An exceptional woman : Deanna

30 Nov 1999
It’s not very often that you see a grown adult walking around with a school dress on. Last month we asked you to put on a school dress and you got up to all sorts of crazy shenanigans in your dresses. We had 77 champions sign up and even managed to get international school dress wearers spanning from New York to Thailand to Spain to Saudi Arabia. It has been our most successful campaign yet and we can't tell you how overwhelmed and touched we are by how many of you (in particular men) were willing to put on a dress to provide our girls in Sierra Leone with scholarships for the year. So far we have raised over $41,000 which is AMAZING! 100 girls will be heading to school in 2012 thanks to your support. Plus we now have more than $15,000 in startup funding for LaunchPad. From the bottom of our hearts we want to say a massive, gigantic thank you to all those who have got involved. With only a couple of days left until it’s all over we thought we’d help you reach out by interviewing one of our superstars (who is currently in the lead for raising the most), Deanna Hood. Here’s why she’s such a girl champ... Deanna, tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your background? What makes you smile? To sum me up, I'm a student. I'm just finishing after five years of studying maths and electrical engineering bachelors at QUT in Brisbane, and I've loved (mostly) every minute of it - learning new things is really one of my passions in life. But baking is up there too! And how did you first hear about One Girl? I actually met the One Girl founders, Chantelle and David, at a conference called Brightest Young Minds in 2009. It's been incredible watching them do such wonderful things with One Girl, but then it twigged one day that DIIAD was my opportunity to do something wonderful for One Girl too, even if it was small in comparison. Being a girl student yourself, why do you feel education is so important in changing the world today? In particular, education for girls around the world? At QUT I'm the president of the Women in Engineering club and so am pretty keen on empowering women through education locally, but of course it's at a much different level here in Australia. We are all fortunate enough to have an education pretty much forced on us, which causes us to much too often take for granted that we even have the ability to read. In other countries, education, especially for girls, is not commonplace, so when presented with the opportunity to go to school they embrace it with all that they can. These children recognise it as the chance for their whole family to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and into the virtuous cycle of education. You are currently the highest fundraiser in our campaign so far. Way to go! Can you tell us what did you do for Do It In a Dress? And how you managed to get the support of so many of your friends and family? I wore a dress for one week but was determined to fill the week with embarrassing things like presenting at a networking event and going to a concert. I think the difficulty in fundraising is to move people from supporting what you're doing, to supporting it enough to get involved. I'm guilty myself of happily watching Chantelle's month in a school dress as a bystander until she asked if I would do more. So from that I sent personalised messages to all of my friends, always carried a money box and online donation cards with me, and tried to spread the word through email and newspapers. I even managed quite a few donations from strangers thanks to my 'ask me why' sign - otherwise people would just stare at me! Were there outstanding moments from Do It In A Dress? Any funny stories you wish to share? I was really nervous about going to the hardcore concert in my school dress.. partly because it was 18+ and my sister had me convinced that I wouldn't get in! But it turned out to be the time of the week when I got the least looks - I guess when you're standing next to a guy with tattoos all over his face, you seem quite normal! The rest of the time it was quite empowering for myself, knowing that everyone was looking at me but not knowing what was going on. I did occasionally find myself really frustrated when I would walk through the city and be like "why the heck is everyone staring at me?!" having gotten too used to wearing my dress towards the end of the week. But it can be possible to get used to fundraising too - watching the tally go up $20 at a time seems to have desensitised me to what I know is a lot of money. What helps me keep things in perspective is remembering when I first signed up for DIIAD and I saw the leaderboard - "Mum! This girl raised eight-hundred dollars!! How is that even possible?" Given that I thought my initial target of $500 was ambitious, I can't believe how far I've come with everyone's support! Well you definitely smashed your target, and we want to say a massive thank you. Tell us now Do It In a Dress is all over, what’s on the cards now for Deanna Hood? I hope to pursue a masters of robotics in Europe next year.. I'll definitely be taking my school dresses! If you’d like to help us keeping smashing our target of $40,000 please visit YEAH!

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