Past Honorary Diplomas Recipients

Meet our Honorary Diploma recipients

Each year, St. Lawrence College recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals or organizations whose accomplishments are of such excellence, inspiration, and leadership that they serve as an example for the students and graduates of our college.


Dr. Natavarlal (NAT) Shah


Dr. Nat Shah

What does this award mean to you personally? 
It is a great honour to be ranked among such distinguished past honorees who have significantly contributed to life in our city. I firmly believe in recognizing one's accomplishments, and I hold awards such as this in very high regard. It is truly a pleasure to be praised by such a renowned institution.

How have SLC students or the College in general intersected with your work or community?

As a physician in Cornwall, I have come across many students in my career from preschool to university and everything in between. I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with many remarkable SLC graduates. My experience with them has always been positive and professional, and it is among the top colleges that I would recommend for people interested in pursuing a career in nursing.

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

My interest in medicine began as a child. This passion led me to become a surgeon, a sports medicine specialist, and finally, a family physician. My journey in medicine started many years ago in India, moving from there to London, England, and then to Canada. I settled in London, Ontario, and ultimately moved to Cornwall, where I still reside.

I have worked in hospitals, sports clinics, arenas, and my own practice, but regardless of what I was doing or where I was working, I thoroughly enjoyed my work. I largely attribute my success to that. Medicine offers opportunities. flexibility, and gratification you rarely find in other fields.

Success shouldn't be defined by status or money, more important is the satisfaction and the feeling of accomplishment you get from your work. It is the feeling that you truly are where you were meant to be, it is being able to say even after over fifty years that you still enjoy and love the profession you have chosen. 
Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why? 

My family and my faith have always been my biggest inspirations. I was fortunate to be born in a family with high moral and religious values.

From a very young age I witnessed my father working long hours diligently and honestly. When I approached him and informed him of my desire to study medicine, he encouraged me. Later on, I was blessed with my wife who supported me in my profession as a surgeon and family physician. The saying is true: "Behind every great man, there is an even greater woman."  Without her and my children's unconditional love, support and understanding I know I could not have devoted as much time to my profession.

Ultimately, my faith has given me the strength to persevere when things were tough, wisdom to make the correct choices and humility to accept my limitations.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?
My advice for SLC graduates is to accept that you're only at an early point in your education. Learning lasts a lifetime and the most valuable lessons do not necessarily come from books. Be true to yourself and accept and respect your limitations. Have compassion, consideration and patience toward others - the smile you obtain from a kind gesture is priceless. It is good to be ambitious, however it is more important to be happy, healthy and at peace with the life decisions you make. Never take anything for granted and appreciate every day of your life.

Congratulations to all the graduating class! I am humbly honoured by this amazing gesture!

Dr. Aba Mortley

Business Owner

Dr. Aba Mortley

Photo credit: Lauren Kaufman

What does this award mean to you personally?

It is nice to be acknowledged for my work. I didn’t intend to be noticed but for it, rather I wanted to make a change. I feel gratitude and am humbled that someone thought that I would be a candidate and that others agreed. I am also humbled to be chosen, when I am sure there were many other amazing candidates.

How have SLC students or the College in general intersected with your work or community?

I own Cher-Mere Day Spa in Kingston that uses my family's name brand products in the services that we offer. Many of our staff are graduates from SLC and we often offer our spa for students to perform their placements as part of their learning at SLC.  

As part of our foundation as a business, community and equity are important pillars. We try to be a safe space for our staff and clients, specifically for systematically underrepresented groups, such as those from the BIPOC and 2SLGBQT+ communities. As such, I advocate for representation of all hair and skin textures within the esthetics and hair programs at SLC. This is done by expanding curricula and ensuring they have the correct tools and mannequins so when students graduate, they are equipped to be a part of the global community.

What path have you followed that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and went to an all-girl's school called Bishop Anstey High School (BAHS) which was built to allow girls of colour to get a good education. As part of that ethos, my family supports each other, the community, and education as founding pillars. The combination of these values instilled in me the understanding that we are only as great as the community we are in, and therefore to elevate it we need to elevate each other.

I came to Kingston for an undergraduate in Engineering Chemistry, which I followed with a MSc and PhD in Engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada. I then decided to continue with my family's business to open a spa using the personal care products, Cher-Mere, that we make and use in our spa services.

At our spas, I tell my staff there are three things that I want people to leave the space with: 1) They had a nice service 2) We make our own natural products that were used, and 3) That everyone feels seen and safe when they enter our doors. It is important for me that we all feel seen, validated, and welcomed as our true self and that there is no judgment. Providing services and spaces for people that are welcoming and familiar is what builds community.

I came to Kington as a newcomer to Canada with no family and not knowing a single person. I had to navigate this city to get from feeling fairly isolated and alone to where I am now with a sense of community. My experiences in Kingston continue to drive me to want to make that experience better for my family and others in the community. For that reason, over the years, I have volunteered with Youth Diversion and have been on several boards and committees including Tourism Kingston, Queen's University Council for Anti-Racism and Equity, the Kingston Economic Recovery Team and its various subcommittees, United Way Round Tables, Homelessness Collective Impact Committee, and Anti-Racism Task Force.

Without a doubt, along my path have been people who supported me: my mom, Cheryl Bowles, my husband Ted and kids, who are now too cool for me to say their names, but I will anyway, Wyatt, Ryder, Meredith and Otto and my family! All my friends in Kingston, who are too many to mention but are all a vital part of it. The community friendships and support, Darren Dougall and Shawn Quigley (Youth Diversion), Bhavana Varma (United Way), Toula and Chris Fountas and their family.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

My mother and my family. My mother left her job as a chief chemist at Nestle to start her own business making natural personal care products for people with melanated skin. She did so as a single parent, with a young daughter, in a new field of her own and has built it to where it is now. My family is a constant inspiration, it instills a sense of belonging and purpose to those who have gone before me and those who are coming after me. Family allows you to understand that you are a continuum in something greater than yourself. I do what I do because my family has worked hard to allow me the opportunities and privileges that I have today. I believe it is important to do so for my children and their communities that come after. It is my intention to do the best, with my limitations, to put things in play that they can build upon to make their version of this space a better one than the one I was in.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Follow your spirit, your intuition and let yourself be your guide. Let no one, including yourself, hold you back from the greatness that you are going to contribute to this world. Find your community, build a network, do things because you believe in it, and you want to contribute to making it better. Show up, be present and willing to contribute, challenge, listen and learn.

Find the people who will support you as you are and allow you to grow into your best version. You need people around you who can critically and lovingly guide you when you need to be lifted and hold you accountable.

Delegate and network. You can’t do it all. Realize what you are not good at and find someone who is great at it and let go. You do not know everything. Join committees, business groups, clubs, to meet people who have the same interest and different interests so that you can grow.

Know your limits. This is a recent one for me, and to be honest, I am still working on it! You can always find a different way to get to a solution if one isn't working.

Big up yourself! A bit of Trini parlance, but essentially - You are amazing, stand in that knowledge! Don't let anyone else allow their opinion of how they think things should be done or who you should be influence who you are.

Take chances and push boundaries. Every person has their scale as to what that means for them. For me, it means, if there is a way that I can work towards making things better for myself, my family, my community, I would rather take the chance and do something than do nothing.  

Lastly, have fun!

Eleanor Newman


Eleanor Newman

What does this award mean to you personally?  

My roots and key life experiences come from Eastern Ontario. For me, this award acknowledges all who gave generously of their time, wisdom, support and encouragement so that I could become more confident and capable and could contribute in some meaningful way to the lives of others within the community.

It has been my good fortune to learn from family, educators, and associates who were skilled in bringing out the best in others. To be nominated for this award causes me to reflect on the importance of inviting everyone to develop and share their gifts.  This humble introvert is filled with gratitude.

How have SLC students or the College in general intersected with your work or community?  

It enhances a community to have centres of learning in its midst. I will mention three specific examples of SLC impact.

As a former music and arts educator, it pleases me to have the Creative and Visual Arts and Musical Theatre programs here in Brockville. These programs attract talent to our area and provide cultural experiences to the population. I have a certificate in visual arts from SLC earned through continuing education courses.

Secondary, Adult, Alternative and Continuing Education programs offered by our local school boards benefit from partnerships with the College. Students enroll in dual credit programs and access courses in preparation for local employment opportunities.

As a volunteer member of the hospital Board of Directors and a periodic consumer of health care, I am grateful for the SLC health sciences programs and for graduates who choose to live and work in our community. The Brockville General Hospital is right here, with you. St. Lawrence College is also right here in our community.

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

I have been a teacher all my life. My official titles changed as employment responsibilities shifted and expanded, but my focus at work has always been seeing the goodness in others and assisting them to reach their potential. I seek to do the same in interactions with family, friends, and associates.

I have also been a learner all my life. My grandparents and parents each placed value on learning from life, from others, and from formal education. Through example and guidance, they taught me to be open to and prepared for possibilities, to accept responsibility, to ask questions and seek new experiences, to learn from and with everyone, to put forward my best effort, to deal with disappointment, to be a good neighbour, to work hard, to be brave, to find joy, and to be a person that others could rely upon. These are ingredients for success.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

Inspiration is all around us – in nature, in the arts, in books, in the wisdom of the ages and the evolving knowledge of our times, and especially in the little miracles of life. I actively seek inspiration from these sources each day.

It is not possible for me to name any one person as my biggest inspiration. Inspiration has come from many different people during my decades on the planet. However, I do find children and young people to be perennially inspiring; they ask very good questions, offer wise perspectives, and never fail to make me think.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Graduation is a cause for celebration. Graduation is confirmation of knowledge and skills gained and an indication of possibilities ahead. I offer one piece of advice to the SLC graduates in the hope that it will assist them in crafting a productive and joy-filled life. Know yourself.

Know your gifts: See the good that is within you; be aware of your gifts and offer them generously; continue to grow your talents and develop your qualities.

Know your gaps: Compliment others by asking for their wisdom and drawing upon their experience; work collaboratively within groups, teams, and communities to achieve goals.

Know your whole self: Reflect deeply at least twice a year about the state of your intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual self. Plan with purpose to sustain or build the capacity of each component.

When you know and grow who you are, you are better prepared to contribute to the difference you want to make in your world.

Margaret Hudson

President and CEO, Burnbrae Farms

Margaret Hudson

What does this award mean to you personally?

It is humbling and truly an honour to be receiving this Honorary Diploma from St. Lawrence College. It was completely unexpected, and I am very proud to have been chosen for this recognition. Having grown up in the Brockville area, it is especially rewarding to be recognized by such a respected educational institution in my hometown. I have worked very hard my whole life to advance our business and our family and to carry on the legacy started by my father Joe Hudson and Uncle Grant. I have always been very much focused on the job at hand because there was work to be done. I never really expected all of the accolades I have received from both the food industry and the Brockville area in the last couple of years. They are truly appreciated and make me want to work harder so that I can feel truly worthy.

How have SLC students or the College in general intersected with your work or community?

