The BresciaLEAD Awards: Honouring the Women Leaders of Today and Tomorrow
When the inaugural BresciaLEAD Awards were initially conceived, one mission was clear: Brescia’s students – and their bold spirit – were to be woven into every element of the event. With a vision to celebrate and recognize outstanding Canadian women leaders, the BresciaLEAD Awards also pave the way for promising future leaders through the generation of a student scholarship. Three students who have directly benefited from this scholarship, include, Hannah Floyd, Grace Wu and Hannah Eastman. The young women share their thoughts on choosing Brescia and learning in an all-women’s environment, leadership and the BresciaLEAD Awards.
Why did you choose Brescia for university?
HF: I chose Brescia because I loved the small community feel. It is always so warm and welcoming on our campus.
GW: When I was in high school I participated in Brescia’s Take the Lead public speaking contest, where I was invited to campus to deliver a speech on the topic of women in leadership. I was instantly inspired by all of the speakers and Brescia’s mission of building generations of women leaders. I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of.
HE: I liked that as a Brescia student I could take advantage of its smaller, supportive learning environment, while also enjoying the benefits of being part of a large university like Western.
What are your beliefs about Brescia’s all-women’s learning environment?
HF: I believe that an all-women’s learning environment provides women with enhanced support for growth and leadership. At Brescia, women are comfortable in the classroom because they feel like they can be themselves.
GW: Brescia’s all-women’s environment challenges gender stereotypes and broadens the educational aspirations for women. I am proud to belong to an institution that directly addresses women’s unique learning styles and interests.
HE: I believe that education for women is crucial to our progressing society. An all-women’s environment, like Brescia, provides women with the tools to become pillars of society, which is playing a part in shaping a world with equal opportunities.
What are your plans “beyond Brescia” for the future?
HF: My plans beyond Brescia are to achieve a master’s degree with the goal to have a career as an occupational therapist.
GW: After graduating, I plan to return to China and work to transform the nonprofit sector there. Due to government restrictions, the nonprofit sector is very new and therefore challenging to make a reality. I aspire to become a politician or community leader who advocates on behalf of the best interests of its people.
HE: I currently don’t have a set plan or path beyond Brescia. I would love to one day pursue my PhD, but I am also open to any opportunity that may present itself in the future.
How do you define leadership? And, what characteristics make a great leader?
HF: I define leadership as an individual taking an action in order to influence others in a positive way. Being compassionate, patient, optimistic and confident are all characteristics of a great leader.
GW: Leadership is when a hard-working individual endures difficult sacrifices to push a collective group towards a common goal.
HE: The two things that I value most in leadership, and which I believe are the qualities that make a great leader, are transparency and security. In my life, the leaders who were consistently honest and transparent were the ones I respected the most. Knowing that they were vulnerable and truthful allowed me to be honest with myself and transparent with others, which made it easier to cultivate my strengths and to come to terms with my weaker abilities.
How did you find out about the BresciaLEAD Excellence Award?
HF: As I was researching through the scholarships online, I came across the BresciaLEAD Scholarship and instantly was attracted to it.
GW: I first came across the BresciaLEAD Award when I was in my second year at Brescia. However, it wasn’t until last summer that I applied, after I was encouraged by a classmate to pursue this amazing opportunity.
HE: I discovered the BresciaLEAD Scholarship when I initially went to apply to Brescia. I inquired further about applications and after talking with one of Brescia’s staff members, they recommended that I also apply for this scholarship.
How did your scholarship impact your Brescia experience?
HF: My scholarship has enabled me to get involved with many opportunities and pursue leadership roles both on- and off- campus. It has also helped me to find job opportunities as well as volunteer opportunities within Brescia and the London community.
GW: This award affected me in two ways. Firstly, it helped me to build confidence. Through this recognition, I felt more confident in my leadership potential and, because of this, started pursuing developmental opportunities. Secondly, it helped me to focus on my professional development. With the support of this scholarship, I was able to spend more time on improving my skills and developing my interests in different areas.
HE: This scholarship has enhanced my university experience. To me, it was much more than just financial aid. Being the recipient of such an important leadership award encouraged me to begin my studies with confidence. It also provided me with the vision of becoming a leader – both within the Brescia community and in my future. Receiving this scholarship was also a reminder that I can achieve great things and – more importantly – that there are people who see that ability within me.
Why do you think it’s important for Brescia to hold the BresciaLEAD Awards and recognize outstanding Canadian women?
HF: I think that it is important to hold the BresciaLEAD Awards Gala and to recognize outstanding Canadian women because highlighting these strides can have a huge impact on the reality of gender equality in our country. In addition, by celebrating outstanding women Brescia is providing the next generation of leaders with an example of what is possible – helping to propel young women into a brighter future!
GW: Because the gender gap still exists! As a progressing society, we need Brescia to continue take the leadership role and bring governments, women’s organizations, corporations and charities together. It is only when community partners across Canada come together to recognize gender inequalities – while also celebrating the achievements of women and organizations who have overcome these barriers – can we move forward.
HE: The future is female and more and more we are seeing women realize that they have the tools to affect the future. Recognizing outstanding Canadian women provides inspiration to young women who may be already making important decisions about their future and helps them to find strength and support in what they are pursuing. It also allows the recipients, as well as generations of those who come after them, to advocate that achievements can begin now and that women have the ability to drive change.