Four inspiring women honoured at Calgary

Sep 05, 2023

De Beers Group is pleased to announce the recipients of four new scholarships for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields at the University of Calgary. The $5,000 scholarships are awarded to two women in science and two women in engineering annually through the 2025-2026 academic year.

De Beers recently hosted the four recipients, Tegan Potvin, Deanne Savard, Jasmine McDermott, and Sornali Banik for a meet-and-greet lunch.

Pamela Ellemers, Manager of Technical Services and Mineral Resource Management for De Beers Canada, shared, “Our 2018-established scholarship program aims to inspire women to enter STEM fields, where they’re currently underrepresented, especially in Canada’s mining industry. The chance to be part of our scholars’ academic journeys and to witness the positive effects of our support on their path is extremely rewarding. It inspires us to keep working towards greater diversity in these fields.”

Tegan, a passionate geology student and aspiring volcanologist or seismologist, expressed her joy at receiving the award, stating it not only eased her financial pressures but also affirmed her contributions as a woman in STEM. “It has provided me with a sense of pride to what women in STEM are capable of, and that women in STEM will continue to be recognized and supported for their hard work and efforts in the field regardless of their financial needs.”

Sharing her journey, Tegan underscored how the scholarship support validated her commitment to a STEM program she truly felt she belonged to. She highlighted her ambition to further her studies to the level of a Ph.D., with plans to gather field experience along the way.

Deanne, a Chemical Engineering major, and Biomedical Engineering minor said the De Beers award brought much-needed financial relief. “The De Beers scholarship came at just the right time for me to fix my financials after increasing my academic standing and has also given me a big confidence boost to finish my degree with.”

Deanne shared her aspirations of becoming a biomedical researcher, driven by her sense of responsibility towards humanity and the environment. She noted that her upbringing, colored by the influence of her mother and grandmother, was instrumental in fostering her passion for science.

Jasmine is a mechanical engineering student set to complete her degree in 2023, viewed the award as recognition of her hard work and invaluable financial support. She highlighted her drive to create meaningful change through her chosen field. Looking forward to a decade from now, Jasmine sees herself enriched by diverse work experiences and travel, with an advanced degree in hand.

Sornali Banik, an ambitious scholar pursuing dual honors degrees in neuroscience and computer science. She is committed to deepening her understanding of human-computer interaction, aspiring to publish papers and undertake a comprehensive thesis project in the coming years. The award, she noted, has been a driving force in her pursuit of academic excellence.

Sornali emphasized how the award enabled her to acquire crucial learning equipment, such as a virtual reality headset. Which has significantly enriched her hands-on learning experience and fueled her exploration at the captivating intersection of neuroscience and computer science.

Each awardee has underscored the critical need to support women in STEM, both in the educational realm and the workplace. Tegan spotlighted the importance of constructing a diverse and inclusive work environment. Deanne amplified this message, focusing on the unique struggles faced by women, notably Indigenous women, in the STEM field. Jasmine championed the cause of gender diversity, emphasizing how it cultivates innovation and sustainability. Lastly, through her own journey, Sornali showcased how such support can open doors to exploration and innovation, propelling students to explore uncharted territories at the intersection of diverse STEM fields. These young women not only serve as inspiring examples of the transformative power of scholarships like De Beers’ but also as advocates for diversity and inclusivity in STEM.

These scholarships are part of a four-year, $80,000 program to support women in science and engineering at the University of Calgary. Since 2018, De Beers Group has awarded 103 scholarships to Canadian women in STEM fields, including 19 to women attending the University of Calgary.

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