Women of Distinction Awards Honour U of G Community Members

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Ten members of the University of Guelph community were honoured during the 22nd annual Women of Distinction Awards ceremony May 4.

The awards are presented by the YMCA-YWCA to Guelph women who inspire and empower others through their work and community contributions.

Honoured at the 2017 Women of Distinction event were a number of U of G faculty, staff and alumni (Photo courtesy Megan McCormick)

New this year, all 30 honourees were celebrated at a gala ceremony at the River Run Centre.

Award recipients included five U of G faculty members, three students, a staff member and a volunteer.

Prof. Andrea Buchholz, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, and Prof. Gerarda Darlington, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, received awards in two categories: education, training and mentorship; and science, technology, engineering and math.

Buchholz has received provincial and national teaching awards, and created a pioneering applied clinical skills course for nutrition students. She volunteers with the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program.

A teaching excellence award winner, Darlington helped create student learning centres in the campus library and oversaw a major revision of the mathematical science major. She studies statistics and health research.

Three other faculty members were honoured in the science, technology, engineering and math category.

A sought-after international speaker, Prof. Éva Nagy, Department of Pathobiology, studies animal viral diseases. She belongs to steering committees with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and is poultry species coordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Research by Prof. Lucy Mutharia, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), has helped in treating and preventing Johne’s disease, a costly and fatal cattle ailment. She has mentored hundreds of students since arriving at U of G in 1989.

MCB professor Nina Jones studies cell signalling, or chemical communication between cells. Her award-winning work has helped in understanding cancer and cardiovascular and kidney disease. Jones advocates for kidney research, speaks at fundraising events and hosts lab tours.

Other U of G-associated honourees are the following:

Jordynn Klein, a fourth-year bachelor of arts and sciences student minoring in biology, ethics and family and child studies, will receive awards in two categories: young woman of distinction; and health, wellness and fitness.

A campus peer helper, she helped develop the Students in Touch program, belongs to the 1-in-5 Mental Health Awareness Group and co-chairs the Student Wellness Advisory Committee. She volunteers in the emergency department at Guelph General Hospital and serves as an online crisis responder.

Also named as a young woman of distinction is Kayla Billings, a first-year business student. She has helped organize fundraisers for the Julienne Project, which offers horticultural therapy programs to at-risk individuals, and for KidsAbility, an organization that supports children and youth with special needs. This year, she volunteered at an orphanage and a school in Kenya.

Paralympian Leah Robinson, who won bronze and silver medals at the 2015 Parapan Am Games, will be recognized in the health, wellness and fitness category.

A sociology major, Robinson is co-captain of the varsity track and field team. She has spoken at the TEDx Talk Youth@Guelph and at the 2016 John Molson sports marketing conference.

Also being honoured in the health, wellness and fitness category is Lynne Skilton-Hayes, fitness program supervisor in the Department of Athletics. She has developed play-based workouts for children, and helped lead U of G’s recent renovations to the Athletics Centre.

Margaret Stinson, a retired teacher, will receive Canada’s 150th community builder award and the community champion award.

At the University of Guelph, Stinson volunteers at convocation and Remembrance Day ceremonies, and at Garden Days. She received a 2015 Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and a 2014 Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Also recognized at the event were alumni Jocelyn Wessels, Alina Kislenko and Patricia Eaton-Neufeld.