happy youth woman speaker

We recently caught up with Minerva alumna, Danica Dixon, who participated in several programs including, Indigenous Roots, Executive Days, and Learning to Lead™, and is currently a member of our Youth Advisory Council.

Danica recently graduated from Capilano University with plans to pursue teaching. According to Danica, Minerva has had her back every step of the way: “they’re not necessarily on stage with me, but they’re in the audience.” 

When asked about her life, Danica immediately shares her Indigenous heritage. Candidly, she revealed that it was not until she had participated in both an SFU summer camp and Minerva’s Indigenous Roots program that she began to understand her cultural identity.

Last year Danica shared her perspective on Indigenous women in leadership at Minerva’s Face of Leadership luncheon, to a crowd of over 300 people. And last month, Danica had opportunity to share her story at RavenSPEAK a program that amplifies the voices of Indigenous people. At RavenSPEAK, Danica was the youngest participant by six years and was able to use her platform to discuss issues important to her community.

Underpinning her RavenSPEAK presentation was one theme: Girl Misunderstood. Danica shared that while she appears extremely extroverted, she struggles internally with self-confidence. This paradox challenged her understanding of self, particularly in the realm of public speaking where others were moved by her voice even though she was terrified to speak in front of large crowds.

Danica revealed that in the dress rehearsal (less than 24 hours before her RavenSPEAK talk), she forgot the entirety of her speech. There she was, standing on stage with a beautiful memorized talk, but her mind was blank. Luckily, it was only the dress rehearsal and as she confided in the other female speakers, they reminded her that errors make you human. The next day, Danica delivered a flawless presentation and spoke with accuracy, poise, and even added some useful improvisations on the fly!

In Danica’s own words:

“Sometimes my smile is misunderstood – but when we can be our real selves, we are seen and understood. When I am honest about my feelings with others, I feel understood. …Because we don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to play a character.”

With immense pride, Danica shared that at RavenSPEAK, she “taught the audience something.” This builds on what she learned through her recent practicum at Capilano University, that teaching is the most rewarding form of leadership. For this reason, she hopes to become an elementary school teacher to foster leadership capabilities in her students in in turn, help them find their voice.

Photos by Wonderful Ida

This piece was written by Emily Hardy, a summer intern at Minerva. She is currently studying at Georgetown University and Majoring in International Politics with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She decided to intern with Minerva because she had observed the powerful impacts of Learning to Lead™ in her peers and wanted to help an organization that fosters so much positive change.


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