Competition offered chance for Brescia alumna to ‘Lead’

Special to Western News

Christine Peet, who started her studies at Brescia University College and graduated from Ivey Business School this summer, says her competing in Brescia’s Take the Lead competition started her on a road to a successful career as a woman in leadership.

Christine Peet was determined to walk away victorious.

She first tackled Take the Lead, a public-speaking contest for high school students at Brescia University College, in 2009. Her speech, deemed too long, eliminated her after the first round.

Peet, originally from Hamilton, returned the following year, sweeping away the judges – and the competition – by landing second place in the final round.

The annual competition encourages female high school students to speak about women who empower others through leadership on a large or small scale. The first-place winner receives a scholarship covering full tuition and residence fees for the first year of study at Brescia.

Though Peet did not take first place, Take the Lead brought her to Canada’s only women’s university, she said. She decided to stay, and couldn’t be happier she made that decision. Having recently started work in sales and marketing for Procter & Gamble in Toronto, Peet credits the contest and her time at Brescia for her success.

“I go to Take the Lead every year in some capacity. It’s the best day. When I did this, I met some great people and it’s such an awesome environment,” said Peet, who started her studies at Brescia and graduated from Ivey Business School with an HBA this summer.

“One of the judges, Colleen Sharen, has actually become a really good personal friend. She was my professor. There are so many inspiring people. It’s a place where people care about each of their students so much, and mentor students,” she continued.

During her time at Brescia, Peet was involved with the community and residence life. In her second year, she was a residence advisor. She also co-founded the Brescia Leadership Association.

“As part of our program, I had to take business. My professor came up to me after my first exam and said, ‘You need to apply to Ivey.’ She pushed me to do that, and I did,” Peet noted.

“I know, for sure, I wouldn’t have gone to Ivey without being a student at Brescia, and I wouldn’t have this job without going to Ivey. I wouldn’t be here without being mentored by people like Colleen Sharen, Colleen Aguilar (Brescia communications,
marketing and external relations officer), Colleen Hanycz (Brescia principal) and Carlie Forbes, my business professor. These are key people who really shaped me – and continue to shape me. It’s a pretty special school.”

Peet recently became part of a women’s network lead team at Procter & Gamble, something she directly attributes to her time at Brescia and her interest in women in leadership.

“Being able to create those opportunities now in my new organization is great,” she said.

For Take the Lead, Peet has returned each year since her involvement, taking turns as a judge and speaker. She plans to remain active in the competition for as long as she can, she said.

“What I tell girls that come is to be really open-minded about Brescia. Be open-minded that this could be a place for you, even if it didn’t fit into the box of what you had planned,” Peet continued.

“I personally think there’s no better place if you are interested in being a woman in leadership than Brescia, because of the amount of opportunities there are to take on in leadership roles. I tell girls to be engaged and to take advantage of the opportunities available on campus.”

TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY: The early-bird submission deadline for Take the Lead is Nov. 30. For registration, visit