Nutrition student wins Women of Excellence award

The Progress Club names Vanessa MacLellan “Young Woman of Distinction”

MSVU student, Vanessa MacLellan, is this year's winner of the Young Woman of Distinction award. (Photo: Monica Riehl)

When Vanessa MacLellan, a student at Mount Saint Vincent University, heard she was the winner of the Canadian Progress Club's Young Woman of Distinction award, she literally jumped for joy.

MacLellan, a fourth-year student in the applied human nutrition program at MSVU, was informed of the win through a voice mail message on a Friday afternoon, while her parents were visiting from Cape Breton.

"My father and mother were up for the weekend from Sydney, and my boyfriend was there," says MacLellan. "I just jumped. I was so excited."

This is the second year that the Young Woman of Distinction honour has been awarded by the Canadian Progress Club, Halifax-Cornwallis, a group comprised of women committed to help those in need.

2010 Women of Excellence award winners

* Sheri Jones - Jones & Co
* Doris Mason - Self-Employed Singer/Song Writer
* Wanda Taylor - One Word Productions
* Sasha Irving - Emera Inc
* Anne Melanson - Bloom Non-Profit Consulting Group
* Carol McDougall - Read to Me!
* Dr. Margaret Casey - North End Community Health
* Deirdre Floyd - Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia
* Denice Klavano - Capital District Health Authority
* Tina Faraca - Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline
* Catherine Gaulton - Capital District Health Authority
* Tina Kelly - Nova Scotia Community College
* Dr. Janice E. Graham - Dalhousie University
* Lucinda Low - Bridgeway Academy
* Evelyne Meltzer - Lawyer (non-practicing member of NS Bar
* Pam Cooley - Car Share Halifax
* Cassandra Dorrington - Vale and Associates
* Carole-Ann Miller - Maple Trade Finance
* Vanessa MacLellan - MSVU Applied Human Nuitrition Program



The award is one of 19 presented at the 21st annual Women of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday at the Halifax World Trade and Convention Centre. The presentation is the club's largest annual fundraiser, raising funds for Phoenix Youth Programs.

Jacqueline Gallagher, co-chair of the event, says the club will honour its commitment to present $40,000 to Phoenix Youth Programs, which helps at-risk and homeless youth.

Award an opportunity

The club's charitable mission is part of the reason why MacLellan decided to complete the 10-page application for the award. It was also a chance to meet the other award recipients.

"The opportunity, or the potential opportunity, I have to meet them ... is huge," says MacLellan. "The more connections you have, the better opportunities you have."

The idea to apply was presented to MacLellan by her professor and nominator, Linda Mann. MacLellan completed an internship in Mann's office this summer.

"What is unique about Vanessa is she maintains her level of commitment," says Mann, an associate professor at MSVU.

She commends MacLellan for being willing to ask and make use of advice from professors, describing her as "really consistent."

Mann has witnessed MacLellan's consistency and commitment in all facets of her work at the university.

MacLellan serves a variety of roles including president of the student branch of MSVU's Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals and the undergraduate representative for the department of applied human nutrition.

MacLellan credits achieving the Young Woman of Distinction award to these leadership roles, as well as her extra-curricular activities as a highland dancer and volunteer.

In spite of her busy schedule, MacLellan promises with a laugh, "I do get sleep at night."

She says she prioritizes, exhibits good time-management skills and stays organized.

"I think it's really because I love what I do. I never find it's work. I work until I go to bed most often, but I do enjoy everything I do."


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