Growing up in the area, I have always been aware of St. Lawrence College and the fact that it is a respected local educational institution, and our business has reached out to the College for a variety of purposes. For many years, we have had students from its different campuses visit for farm tours in Lyn, Ontario. In particular, the students from the Veterinary Technology program have visited regularly to participate in grading and hen housing tours. My sister, Helen Anne Hudson, has been invited to present to students in the program about egg farming and sustainability at Burnbrae Farms. We have worked with St. Lawrence College on office-related administrative co-op student placements in our Lyn office. Last, our team has also worked with the College to provide leadership training for our supervisors and our management trainee program.

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

Burnbrae Farms is a sixth generation Canadian family farm and agribusiness, and we have been farming at the farm in Lyn for more than 130 years. We carry on the traditions of our grandparents and parents. When we were very young our parents expected my siblings and me to contribute to the work around the farm. This meant that from an early age we were expected to help care for the animals on our farm which included cats, dogs, horses, cows, and chickens, and do chores around the house like clean up the dishes, mow the lawn, and take out the garbage, much like any other farming family.

When we reached our early teens, we all worked on the farm, including work in the layer barns gathering eggs and in the pullet barns where the young birds are raised. We also worked in the grading station packing eggs, and in the office helping my father and doing entry level administrative jobs. We were all taught a serious work ethic from a very early age.

My siblings and I all took different paths, but all of us ended up working in the business during our adult lives at one stage or another. I personally started working full-time for the company in my third year of university and never left. I am still here 33 years later. My full-time career started at the order desk at our Mississauga location, progressed from there to managing the distribution department and then into sales and marketing. During the 1990s and into the 2000s I was part of a team that drove a lot of the innovation for the company that you see in the grocery stores to this day, like Naturegg Omega 3 eggs, Free Run and Free Range cartoned shell eggs, Hardcooked eggs and Simple Egg Whites liquid eggs.

Through the early 2000s, I led the sales and marketing department for retail and food service as the Vice President of Retail and Foodservice Sales and Marketing until I was named President in 2008. Recently I was promoted to President and CEO and have been leading the organization now for over 15 years, supported by my brother, Ted Hudson, and brother-in-law, Ian McFall, who have worked alongside me for decades, along with many valued colleagues.

Early in my career this was a very male dominated industry; it is nice to see more diversity today.  In fact, Burnbrae was recently certified as a women owned business by WBE Canada (Women Business Enterprises Canada). The important lessons that I learned early on in my career are to believe in yourself, be confident in your knowledge and ability and don’t be afraid to express your opinions. It is also important to work hard and not be afraid to take risks, learning from your mistakes along the way. I see so many young adults jump around between roles, but there is value in taking your time to learn an area of expertise and to not be impatient. I succeeded by working hard and sticking with different roles until I was ready to take on the next one. As I took on more senior roles in the business, I have always tried to stay open and inclusive, always asking lots of questions and genuinely listening and seeking input from others. When solving problems and driving innovation, I try to be open to input from others knowledgeable about the area of opportunity. I do not focus on being right, or pushing my perspective, but rather on finding the right solution and path forward from all of the options presented. Communication is critical in any role and level in an organization, and I have always found that I can never communicate too often or too much with our team. Last, making others feel valued and consulted always helps to drive alignment on common goals and desired outcomes.

The support of our family has been critical to the success of our business and to my success both professionally and personally. The strength of our family and our business is tied to our values – Be Humble, Dream Big, Work Hard, Do Your Bit, Have Fun Together. These are values that we live by as a family and that have inspired the values adopted by our business. Establishing and articulating a set of shared values has been an important process for us as a family. Our shared values support our alignment as a family, reinforcing why we want to own and work together in our business.   

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

My father and mother Joe and Mary Hudson. Dad had an amazing passion, work ethic, dedication and incredible intellect that he demonstrated in building his company over 75 years. Amazingly, he grew our family dairy farm, through the inspiration of a B.C.I. agricultural high school project in 1943, to become the largest family-owned and operated egg company in Canada today. I have immense respect and appreciation for his hard work and dedication. It was the combination of his ambition, unique skills and entrepreneurial drive that made it all possible.

If our father was the one who drove our business forward, it was our mother who supported him and all of us, raising us kids and holding our family together.  She created and sustained the family traditions that help to bind our family together and these strong family bonds not only sustain us as a family to this day, but also strengthen our ability to be successful in business together. A strong family bond is critical to family business success and our mother was critical to laying this foundation. She also set an incredible example for us all to follow in terms of supporting our communities.

Our parents’ values of integrity, respect, giving back, hard work, innovation, dedication, and investing for the future are ones we all live by today.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Looking back on my career I would have to say that a big part of my success has been attributed to working hard and to being bold, always being open to learning new things both on the job and through further education, while also aspiring to being humble and treating others with respect and integrity.

Working hard: By working hard I was able to learn all aspects of our business, taking the time to develop a deep understanding of key areas, learning from the ground up. While still in school, I spent a lot of time in more junior roles across a variety of different departments in the company. This gave me a deep foundation to draw upon when I was asked to take on increased responsibility.

Being Bold: I was also bold and wasn’t afraid to take on roles in all aspects of the company as I embarked on my career full-time in my early twenties. This included roles that, at the time, would not have typically been filled by women and included gathering and packing eggs, administration and distribution, sales and marketing, and eventually President and CEO.  I was also open to taking calculated risks in many aspects of my different roles, whether that was launching new products, spending money on market development or new equipment or even reinventing information systems and business processes. There was no job too big or too small and I was always open to learning everything I could from everyone I encountered.

Learning new things: Education has always been a focus in our family with generations of Hudson women before me receiving degrees at a time when further education was not emphasized, especially for women. That is a point of great pride for our family. I have a degree in Business and Environmental Science and an Executive MBA, all from the University of Toronto.  At the time I graduated, Environmental Science was an emerging area of study unlike today. In my position at Burnbrae, I’ve been able to leverage the business knowledge I learned and now realize my environmental dreams with some of the projects that we have launched.  As examples, we built the largest solar powered egg farm in Canada, our employees engage in shoreline clean-ups across the country, and we have always emphasized the use of recyclable packaging and reusable containers where possible in our supply chain. In recent years, we have managed to divert more than 90% of our waste from landfill and we have committed to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, so we have many exciting things to come. Visit to see our Sustainability Report if you would like to learn more.

But learning does not always come from formal education. There is so much to be learned on the job and from those around you. Those who have spent a long time in their roles in our business and in the broader industry are always so knowledgeable. I have always looked to learn all I can from those around me and have leveraged the knowledge of those inside and outside our business to help drive positive change, and also to progress in my career.  By joining industry associations and boards I was able to learn more about the broader food industry, and to use my knowledge and leverage my connections to help shape our business and the broader egg industry in Canada.    
Operating with respect and integrity:  Developing meaningful relationships takes time and energy, and people will bias towards working with those they know and trust if given an option, and so the strength of these relationships and your integrity and trustworthiness are key to being successful.

Early in my career, I developed strong relationships with key players in the grocery retail and Canadian CPG (Consumer Package Goods) industries and those have served me well through the years in terms of developing trading relationships for our business and finding new opportunities.    
It’s so important to focus internally as well when developing relationships and I have always tried to build strong ones with those throughout our company. I have found that there is so much to learn from everyone, and people will be so much more open and loyal if they know and trust you and feel respected and valued. I enjoy visiting our different locations, participating in our team building and community events, and getting to know as many team members as possible. Being involved personally with our business is important to me and my family.

Overall, being consistent when it comes to work ethic, applying yourself, relationships, honesty and doing the right thing is important in business and in life, and has served me well over the years.

M. Eleanor McGrath

Farmer and Owner, Springfield Farm Organics

M. Eleanor McGrath sits outside of her farmhouse

What does this award mean to you personally?

To receive this Honorary Diploma from St. Lawrence College is a true gift in acknowledging my passion for this community, farming, and the incredible opportunity that Agritourism has for farmers to diversify and share their knowledge with tourists that shows off the many facets of our beautiful region from Akwesasne, Cornwall, and throughout the United Counties of SDG.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?

In 2017, I was part of the Agri-Food Network and attended a meeting at St. Lawrence College - I was immediately in awe. There was a dynamic engagement throughout the room as the students presented, the professors were there to support, and I came away having met new people who were sincere and excited to engage with farmers.

That meeting led to hosting the Irish Ambassador Jim Kelly at the College while he toured the region, starting to partnership on compost, and working with two programs and their students on finding solutions to challenges we were facing at Springfield Farm.

The students and faculty from School of Business and Supply Chain Management offered a thorough review of Springfield Farm as a business and produced and executed a business plan while providing invaluable assistance to achieve our Agritourism goals. The mentoring by the SLC professors ensured that the projects were successful, and as I stated at our hand-off meetings, that each student demonstrated the ability to interact on our behalf with such professionalism which was more than reassuring as a business owner. 

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

I graduated university with a bachelor's degree, major in English, minor in Philosophy and in 1989 we were told not to expect any jobs as the economy was faltering. I started working at a small law firm thinking that it might be a career for me, but at that time, I also hoped one day to have a family and the long hours to put in were daunting.

This led to doing "spot audits" for the Law Society, I used to chuckle thinking here was someone who almost failed math tracking down trust accounts and delinquent lawyers. I wanted something more meaningful, and I contact the Terry Fox Foundation to volunteer, and that is how I began a career in fundraising.

I have been fortunate to work only for causes I believe in, including young single mothers at Rosalie Hall Foundation, the Ireland Fund of Canada, and finally a contract with the Jesuits of English Canada. While fundraising for the Catholic Church and priests is tough slogging, the order was engaged fully in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the time and together with my boss, Father Bert Foliot, we created the Truth, Reconciliation and Hope Conference. My heart and mind were opened beyond any expectation. Through my brother-in-law Bruce Roundpoint and my sister Irene Cameron, I was introduced to Grand Chief Joe Norton, Grand Chief Abram Benedict, lacrosse legend Mike Mitchell, and through the Jesuits, to Noel Starblanket, who shared his story that day and I encourage you to read about him. He said: "You have now heard me, you cannot claim ignorance." My husband and I realized from that moment that we have to do more, to listen, to learn and to work to helping achieve a Canada that incorporates all the TRC Calls to Action.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

The most obvious answer is my parents and family - I am the eldest of eight and in awe of the work, the sacrifices and the lessons of life that I gained through my parents, four brothers and three sisters. My husband, Finbarr has been a true gift in my life, arriving to Canada with only $200 in his pocket from Ireland. My children continue to inspire me, from the day they were born to how they are growing into their own lives with confidence and a gentle humility.

We have been fortunate to be a part of this wonderful community since 2014, and we could not have achieved our Agritourism goals at Springfield Farm without these incredible people, the list is long but worthy: Irene Cameron & Bruce Roundpoint, Trevor Roundpoint, Chad Latreille, Alain Dupuis, Mike and Cora MacGillivray, Norma and Alan Winters, Eric Payseur, Rebecca Mackenzie, Daniel & Nicole Blondin-Geoffrion, Hugo Rodrigues, the Cardinal Family, Jordan Parisien, Anne Tardiff, Paul and Linda Vogel, Luc Lanthier, Remi Sauve, Mike Lalonde, Lesley Thompson, Kylee Tarbell, Clarence McDonald and Bugs - the knowledge and willingness to help us has been more than inspirational, it has been a Godsend.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Take the time to experience the excitement of what lies ahead. When you nail that interview and find a job that puts your hard-earned knowledge to the test, there will be some long hours of work ahead but please quickly establish borders and boundaries that allow you to have a life outside of work. Use up all your talents and they include making time for play, creating, volunteering, and family and friends. Life is ahead of you, and you are not alone, all this knowledge you have gained will carry you through.

