Victoria Hall - Texas Interview by Olivia Bush Nomination by Brenda Welke Photography by Kenneth Siscon Photography Issue 30 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Victoria Hall has spent the past four years advocating, raising money and awareness for victims of human trafficking by partnering with the nonprofit organization Dresscember. At the age of sixteen she traveled to India with the organization YouCanFreeUs that rescues victims of human trafficking. She went into locations delivering care packages and planting seeds for rescue missions. She also met and worked with survivors in rehabilitation programs. Victoria sees the light and hopes all she meets will see that light and her fight to bring awareness through her passions to this cause.
Photography by Kenneth Siscon Photography
How did you know you wanted to help and advocate for human trafficking victims? I have always been the kind of person to stand up when I see injustice but it wasn't until my freshman year of high school when I truly grew a passion for the rights of human trafficking victims. When I connected the resources that I held I knew I had to speak up and make it known.
What different kinds of work have you done for human rights? For the past four years, I have advocated through a non-profit campaign called Dressember. I wear a dress each day in December raising money to fund all sorts of rescue and rehabilitation needs as well as starting conversations through the dresses. I have also traveled across the world to India on a rehabilitation trip for rescued survivors of human trafficking. But my biggest work is the conversations daily I have with friends, family and through my social media bringing the conversation to light and creating awareness all over.
Tell me more about going to India with YouCanFreeUs. What was this experience like? India was a trip that forever changed me. This trip with YouCanFreeUs showed me the fruit of the work being done. I was able to see these men and women who have been rescued from human trafficking and are on their way to becoming superheroes in their own life. Alone the conversation had given me more of a fire to help bring awareness and do what I can with my resources to help rescue from this modern-day slavery.
Photography by Katie Skrepnek
What have you learned from meeting with the survivors of human trafficking? I have re-learned the lesson that no matter how deep or far gone you think your life may be, there's always a light at the end of that tunnel. You can be in the darkest of situations and there is still a way to get out but not only get out, but there is also a way to achieve your dreams and live the life you have always wanted. You are not defined by where you have been; these men and women may have been victims of trafficking but to me and any other advocate you speak to they are true survivors and an inspiration to us all.
What's the biggest way the average human can help raise awareness and help human trafficking victims? Conversation. This can be with friends, family, people at school or work, or even online through social media. You would be surprised by the number of people who just don't know and are unaware of these events still occurring today. So my biggest tip to all is just having an open conversation and being aware of the signs and possibilities as this happens everywhere, not just across the world.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished, and how did you do it? The hardest thing I have yet to accomplish has to be my academic achievements. I was diagnosed with ADD and Dyslexia at an extremely young age, I was also placed in the Gifted and Talented (GT) program making me twice gifted, this brought upon more struggles than I could ever imagine. I was bullied constantly throughout elementary, middle, and high school by both students and some teachers. This was extremely difficult for me to understand and made me feel worthless. I felt like I would never make it in life. My hopes of graduating from high school felt small and less of having the possibility of achieving a further education. Fast forward to now my senior year, I have spent the last two years pursuing an online education that gave me the resources as well as the time to achieve my dreams and let my talents sore and fly high. I Graduated a semester early January 2020 and will go into college with 24 hours of credits completed. This alone has been a great achievement and will always hold close to my heart but I will forever be proud of the fact that I got into all colleges I applied for and will be attending my dream school of 10 years, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles Fall 2020.
Photography by Katie Skrepnek
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Work hard, stay humble, and be true to yourself. It is and will always be a difficult path when standing up for what you believe in but you will ALWAYS find the good in every situation. You will have people who support you and people who will want to bring you down but knowing your truth and the good you have created in the world will mean more than any negative comment you will ever receive.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? So much can happen in five years so it is quite fantastic to even imagine the possibilities. I hope that in five years I will have graduated from college with my master's degree and moved on into some kind of career in the Fashion industry weather it is my own company or working as a costume designer for a Hollywood studio. I know the one thing I can guarantee is my advocacy for human rights and prevention of sex/human trafficking globally will continue and will hopefully grow into a larger platform reaching for awareness than ever.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? My heart will always belong to dance, after a severe injury in 2018 and surgery in 2019 my dance career ended early. I will always consider myself a dancer and will always participate in my limitations as it brings me great joy in life.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? I love to cook. Growing up with Celiac disease and other food allergies I had to learn how to adapt. My parents have always told me that ever since I was a baby I had an eye for cooking; they could barely get me to watch the classic children's shows but the moment The Cooking Channel or Food Network came on I was hooked. Cooking quickly became my outlet while adjusting to life with food allergies and now it is my favorite hidden talent!
Photography by Katie Skrepnek
How do you keep yourself organized with everything you have on your plate? I heavily rely on my faith to help me when things feel overwhelming. God has been so faithful over the years providing such perfect timing with the special opportunities and events I have been able to advocate for and take part in. I have many special people in my life supporting my unique upbringing that has provided such a flexible lifestyle being able to experience more than the average 17 years old would.
3 Things on your bucket list Achieve the success of my own Fashion Design brand, a brand that gives back the position of every product sold to organizations I stand for. Travel as much as I can. I never want to put a limitation on the places I will go or the things I can do so wherever I can get an opportunity to travel to my answer will be YES! Lastly to be a mom. My dream one day is to have three children of my own and to foster to adopt two or more kiddos. My heart has always been tender for children making sure they know they are loved and welcome in this life and the joys that being a mother to me are far too imported to let fly by.
Who do you find inspiring? My family has to be the most inspiring person I could think of. While there are so many people out there I could say have inspired me, they have not shaped me the way my family has. My mother is the strongest woman you will ever meet and she will always be by my sister and I’s side in support of our aspirations and goals, yet she never shies away to call us out if we are wrong, which has built so much character in me today. My father is my best friend and will always be. He shows me what it looks like to work hard and stay so humble with success and I will carry that with me forever. Lastly, my sister has no idea how much she has impacted my life and how much I have learned from her.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think it is my individuality. I hope and pray when people look at me they see a genuine soul and a girl who is true to herself in every aspect of life. We will never learn anything new by being the same as the person next to you and I hope when people look at me they feel like they can be the truest version of themself and live a life where they aren't afraid of others' criticism.
Anything else you’d like to tell us? I would just like to end by saying that nothing is too small or too big to achieve with grit, passion and lots of dedication.
Victoria will be featured in Issue 30 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!