Brescia honours trailblazing alumnae

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 yesterday.


An audience of about 250 guests witnessed the launch of a year of 90th anniversary celebrations and the launch of a new brand for the women’s university.  


Principal Colleen Hanycz 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 leaders 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 ’58; Marilyn Campbell ’64; and Julie Maltby, Communications & Alumnae Relations Officer.


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 spoke to the audience about the meaning of this recognition to alumnae before introducing them to the Alumnae Trailblazers listed below.


“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,” she says.


The Alumnae Trailblazers are:

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.