Christine Bruce, MHA, MLT, CHE

Senior Director, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network

Christine Bruce headshot

What does this award mean to you personally?

I am really humbled to receive this prestigious honour, and to still have a strong tie to my alma mater and the Medical Laboratory Science program 25 years after my own graduation. I'm even more pleased to be able to shine a light on the essential field of medical laboratory science. I have been fortunate in my career, and it’s a personal joy to positively affect the health of millions of Canadians, through daily contributions and acts of service. I owe so much to the SLC faculty for their early mentorship and guidance this college gave me a shot at landing here before you today. 

I am especially grateful to Robin McAvoy for continuing to be my champion and nominating me. Robin is a tremendous spokesperson for laboratory medicine and the long-term strength of the St. Lawrence MLS program. She continues to engage me on numerous program initiatives, knowing she can always count on me to be on board with whatever she needs.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?

One of the great things about medical laboratory sciences students is the workplace preceptorship – designed to hone the students’ precision technical skills, and readying for the workplace. Shaping the future of the profession means you must get involved and participate. I have been fortunate to work in diverse settings, where students are welcome for clinical placements for both the technologist and technician programs. This placement access can often be a rate limiting step – so I know, as a workplace leader, that I have a duty to give back to the system in this way.

Another way SLC intersects in my work community is through my participation on the SLC MLS Program Advisory Committee. It is essential for the educators and employer placement sites to constantly connect on issues affecting the profession. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. Having the opportunity to provide the program with real world insights on changes in practice, ideas on capacity building and sustainability are important for all stakeholders. And it’s great fun. To sit with a group of industry peers, be they employers, educators, preceptors, or student ambassadors, is such a rich experience. I learn something new every time we meet, and I appreciate the networks SLC facilitates.

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

The path that got me here was simply being willing to try, and not being afraid to stumble. My roles and my successes within them have resulted from me focusing on the art of the possible and creating the best patient outcome – and just going for it. What’s the downside? You stumble a few times, fall a few times, and you start to succeed. You can’t help but build courage, resilience, and trust in your instincts. You gain tremendous perspective once you exercise that courage and see how few limits there really are – and most critically you see how you can change a patient’s life.

When I started the MLS program, I thought finding a good vein and collecting blood would be my biggest professional problem. When I look back now - what was I worried about? People have their blood collected every day, I just needed to give it a try.  And so, after a career full of ‘trying’ to be a good laboratory technologist, to setting up the gold standard COVID testing operation in a crisis, to installing some of the world’s largest laboratory automation systems, all the way to identifying novel diagnostics that improve health outcomes across the country….my courage on what I am willing to try has changed dramatically, and for the better – but my ‘why’ has never changed; it has always been better patient outcomes with lab medicine as a foundation.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

I absolutely must pay tribute to two people. Firstly, Sandy Gillespie – an amazing woman from LifeLabs whom I met in 2000. She taught me how to lead. It turns out being a leader in healthcare is my calling. I owe Sandy the credit for literally everything I am proud of. She has been a trusted advisor, weatherer of all of my storms, and the truest of friends. She has helped me understand my personal brand as a leader. Close to 20 years of mentorship has helped me solidify my values, and to understand how I can impact people in a meaningful way. She has taught me to ‘go slow to go fast’ and to take the time to say ‘please and thanks’ – it matters. Being an authentic servant leader is not easy, but I am always reminded in her steadying tone that ‘no one comes to work to do a bad job - people just need to know what success looks like and to know you are in their corner, ready to serve’. 

The second person who has been a tremendous inspiration to me, is Dr. Tony Mazzulli. I met Tony in 2019, and he perhaps most bravely of anyone, taught me how to follow. We embarked on expanding our microbiology lab to being the first and then largest, hospital COVID testing site in Ontario. It was a massive undertaking in record time with no roadmap. I had just joined his team just prior to the pandemic, as a trusted leader. I could have simply run into the fire of setting up this operation, believing I could handle it, no problem. I had courage. I learned quickly that I could not handle it on my own. I will always be grateful for his coaching moments, when he sat me down and respectfully illustrated the gaps in my knowledge and perspective. He helped me get better at saying I was wrong, saying I didn’t know, saying I needed help, and most importantly, saying I was sorry. With Tony, I learned humility. Sometimes being a great leader means being a humble follower. I am lucky to have him as a mentor and advisor – and I am forever grateful for his wisdom and his friendship.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

I maintain that my successes have come from my desire to know what my industry is all about. I am absolutely a laboratory technologist at heart. But to be a good one, with the influence to make this career landscape better for every patient that walks around on it, I have had to learn the way the entire space works. I have committed a significant part of my career to understanding the workplace,  academics, certification, politics, funding, accreditation, operations, and innovation related to both public and private Canadian laboratory medicine. Understanding how all of these levers are pulled and when, has made me a nimble operator and credible leader. It is meaningful, and this knowledge has clarified where I have needed to round out my own skills, with added credentials, and has also helped me define how to create great places to work for the teams I lead.

Do not underestimate the true power of asking why things are the way they are. As new graduates, you aren’t seeking a job. You are the next ambassador for your industry. Understand it from every angle, because it will bolster your value and make you incredibly confident. This is the start of your career long learning – be open. Be inquisitive and never stop putting tools in your toolkit.

Linda Ann Daly, BA, CYW, MPA

Longtime Community Advocate and Supporter and Philanthropist

Linda Ann Daly is smiling in a headshot taken outside

What does this award mean to you personally? 

It is deeply meaningful to receive this prestigious award. 

As a young girl growing up in a small Ontario town, I saw my parents continually giving back, by being involved, being aware, caring about others, engaging whatever resources were needed to simply help others/organizations move forward with no expectation of anything in return. 

This award represents recognition of the many hours that so many people give as volunteers, whether it be on boards, community agencies, in healthcare, and in recreation programs. I am merely one of thousands and I'm so proud to stand with every one of them.

This award also represents recognition for taking on leadership and advocacy roles, despite many challenges, in order to create pathways forward, access to opportunities and inclusion for all. Every day I'm inspired by others, from whom I learn and grow. 

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community? 

Early in my teaching career at SLC in the Child and Youth Worker program, I developed a Detached Worker Program. I received funding from Rotary and Citizen Service Clubs and hired four SLC students for one year, each to work with a youth referred by Social Service agencies, with an emphasis on having the youth accountable for their behavior. 

After retirement, I’ve worked with Business students with St. Lawrence Parks Commission projects as well as at Dress for Success, Kingston; Vet tech students and grads greet me regularly when boarding my cat or at the vet clinics; a Social Service Worker student supported my mother when she was in palliative care, and graduates are employed within the healthcare system, and at community agencies I engage with regularly.

My husband and I created a bursary at SLC, Carleton and Queen’s, for International and Indigenous students and stay connected with several recipients.

What path have you followed, that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success? 

Learning and seeking new experiences have characterized my path. In my final semester at Carleton, I was still unsure what I wanted to do, until a tremendous professor talked about a program to work with youth with emotional difficulties. I applied and for the next 12 months trained at the Ottawa Psychiatric Hospital, graduating with a ‘Child Care Worker’ Diploma! My first job was a counselor at Port Alberni Residential School in British Columbia. I then worked with street children on probation in downtown Vancouver for two years, before returning to Ontario and gained employment as a Probation Officer in Ottawa with adults, then juveniles. 

With this experience, I was hired at SLC Kingston to teach in the CYW program! I got involved with Big Sisters, John Howard Society, St Lawrence Youth Association, and during the summer I would often volunteer in a youth program outside of Kingston. 

I started the first woman-led bicycling summer touring company called Bicycling Ontario and ran that for two years before deciding to return to school to complete my Masters of Public Administration part time.

I served on the Board of Governors of Kingston General Hospital and was part of the largest re-development project in the hospital’s history. I was appointed to the transitional Council of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario, and to the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. Additionally, elected to the Board of Governors at Carleton University, and Dress for Success, Kingston, where I continue to volunteer. Mentoring both international and domestic students, a Little Sister, as well as helping refugees transition to life in Kingston, have taught me invaluable lessons for which I am forever grateful. I have received meaningful awards including the Grand Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to the Arts and our Community, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award, and the Paul Harris Fellow Award, Rotary International.

I have led successful fundraising events for the Kingston Symphony Association, The Grand Theater and Dress for Success, Interval House, tsunami relief for the Red Cross, Teachers in Afghanistan, the local Food Sharing Project, and more.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why? 

My English teacher in high school who encouraged me to always aim higher. My father who taught me never to be greedy, boastful, self-centered; that I would have to make my own decisions once I left home. My students, refugees and international students that I have engaged with, for their courage, tenacity, eagerness to learn and share their world. Rodrigo, our Rotary student from Brazil, who laughed with us, cried with us, saw the world in new ways, and shared with us his unquenchable thirst for learning. 

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

You will meet with many challenges and opportunities, you will face uncertainty, maybe discrimination in one of its many forms. You may switch directions – as I would often say to students: the job you may one day have is not even invented yet.

Build a strong personal foundation, know who you are and what matters most to you. What line will you not cross? Commit to ongoing professional development – to learn, to grow, to become more humble and possibly, to advocate for someone who is unable to help themselves, to improve their situation and ultimately to empower them to act on their own.

Commit to advocacy – think about gaps in services, at work, in your community, and do something constructive, apply your skills so that others can benefit; promote an idea for the betterment of all, and use your network and communication skills to bring about positive action.

Patricia (Tish) Humphries – President of Board of Directors, The Hub for Beyond 21 Foundation 

Patricia (Tish) Humphries holds her Honorary Diploma in a frame. She is wearing SLC regalia.

Tish is an SLC graduate of the 1977 Nursing program on the Cornwall campus, but left the profession to work with her husband on the family farm. She founded the Beyond 21 Foundation, a non-profit organization providing exceptional programming for adults aged 21 and older.

What does this award mean to you personally?                 

It was a complete and wonderful surprise to be considered for this award. I am both humbled and honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award, one of the most significant events of my lifetime. The kindness of people never ceases to amaze me. The quote from Albert Schweitzer that sits above my desk, is one of my daily inspirations, “What determines our success is how we affect the lives of others.”

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?                                          

Our community partnership with the SLC has been outstanding! Students have completed their placements at Beyond 21 for the last decade from the Social Service Worker, Personal Support Worker, and Business programs. They gain valuable experience, and at the same time support the programing at our center. Our participants love working with the students in groups and one-on-one, which is even more special. We are always sad to say goodbye once their time at our “Place to Belong” is over. The relationships established are a win-win opportunity for all!                                                                            

What path have you followed that sees you here today?  What were some of the ingredients of your success?

