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Willow Dew, seventh recipient of the Order of the White Rose

December 2, 2021 - Source : NEWS

At a ceremony held with the presence of Danielle McCann, Québec’s Minister of Higher Education, Polytechnique Montréal’s university executive presented the seventh Order of the White Rose Scholarship to Willow Dew, a graduate of the University of Alberta's Chemical Engineering Cooperative Program.

Willow Dew, seventh recipient of the Order of the White Rose. (Photo: Denis Bernier

Willow Dew, seventh recipient of the Order of the White Rose. (Photo: Denis Bernier)

The winner received the $30,000 bursary, given annually to a Canadian woman engineering student who chooses to pursue graduate studies in engineering at the master's or doctoral level at the institution of their choice, in Canada or elsewhere in the world. This scholarship also promotes female role models in engineering and science.

“I’m honored to receive the Order of the White Rose scholarship in memory of the victims of the tragic Polytechnique femicide,” said Willow Dew. “After 32 years, this tragedy remains emblematic of the barriers women face in engineering, even today. Despite these inequalities, I encourage young women who want to become engineers not to be discouraged by outside pressures. I encourage them to nurture their passion and confidence in order to seize all opportunities to learn and grow in all areas of their lives. The support they provide to other women, as well as the fact of sharing their experiences, greatly increases creativity and collaboration among women who are continually changing the face of the engineering profession.”

“The young women who receive the Order of the White Rose are driven by extraordinary passion – they want to change the world. Ms. Dew is just one of these women, all of whom have the ability and talent to create innovative and sustainable solutions that contribute to the advancement of society. I’m convinced that Ms. Dew’s career will be great and promising. This honour is fully deserved and I would like to congratulate her. Her leadership is a true inspiration for the next generation of women engineers,” said Gilles Savard, Polytechnique Montréal’s Acting President.

The planet at heart

Dew is driven by her passion and belief that bioproducts and bioprocesses will play a crucial role in the energy transition and mitigation of climate change impacts. She chose to pursue her master's degree in France, in Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy (Bioceb), a joint program from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia) and Aalto University (Finland).

Through mentoring, teaching, lecturing, volunteering and research, Dew has been able to pass on her passion for engineering to female students and women around her. She has spearheaded several initiatives to interest young girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Her team spirit and commitment to advocating for the underrepresented set her apart and made her a unanimous jury choice to become the 2021 winner.

Dew finds strength in the experience and resilience of her mother who, as an engineering student at the time, felt the shockwaves of the 1989 Polytechnique tragedy, albeit from a distance. Dew also has a multidisciplinary focus, in both her talent and interests. In addition to playing the trumpet and cello, Dew has taught both instruments for many years, as well as teaching jazz ballet. She has also been involved with the Francophonie Albertaine Plurielle (FRAP) organization which aims to facilitate the integration of new immigrants into their host community.

Danielle McCann, Gilles Savard, Willow Dew, Nathalie Provost, Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire
From left to right: Danielle McCann, Québec Minister of Higher Education; Gilles Savard, Acting President Polytechnique Montréal; Willow Dew, seventh recipient of the Order of the White Rose; Nathalie Provost, survivor of December 6, 1989 and godmother of the Order of the White Rose; Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Honorary Chair of the Board of Directors of Polytechnique Montréal, Chair of the Jury of the Order of the White Rose and godmother of the Order of the White Rose. (Photo: Denis Bernier)

Promoting excellence

White roses are the symbol of December 6, 1989 commemorative activities, the event in which 14 young women were killed, and several others were injured. Established in 2014, the Order of the White Rose Scholarship is intended to honour the victims as well as those injured, their families, and faculty, staff, and students who found themselves in the midst of the tragedy.

Nathalie Provost, who was injured during December 6, is the godmother of this scholarship. Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Honorary Chair of the Polytechnique Board, and Polytechnique’s first woman graduate in civil engineering degree (1963). She also notably chairs the pan-Canadian selection committee made up of rectors and deans from seven Canadian universities.

“Year after year, the young women who participate in the Order of the White Rose competition are exceptional; they are among the top-ranked in their respective universities. They are absolutely the leaders of tomorrow, the future agents of change, those who, through their passion and tireless investment, will actively contribute to making the world a better place,” noted Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Jury Chair.

"The Order of the White Rose keeps safe and alive, the memory of the exceptional women who were my classmates," says Nathalie Provost. "Year after year, it’s more than clear to myself and to others, that women absolutely have a place in engineering. Ms. Willow Dew occupies this – and her - legitimate and deserved place there, she occupies it with confidence and conviction; she is fulfilling her career aspirations and is fulfilling her goals for her life. She is inspiring and heralds the positive future of our society."

The evaluation criteria for the Order of the White Rose Scholarship are based on academic achievement (30%), technical achievement (35%) and non-technical achievement (35%). Established by Polytechnique Montréal the jury is composed of deans from the engineering faculties of the University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, McGill University, Queen's University, Université de Sherbrooke, University of Toronto, and University of Victoria, and is chaired by Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire.

En savoir plus

Website of the Order of the White Rose

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Liane Bernstein: Second Recipient of the Order of the White Rose Scholarship