Gail Neff made her mark at Brock University and in the science community as the co-creator of the University’s residence program, Scientifically Yours.
Last week, she marked the first International Women’s Day of the decade with an award that recognized her dedication to encouraging young women in science.
Neff, a learning skills specialist with A-Z Learning Services, received the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s (GNCC) coveted International Women’s Day award on Friday March 6.
GNCC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to helping local businesses succeed to create and sustain the long-term economic and social prosperity of the Niagara region.
“I was absolutely floored when I heard the news; it is such a huge honour,” said Neff. “I thought I had been working under the radar. It’s really incredible to be recognized for doing work that you love.”
More than 700 people attended the GNCC ceremony, making it their largest audience ever for International Women’s Day. The annual event is a landmark for the GNCC’s Women in Niagara Council, dedicated to supporting businesswomen in the region.
“There was such a big crowd, so I was quite nervous to get up to speak,” she said. “When I got up to the podium and looked up, I was getting a standing ovation. It brought tears to my eyes. It was so overwhelming and a really amazing feeling.”
Scientifically Yours, launched in 1990, was created to encourage female high school students to pursue an education in math and science. Originally created for Grade 11 female students, the two-day workshop is now open to all Grade 10 and 11 students.
Student attendees participate in six project sessions, which cover everything from biology, health sciences and chemistry to psychology, neuroscience and physics. The students have the opportunity to meet like-minded peers, get hands-on laboratory experience, work with field professionals and network with guest scientists.
Students who complete the program are eligible for the Gail Neff Scientifically Yours Award, which rewards students who attend Brock straight out of high school with an average of 80 per cent or higher with $500.
Since its creation, more than 1,500 secondary students have attended the workshop, and on average, 50 per cent of student attendees apply to Brock.