I studied at St. Lawrence College in the Registered Nursing program in Cornwall and had the honor to be the valedictorian for our graduating class in 1976. I recall saying to my fellow graduates, that although we thought we had reached our destination by receiving our diploma that evening, it is in fact just one stop on our life journey. There would be many more to come.   

The biggest impact in my and my family’s life was the birth of Emma, our fourth daughter. Emma with born with Mosaic Trisomy 9, a rare chromosome disorder, and this diagnosis changed our family life forever. It has been a lifetime of doctors, hospitals, and therapists. When Emma was 18, I began looking for opportunities for her post age 21, when she would leave school system. I was shocked by the lack of opportunities, and my 14-year journey began to find a solution for Emma and others in her situation. Beyond 21 opened a decade ago and became a place where adults with developmental disabilities are respected and connect and contribute to our community.

I have learned perseverance as it applies to self-care, family, and your occupation, and life’s path in general. I have learned from unfortunate circumstances and allowed them to make me stronger, not bitter.                                                                            

Who has been you biggest inspiration, and why? 

The biggest inspiration in my life was my cousin, Father Emmett Johns, a priest, humanitarian, and founder of Dans la Rue, a homeless shelter and support group for street youth. In 1988 with a $10,000 loan, he purchased a used motorhome and took to the streets of Montreal at night, distributing food and basic goods to street youth and giving them a place to warm up. The organization grew beyond his dreams. His philosophy was to “help without judgment.” I was blessed to have him in my life; he taught me so much with his passion to make a difference in the lives of troubled youth.

What words of inspiration/ wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?                      

Surround yourself with successful people, they will inspire you, challenge you, support you and celebrate with you on your success and comfort you if you fail. Never stop learning, it doesn’t have to be academics, the sky is the limit to how you can enhance your education. Work hard and play hard, maintain a balance. Remember that word “perseverance,” your dreams are worth the work and sacrifice. Get outside and exercise -- it is important for both your mental and physical health. Give back to your community by volunteering and help a charity of your choice. I promise this act of kindness will make you feel so good!

David Ross, CEO, Ross Video

David Ross is pictured wearing SLC regalia

Ross Video is one of the largest employers in Eastern Ontario with over 800 employees and has revenues of over $200M.  Ross Video donated a mobile computer lab to Seaway District High School and has made significant donations towards a new local airport and campground buildings in Iroquois. David is an advocate for his local community and provides support wherever he can. 

What does this award mean to you personally?

Receiving this honour from St. Lawrence College serves as a reminder that no one succeeds alone. There’s a reason why people passionately thank those around them at award shows like the Oscars. My parents invested time in me, and my own family sometimes had to make do when I didn’t have time for them. I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most talented people in our industry. This isn’t really an award for me, it’s an award recognizing everyone that helped us achieve so much together.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community? 

I grew up in Iroquois along the Seaway. I saw the St. Lawrence River every day of my youth and watched it flow from Kingston, through Brockville, and down past Cornwall. That river tied all of those communities together and my hometown of Iroquois is right in the middle. My company, Ross Video, has hired graduates from St. Lawrence College for almost 50 years now. Those students have contributed greatly to our company, and Ross as a result of their contributions has been able to give back to the community.     

What path have you followed that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success? 

I could talk about all of the business strategies that worked, the technical inspirations, the pivotal sales wins, but that’s not at the core of our success. At the core, success comes from attracting good people and keeping them engaged and happy. When I was younger, social skills weren’t my strength; I loved technology and was good in school, but I made some mistakes with people. Fortunately, over time and with some good advice, I learned from those mistakes and thought deeply about what works and what doesn’t, not just individually as a person, but throughout an organization. We eventually wrote down many of those core elements and we live by them in the culture of our company. In the end, we built a company that’s great to work in and that was a major key to our success.   

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

It may sound like a cliche, but my parents. My father had a passion for engineering that swept me along with it. He brought home a computer in 1975 when I was nine years old and there was no turning back after that. Over the supper table we talked business, not sports, and debated different merits of various human resources issues. Over the years I’ve written down countless business advice one liners from my father and I’ve drawn on them time and time again. My father has since been formally recognized as a peer in the film and television industry alongside people like Thomas Edison and has an Order of Canada, so yes, I was very fortunate to have that level of guidance. My mother had such warmth and such a belief in me that I was able to carry her confidence inside me throughout my life.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?   

Live a meaningful and interesting life. On the meaning side, enjoy a shared purpose with a good team. Don’t stay in bad teams that drag you down. Contribute to that team and be a valued member. At the same time, live interesting and positive days that are not readily forgotten and never regretted. Whether doing interesting things in your work or outside of your work, shake up your brain regularly. Use your diploma or degree as a jumping off point to live a good life.

Cathy Cleary, Community Leader and Activist

Cathy Cleary is pictured wearing SLC regalia

As a community leader, activist, and social entrepreneur, Cathy has been working in international development for the past 10 years and in the areas of community health and social justice for over 25 years. Cathy has dedicated her life to helping numerous organizations both here at home and across the globe to make the world a better place. She has been instrumental in supporting a number of initiatives and programs at SLC.

What does this award mean to you personally?

It is an honour to be chosen to receive this prestigious award. I feel humbled to be recognized for my work and I share this with so many others, groups of dedicated and highly motivated people working together to make a difference in our community and in our world. I am grateful to be in the company of Canadians, Tanzanians, and Congolese people working together to make small differences in the lives of vulnerable people. They share this honour with me.

As a St Lawrence College graduate, I am deeply grateful to Pam Bovey-Armstrong for nominating me. She is a powerhouse as an educator, an entrepreneur, and a community leader. She introduced me to the many staff and students at SLC with whom I have been privileged to work, and who have so warmly welcomed me into their lives and their learning.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?

Working within both community health and international development over the past 27 years has provided me with opportunities to partner with both local and international groups and institutions. Some time ago, I was reminded of the amazing work of St. Lawrence College as I attended my first Young Women Innovators Conference as a Viking judge. From that moment I felt reconnected with the St Lawrence College community. I went on to meet with the students of Enactus who took on the project of selling calendars to support the Tchukudu Women’s Training Centre in DR Congo where women learn the skills of a seamstress to generate income to feed and educate their children. They raised over $1200. I attended the SoFun Workshop at the Innovation Hub learning many new ideas on how to structure, build, and grow an international social enterprise.

In 2018, I worked with Polina Buchan, Kathleen Wright and Pam Bovey-Armstrong and their many bright and engaging business students on an innovative and novel Shopify project. This included the full setup of our ongoing website and a December Holiday Campaign with online sales of shopping totes, made by the Congolese women, totaling over $4000. This project included the brilliant creativity of marketing communications student enterprise ‘Spark’ with logos, graphic design, and advertisement ideas including a magazine advertisement to accompany an in-depth article in Profile Kingston. Students, Jadon and Elle, continued to support the website long after our joint project had ended.

What path have you followed that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

When I graduated from SLC, Cornwall campus in 1981 in Business Administration – Finance, I never imaged that my life path would lead me to where I am today. From banking, to owning a small business, to Kingston Community Midwives, then back to school in women’s studies, sociology and public administration, I was following my passion to learn and try to understand. In 2002 I found work in community development working on issues of homelessness, drug use, and food insecurity, and I felt like I had found my place, and my people

It was a short hop, skip and jump from community development to international development where since 1984, I had wanted to travel to Africa, after seeing the images of the famine in Ethiopia. I thought maybe I could help in some way and I longed to go. Twenty-four years later, in 2008 I joined a medical caravan with Canada Africa Community Health Alliance travelling to Tanzania. This adventure set me on a new trajectory into international projects and programs. In 2014, I joined Heather Haynes to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo where I now work with incredibly resilient women, having been traumatized by violence, who are now building new income generating skills and businesses.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

My biggest inspirations are the people I walk beside in my work. People caring deeply for their fellow human beings, like Kizungu, the Congolese man who took orphans under his wing and found support for women who had suffered untold violence. Clarisse, from our first graduating sewing class who is now our training centre coordinator. Alex, who started Lake Victoria Children on Ukerewe Island to help vulnerable children and their families. Irene who left the first job she ever had to set out and earn a Master’s Degree and find meaningful work with World Vision, and so many more.

I am inspired by the Tanzanian and Canadian doctors, nurses, clinical officers, dentists, pharmacists, and logisticians I have worked with who serve thousands of people each year with the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance. Their compassion, generosity and humility has opened doors for people in need. They are people who, with their skills and kindness, have saved many lives. I am in awe of friends who have initiated electronic medical records in isolated communities, provided access to clean water and wells, built schools, supported orphaned children, and supply needed medical equipment. My work is inspired by Canadian women who have generously offered their time and devotion to support Congolese women training and working to feed and educate their children.

These are the people who are my daily inspiration. They have made my world so much bigger and they have made the worlds of everyone around them a better place to be. 

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Life is precious and precarious. To our graduates: today is the first day of the rest of your life and you get to decide how you want to live it. No matter what path you take in work and life remember that once you know something, you can no longer retreat into the abyss of unconsciousness. Awareness must provoke action. When you see something that doesn’t make sense, when you become aware of some injustice, inequity, wrong situation, you can take action. You can be the person to ask hard questions and open yourself up to hearing the answers. Be curious. Be yourself. Be your best self.

My hope and wish for each of you is that every day you bring your light and learning to all situations, and that you bring your best to yourself, your family, your community, and to the world.

2011 - 2020

John McDonald, a civic-minded leader and lawyer serving Cornwall for over 40 years

John McDonald is pictured in Convocation regalia

John is an active member of Cornwall’s Downtown Business Improvement Area and is a founding member of the Heart of the City. John was also instrumental in the formation of the St. Lawrence River Institute and is a founding Board member of the St. Lawrence River Institute Foundation.

What does this award mean to you personally?   

This is a huge honour for me. I believe that you get involved with community organizations because you believe in them and the work they do, and it is highly rewarding to have your work with such organizations recognized in such a truly inspiring way.  

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?   

My wife, Valerie, is a retired teacher who loved her job and we are both big believers in education.  I taught Business Law at the College for a number of years in the early days of my career and thoroughly enjoyed that experience. My law firm has hired legal assistants who graduated from St. Lawrence College program, including a student I taught in that program, and who is still a member of our team today.   

What path have you followed that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?    

I started my post-secondary education planning to go to business school at the University of Western Ontario.  I switched to law after my second year and graduated from Law School at the University of Windsor. My interest in business never waned and so my focus has been business law and estate planning for my business clients. My extracurricular activities have followed a similar pattern and my continued interest in business has fueled my community involvement. For example, I drafted and processed the documentation that incorporated the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences and the St. Lawrence River Institute Foundation.  I did the same for the revitalization group Cornwall’s Heart of the City and, on behalf of the City of Cornwall, I drafted the By-Law which created the Downtown Business Improvement Area. I have served as a director on the board of the St. Lawrence River Institute Foundation since its incorporation.  I was a founder of, Heart of the City, and served as its Chair for many years and I have been the past Chair and continue to be a member of the board of directors of the Downtown Business Improvement Area.  

