Distinguished alumnae recognized in honour of Brescia’s 90th anniversary


September 14, 2009

London, ON – In recognition of the women who have chosen to lead as students and as alumnae at Brescia University College since its inception in 1919, the first 12 Alumnae Trailblazers were revealed today. An audience of about 250 guests witnessed the launch of a year of 90th anniversary celebrations and a bold new brand of Canada’s premier women’s university.

Dr. Colleen Hanycz, Principal, looks forward to seeing the Trailblazers permanently displayed this week in the Mother St. James Building just outside of the Beryl Ivey Library. “Alumnae are valuable members of the Brescia community. As we embark on a year of celebrations in recognition of Brescia’s 90th anniversary, we are remembering the strengths and traditions upon which Brescia has been built and the people and ideas that will lead us into a bold future in women’s education. Our alumnae personify Brescia’s mission and values,” Hanycz says.

One trailblazer was identified for eight of the nine decades in Brescia’s history, and a group of four alumnae represent alumnae in the 90s. The criteria for the selection of the inductees stipulated that each alumna recognized was the first to achieve a particular distinction as a student or as an alumna. The Awards Committee that researched and selected those recognized consisted of Dr. Hanycz; Sister Mary Lou McKenzie; Marilyn Campbell, alumna from the class of 1964; and Julie Maltby, Communications & Alumnae Relations Officer.

Alumnae Council President Melanie Caldwell-Clark spoke to the audience about the meaning of this recognition to alumnae. “This is an exciting time in Brescia’s 90-year history… We are thrilled to recognize these alumnae whose values and leadership exemplify those of their alma mater.”

McKenzie, who chaired the committee, sees the wall as a fitting tribute to alumnae who have demonstrated the kind of leadership that was evident among the Ursulines 90 years ago. “The founding of Brescia University College in 1919 was a trailblazing moment in the history of education for women. The Ursulines have always been proactive when we see a way to change the world for the better.”

Alumnae Council President Melanie Caldwell-Clark ’00 introduced each of the nine alumnae unveiled at the brand launch and invited everyone in attendance to return to Brescia to view the wall, which is being installed this week.

The following alumnae are the first alumnae to be recognized as trailblazers:

Christine Dawson ’23, who helped established the Alumnae Association;

Rosalina Saez ’35, who was the first female International student to graduate from a Canadian university;

Dr. Geraldine Montag ’47, who was the first graduate of our Home Economics program to earn a PhD;

Carmelle Murphy ’50, who was the first alumna to act as Director of the Alumnae Association;

Dr. Marlene MacLeish ’68, who is a team leader at NASA;

Margaret Wickware ’76, who became Western’s first female students’ council president;

Wilma de Rond ’81, who became the first female Director of the London and District Catholic School Board;

Crona Airgid, Janet Denkers, Claudette Zijlstra and Michelle Burrell ’96, who were the first student Residence Assistants at Brescia;

Jaimie Hemsworth ’09, who was the first Brescia student to win a Morgan Medal from the Dietitians of Canada.

Margaret Wickware ’76 was at Brescia on September 2 for an orientation for International students, as her daughter, Carolyn, is the third generation of women in her family to attend Brescia. Wickware’s family lives in England, but the distance didn’t discourage her from recommending Brescia to her daughter. “It was such a life-changing experience to be at Brescia. I wanted to give that to her, as well.”

Wickware was surprised to learn she was also chosen as an Alumnae Trailblazer. “I’m honoured and certainly delighted. Attending Brescia was such a special part of my life.”

Dr. Hanycz says the wall will serve as an inspiration to all members of the Brescia community. “In addition to bringing much deserved attention to our accomplished alumnae, I hope that the Alumnae Trailblazers wall will inspire our students to reach for goals they may not have considered. I’m quite sure that Dr. Marlene MacLeish of the Class of ’68 didn’t set her sights on NASA as an undergraduate student at Brescia, but that is where her path has taken her. And, a public display of the faces and stories of our alumnae over the years will remind each member of the faculty and staff at Brescia of the importance of our work here.”

To view the photos and inscriptions of the Alumnae Trailblazers and other notable Brescia alumnae, click here

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For more information please contact: Julie Maltby, Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer Brescia University College, 519.432.8353, ext. 28280 or julie.maltby@uwo.ca.

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca