Looking back to 1919 and the place of women in society, the world was a much different place. 

Published in Higher Education

Felicity Sattan walked away from Brescia University’s Take the Lead contest a more confident young woman.

Sattan, now a third-year Nutrition and Family student at Canada’s only women’s university, was introduced to Brescia in 2010 when she competed in the London, Ont., school’s all-female public speaking contest. She was a finalist in that year’s contest.

“I always tell my profs and my classmates that Take the Lead was really instrumental in improving my public speaking skills and becoming more confident and just being an all round better presenter, which I think is an important skill in post-secondary,” Sattan said.

She uses those skills often and at least once a semester in each of her university classes.

Take the Lead has been held five times since 2008. It is a recruitment initiative Brescia usually holds once a year where the university invites Grade 11 and 12 female students to develop public speaking skills and compete for the top prize of a one-year academic scholarship to Brescia.

There are two contests this year, the first held last spring and the next on Nov. 10.

With four contest rooms simultaneously active, six or seven student speakers have five minutes each to give their all to their speeches on women who inspire leadership. Then the top six or seven participants make it to the final round. The judges in both rounds are always female. Second prize is $250 and third prize is $100.

“I want them to leave with pride in themselves, for just stepping up to that microphone. That podium is amazing,” said Sheila Blagrave, one of the organizers and director of Communications, Marketing and External Relations at Brescia.

Blagrave wants participants, whether they win or not, to leave with “a sense of community and a sense of belonging to a group of women who share in that.”

Brescia’s close-knit and family like community is what attracted Sattan, who is from Stoney Creek, Ont. But it was Brescia’s “focus on leadership (that) was the big turning point,” she said.

“We stand for cultivating leadership among women,” said Blagrave. “And we propose that women, by the time they leave, are quite bold and willing to take on leadership positions. This contest aligns itself really well with our mission and our strategic objective in post-secondary education.”

Brescia, a Catholic university, was founded 93 years ago by the Ursuline Sisters. It accepts women of all faiths. Affiliated with Western University, students have access to classes on Western’s main campus and its two smaller campuses.

Brescia was also to host the National Conference of the Canadian Catholic Students’ Association Oct. 26.

Published in Education