One of my proudest achievements is the Heart of the City Community Improvement Plan.  A Community Improvement Plan is a tool recognized in the Municipal Act and utilizing a combination of programs including grants, interest free loans and tax increment financing to allow a property owner to improve underutilized or vacant property in an affordable way. The Heart of the City Community Improvement Plan, which is now operated entirely by the City of Cornwall, was researched, written, proposed to the City of Cornwall Municipal Council, and promoted to property owners by Heart of the City.  It has played a major role in the transition of the City and, of the downtown, from a mill town and leveraged millions of dollars of investment in our community in the process.    

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?   

My dad, for who I am named, was my biggest inspiration. He was a business executive and an innovator in the direct marketing field. His success as president and CEO of Sovereign Seat Covers Ltd. and Fingerhut International, which for a time, was the fourth largest private sector employer in Cornwall behind Domtar, Courtaulds and, I believe, CIL, was a great source of pride for our family. My Dad instilled in me my love of business and my belief in community service.  He was a member of the Kinsmen Club, one of Cornwall’s premiere service clubs, and used his expertise in marketing to help the club develop a lottery system that became so big, the Ontario Government took it over and it became Wintario, a forerunner to OLG and the current provincial lotteries. My dad passed away in 2014 and I hope that my community service continues to add to the legacy he built.     

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?    

I subscribe to the belief that life is all about relationships. In my case, I am a husband, a father, and a grandfather.  I am also a business partner, an employer, and a lawyer with a relationship with my clients and colleagues.  I am a member of the downtown Cornwall business community and a citizen of the City of Cornwall.  I prioritized my relationships in that order.  If I can offer one piece of advice, I would recommend that you take time to identify each of your relationships and that you regularly review and re-evaluate each of them.  I also believe that it is difficult to be of much service to your community until you have your own house in order. Do not take more from a relationship than you give and do not take any of them, particularly the family ones, for granted.  This, I believe, is the true meaning of work-life balance.  

I am receiving this honour, I think, because of my relationship with my community.  Institutions and organizations like the River Institute, the College, the DBIA, Heart of the City and many others are important to the growth and wellbeing of this community. These relationships need and deserve our time and attention.  

Shelley Bacon, Founding Partner of Northern Cables Inc.

Shelley Bacon pictured in Convocation regalia

Shelley is one of the founding partners of Northern Cables in Brockville, a homegrown entrepreneurial success story. He is the CEO and has 265 staff working at plants in Brockville and Prescott. He ensures his company is driven by listening to customer’s needs.

What does this award mean to you personally?

I tend to live my life below the radar, so to be nominated by fellow business colleagues and recognized by St. Lawrence College is a huge surprise and a tremendous honour.  I feel this award also recognizes that the hard work and efforts of my colleagues and the employees at Northern Cables are valued in our community.   

Over the past 25 years Northern Cables has grown into a large company, and we are now able to contribute to charities, educational institutions, and community initiatives.  For me, this award is about being a good corporate citizen and demonstrating maturity and responsibility, just as our forefathers did.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?

Northern Cables, a growing manufacturing facility, relies on the graduates from St. Lawrence College in this region.  Together with the Skills, Training, and Economic Development programs and working co-operatively with the Economic Development Sector of the St. Lawrence Corridor, Northern Cables wants to encourage graduates to consider a career in manufacturing.   

When I graduated, almost 20% of Canada’s working population were employed in manufacturing, but sadly this number has dwindled down to around 9% today.  St. Lawrence College and this economic region have an opportunity to become a destination for industrial firms looking for resources, a talented workforce, and a great location.  For the past 25 years, supply chains have become more reliant on offshore manufacturing.  Any hiccup in supply, especially as we have experienced with the pandemic, has led to shortages and quality issues that has exposed Canada’s vulnerability.  Now, as the world realizes its dependency on products from far away countries, we need to encourage more training in the trades and technical courses to support those industries that are starting to re-shore back to North America.

What path have you followed that sees you here today?  What were some ingredients of your success?

Working every summer from a young age taught me the value of earning money and hard work. Scrubbing milk pasteurization kettles with steel wool, tarring roads, and cleaning printing presses became my version of “how it’s made.”  Selling bread and milk, newspapers and souvenirs on commission is a difficult thing to master when you are young.  My first finance course was to learn how my summer earnings, plus student loans would finance my education.   

I was fortunate to have worked in heavy industry during the boom decades of the 70’s to the 90’s.  Moving from primary steel to alloy steel to nuclear and finally to the wire and cable industry provided a career’s worth of invaluable experience in so many ways.  But it was my early childhood selling experiences that became important when we started our manufacturing business.  Accepting rejection and learning how to upsell were important when we were trying to inflate our balloon at Northern Cables. 

In more recent years I became involved in volunteer work and industry associations to broaden my horizon and give back to the community.  This is where I learned how others operate when it pertains to money matters.  Operating a manufacturing business is like sustaining a living, breathing entity.  It takes a whole team to control the levers to keep the boat upright.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

From an early age I was inspired by teachers, tutors, and good leaders.  Learning how to do logarithms and square roots by hand were lessons for me to study hard in school and be persistent.  David Beatty, Frank Davies, Donald Green, Hugh Grightmire, Al Smith, and Norm Saunders were great mentors to me at Northern Cables, and their business skills were invaluable.  The odds of starting a manufacturing business and developing your own brand are quite slim, and to go up against established electrical products across North America provided the ultimate challenge: competition.   

I endured tremendous stress at the beginning, as did all my partners.  Inhumane hours of work and the pressure to succeed were the norm for several years.  Not one of my partners gave up and their strong work ethic provided me continual inspiration to aim higher.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Obtaining your diploma or degree is a prerequisite for many occupations, and after you complete your formal education, you will enter a world where you may encounter rejection. We all have to learn to deal with that and not let it get you down.  Remember, “no” is not a bad word. 

When we started Northern Cables, I visited many electrical distributors in Canada offering our AC90 product that we had planned to sell at the beginning.  Everywhere I went the answer was “no.”  Customers did not want to be the first to buy our product or risk losing their current trusted supply. 

Rather than give up, we took advice from an outside advisor and redid our business plan to make a more complicated product – TECK cable.  This change required some different equipment and a more difficult manufacturing process to make this industrial product.  It wasn’t easy but eventually things worked out well after making the change.  I can honestly say I have endured many rejections over the years, in both official languages.  Be thankful, respectful, and ask for advice.  It is how you learn to overcome rejection. 

Jimmy Hassan, CEO of Canadian Colours, Pizza Pizza Franchisee, and Community Supporter

Jimmy Hassan pictured wearing Convocation regalia

Jimmy is a significant supporter of numerous charitable organizations in the Kingston community. In addition to this support, he can often be found serving pizza to picketers, kids at ice rinks or anywhere else, he feels people may benefit. He immigrated to Canada 22 years ago and is truly a Canadian success story. He worked hard to build a career and today is a leader in his community.

What does this award mean to you personally?

To me, this award is more than just a celebration of my achievements; it is recognition of my struggles and hard work. Just as earning a diploma or degree takes years of effort, this award takes that same time and dedication. This award also celebrates the impact my work has made on the people I’ve helped and the smiles I’ve brought. My projects have encouraged the betterment of the community and inspired so many people. This award goes to those brilliant minds that are picking up where I leave off too. It’s not just my own contributions that got these results though. Nothing was achieved alone. My ventures that led to this moment were supported by my wife who is always by my side to motivate me, they were aided by my kids who had creative ideas to share and who helped articulate my thoughts, they were aided by my friends who pitched in financially or with ideas and help, and they were aided by my family overseas who inspired me to go out into the world and come here to even do what I have done in the first place.

How have SLC students or the college in general intersected with your work or community?

I’ve always seen SLC as an extraordinary college. It does everything right; instilling values into students, building community, and developing skills for success. As such, I’ve always supported of the College and have been more than happy to collaborate with them. Before the pandemic I had a project going with them that had to be reevaluated and now, I’m having SLC as a dignitary at my next diversity dinner. SLC, its staff, and students, have also supported me and my work. I’ve received a lot of kind and uplifting words from the people there, and being in my business’ area, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of them very well through serving them. They support my business this way, and we form connections for future collaborations. Finally, I’ve been told I am an inspiration to the international students, as an immigrant, to encourage them to become the best they can be.

What path have you followed that sees you here today? What were some ingredients of your success?

My path is one first of determination. I would not be anywhere without the determination to reach beyond what my walls in Pakistan had for me. I knew there was more I could achieve, and so I was determined to achieve it. However, setting off on my journey itself was tough. It was about sacrifice, because I knew I’d rarely see my family and friends, walk my childhood home, or be able to hug my mother. With courage, support, and that same determination though, I left my home and eventually came to Canada, via the United States. Initially, it was hard. Not only did I not know the language or have money, but my little education was irrelevant in North America for finding work. I took that nothing however, and made something of it instead. I remained determined, but also creative. With some critical thinking, I was able to find work around that put me on more equal footing, and with hard work to boot I became just like someone born here in time.

Who has been your biggest inspiration, and why?

I want to credit two people. First is my mom. She was the first person to encourage me in my life and in fact, she was the one who pushed me to leave Pakistan. She saw that I had ambitions that just weren’t possible to achieve in our living situation and with our economic status. She knew it would be hard to let her son go, but she encouraged me to do what brought me joy and pursue what would make me happy. She was a strong woman to do that and provide for me, and I look up to her for that. I wouldn’t have the courage to do all this without her. Next, I want to thank my wife, of course. She’s always been here by my side and I’m so glad to have married an amazing and strong woman like her. I know that all the rushing around and work can be stressful and annoying, but she sticks to it with me because she knows both that it’s for the better of the community and that it’s my dream to do this. She always encourages me to do what makes me happy as well and has an active role in it all. With her support, as with the rest of my family, I feel I can do anything.

What words of inspiration/wisdom can you share with SLC graduates?

Recognize that in order to succeed you must be willing to fail. Treat every set back, every challenge, and every failure as an opportunity for growth and recognize that it is a necessary part of progress. You cannot understand what success means unless you have experienced failure. You must then channel that frustration and convert it into positive energy and let that flow out towards everyone that you connect with by being a positive force at every step. Establish a vision by asking yourself tough questions about who you want to become, and that answer doesn't have to come over night, it will continue to shift and change as you move through life. Set short term goals and go after them. Rely on the positive voices in your life and surround yourself with positive energy because that is what has helped me to get to where I am today. If I listened to all the negativity, I would never have taken a single step forward. I am testament that it doesn't matter where you come from or how difficult your path has been or will be. If you work to elevate yourself by serving others, you will be rewarded in ways you'll never have expected. Like receiving an honorary diploma from an esteemed institution like SLC, it is a dream come true, and I never imagined that I would be standing here one day.

Helena Neveu, Indigenous Elder At St. Lawrence College

Helena Neveu, a proud Ojibway woman from Batchewana First Nation, arrived in Kingston some thirteen years ago and quickly became a respected member of the Indigenous and greater Kingston community, sharing teachings with an ever-widening circle of people, offering them healing and hope through Indigenous cultural pathways.

