Olivia 'Liv' Brown, award recipient.


Recipient of a Continuing Academic Excellence Award
The acknowledgement from the MPAC community for this kind of activism and my efforts as an advocate reaffirms the importance of taking action to support both local and global social justice initiatives.
Studying: Law and Arts (History) Dual Degree Program School: Trent University (first year)
Career aspirations: Lawyer
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What was the first thing you did when you found out you’re receiving a scholarship award and how did you feel?
When I found out that I was receiving a scholarship award, I immediately went to tell my Dad. He was on a work call, but I printed off the email and showed it to him on the phone – I couldn’t wait for him to finish his call to tell him the news! I feel very excited and appreciative to be selected as a recipient for the Continuing Academic Excellence Award.
What is the most important attribute to be a leader in your community and why?
In Grade 12, I was elected as the leader of Saints Action, my school’s social justice advocacy group. Working with my peers in a leadership role taught me how important it is to enrich and support your team. While we focused on creating change, I also ensured that we took time every meeting to connect and listen openly to each other’s ideas.  Our group had students from grades 9-12, and for some students, this was the first opportunity they had to interact with students in other grades. I remember in grade 9, how inspiring it was to speak with senior group members. As a social justice leader, not only do you have to be fierce in your fight to create change, but also dedicated to supporting and motivating the people in your team.
What does this award mean to you?
As a youth leader, I have been committed to helping my community in the areas of social justice and environmental stewardship. The acknowledgement from the MPAC community for this kind of activism and my efforts as an advocate reaffirms the importance of taking action to support both local and global social justice initiatives. This strengthens my resolve in moving forward to create positive change.
What has been your most rewarding volunteer experience?
My most rewarding volunteer experience has been as a peer tutor in an English Language Learners class. The students in this class originated from countries in conflict, including Kenya, Sudan, Turkey and Syria. I learned about these students’ diverse backgrounds, while helping to teach them reading, writing, and oral English.  Even though it was my responsibility to assist these students, I felt like they were teaching me more than I was teaching them! Their enthusiasm and determination was inspiring. Working with these students informed my perspective about many key issues in our world today.
What or who inspired you to choose your major?
I have always had a passion for social justice. Whether it be speaking out against racism when a local mosque was vandalized or supporting families by leading food drives at my school, I wanted to help. In 2019, I had the opportunity to study the Holocaust in Germany and Poland, meeting with Holocaust survivors and touring former concentration camps. After completing the program, I became the program Ambassador, presenting to schools and community groups to advocate for the importance of Holocaust education. I am intrigued by this period of human history and learning about the experiences of the people living during this time. The program taught me the importance of the law and the protection of human rights. When I returned from the trip, I knew that I had to pursue a career in law. I believe that examining our history can show us how to create a better future, which is why I chose to study Law and Arts (History) at Trent University. In my dual degree program, I will study history at Trent for two years, then transfer to Swansea University in Wales to study law at the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law. By studying both history and law, I aim to achieve a strong understanding of how I can positively influence society to improve people’s lives.
How did COVID-19 change your volunteering experience and what has it taught you?
COVID-19 has taught me that, despite everything happening in the world, supporting your community is the most important way to help others. As the leader of Saints Action, I decided to switch our weekly meetings to virtual meetings. I even encouraged the members to bring snacks to their computers, to replicate our in-person meetings! Several members said that our virtual meetings were the only times they saw people from school, and it reminded me of the importance of reaching out and checking in with our community. I am also one of my school’s Yearbook editors, and as a team, it was important to us to still complete the book and create something special and unique as a keepsake for our school community. I decided to create “Prom at Home” pages, where students were invited to dress up in the dresses and suits that they had purchased for Prom and take pictures to submit to the Yearbook. I initially thought that only a few students would participate, but I was inundated with glamorous and creative prom photos, and many students messaged me to express how much fun they had at their “photo shoots” (and I know firsthand, it really was fun!)
What do you hope to accomplish this school year?
This school year, in addition to my law and history classes, I have decided to take a variety of electives to learn new subjects and to meet students with a variety of interests. I look forward to expanding my contribution to social justice initiatives while maintaining a high academic standing in my classes. Trent University has many areas for new students to get involved, and I am looking forward to exploring university life!
Liv Brown speaking at the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association.
Liv and her dad, Evan Brown, Director, Operational Quality Management, in the Peterborough office.