Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 13, 2005

U of G Well Represented at Women of Distinction Awards

Seven members of the University of Guelph community were named recipients of the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph’s 10th annual Women of Distinction Awards May 12 at the River Run Centre.

Fifty women were nominated for their achievements in eight categories: arts and culture; business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs; education, and training; science and technology; voluntary community service; wellness and health; young woman of distinction; and lifetime achievement.

University professor emerita Aggie Fernando took home the award for lifetime achievement. Fernando, a faculty member in the Department of Pathobiology from 1966 to 1996, received the award for her perseverance in following her dream to have a career in medicine and for her contributions to research on infectious diseases relevant to both humans and animals. She began her career in human medicine in Sri Lanka in the 1950s, studied in three countries and became an internationally recognized researcher.

In 2000, she was awarded the prestigious Wardle Medal from the Canadian Society of Zoologists for her outstanding contributions to parasitology. A pioneer in her field, she continues to do research and is committed to inspiring female students and helping them develop integrity, pride and professional success.

“When women are young, it’s important to talk to them about self-esteem,” she said. “It’s not an inborn thing in most of us. If we have enough self-esteem, we don’t care what people think to a large extent, and that is what you have to create in women.”

The award for science and technology was presented to Prof. Kelly Meckling, Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences. Meckling has a distinguished career in cancer research that spans more than 20 years and has received several awards, including some from the National Cancer Institute of Canada. She specializes in nutrition and disease prevention and treatment, and her research has been described as being ahead of its time. In addition to lecturing at schools and for community organizations, Meckling is a mentor to many and strives to inspire women to pursue careers in science.

Receiving the award in the education and training category was Janet Kaufman, head of information services at the U of G Library and co-director of the Learning Commons. In 2003, Kaufman received U of G’s Distinguished Librarian Award and the Ontario College and University Library Association’s award for outstanding achievements in academic librarianship for the creation and design of the Learning Commons. She is currently vice-president of the Ontario Library Association and is heavily involved in community service and volunteerism.

“The University of Guelph has been a place for me to nurture my ability to be creative, to innovate and to grow on a number of levels, and I thank them for that,” she said.

Marta McCarthy, director of the U of G Choir and an instructor in the School of Fine Art and Music, was honoured in the arts and culture category. McCarthy is recognized as one of the best young choral conductors in Canada, and she serves as the librarian for Choirs Ontario. She has conducted professional and semi-professional choirs in Toronto and adjudicated for the Kiwanis Festival. She recently composed a choral piece for a developmentally challenged choir and has spoken on conferences about making the choral experience accessible for those who are differently-abled.

Political science instructor Karen Farbridge received the award in the business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs category. Farbridge was the first female mayor of the City of Guelph and has worked to create positive environmental change in areas of conservation, water protection, waste management, transportation, SmartGuelph and a community energy plan. Through her relationship with U of G, she developed new businesses in the life sciences and environmental technologies sectors.

Third-year agricultural business student Jeanine Wallace was named the Young Woman of Distinction. She was honoured as a role model for young women in encouraging their participation in agriculture- related fields. Wallace is a board member of the Ontario Junior Farmers and is also involved in 4-H, the Canadian National Exhibition and the Royal Winter Fair. She has been a vocal advocate for agriculture, food production and food safety as a member of the Young Ambassadors Program through Ontario Pork and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.

Guelph graduate Cate Welsh received the award for voluntary community service. Welsh, who earned a BA from Guelph in 1987, has been a long-standing community volunteer and has worked with a variety of organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph, Girl Guides of Canada, Care for Kids and Special Olympics. She is the first female police sergeant with the Guelph Police and helped develop “Girls With Guns — Target Breast Cancer,” a T-shirt and poster campaign raising funds for cancer research.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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