As the Indigenous Elder at St. Lawrence College (SLC) since 2014, Helena, whose spirit name is Waasaa Biidaasamose Kwe, meaning Walksfar Woman, creates a positive and inclusive atmosphere for students, staff, and faculty. “I want to build a safe and welcoming space for our Indigenous students and create a positive and inclusive atmosphere for learning and Indigenous cultural awareness for all members of the SLC community.”

Helena provides experiential learning opportunities that combine traditional knowledge and Indigenous ways of learning. Whether teaching traditional crafting or songs and drumming, she fosters a greater understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being for participants. Helena brings the Anishinaabe teachings of the Medicine Wheel into all interactions with learners.

As Elder on campus at SLC and resident Traditional Knowledge Keeper for the Indigenous Student Group at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School, Helena promotes health and well-being by encouraging students to find balance in the Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual aspects of their daily lives.

For Helena, laughter is essential to human well-being and she enjoys sharing the seven holistic Anishinaabe practices for daily life: talking, laughing, crying, dancing, sweating, yawning, and yelling. Helena promotes the values and way of life of contemporary Anishinaabe Kwe and has become a role model for many in the Kingston area.

“I cannot express how much I enjoy my work. My gifts that are recognized have filled me immensely. I will do this forever now, after all I am just an invited guest here,” she said.

Helena’s work as a traditional knowledge-keeper, drummer, singer, and crafter led her to involvement with St. Lawrence College and many other community organizations, including Interval House, Tipi Moza Housing, Limestone District School Board, Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, Queen’s University, Royal Military College, and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Kingston. If her work with community organizations wasn’t enough, Helena also owns a successful landscaping business called This, That, and the Other Thing.

“I grew up in a very big family in Sault Ste. Marie – number 10 of 11 children,” Helena said. “We always had to work together, either fishing or moose processing. My parents were extremely hard working and fun; my mom was a nurse and dad a musician and jack-of-all-trades. They taught me the meaning of hard work.”

SLC is extremely important in its role as a community college, according to Helena. “It is hard to express my gratitude at my nominators without tearing up. What an honour. I am so touched and moved to be receiving this honour.”

Helena’s advice to new SLC graduates? “Go with your hearts and shoot the moon. Apply yourself to everything and never give up. I am always learning new things. Take care of yourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Keep learning and looking at the bigger picture.”

Guy Lauzon, Member Of Parliament For Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

"It is not the problems and pitfalls of our lives that define us. It is how we respond to those challenges that will ultimately be our legacy." These are the words of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the forward to Guy Lauzon’s memoir, From Lawbreaker to Lawmaker, published in 2017.

If Harper’s words are true, then Guy’s legacy is the ultimate story of inspiration. Guy calls himself a "modern-day miracle," a high school dropout who overcame a 15-year battle with alcoholism to become one of the longest serving politicians of the Conservative party; he has represented the riding of Stormont--Dundas--South Glengarry for 15 years as a Conservative. Guy, who is 75, recently announced he would not be seeking reelection this October.

"Representing our community as Member of Parliament for the past 15 years has been an honour and a true blessing, but I want to spend more time with my wife, Frances, and my grandchildren. I also want to learn more about my Catholic faith."

Guy was born in the area, in St. Andrews West, where his family roots in the region can be traced to the 19th century. “Growing up in St. Andrews West was truly a blessing, a pristine rural eastern environment where I could spend hours on end outside with my friends.”

Before entering politics, Guy spent more than 22 years in the federal public service and served as a local union president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. During the 1990s, he served as chair of the local United Way chapter and multiple sclerosis research funding campaigns.

Guy has also served as fundraising chairman of the St. Andrews West Catholic Church, which raised more than $100,000 for their building restoration. Guy has been involved in the community in many ways. He operated the Bonville Flea Market, was the fundraising coordinator for the Cornwall Aquatic Centre, and acts as chair of the Cornwall Canada Day Committee.

"Volunteerism is at the core of what it means to be a Canadian. We put our community before ourselves in order to leave a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren," Guy said. "I have been involved with many charitable organizations throughout my life. It’s not important which organization you choose, what’s important is the time and effort you give them."

"I truly feel blessed to be able to share my story with all those who may be in a dark place and are seeking a way out. People need to realize that they are not alone in their struggles, that there are hundreds of people who understand what they are going through and are there to lend a hand and a shoulder."

Given his tenacity to overcome hardship, it’s no wonder Guy admires Terry Fox. "Terry exemplifies what it means to persevere, to courageously battle against all odds to achieve something bigger than ourselves." All proceeds from Guy's memoir are generously donated to the Cornwall Community Hospital’s Addictions and Mental Health Centre. "I wanted my book to act as a beacon of hope to others suffering from addiction," he said.

The Cornwall area is very lucky to have St. Lawrence College (SLC) for local residents to access post-secondary education, according to Guy. “SLC is a cornerstone in our community. It allows our young people to earn an education close to home. It attracts the best and brightest to our area, where hopefully they will then lay their roots and grow our community.”

The Cornwall campus delivers excellent programs in all areas, particularly the skilled trades, which Guy says bodes well for the future. “I truly believe that students immersing themselves in the trades is the best thing they can do for their future. The trades require skills that will always be in demand and allow individuals a good living for their entire lives."

For Guy, being awarded this honorary diploma is extremely humbling. "I have never received a diploma from any level of study or educational institution. I am living proof that anything is possible when you believe. Regardless of your age, sex, race, background, disability, or educational background, believe you can succeed, be enthusiastic, have a positive attitude and work hard and you will achieve anything you wish for."

Terence J. O’Reilly

A life led drawing on a strong moral compass, and the philosophy of servant leadership, has driven Terence (Terry) J. O’Reilly’s dedication to his community, family, country, and profession.

Growing up in Toronto, Terry’s childhood was rooted in his neighbourhood, playing backyard ice hockey and working a paper route. His parents instilled in him a shared set of values that included integrity, generosity, and a strong work ethic.

Terry brought those values to his career in public service, which included a rewarding experience as Chief of Staff for a federal Cabinet Minister. Terry cites Pierre Elliott Trudeau and John F. Kennedy as leaders whose actions inspired his own. “For the most part, they led from principles, and tended to develop policy around those principles,” says Terry. “I think they were both models of strong personal values translated into influencing our society for the better.”

Terry’s current role is principal owner and President and CEO of Pricedex Software, a successful software technology firm. Since relocating Pricedex from Kanata to Brockville in 1999, Terry has endeavoured to serve and improve the quality of life in the community in which he runs his business.

A true ambassador for the city of Brockville, Terry has been actively involved in the promotion of Brockville as a business destination, and was an instrumental contributor to the Mayor’s Vision 20/20 Task Force on Economic Development. He has been a long-time supporter and fundraiser for United Way Leeds & Grenville, serving two terms as its Fundraising Campaign Chair. Amongst a range of actions supporting local charities and sporting activities, Terry and his company also ran an independent fundraiser, the Pricedex Pool Tournament, which successfully raised more than $150,000 over a twelve year span for United Way Leeds & Grenville.

One of Terry’s early vocations was singing in upscale lounges and dining rooms. Since that time, he has weaved together his passion for music and the arts with his passion for contributing to the quality of life in his community, fostering theatre arts in Brockville. From local high school productions, to the Brockville Arts Centre’s Pricedex Summer Series, of which he is the

founding season sponsor, Terry’s unwavering support of local arts programming has added vibrancy to the Brockville area. Terry was an early and active contributor to the Brockville Arts Centre refurbishment, Project Encore, and was elected to its Performing Arts Hall of Fame as both a Performer and a Promoter in 2016.

At St. Lawrence College, where he served on the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2008, Terry’s support of the arts and his embodiment of servant-leadership have produced lasting effects. Terry was actively involved in the fundraising and planning of the Brockville campus’ student residence and was instrumental in the establishment of the Music Theatre - Performance three-year diploma program, as well as instituting the Justin O’Reilly Memorial Bursary, awarded annually to a deserving Music Theatre – Performance student.

Through Terry’s support and Pricedex season sponsorship of the Music Theatre – Performance program’s productions, hundreds of students have benefitted from experiential learning opportunities performing on stage at the Brockville Arts Centre for members of the community.

Terry’s philanthropy extends beyond his generous financial support. He also generously gives a substantial amount of his time and expertise to the benefit of local organizations and important community initiatives. His example serves as a message and inspiration to graduating students starting out on their careers that, even without the financial means, all individuals can contribute and positively impact their community through acts of service and the generous giving of time, skill, and leadership.

“I believe that the fundamental characteristics of integrity, honesty, ethics, fairness, and morality shape everything we do in life,” says Terry. “If we are consistent with that, it also spawns other leadership qualities, such as trustworthiness, accountability, creativity, and the ability to motivate others.”

“Sharing Terry’s story will help St. Lawrence College graduates to understand – as Terry does - that success isn’t measured by what we accomplish in our professional careers alone, but in the positive change we work to make in the lives of those around us,” says Steve Clark, MPP, Leeds-Grenville.

For his activities stretching beyond the boundaries of Leeds and Grenville, Terry has been awarded both the Canada 125 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee awards for his countless contributions to the betterment of our nation through public service.

Terry’s advice for St. Lawrence College’s graduating students is, “Refuse to fail,” a perfectly succinct reflection of his tenacious spirit. “I was raised to be positive and then I have learned, over the years, that there is no business or personal situation so grave or foreboding that I should allow it to consume my spirit, drive or motivation,” says Terry. “When times get tough, you must face the challenge head on, but it is important at those times to inject some fun and good spirit to help you through.”

Dr. Rachel Navaneelan

For dentist Dr. Rachel Navaneelan, the concept of giving back to her community takes on a global reach. From her local community in Cornwall to her birthplace of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dr. Rachel’s extensive charitable work has positively impacted countless individuals.

One of six children, Dr. Rachel was raised in Colombo by her mother and father, a physician who instilled in her the spirit of philanthropy at a young age. “I had a very happy childhood,” says Dr. Rachel. “My father was always helping people by providing free medical treatment and donations to charitable organizations. He taught me to give back to others and instilled in me the value of integrity and a hard work ethic, which I have tried to instill in my own children.”

Dr. Rachel and her husband, an anesthesiologist, lived in Ireland for several years before moving to Canada to give their children the best life possible. They lived in Newfoundland before moving to Cornwall in 1993. In the past 25 years, Dr. Rachel has raised her children, established roots in the Cornwall community, and built a successful dentistry practice. “I love what I do,” says Dr. Rachel. “I love getting to know my patients and changing their lives through their smile.”

Dr. Rachel changes lives in other ways as well.

On December 26, 2004, Dr. Rachel’s home country of Sri Lanka was struck by the tsunami produced by the Indian Ocean earthquake, displacing 1.5 million residents and resulting in more than 30,000 deaths and 21,000 injuries. Dr. Rachel was particularly devastated to hear about how the tsunami affected the children in Sri Lanka. “I have always had a soft spot for children. I felt compelled to do something,” says Dr. Rachel.

