Interview with Loizza Aquino (@loizzaaquino)

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Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? 

In 2015, while I was in high school, my best friend died by suicide. So at the age of 16, I founded my own non-profit organization – Peace of Mind Canada. The youth-led organization is focused on creating compassionate communities in every part of Canada, in which we can all comfortably share our mental health journey. Since the organization first got started, we have hosted events (in-person and virtual) in Manitoba’s capital – Winnipeg and the largest city in the country – Toronto, reaching a few thousand young people. The events have included poetry nights, small concerts, stadium shows, and virtual workshops and conferences.

As a result of my work, I received a full-ride $70,000 scholarship through Canadian bank TD Canada Trust, earning the TD Scholar title. My organization itself has also received both local and national recognition for the work it continues to do for Canadian youth.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this? 

One of my favourite experiences has to be when I was invited back to my hometown in the Philippines, where I had the pleasure of meeting senior members of the administration, including the Vice-President. I was also presented with an award for my advocacy initiatives and my immense desire to empower other youth, particularly female people of colour, to create a difference.

 When I received the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award from RBC Royal Bank and Canadian Immigrant magazine, my story was shared by organizations and media outlets coast-to-coast. It was also shared by the Canadian embassy in the Philipines on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CanEmbPH/posts/1111475659007522).

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? 

Taking time for yourself, and focusing on your own physical and mental health is crucial. Because you cannot help others before you help others. Practicing self-care is not selfish, nor is taking a moment to think about you. Also, ensure you establish a strong support network that you can reach out to when you need help – this can include family, friends, colleagues, or anyone else you trust and can be there for you. I also share other tips on my new English/French podcast – Together, Ensemble. (https://anchor.fm/togetherensemble).

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? 

I credit my success to a far range of individuals, too many to list. But it does include persons such as my parents and siblings, specifically my older sister Lorhiz Aquino, an avid champion for eSports in Manitoba through the Manitoba Esports Association and Canada in general. Along with close friends such as Wali Shah (lifeaswali.com) and Ben Sabic (bensabic.ca), both of whom have spoken at WE Day stadium events along with at many educational institutions and fundraisers, Wali has spoken at events for Canada’s Walk of Fame and Ben recently founded his foundation (bensabic.foundation). Other thanks for my success go to my high school teachers and professors at the University of Toronto.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? 

I have used my voice and courage to fill others with the passion for fostering change in their community and making a difference and showing that it is okay for them not to be okay. Previously, I have delivered a keynote address at an international conference hosted by World YMCA in London, UK, for over 5,000 young people. I led an online mental wellness workshop for 500+ Canadian students, in partnership with Student Life Network and CIBC, to show how to focus on you during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was also the recipient of the YMCA of Greater Toronto Peace Medal in 2018, alongside Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri and community advocate Dale Swift.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? 

“If you died at 5:10, you wouldn’t be able to see the beauty at 6:00.” – I have lived by this quote ever since my best friend passed away and it holds close meaning to me. The quote illustrates that your life still has meaning and while you may be facing a struggle right now, and seeing darkness, you should hold on because there is beauty ahead and a shining light, that’ll guide you through the journey that is life.

The tweet in which I published the quote also went viral, garnering over 25,000 retweets, and nearly 40,000 likes.

How can our readers follow you on social media? 

Readers can find my official website at LoizzaAquino.com and on Twitter and Instagram at LoizzaAquino.

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