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It was a grant from the Soroptimist Foundation of Canada in 2004 that provided an opportunity for McMaster University graduate student Catherine Krasnik to finish her PhD. Financing education is a challenge faced by most students and Soroptimist Foundation of Canada annually offers four $7,500 grants to female graduate students in Canada to assist them with university studies that will qualify them for careers working to improve the quality of women's lives.

"It has meant an opportunity for me to finish my PhD," Dr. Krasnik told about 80 members at an ECR meeting in 2005. The SFC funding helped make it possible to finish her research which studied the long- term effects of antipsychotic drugs on the brain and how they differ between women and men.

Dr. Krasnik earned her PhD in Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster in January, 2005. In 2009 – 2011 Dr. Krasnik was awarded a prestigious fellowship offering the rare opportunity to shape mental health policy, in anticipation of future leadership roles within the public sector. She was the third Canadian recipient of this fellowship since 1980.

In addition to the fellowship, Dr. Krasnik worked with a team of psychiatrists from McMaster and Dalhousie University to update legislation and mental health policy in Guyana. Under the old legislation, which dates back to the 1800s, patients with mental health issues were required to go before a court to gain admission to a hospital.

"The skills that I gain in Guyana, from a systems approach, will be helpful here as well. Ultimately, I hope to become involved with public health and advocacy in Canada."

Dr. Krasnik’s current role is Forensic and General Psychiatrist, Syl Apps Youth Centre, Oakville, Ontario.

Catherine Krasnik MD, PhD, FRCP(C) Clinical Scholar, Forensic Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences
McMaster University, Forensic Psychiatrist


ELLE Magazine “SMART” Girl Contest Winner

Yolanda Butt a SFC Grants for Women winner in 2001 recently won the “Are You the Smart Girl” contest for Elle magazine. She appeared on the cover of the December 2005 issue of the magazine, a first for an Asian or a doctor.

Elle Magazine described Yolanda as “one-of-a-kind, authentic, independent, creative, passionate, optimistic, dynamic and hip” woman. The Elle contest, launched in March 2005, was designed to find not a fashion model, but a woman who personifies the Smart Set brand, with her own unique style, intelligence and personality. Many thanks to all the Soroptimists who went on line to vote for Yolanda.

Yolanda is a recent graduate in medicine at UBC and is now in her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at the University of Toronto. It is her desire to take some broadcasting courses towards her dream of hosting a television show or column on women’s and youth health. In recognition of her win, Smart Set awarded Yolanda $10,000, which she intends on using to realize her life’s aim and achieve her goal.

Yolanda Butt provided an update to SFC August 2005. She wrote:

I was one of the 2001 winners of the Grant for Women and was a guest speaker at the Winnipeg SFC AGM. I received great advice from Dr. Skillman and all the other ladies at the AGM.

I have since graduated from medical school at UBC and have just started my Obstetrics / Gynaecology residency at the University of Toronto. The Soroptimist grant was such a great help during medical school. And I am so glad to read that incredible women still continue to receive your support.

Throughout medical school, I was quite involved and lobbied to the provincial and federal governments for increased accessibility to medical education. Medical school tuition now costs over $14,000 a year! And as we all know, we are in need of doctors across Canada in both urban and rural areas. As 2nd year Class President, I oversaw fundraising of over $50,000 for our Rural Family Practice summer practicum. As VP of External Affairs for our 600+ medical student body, I worked with the BCMA, CMA, and Canadian Federation of Medical Students to coordinate physician wellness activities, lobbying efforts, and student advocacy issues. I was also most recently, a 2005 YWCA Vancouver Young Woman of Distinction nominee.

I have some big news to tell you. I am one of 5 finalists in a huge contest for Elle Canada/Smart Set. It's called the Smart Girl contest. I entered a contest by sending a couple of pictures and answering some questions to Elle Magazine and was selected as one of 5 finalists from across the country. They flew me to Toronto for a photo-shoot and I am in the Sept, Oct and Nov editions of the magazine. I'll also be on big posters in the Smart Set stores at your local mall. If I am chosen, I will be the first Asian (and doctor) ever to appear on the cover of Elle Canada for their December edition, which I am extremely motivated to win. I would also win a significant cash prize to let me take some broadcasting courses toward my dream of having a show on women's and youth health issues.

Many thanks for voting for me before the September 30 deadline. Visit the website www.lovewhatyousee.ca in early November to see if I am the winner. I have my fingers crossed! Thank you so much! Yolanda


Kimberley Marks was a Grants winner in 1992. She won when enrolled in a concurrent Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, specializing in French and Geography. She was a Professional Foster Parent for a 16 year old boy with high special needs due to past experience of physical and sexual abuse. One of her referees stated that "without being an activist in any sense, Kim manages to make numerous contributions to her community. Her attitude smacks of optimism, because she firmly believes that if we all did what we could, and gave what we could, we could right society’s wrongs...I definitely feel that if she is able to develop these values in her students she will have done as much as any... could do to make ours a better world."

Kim wrote to Pat Strode of SI Peterborough on December 7, 1999. She tells us that she is a learning assistance/special education teacher at Houston Secondary School in northern British Columbia. She develops programs for students with learning disabilities, and runs a student centre for students who are in any way marginalized.

She says "The grant saved me that year. Life became normal. I had the physical and mental energy to excel in my studies and as a parent. And I have gone on to devote my professional life (and an outrageous part of my personal time to "serving people and improving the quality of other’s lives": the purpose of the grant as stated in your May 1992 letter to me. It’s difficult to say what direction I might have taken had I been forced to struggle through that time in my life without the Soroptimist Foundation’s financial support. Your affirmation of my goals was no less important to me. I will always be grateful."

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