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Stirling Students’ Union hosts the Inspirational Women Awards 2022

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The Stirling Students’ Union celebrated women students and staff members at their Inspirational Women Awards last week. 

The ceremony took place in Venue on Wednesday March 23, hosted by Union President Nela Cadinanos Gonzalez and VP Communities Alyson Mackay. The winners and honourable mentions are as follows: 

Woman in STEM
  • Winner: Samali Weerasekera
  • Honourable Mention: Alison Henessey
  • Honourable Mention: Verity Kyle

Samali Weerasekera, winner of the Woman in STEM award, is an undergraduate psychology student and President of the Medical and Engineering Society.

She said: “As a fourth year student about to take my leave from the university, I am deeply honoured that my passion for STEM has had a positive impact on the Stirling community and I thank everyone who was kind enough to vote for me.

“It has been a privilege to be challenged, mentored and taught by inspirational women in the scientific field such as, but not limited to, Dr. Carol Jasper, Dr. Purva Abhyankar and Dr. Wendy Maltinsky.

“Especially being a woman of colour, adversity has motivated me to push my boundaries. This year, I have had the exceptional opportunity to work under two researchers, work as a statistics tutor under Christian Keitel and provide my input as a member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. Furthermore, this has inspired me to undertake organising the first ever regional Medical and Engineering Conference and Ball with my amazing committee members.”

Woman in Leadership
  • Winner: Sasha Saunders
  • Honourable Mention: Iona Brownlie
  • Honourable Mention: Fiona Millar

Sasha Saunders won the award for Woman in Leadership for her managerial work in the university’s Enterprise Programme.

She said: “I am honoured to have been recognised amongst so many talented and caring women in the university’s community. There is a tremendous amount of inspiring, impactful work taking place across the institution and these awards provide an important opportunity to showcase and celebrate some amazing students and staff. 

“Now more than ever, let’s continue to support and empower one another to be the difference at Stirling and beyond.”

Winner of the Woman in Leadership award Sasha Saunders (middle), joined by hosts Nela and Alyson (Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union)
PG Woman
  • Winner: Radha Sundaresan
  • Honourable Mention: Caitlin Mcgee
  • Honourable Mention: Ranecia Johnson

Radha Sundaresan, winner of the PG Woman award, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that I have received this award. It was an honour to be considered for the award and it has motivated me to work harder and give my best in everything I do at the university.”

Woman in Sport
  • Winner: Catriona Barbour 
  • Honourable Mention: Kat McMenemy
  • Honourable Mention: Sophie Charlton 
  • Honourable Mention: Harriet Tyler 

Catriona Barbour, winner of the Woman in Sport award and Welfare Officer for the Stirling University Netball Club, said: “The awards event was amazing, it was so lovely to be surrounded by so many inspiring women within our community.

“It meant a lot to win the Woman in Sport award; sport is something I’ve always been involved in and is a huge part of my life. The Netball Club and all its members are very special to me, and I’ve made so many memories and lifelong friends through the club. As the club’s Welfare Officer, I want every member to feel safe and happy and to have the best experience possible playing netball and in general at university.

“I am honoured to have won this award and I am excited for another year being part of the Stirling University Netball Club in the upcoming year!”

Winner of the Woman in Sport award Catriona Barbour (middle) with hosts Nela and Alyson (Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union)
Woman Staff Member
  • Winner: Dr Martina Quaggiotto
  • Honourable Mention: Erin Russell
  • Honourable Mention: University Cleaning Team

Dr Martina Quaggiotto, lecturer in Ecology, won the Woman Staff Member award.

She said: “I am very grateful for the nominations and award received – it means the world to me. But I am even more grateful for those women, both colleagues and students, who keep inspiring me every day to do better. That’s the real win. So, thank you.”

Woman Student
  • Winner: Sammy Berninger 
  • Honourable Mention: Catriona Barbour 
  • Honourable Mention: Rebecca McPhee
  • Honourable Mention: Mila Cadene

Sammy Berninger, winner of the Woman Student award, said: “I’m really honoured to have received this award! This year I’ve been constantly blown away by the support and hard work from all the inspirational people around me.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to guide the Hedgehog Friendly Campus team to where it is now, nor help the Environmental Enterprises Society organise so many great events and projects. I hope I can keep working alongside people like them to not only achieve great things but also inspire others!”

Winner of the Woman Student award Sammy Berninger (middle) with hosts Nela and Alyson (Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union)
International Woman
  • Winner: Diana Oliinyk
  • Honourable Mention: Anastasia Mendini
  • Honourable Mention: Lova Eveborn

Diana Oliinyk, a fourth-year student from Ukraine, won the International Woman award.

She played an active role in the recent Action for Ukraine Week – a series of fundraising events organised by the Stirling Students’ Union for those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Woman of Colour
  • Winner: Shanaya Desai
  • Honourable Mention: Haneen Akbari
  • Honourable Mention: Natalia Uribe 

Shanaya Desai won the Woman of Colour Award.

The University of Stirling has a diverse population of more than 17,000 students, with 120 nationalities represented on campus and 28 per cent of students coming from overseas.

Woman in the Community
  • Winner: Pauline Keith 
  • Honourable Mention: Caitlin Mcgee
  • Honourable Mention: Rui Brown
  • Honourable Mention: Alyson MacKay

Pauline Keith, winner of the Woman in the Community award, works in the Student Learning Services and has supported students in her role since 1994.

She said: “I just want to say a huge thank you to those who nominated me for this award – it was such an honour and I was really touched.

“Working in Student Learning Services for the last 28 years and supporting students with all kinds of academic skills – predominantly essay writing – is really rewarding and has literally been my dream job. Winning this award is the icing on the cake!”

Winner of the Woman in the Community award Pauline Keith (middle) with hosts Nela and Alyson (Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union)
Equality Champion
  • Winner: Dr Liz Forbat
  • Honourable Mention: Arlana Yessenbayeva
  • Honourable Mention: Lynn Maher 

Dr Liz Forbat is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Following her win of the Equality Champion award, she said it was a “wonderful honour to have been nominated, let alone win.”

“I’m lucky to be surrounded by colleagues and students at Stirling who are passionate about challenging inequalities and supporting each other to have courageous conversations about what we can do better.”

Featured Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union

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