Brandon University will recognize 15 outstanding female students in a ceremony Thursday afternoon. 

The fifteen were nominated by BU's faculty and staff, who were asked to select students who have excelled in their studies and provided meaningful contributions to the community. The initiative is part of efforts to recognize International Women's Day and Women's Week at the school. 

The university has been recognizing women for their contributions for more than 15 years, according to Kathleen Nichol, a member of BU's Status of Women Review Committee and an instructor in the Faculty of Science.

She's constantly impressed by the group nominated.

"I get to work with a lot of them," she said. "I am amazed at not only their exceptional academic ability, but what really impresses me is how much they are able to give their fellow students and those around them. " 

Jillian Vanderheiden

Jillian Vanderheiden said she cried when she found out she was nominated as an outstanding female student. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Nichol said staff are invited to nominate one woman each year and all of those nominated are honoured. 

This year's class includes students from all backgrounds. 

Students from all backgrounds 

"We've got some science students, we've got one of the volleyball players, we've got a woman who has come back to learn french," she said. "History students, English students, music students, health studies students [and more]."

Jillian Vanderheiden is one of those being honoured. She's a third-year science student. 

"I cried when I found out I was nominated," she said. "It's very very humbling. I am who I am and I don't think twice about what I do or what I say."

Kathleen Nichol

Professor Kathleen Nichol said she's impressed at how much the students give back to the school and fellow students. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

She was nominated because of her enthusiasm in class and at school and for her willingness to help others. 

"I think that it takes all different kinds of people to make society run. Being true to you is really all that it is."

Vanderheiden said she's been amazed with the messages and congratulations from fellow students and staff at the university. 

'Don't be scared to make a difference'

"You just go along thinking that no one notices all that you do and all you've been a part of," said Jenna Noordenbos, another one of the women being honoured. She's in her fifth year of studies at BU and currently completing her four -year honours degree in chemistry. 

She was nominated by the chemistry faculty. 

"Don't be scared to make a difference because your impact is going to be greater," she said when asked if she had a message for fellow female students. 

"Sometimes you forget all that you're doing when life is so stressful and busy," she added.

"I think that it's awesome given the opportunity to shine not just in the classroom but in the Brandon University community and get recognition for that," Vanderheiden said. 

Nichol said the recognition sets a good example for Brandon and hopes it encourages women to step out into the forefront more often. 

For a full list and bios of the 15 women being honoured, visit brandonu.ca/womens-week/