Grade 11 student Vivian Liang was recently named the recipient of the Zonta Club of Victoria's Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

The award recognizes young women who "[demonstrate] leadership skills and commitment to public service and civic causes." And Vivian has exemplified that selflessness and passion for community since the moment she arrived at SMUS.

"I started doing service when I came here in Grade 9 by volunteering with the Victoria Brain Injury Society. ... Back in China, I've always done service. My brother has Down syndrome so our whole family is very into service work in that area. When I came to Canada, I was searching for an opportunity to give back, as well as a community that I'm close with," Vivian says.

While COVID-19 put some of her volunteer work on hold, Vivian was keen to continue fostering her connection to the brain injury community.

This school year, Vivian launched Voices of Brain Injury, an organization focused on telling the stories of people with brain injuries and raising awareness of brain injuries. She and her friend May Heo also created an original mindfulness colouring book this year to support people with brain injuries and seniors who feel isolated during the pandemic.

"The things that I'm working on are things that I'm so passionate about and things that I want to devote my time to," she says. Vivian hopes to study sociology or public policy after high school, and she says she wants to use her work to improve the lives of people with disabilities in China.

"She does her best to see where the world is revolving and who needs help," says Ms. Lindsey Doland, Vivian's academic advisor at SMUS. "And then she does her best to educate herself and put herself in a position to be a change maker. Students like Vivian give me a lot of hope for our future."

While Vivian didn't think she would win the Zonta award, she says she feels truly honoured to have received it. She's also now in the running for an International Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

"She's persistent in what she wants, she recognizes the needs of those around her and wants to fight for them, she's hugely empathetic, and she challenges herself," adds Lindsey. "She's going to be a world changer!"