Meet Indigo Girl Viktorija Burcul, the IGG scholarship recipient for 2019!
The IGG scholarship is awarded to a volunteer who embodies an Indigo Girl in her everyday life – Viktorija represents what it means to be an Indigo Girl in her actions, passions, and life-lived.
“We define an Indigo Girl as a young woman who is aware of her existence as a powerful person in the world. Indigo girls spread positive energy into their communities as agents of change, enabling their leadership and passion within their community. Viktorija truly fits this description, using her strengths to empower and inspire others.” IGG Directors
Viktorija is currently a co-branch leader, alongside Maddy Taylor, of the Ottawa branch at IGG. As a branch leader, Viktorija helps organize branch initiatives including girls’ clubs and fundraisers throughout the Ottawa community. She has been successfully running the branch for the past year while completing her final year of Biomedical sciences at The University of Ottawa.
She has an extremely bright future with plans to pursue a career where she can continue to have a positive influence on the people she works with. Though accomplished, Viktorija, humbly reflects on her path to success, recognizing that she struggled with self-confidence while growing up but was able to use confidence-building strategies, including journaling, that have now inspired her to help empower younger girls experiencing similar challenges.
“I have learned that the most beautiful people are the ones who are passionate about what they do."
Indigo Girls provides her with an outlet to channel this passion, and she’s learned a great deal from being a part of the organization:
“I have learned that the most beautiful people are the ones who are passionate about what they do. I’m constantly inspired by the girls we work with; they are so insightful and enthusiastic. The way that our director’s team and all branch members uplift each other is also inspiring; it’s refreshing and necessary for all we do as an organization and beyond.”
She has learned a lot about her leadership skills and taken note of the importance of identifying strengths in her volunteers and empowering them to achieve their full potential.
“If I recognize a talent in one of our members, I make sure I share these positive thoughts with them. Sometimes, you just need to hear it from someone else to take that step forward. Alongside Maddy, I actively share my appreciation for our branch members. I think my leadership abilities really thrived this past summer by planning our first fundraisers and our summer workshops. At our meetings, I allowed everyone to share where they would like to contribute to each activity, so that everyone was involved and doing what they love. In my opinion, that is what makes us work well as a team and gives us success.”
Vik also understands the importance of anti-oppression as a leader and in cultivating a powerful team. She actively tries to promote inclusion in her team through conversation around justice and privilege.
“Anti-oppression can be practiced in your everyday life. For me, this can be as simple as making everyone feel included and offering a safe-space for discussion. Simple actions such as using inclusive language challenge sexism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, etc. Above all, it is necessary to continue to educate ourselves and continue to learn about oppressed groups in order to better understand their experiences.”
Supporting and empowering others can lead to empathy fatigue. This past summer IGG volunteer Michelle Deherian presented on empathy fatigue and reinforced the importance to practicing frequent and effective self-care. Viktorija noted that she practices self-reflection and has learned to embrace emotions in all their forms:
“I have always been someone who expresses my strongest emotions in the form of tears –whether I am appreciative, distressed, or angry, I always tend to cry. Today, crying often has a negative connotation. It is seen as a sign of weakness or hyper-sensitivity. However, I have learned that this is something that reflects the passion I have regarding the subject. I believe I empower not only our branch members, but also my friends and family by encouraging them to acknowledge their inner emotions, and express them in a way that is fitting for them. By sharing our experiences, and offering support, we are able to take action in our lives. We should never be ashamed of our individual differences.”
"I want to work in a position where I can be a positive influence on the people I work with"
The impact Viktorija has had on the organization is undeniable! She hopes to carry this forward with her in future endeavours. Viktorija hopes to become a public health nurse to educate youth in schools on health promotion:
“I want to work in a position where I can be a positive influence on the people I work with, and a be in a position where I can see my accomplishments directly through someone else”
When asked what she would say to her 10-year-old self she spoke about the tendency for girls to compare themselves to others and that sometimes we struggle accepting our own paths.
“As a young girl, I struggled with comparing myself to other girls, peers and if I could go back I would tell myself, “who you are and what you’re doing is your own path - you will have your own dreams and goals and try not to compare your path to others”
She also highlights the importance of choosing friends who make you proud of who you are and the person you want to become.
This scholarship will help support Viktorija through her last semester and we can’t wait to see what she will accomplish!