Ingrid Hakanson 1996

Ingrid HakansonMusician, medical professional, aid worker, friend – these words describe Ingrid Hakanson 1996, the extraordinary woman who receives this year’s Dr. Susan Ditchburn Young Alumna award.

Entering Havergal in Grade 3, Ingrid always had a positive disposition, huge smile and infectious laugh. She is known for her compassion, for continually striving to do better and for helping those in need…no matter the cost.

She moved west after graduating from Havergal, completing a B.Sc. in ecology and fish biology before going on to postgraduate work in respiratory therapy.

Her work as a respiratory therapist at Vancouver Coastal Health led to much professional success, including a role in a six-part medical documentary series about health care, life and tragedy in the hospital’s emergency room. In 2014, Ingrid joined the program advisory board at her alma mater, Thompson Rivers University. This year, she led an advisory panel and participated in another panel at the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapy’s annual conference.

After the devastating earthquake in 2010, Ingrid joined a medical mission in Haiti, where she assisted doctors and helped to teach respiratory therapy to medical personnel. Following that, she travelled to Liberia with a neurosurgical team to provide surgery and education to help patients who would not otherwise have survived. Earlier this year, she volunteered to go to the Ebola hot zone in Sierra Leone, where she treated patients and trained local staff.

She was then hired by Save the Children to supervise health workers in Sierra Leone at the Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town, where she managed a local staff of 50 and taught patient care in both Ebola treatment and suspect wards. Through her guidance and education, several of her staff members achieved management positions. She helped move the clinic towards a structure that incorporated more local staff into leadership positions and wrote a management policy to help shape the department. She often reflects that it was inspiring and life-changing to have been a part of this history and to witness the courage of so many people.

Once home from Sierra Leone, she organized a gala to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. Aside from her professional and community service, Ingrid has also enjoyed a 12-year career in the electronic music industry, with several published albums and many live performances at music festivals and special events.

A lover of nature and all living things, she enjoys an active West Coast lifestyle, spending time with her wonderful family on Vancouver Island. Ingrid has truly demonstrated the meaning of giving back and serving the worldwide community. She embodies Havergal’s mission to prepare young girls to make a difference.

Written by Julia Gillespie Pantalone, 1996