Engineering student Hallee Woodard wins Diana Matheson Resilience Scholarship

Posted on Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Written by Elizabeth Thomson

Five women stand on stage presenting awards smiling to camera
Left to right: Dr. Audrey Jamal, Award Winner Daphne Vescio, Diana Matheson, Award Winner Hallee Woodard, Dr. Jana Levison

On Wednesday, March 22nd, the University of Guelph celebrated gender equity with the annual HeForShe event, a cross campus initiative supported by the Lang School of Business, Gryphon Athletics, and the School of Engineering. Two-time Olympic bronze medalist and former professional soccer player Diana Matheson was the keynote speaker, sharing her journey of resilience through losing, injuries, retirement and her new initiative Project 8, to help launch Canada’s first women’s professional soccer league.  

Awards were distributed to honour students who support equity and have overcome their own challenges. First year engineering student Hallee Woodward won the Diana Matheson Resilience Scholarship for $5,000. Her journey of resilience began long before coming to the U of G.

Diagnosed as a child with Cystic Fibrosis, Hallee has spent much of life ill, battling the ongoing damage to her lungs and pancreas caused by the disease. “I think the biggest turning point for me and the way I perceived the world was when I turned 13 and found out in my 7th grade science class that I wasn’t expected to live much past the age of 45,” Hallee shared. This of course has shaped her decision making ever since.

Resilience for Hallee has meant, “Failing and trying again, and again… then failing once more before I finally get it right, [it] will always be a little bit humbling… but it has landed me here at the University of Guelph.” After touring the U of G last year, Hallee knew she could feel like home on campus. She was confident a degree in mechanical engineering could provide her with the skills she needed to pursue a career and as a proud member of the Gryphon rowing she would find community.

Hallee continues to look for, “experiences that are a great reminder to not let my life be dictated by how much time I have left to live it.” A new drug recently approved in Canada has improved her symptoms, relieving pain and allowing her to get the most of her student experience. Excited for what the next few years hold, Hallee is ready to take on the next opportunity “to learn and grow as a woman and future engineer.”

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