Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Be Part of Something Big - Honour a Remarkable Woman in your Life

The Mount’s commitment to the advancement and empowerment of women is well-documented and is one of the cornerstones of the university’s identity. Founded by the Sisters of Charity at a time when opportunities for women were limited, the Mount has truly been at the forefront of more than 150 years of achievement by women.

Each of us has been touched by the women in our lives. Think of the sacrifice, dedication, and selfless compassion of our mothers. Or of the support, love, and good humour of our closest friends. Or the inspiration and life lessons shared by our teachers and mentors. The women in our lives, and their remarkable stories, have helped shape each of us into the person we’ve become.

Today I want to share with you a personal story about a woman who has had a major impact on my life. My own mother has always been a great inspiration to me. She grew up in hard circumstances, a daughter of a share-cropping family in south Alabama.  She laboured in the fields under conditions hardly imaginable to me, and although she was a bright girl, hungry for knowledge, she was unable to attend high school.  But she read avidly all her life, and when her children had graduated from university she completed her high-school equivalency diploma and went on to enrol in university courses herself.  She set an example for my sister, brother and me and instilled in us a love of education that has stayed with us all our lives.
Artist Rendering of the Women's Wall of Honour
As we prepare to launch the virtual Women’s Wall of Honour, I eagerly anticipate learning about the many women who will be celebrated and remembered, including the story of Noreen Valenta, who was an engineering student many years ago in a class otherwise made up entirely of men. 

The virtual wall ( is the first step in the real-life Women’s Wall of Honour, to be housed permanently in a garden-like setting outside our new Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research.  Unique in Canada, this inspiring project will showcase stories and photos of women from all walks of life.   

I suspect you will also know the story of a remarkable woman who has left her mark on your life. Whether she’s your mother, grandmother, a partner, a friend or a mentor, I hope you will consider the opportunity to honour her by buying a brick in the Women’s Wall of Honour, and sharing her story online. The virtual Women’s Wall of Honour will be live in just a few short days. In the meantime, I encourage you to read more about Noreen’s story and to learn more about honouring the woman in your life by visiting the Wall’s Facebook page or by following @HonouringWomen on Twitter.

Until next time,


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