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Taylor Cangemi becomes second winner of the Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership

Mon. Feb. 12, 2024

taylor smiling

Taylor Cangemi is not a hard player to spot on the volleyball court. Wearing her distinctive red libero jersey, she plays a key role in leading the squad defensively on the court and through her dedication to fitness and academics off the court. The Calgary native is currently in her third season as a Wesmen and working through her 4th year as an Honours Biology student.

In the fall of 2023, Taylor became the second winner of the Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership. Named in honour of former Winnipeg Mayor, founding University of Winnipeg Foundation President and CEO, and alumna Dr. Susan Thompson, the new scholarship saw over $300,000 raised in 2023 as part of an impressive campaign drive. As an endowed fund, the scholarship will support female students at UWinnipeg in perpetuity as they pursue future leading roles in their communities.

“What Susan was able to achieve over the course of her career is massive for women in this province,” says Taylor. “The idea of chasing your dreams regardless of the odds is something I like to think she and I share in common. For a volleyball player on the shorter side, I was told numerous times growing up that I would never succeed in the sport I love. Looking back now at what I have accomplished as a libero both at the high school and university level is proof that with hard work and conviction, you can overcome any barrier. I’m truly thankful to have received this award and I feel honoured to be compared to Susan and recognized for my hard work.”

Taylor is also one of two students to have been selected as a recipient of the Sir William Stephenson Scholarship. One of UWinnipeg’s largest awards, the pair of scholarships created in memory of the legendary aviator, spy, and businessman, Sir William Stephenson, are awarded annually to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, superior leadership qualities on or off campus, with the potential to make valuable contributions to Canada in the future.

When asked about her experience as an undergrad, Taylor is proud to voice how close she has become with both her peers and professors in the science department and her teammates since moving to town. “When I graduated from high school, UWinnipeg was not one of the universities on my radar. Initially, I didn’t know what to expect. After moving on my own in 2020 and starting classes during the pandemic, I’m happy to say my teammates became my immediate family. Since then, I have come to love the campus and the relationships I have made within the faculty.”

taylor bumping a volleyball

A keen student with a love for animals, Taylor has spent her academic career immersed in the world of wildlife conservation. Between volleyball seasons, she’s hard at work as a research assistant, helping Dr. Craig Willis as part of the UWinnipeg Bat Lab, a group of researchers and students who study the behaviour of and diseases that affect bat populations in Manitoba and

Ontario. Drawing on her experiences in the field, Taylor hopes to see her first academic paper published towards the end of 2024 in the Journal of North American Bat Research. In addition to her time in the Bat Lab, Taylor also worked as a research assistant in Dr. Caleb Hasler’s Fish Lab, helping Masters students with their projects on lake trout and sauger conservation and management on Manitoba’s lakes.

After a family trip to Australia in 2007 left her wanting to return, Taylor plans to move to the land down under after graduating to begin her master’s degree in either Field Zoology or Marine Biology at the University of Melbourne. “Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a nature scientist,” says Taylor. “Now that I’m older, I’m realizing what it takes for me to achieve my dream in this field. My efforts in the classroom, the life lessons I’ve learned as part of the volleyball team, and receiving these scholarships all have a role to play in reaffirming my ambition as I strive towards this goal.” When her academic term ends in April, Taylor will begin her first internship abroad working with marine biologists and conservation officers in Costa Rica to protect local sea turtle colonies.