Take the Lead public speaking contest awards winner with free tuition for 1st year at Brescia

April 14, 2010


London, ON – Natasha Raval inspired the panel of celebrity   judges and others in the audience when she delivered the speech that won the top   prize at Brescia University College’s second annual Take the Lead   public speaking contest on April 10.

“When I heard my name being announced as the winner, my first thought was   definitely pure surprise. I was confident that I had done well but at the same   time I knew I was facing some very tough competition. Having my name called as   the winner just felt surreal. That’s the moment I knew that it was all worth   it,” Raval said afterwards.

Raval, a Grade 11 student of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in   London, won full tuition for her first year at Brescia. The contest was   sponsored by the Institute for Women in Leadership (iWIL) at Brescia for young   women in Grades 11 and 12 who researched and presented on the topic of women in   leadership, in keeping with Brescia’s commitment to help develop women who   choose to lead.

Dr. Colleen Hanycz, Principal of Brescia University College, said that she   would be proud to welcome any of the contestants to Brescia. “The caliber of   each of these speeches was outstanding. To see the intense focus that the next   generation has on critical issues of leadership gives me great confidence in the   future. It has been a gift to hear the passion and creativity that each of these   young women has brought to this competition.”

The Honourable Deb Matthews, MPP, offered words of praise and encouragement,   as the guest speaker at the event. “I am delighted to be here. I am inspired and   I am buoyed and I am so enriched when I hear young women speaking from their   heart, about their values, and about their dreams, and about their commitment to   the future.”

All contestants were judged on content and delivery in a preliminary round by   Brescia staff, faculty members, and community leaders, and then the top six   moved on to the final round. Second place was awarded to Christine Peet of   Bishop Ryan C.S.S. in Hamilton and the third-place prize went to Taylor Woodburn   of West Elgin Secondary School in West Lorne. All contestants were cheered on by   family, friends, teachers, and coaches in the audience.

Raval said that her effort and performance are only half of the story behind   her win. She is grateful to her family, guidance counsellor, and public   speaking/English teacher who encouraged her to compete to attend Canada’s   premier women’s university with a significant scholarship. “I have always heard   about the amazing sense of community and spirit that Brescia is known for. But   being there for the competition, I really got to experience all the great energy   that just surrounds the campus. I met so many strong women who are leaders in   their own fields and all of them had a story to share, each one unique and each   one profound. I am really looking forward to knowing that I will soon be a part   of such a special group of women and young women.”

The following panel of celebrity judges determined the winners: Gina Barber,   controller with the City of London; Andrea Dunn, afternoon show host, FM96; Mary   Lou Finlay, journalist, writer, broadcaster; Joan Francolini, O.ONT., chair of   Brescia University College Foundation; Cynthia Good, director of Creative Book   Publishing, Humber College; Sheriann Heath-Johnson, BACS, CHRM, alumni manager   of Hillfield Strathallan College.

Following the final round, Finlay commended all of the competitors for   excellent presentations. “I wish I had taken the opportunity in high school to   practise public speaking as you have. It takes great courage to stand up,   especially when there’s a big prize at stake. Whether you win one of the prizes   or not, you must believe me when I say that this experience alone will help you   be winners throughout your lives.”

To learn more about the Take the Lead contest, visit www.brescia.uwo.ca/iwil/takethelead/.


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

For more information,  please contact:

Colleen Aguilar

Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer

caguila@uwo.ca or 519-432-8353 ext.28280