunate to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Conference in Tacoma Washington in Grade 10, where she further developed leadership skills. In May 2015, Ruby took part in “Adventures in Citizenship”, an annual Interact program where 200 youth from across Canada travel to Ottawa to learn about the history of politics, explore Canadian identity and learn about our democratic institutions.
Ruby has been active in the community as a volunteer in many ways, including the Oak Bay Lodge “Memory Café”, where youth discuss topics of interest and share memories with senior citizens; the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival and the Oak Bay Tea Party. As I noted earlier, she has participated in the youth-led “Defend Our Future” action and she was part of the organizing team for the YesBC (Youth for Environmental Stewardship) 2015 Youth Climate Action Summit & Off the Grid Music Festival.
To challenge herself, Ruby joined the girl’s school rugby team last year and found out that she loves the sport and she hopes to play in Grade 12. She has also been on the school’s badminton and cross country teams. She has a Bronze Cross in Lifeguard and Lifesaving from the Canadian Red Cross, including standard first aid and CPR training.
In looking 10 years ahead, Ruby will have completed her post-secondary education and she hopes to be working on social justice issues in some way, possibly as a diplomat. When asked what makes her happy, she said “making a difference in people’s lives makes me happy”. She has been inspired by many people, including Mr. Alan York (recently retired as a counsellor at Oak Bay High) and Mr. Tim Bradshaw, Oak Bay High teacher, debate coach and sponsor of the school’s Rotary Interact club. Another person who has been an inspiration to Ruby is Winnifred Scott Wood, her past piano teacher.
Ruby is an outstanding ambassador for youth in so many ways. She’s highly motivated and organized and she takes on new challenges willingly. While she may accomplish so much and help so many, you would never know it from her quiet, modest and unassuming manner. Thank you, Ruby for all your contributions and hard work in your school and community. Oak Bay is a better place because of all that you do.
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