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UWinnipeg Celebrates Inaugural Recipient of Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership

Tue. Feb. 28, 2023

Meagan Dutka self portrait

For the last two months, UWinnipeg student Meagan Dutka has been living, working and studying abroad in Zambia. A fourth-year student majoring in both Human Rights Studies and Conflict Resolution, Meagan is the first recipient of the newly created Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership. An award designed to help provide for aspiring students looking to become future leaders, Meagan’s efforts both prior to and during her academic career at UWinnipeg, combined with her passion for Human Rights issues and policy, helped make her a fitting choice for this unique scholarship.

“I’m genuinely grateful to have received this award having known what Susan was able to accomplish during her career,” says Meagan. “She is certainly a person whose leadership anyone would want to emulate”.

She also notes the similarities shared between her and the fund’s namesake as fundraisers and former Rotary Club members. “When I lived in Kenora, I served as President of the club’s youth branch, while Susan has the unique distinction of being made Manitoba’s first female Rotarian.”

Currently, Meagan works as a Resource Mobilization Officer and Communications Coordinator in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city. Operating out of Lusaka South are the Eagles of Change, an organization dedicated to educating young people on the dangers of substance abuse, and promoting mental health awareness. In September, Meagan was brought into the fold to help the organization’s fundraising efforts. Working alone in Winnipeg at the time, Meagan was able to plan and execute an effective campaign, raising over $3500.00 in funds for the organization’s Child Education Sponsorship Program, an initiative created to help cover the cost of school fees and provide supplies and uniforms for primary and secondary school students.

When asked about what drew her to Zambia and the organization, Meagan says, “Peace building starts from the ground up. I think a central component of conflict prevention includes looking after young people who have been neglected or marginalized by their governments, and who are desperate to find a sense of meaning, security, and livelihood stability. Past that, I’ve always enjoyed the prospect of cross-cultural learning opportunities and experiences, and being able to work in an environment that differs greatly from where I grew up has always been a desire of mine.”

After her international practicum concludes and her undergraduate program ends, Meagan says she plans to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Cape Town in South Africa—eventually she hopes to work for any of the larger, African-based organizations involved in peacebuilding and community development.

Thanks to the help of the University’s donors, business partners, and friends, the Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership Campaign that was launched last year was able to surpass its original goal of $250,000, and has since raised over $300,000 in funding from those eager to support aspiring students like Meagan. As an endowed fund that has garnered such a great deal of interest and enthusiasm from so many, the scholarship will go on to play a crucial role in helping the University recognize and provide for the future female leaders of tomorrow.

Donate to the Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership today.