Interview with “Living the Example” National Video Contest winner Sigrid Madzunkova!

Last month we announced that 16-year-old Sigrid Madzunkova was the winner of Mentor USA’s “Living the Example” National Video Contest. We have now had the pleasure to speak a little more in-depth with Sigrid about her inspiring dedication to set a good example for her peers, what she plans to do with the prize money, and more.

13 April 2022 | Living the Example

Congratulations on your win Sigrid! We were so inspired by your video and your dedication to your interests and hobbies.

Thank you, it makes me happy to hear that! I’m thankful for all the positive feedback I received.

How does it feel having been awarded the winner of this contest?

I still can’t believe it! The day I found out; I had a very long day at school. I got in my car, and my mom was on the phone with Gudrun. We put her on speaker, and she told me I won! I was speechless, it’s such an amazing recognition. I feel very grateful.

In your video, you told us about how you have pursued both your interest in math, while also engaging in more artistic subjects like French and art, as well as volunteering in your community. What would you say motivates you to “live the example” like this, and why do you think it’s important?

I don’t have a tangible object that I’m working for, or a point I’ll reach where I’ll stop learning or bettering myself. It feels entirely natural to push myself, I enjoy it very much. I can’t imagine myself not being intellectually stimulated, I’m very ambitious in that sense. Math and art make me happy; I enjoy trying to understand the world that I live in. There’s a great strength that comes from the awareness of your own life, and your capacity. That you are a complex person capable of good things. Physically, “living the example” is different for everyone, but spiritually, the idea is to live in the most fulfilling way. Not only is it individually important to live the example, in order to be happy, but the actions of every individual affects’ society as a whole.

Not only is it individually important to live the example, in order to be happy, but the actions of every individual affects' society as a whole.

- Sigrid Madzunkova

What would you say your dream job is? And what are your future study plans if you wish to further your education?

That’s the question I always have the most difficulty answering. There are so many interesting subjects I can pursue, and I only have one lifetime. I still don’t know what my dream job is. Math and science are my main strengths, so I’m most likely majoring in nuclear or molecular physics. Physics, for me, is a bridge between math and the natural world. It’s a nice compromise between artistic and analytical thinking, which I deeply enjoy. However, I might minor in art history, or an era of literature. I know for a fact that I want a PhD, I’m just not sure about the subject yet.

Part of your prize as the winner was 500-dollar cash. What do you plan to do with this money?

I’m definitely saving it, I’m not a big spender! There’s a Swedish saying, “den som spar han har”; the one who saves, has. I’m following that saying. I might celebrate with some baked goods though.

And as always, we would like to finish with the question – What is your favorite motivational or inspirational quote?

In Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes there’s an excellent quote, “Too much sanity may be madness, and maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.”

The craziest thing in life is to accept things as they are, and not try to make them better. Passivity in situations that are capable of change is unwise. Just because things appear to be bad, that doesn’t mean we can’t make things better. I’m inspired by this quote because it leaves the door open to change.

Thank you, Sigrid, for talking with us and sharing your very insightful thoughts on how to “live the example”. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Watch Sigrid’s winning video.

Learn more about the “Living the Example” National Video Contest.

Learn more about Mentor USA’s “Living the Example” peer-to-peer program.