For Viv Shields '20, being the St. Anne’s-Belfield School nominee for this year’s Emily Couric Leadership Awards meant being recognized for four years of quiet work.
“It means so much to me to be recognized for all of the hard work I've done in high school that no one really knew about,” said Shields. “I believe it’s incredibly important for young women to be recognized as leaders and the Emily Couric Leadership Forum makes me very hopeful for the future of all women.”
In addition to serving in student government roles for each of her high school years, Shields has taken a leadership role in environmental and sustainability issues on campus and beyond. She was the 2019 recipient of the Frank Stinchfield Environmental and Experiential Scholarship, which she used to fund an experience with the NewGen Peacebuilder’s program. She employed the skills she learned there to launch a local youth advocacy group, the Youth Environmental Advocacy Committee.
“Viv’s journey of self-discovery and activism has been an inspirational one, and it has encompassed both her growing confidence in her compassionate, powerful voice and her commitment to environmental causes,” noted Ann Wicks, associate director of college counseling.
In addition to youth advocacy work, Shields has also taken the lead on local efforts to support girls interested in computer science. She has collaborated with local organization Women in Tech, and is active in “Girls Geek Days” for elementary school girls in the area.
Throughout her years of growth and advocacy, Shields has come to define her own style of leadership.
“In my opinion, leadership is listening to everyone’s thoughts, valuing everyone’s opinions, and supporting and celebrating each individual’s accomplishments,” she said. “I believe that it is critical for a successful leader to be informed, understanding, and respectful. If I were to pick one aspect of leaders that I admire the most, I would say passion. Passion is what drives leaders to make a change, which is what every leader should strive to reach. Change for the better.”
As an Emily Couric Leadership Award finalist, Shields was the recipient of a $10,000 scholarship that she will use to attend the University of Vermont. She plans to major in environmental studies and possibly environmental policy.
“St. Anne’s-Belfield has prepared me both academically and socially,” she noted. “I have had the pleasure of learning from some of the most intelligent and caring individuals. One of the best aspects of the School is the student-teacher relationships that form over the years. It has taught me how to speak to others with perspectives that differ from mine. Over the years I have learned how to navigate conversations in a way so that everyone’s opinions get heard. I am lucky and grateful to attend a school that has prepared me not only for college but life beyond that as well.”