News and Events
Volume 1 - Edition 10
March 2005

The Gift of Encouragement 
by Katherine Mills

Donna Padavan, a Western Engineering PhD student, recently applied for the CEMF Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Scholarship.  She was the only applicant to apply for this award from Western. This prestigious honour recognizes Canadian women who are currently enrolled full-time in an engineering program at the doctorate level.   

The award itself celebrates more than academics, although research contributions are important. The decision is ultimately based on a number of qualifications including: demonstrated leadership, a commitment to one’s community, and the encouragement of other women to pursue a career in the field of engineering. 

Padavan’s position as a Teaching Assistant has enabled her to encourage students to pursue their studies at a graduate level while her involvement in departmental information sessions at the high school level has provided her with the means to educate and mentor other females with interests in engineering.  Although she herself never experienced any direct negativity towards entering into the field, she imagines it does exist and stresses the importance of being optimistic. 

“I also believe that having a positive attitude, or perhaps the right attitude, has blinded me to any stereotypes that may have been present,” says Padavan.

She has held a number of leadership positions throughout her studies at Western, including the role of World Youth Day Coordinator in 2002, as well as forming and captaining a competitive, co-ed University soccer team for the past three summers.  She has also spent countless hours at LHSC, providing comfort and support in the Day Surgery Unit as well as the Recovery Room.  Promoting her Indian heritage is also extremely important to Padavan and she continues to express this through Bharanatayam; a classical form of dance which she performs across London as well as the province of Ontario.

She is currently pursuing biomedical research with an emphasis on the cardiovascular system, and more specifically the designing of medical devices for the heart.  She is presently training in transdisciplinary research in Biomedical Engineering with the intent to enter into one of two possible careers.  The first is to remain in the field of cardiovascular research, while the second, being technological development, could potentially open doors to the industrial world. 

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