What started as a small fundraiser grew into a large charitable organization. In 2004, Dr. Rachel founded The Rachel’s Kids Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children through health, wellness, and education initiatives both locally and overseas. While Dr. Rachel continues to travel internationally to volunteer and work with children, her deep commitment to giving back to Cornwall, the community that embraced her 25 years ago, is evident.

Over the years, Rachel’s Kids and Dr. Rachel have worked to fulfill specific needs in the Cornwall community, collaborating with numerous organizations including the Children’s Treatment Centre, Cornwall Community Hospital, Victim Services of SDG&A, Koala Place, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cornwall & District, and St. Vincent de Paul Society, among others.

“Dr. Rachel is a committed and dedicated child advocate and community worker. She has worked tirelessly and contributed greatly to improve the quality of life of children in Cornwall, as well as internationally,” says Kim Lauzon, Executive Director of The Rachel’s Kids Foundation.

Rachel’s Kids launched two initiatives in 2014 that focus on local children battling life-threatening and chronic illnesses and their families: Small Moments of Joy grants wishes to sick children, while Helping Hands provides financial relief to families whose children are undergoing medical treatment. In 2017, Rachel’s Kids opened House of Hope, a centre where children with autism and learning disabilities can spend time in a state-of-the-art sensory room.

Dr. Rachel has also found a way to blend her profession with her passion for helping others. Dr. Rachel participates in the nationwide campaign Dentistry from the Heart by hosting an annual event at her dental clinic in which Dr. Rachel and her employees provide dental procedures free of charge to more than 100 local individuals who are unable to afford dental care.

“I’m a strong believer in giving back to the Cornwall community as it has been so great to me since I arrived here and started my dentistry practice 25 years ago,” says Dr. Rachel. “All children locally and globally hold a special place in my heart and this is the reason why I started Rachel's Kids House of Hope, so I could support children and families in need right here in our community.”

The community in which Dr. Rachel lives, works, and serves continues to recognize her for the incredible impact she has on the lives of local children. The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce presented Dr. Rachel with the Dr. Garth Taylor Humanitarian Award in 2009, and in 2017 the Chamber named Dr. Rachel Citizen of the Year.

For graduating students about to embark on careers, Dr. Rachel offers the following advice: “Be prepared for hard work and dedication. Your chosen profession may go beyond the traditional 9-5 work hours and require you to make sacrifices, but if you are passionate about the work you do, your career can be very rewarding. And if you are able, find a way to help others – this can be the most rewarding experience of all.”

Jim Cooper, Brockville

When Jim Cooper took over the presidency of Brockville’s Canarm LTD., a friend gave him a paperweight with a precocious inscription that pretty much sums up the tenet behind his lifelong leadership successes.

“Good things come to people who work their a** off while they wait,” Mr. Cooper says, recalling the inscription.

The caption speaks to Mr. Cooper’s sense of humour, but it also speaks volumes as to how a teenager working on the shop floor grew up to become a President and a part owner of a global manufacturing firm that has been recognized as one of the best managed companies in Canada.

“I’ve told many young people this,” he said. “The only reason that I’ve got where I am is because I prepared for the next opportunity and worked hard until it came.”

While working in Canarm’s press shop after high school, Mr. Cooper found out that the next person who planned to retire was a welder, so he went to St. Lawrence College and earned his welding ticket. While taking the welding course, his manager asked him if he would be willing to supervise the night crews, so he took a supervisory course at the college.

Soon afterward, still in his early 20s, he was managing the whole factory as the assistant plant supervisor.

Ten years ago, Mr. Cooper became president of Canarm, which was in 2012 named one of Canada’s Best Managed companies by CIBC and Deloitte professional services.

Mr. Cooper also received the 2013 Citizen of the Year award from the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce for the extensive volunteer work he has done within his community.

That community work includes co-chairing Brockville’s annual Palliative Care Golf Tournament, which earns hundreds of thousands of dollars every year during a single day of golf. He also serves on the board of the Brockville General Hospital Foundation and he was the chair of the Brockville YMCA board on which he served a total of seven years.

His desire to give back to his community stems from his childhood growing up the son of a single mom, who was supporting her family with the aid of government assistance in Cornwall. Mr. Cooper also received mentoring support and friendship through Big Brothers as well as a subsidized membership at the local YMCA, which provided him with a safe place to play when he was a young boy. He got caught breaking windows at the Cornwall YMCA, but instead of this turning badly, the local Y gave him an assisted membership, and his Big Brother got him involved in a number of local youth programs.

His Mom also taught him to give back by becoming a foster parent to many children later in life. It was this childhood experience as well as the death about 15 years ago of a friend and co-worker who died of cancer at the age of 40 in the Palliative Care service of BGH—followed by a family member —that drove Mr. Cooper toward further community sevice work in support of Palliative Care.

He wanted to give back to the Palliative Care Services, with which he’d connected during his friend’s and family members illnesses. Canarm had also historically been a sponsor of the annual Palliative Care Golf Tournament, so helping to run it with Dave Publow and a great team of volunteers was a good fit.

Before he knew it, he’d become co-chair of the Palliative Care Golf Tournament, which has brought in as much as $650,000 in one year since it began several years ago.

Of course, it wasn’t long before other organizations were contacting Mr. Cooper to see if he could help out with their organizations. When a member of the board at the Brockville and Area YMCA asked him to join the board, Mr. Cooper recalled the difference that his local Y had made in his young life, and in 2011, he became chairman of the Brockville Y board.

“It’s so important to give back,” he says. “After all, I was on the winning side of so much of it, so it felt natural.”

He is also a board member of the Brockville General Hospital Foundation and chairman of the Student Advisory Council for Loyalist College's Business Sales and Marketing program in Belleville.

Mr. Cooper says it’s “incredibly humbling” to be receiving an honourary diploma from St. Lawrence College, an institution that played such a fundamental role in preparing him for his early successes: “It’s recognition of what has gone into living life and working hard at what you do every day in your community.”

Jeannette Despatie, Cornwall

They say that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person to do it.

Jeanette Despatie, president and CEO of Cornwall Community Hospital and acting president and CEO of Brockville General Hospital, is that busy person. And, indeed, she sure does get stuff done.

Since becoming CEO in 2005, Ms. Despatie has overseen multiple construction and redevelopment projects as well as a cultural transformation at the hospital. These include a 95,000sq.ft. extension and expansion that saw the creation of a state-of-the-art diagnostic centre, operation rooms, and emergency department; the building of an addiction and mental health centre; the introduction of community MRI and chemotherapy services; and the introduction of fully integrated electronic medical records across the hospital that will ensure accurate, up-to-date patient information.

“Under her leadership, Cornwall Community Hospital has seen advancements that have positioned the organization as a leading health care provider for years to come,” Heather Arthur, the hospital’s vice-president of patient services and chief nursing officer, wrote in her nomination for Ms. Despatie’s honourary diploma.

Ms. Despatie says one of her most important achievements is the development of a values-based culture specific to the hospital. Called ICARE—for integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and engagement—it defines how the hospital, its employees, physicians and volunteers deliver care and interact with one another.

“A values-based organization leads to a very strong and healthy culture, and a strong and healthy culture helps to ensure engagement “At orientation…I share with new staff that they can expect be held to those values in their delivery of care to our patients; at the same time they are encouraged to hold the hospital to those same values .”

According to Ms. Arthur, Ms. Despatie inspires her team through her commitment to excellence. She is also admired for her thoughtfulness, strategic skills, her ability to make decisions based on evidence, and her ability to articulate a vision and to inspire others.

“She recognizes that success is achieved through the efforts and dedication of a team and regularly acknowledges the work and commitment of staff, physicians and volunteers, and the support of the community,” writes Ms. Arthur.

Cornwall Community Hospital has about 140 beds, 1,100 staff and a $115-million operating budget, so Ms. Despatie has a lot of responsibility.

Her plate became even fuller in 2016 when she took on a second—albeit temporary—leadership role as acting president and CEO of Brockville General Hospital, which has 148 beds, 900 employees, and a $75-million operating budget.

If managing the Brockville hospital’s day-to-day operations wasn’t enough, Ms. Despatie is now preparing the facility to undergo a multi-million-capital redevelopment that will be the largest in its history and may be the largest ever capital project in the city of Brockville.

Ms. Despatie takes the extra responsibility in stride. Indeed, she says she “thrives” on the challenge: “Health care is a complex environment, I get a lot of energy from the complexity and strategy involved.”

Ms. Despatie says she is honoured to receive an honourary diploma from St. Lawrence College. She served on the college board several years ago when the college worked through sustainablilty issues; this experience has left her with admiration for the commited people across the three campuses.

To this year’s college graduates, she gives these two pieces of advice about life and leadership: learn to identify opportunities and and always try to give more than you take.

Says Despatie: “We must recognize opportunities, many of our challenges are just opportunities for growth; we all have a responspibility personally and collectively to identify opporunities to improve our worklife and our communities.”

Peter Garrow, Akwesasne Mohawk, Bear Clan, Cornwall

As a young boy working at his grandfather’s french fry stand and mowing lawns at the lacrosse field called the Hogansburg Bowl in Hogansburg NY, near his grandparents’ home in Akwesasne, Peter Garrow never imagined he would become the influential First Nations rights advocate that he is today.

Raised as a Roman Catholic in Buffalo, NY, Mr. Garrow went to school reading history books that portrayed First Nations people in an unfavourable light.

At the same time, his parents wanted him to become a priest and he had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. After serving in the United States Air Force, he was teaching a leadership course at the Native North American Travelling College—as it is now called—on Cornwall Island that he started to read about the real history of First Nations people and had discussions with a number of influential Mohawk Elders and Traditional leaders who taught him the truth about Indigenous people, their history, their traditions, their contributions to civilization and most of their world views and connection with all creation.

“I read so much about our people that I wanted to somehow change how we were depicted,” says Mr. Garrow, a professional trainer and facilitator.

And make change he has. His list of accomplishments is long and has been well recognized.

Today, Mr. Garrow is known as a promoter of life-long education for First Nations People and for their contributions to the world. A member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne in the Cornwall area, he served as the director of education for the Assembly of First Nations and the director of education for the Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education.

He now chairs the Ontario Public School Boards Association Native Trustee Council, he teaches a native studies course at the IOHAHI:IO campus of St. Lawrence College, and he has recently worked with St. Lawrence College to develop two First Nations Studies courses to be delivered as part of the college’s general arts and science program, archaelogy, at IOHAHI:IO.

He is also the chair of ongoing, high-profile negotiation sessions on self-government between the federal government and Akwesasne.

Mr. Garrow has been a champion for several First Nations causes, including Shannen's Dream, a nationwide youth-driven initiative that is advocating for equitable funding for First Nations children. He also champions Jordan's Principle, a principle used to resolve government jurisdictional disputes over government services provided to First Nations children, and the promotion and implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.

In 2010, Mr. Garrow was made a member of the Akwesasne Lacrosse Hall of Fame for his contributions to lacrosse coaching and lacrosse stick building when he was manager of the former lacrosse stick factory on Cornwall Island—once the sole manufacturer of traditional wooden lacrosse sticks for the global market.

