Third-year geomatics student wins new AOLS award in honour of Henriette Verhoef

A third-year geomatics engineering student from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering is the first recipient of the newest student award from the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) – the AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award.

Victoria Donko

Victoria Donko was announced the winner during a luncheon event with AOLS and Lassonde in March.

The award is named after Henriette Verhoef, who followed in her father’s footsteps and was licensed in August 1997 as one of very few female land surveyors in Ontario. The award aims to recognize a student who embodies the supportive and fervent nature Verhoef was known for within the surveying community.

Like Verhoef, Donko grew up in a family of surveyors. Her grandfather Vladimir Krcmar, her mother and her two uncles are all professional surveyors. During the summer months, Donko worked part-time in her family’s survey office, which exposed her to the day-to-day life of a surveyor. Over time, survey plans piqued her interest, particularly historical survey plans of Toronto.

After high school, Donko decided to continue the family legacy and accepted an offer from the Lassonde School of Engineering’s geomatics program.

In addition to focusing on academics, Donko is the sole female member of the Lassonde Geomatics Club and takes every opportunity she can to encourage female peers to learn more about engineering and consider a post-secondary education in geomatics.

“This award is special because it makes me feel respected in my field of study,” said Donko. “I would love to bring awareness to the importance of women as land surveyors, and this AOLS award lets other young women know about opportunities in the field of geomatics.”

AOLS has been a longtime partner and supporter of the Lassonde School of Engineering and its students, and it provides the highest number of student awards; it offers nine awards in total and recognizes 14 students each year.

“In our pursuit of building a diverse and inclusive school, it is so important to provide support and recognition to deserving students, especially those historically underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science,” said Jane Goodyer, dean, Lassonde School of Engineering. “Awards like this one are crucial to achieving that and we are honoured to have the AOLS’s continued support.”

About Henriette Verhoef

Verhoef died in October 2017, and soon after a group of her colleagues from the Northwestern Regional Group of Ontario Land Surveyors sought to establish an AOLS award in her honour.

Of the namesake award, Verhoef’s sister, Monique Ibey, says her notoriously humble sister would have been bashful, but grateful.

“Henri was not one to draw attention to herself, but she would have been thrilled to know she was supporting other women entering the field of surveying. She was the type of person who would have made the time to help and mentor a young student or professional in any way she could.”

The AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award marks the ninth annual award given out by AOLS.

Learn more about the AOLS here.