In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of several high-profile First Nations education-related accomplishments. This included the endorsement of many new education policies created while he was director of education for the Assembly of First Nations and for the ground-breaking work he did as director of education for the Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education. While at the helm of the AMBE, Mr. Garrow helped to make Akwesasne one of the most successful education systems in North America.

And in 2013, he received Rotary International’s highest accolade: the Paul Harris Award for recognition of his selfless community service to build community relations.

Mr. Garrow says it’s a huge honour to receive an honourary diploma from the institution where he has taught many mature students who have found the courage and determination to further their education and to chase their dreams.

“The honour really goes to them,” he says. “I just hope I played a little part in their wanting to continue their education.”

To those graduates, he offers this advice: “People always say to my students that these are your best years, but I always say to them, ‘No, they aren’t. If you continue on the path you’re on now, your best years are still to come.’”

Mary Mansworth, Brockville

Mary Mansworth is a grandmother of six with a rich social life and a passion for pottery and yet she finds time to accomplish more community service work in a single year than most of us will accomplish in a lifetime.

A tireless community volunteer since moving to Brockville with her family more than 30 years ago, Mary currently serves on no fewer than five local fundraising initiatives and non-profit organizations.

“I have always felt that I can make a difference in community by being involved,” she says. And, indeed, she has.

In the past, Mary has served as chair of the Brockville Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation, president of the Brockville and Area YMCA board, board member on the national board of YMCA Canada, board member of the Brockville Community Foundation, and as Commodore of the Brockville Yacht Club.

She has served on various committees, such as the Brockville Refugee Committee, which brought Vietnamese refugees to Brockville in 1978 and Syrian refugees in 2016, and the Wall Street Village Affordable Seniors’ Housing Project, which is building an 85-unit affordable

seniors’ apartment building in Brockville. She has also served on the board of the Child and Youth Mental Wellness Centre of Leeds and Grenville.

Mary is currently chair of the Brockville and Area YMCA’s Strong Kids Annual Giving Campaign; co-chair of the annual local Empty Bowls Fundraiser, which raises thousands of dollars each year for Loaves and Fishes, a non-profit local restaurant; she is a member of the Brockville 100 Women Who Care initiative, which raises money for local charities; and she is a board member on the St. Lawrence College Foundation board—to name a few of her volunteer involvements.

“To say that Mary Mansworth is the most generous person I have ever met does not begin to cover her continuing contribution to her community at the local, regional, and national levels,” says Bill Fraser, a retired Brockville businessman and fellow community volunteer.

Mary’s community work began in 1976, when she and her husband, Colman, moved to Brockville from London, Ont., after immigrating to Canada from Cork, Ireland. She and her husband worked with a group of Brockville-area citizens to resurrect the local Montessori school because they wanted their children to attend Montessori. Her next volunteer position was in the 1980s with Big Sisters, where she joined the board and assisted with the organization’s mentoring work.

Since then, the amount of volunteering she’s done has grown and she has become known as a person who gets “stuff” done.

“When you do stuff, you get asked to do other stuff, especially in a small community like Brockville,” says Mary.

As a retiree, she says it’s not hard to make the time to volunteer on top of pursuing her other interests, such as pottery. She gets gratification out of community work because she knows she’s making a difference while also enjoying the vibrant social life that comes from volunteering with other engaged, civic-minded community members.

“I feel very gratified in my ability to make a difference with philanthropy and maybe affect some change,” she says. “I get an intrinsic good feeling…and my personal growth has benefited with my involvement in the community.”

It’s extremely meaningful to her that she is receiving an honourary St. Lawrence College diploma because she has been a part-time student at the college multiple times over the past decades.

“I am very attached to the college,” she says.

For the graduating class, the mom and grandmother has two pieces of advice that have served her well throughout her life: “Always be true to yourself, and get involved. You can always go to

a new place and become part of the community by getting out and joining an organization and being a volunteer.”

Roland (Rollie) Billings, Kingston

Roland (Rollie) Billings is a great example of how one individual can change the world around him.

He began his professional journey at Novelis Kingston (formerly Alcan) in production which led to a position as Plant Manager at Kingston’s largest manufacturing and production site, and then a global executive role in health and safety in the manufacturing setting. Throughout this impressive career, Rollie’s sight was firmly planted on the social fabric the Kingston community and he decided to make a difference in the lives of those on the margins of our community through fundraising and sport.

For parts of five decades Rollie has tirelessly served those in need in Kingston. He became involved with the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, working in various positions, including roles in the Campaign Cabinet and Board Chair. In June of 2013, Rollie was recognized by the United Way for 30 years of volunteer service. Rollie has also been involved in many volunteer roles with the Kingston and District Board of Approved Basketball Officials, supporting the Kingston branch of Special Olympics Ontario basketball league, and was coordinator for the Salvation Army Christmas hampers campaign through Alcan/Novelis. Rollie was also co-chair of the new library building fund committee for the Kingston Frontenac Public Library - Calvin Park Branch.

It’s important to be involved in your community because it is YOUR community, Rollie explained. “So much of what goes on every day needs to be supported by volunteers in order to thrive. You don’t get involved as a volunteer because you have an obligation to, you get involved because you believe in the values of the organization and you want to make a difference. Volunteer first because you want to and stay because you truly believe it is the right thing to do.”

Rollie’s work with the United Way is only a small fraction of his volunteering. He has been the President of the Knights of Columbus Basketball League (now the ‘Pete’ Petersen Basketball League) at St. Pat’s School for more than 20 years as well as a coach, referee, website administrator and unofficial photographer for more than 35 years.

The league provides an opportunity for more than 500 children from across the city every year to have a safe, affordable and fun place to play in a basketball league at a cost of only $10 per child.

Rollie helps manages more than 100 volunteers annually, from registration to banquet clean up so that the kids experience the dignity and inspiration of team sport.

As a placement provider for St. Lawrence College students, Novelis Kingston offered real-world learning experiences to students from many programs. Rolllie supported joint student engagement opportunities in a number of areas. An employer of our graduates, Rollie was instrumental in ensuring St. Lawrence College students had the opportunity to establish a career that began with Novelis Kingston.

“St. Lawrence College is very much a part of the Kingston and Eastern Ontario communities. As a willing partner with area businesses and public sector operations, the College gives real, practical experience to individuals as they move from student to worker,” Rollie said. “St. Lawrence College’s willingness to partner and understand what the market needs are allows them to tailor programs to what the community needs. For sports, SLC has been willing to run clinics for our basketball league and allowed us and other community groups to use their facilities. That is a great example of commitment to your community.”

Receiving an Honorary Diploma is especially meaningful for Rollie as it recognizes his contribution to the community through volunteering.

“It means a lot to me that an institution I respect so much is recognizing what I have done as a volunteer. It means the College believes in the importance of volunteers and the difference they can make. It is both thrilling and humbling for me at the same time. I share the honour with my wife, Susan, because she has believed in what I’ve done and supported me through the years.”

In addressing the graduating class of 2016, Rollie offers this advice: “The message I hope to give is threefold. First, get involved in your communities. One person can make a difference in the lives in your community at work and in the greater community where you live as well. Second, don’t let your work define who you are. Each of us has the chance to be so much more than what our job alone would define us as, and when you’re retired your life will be so much richer for what you have done through helping others. Third, be proud of what you do and who you are.”

Peng-Sang Cau, president and CEO of Transformix Engineering, Kingston

As a young girl, Peng-Sang Cau listened to stories her parents told of their life in Cambodia, how they started a successful company from nothing but hard work, determination and integrity, only to lose everything during the genocidal reign of Pol Pot in the 1970s.

Peng and her family arrived in Canada as refugees in 1980. She and five of her siblings are now successful entrepreneurs. Peng says she, her brothers and sisters were raised with the expectation that they would contribute positively to society. “In addition to teaching us to value hard work, honesty, loyalty and tenacity, my parents showed us how to treat people with respect, integrity and empathy.”

“Coming as a refugee to this country, I am so grateful to the Canadian government and feel I have a stronger obligation to give back to society and leave the world a better place than I found it,” Peng said.

After graduating at the top of her class in high school, Peng went on to graduate in 1994 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University. She then held sales and marketing posts at Quantum Information Resources and Lever Pond prior to starting Transformix Engineering Inc.

Peng founded Transformix in 1995 with three engineers, and has since guided its transition from a local provider of engineering services to an international supplier of advanced automation solutions. Peng says she has built her company on four pillars: Integrity; Innovation; Respect; and Passion.

Peng and her partners won the Kingston Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award in 2007. She was inducted into the Kingston Chamber Business of Hall of Fame in 2011 and the next year was Kingston Business Woman of the Year. In the spring and fall of 2014, Peng accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper on trade missions to the Netherlands and China. Peng was also the recipient of Queen’s University’s Jim Bennett Achievement Award for 2015.

Peng consistently embodied the values of student success and academic excellence throughout her academic career, and – since forming Transformix – has shown a deep commitment to leadership in the Kingston community.

To that end, Peng started the Transformix Apprenticeship program, whereby she hires general labourers with little to no experience, provided they show a work ethic and willingness to learn. Peng gives them an opportunity to work for a year in various capacities from millwright to electrician while they attend St. Lawrence College. If they successfully complete their program, Transformix will pay for their education and provide them with a job after they graduate.

Peng says St. Lawrence College is an important place in the community because it’s a critical part of the economic engine to the province. “The college allows people to do what they’re passionate about. I’m so honored that the College is recognizing me with an Honorary Diploma. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an important post-secondary institution.”

Her solid work ethic and determination to succeed by supporting others and allowing their creativity to shine have led Peng to become a respected member of the international business community. With Peng at the helm, teamwork and innovation drive Transformix’s success: she understands that listening to people and seeking their feedback is vital to her company’s growth and expansion. Peng is committed to growing Transformix locally, with a focus on hiring local tradespeople and engineers, as well as many St. Lawrence College graduates.

In addition to leading Transformix, Peng serves on Kingston General Hospital’s Board of Directors and advised the Council of Ontario Universities as part of the Research Matters Advisory Panel.

As well as participating in a number of the City of Kingston’s economic committees, Peng also volunteers at her children’s school and sports clubs. When she was inducted last year into Kingston’s Business Hall of Fame, Peng’s son and daughter joined her at the award ceremony.

In addressing St. Lawrence College’s graduating class of 2016, Peng offers this advice: “I made a choice long ago not to let my gender or race prevent me from doing what I want to do in my career and in my life. My experience is that if you speak up and know what you’re talking about, those things don’t make a difference.”

Living in Kingston has also allowed Peng to balance her work life and family life with her two young children more easily. “I save so much time by not having a long commute,” she says. “And if I need to travel, the Kingston airport is perfect for me.”

“My children joined me at the office the week after they were born and grew up hearing that Mommy has to work so that other parents will get paid. They know that when they need me, I am always there for them. I hope that I am setting the same example for my children that my parents did for me. I want my daughter to grow up believing that we’re not limited as women and that we can have a successful career and a family at the same time.”

Don Head, Kingston

As a long-time Kingston resident, Don Head has been a supporter of St. Lawrence College for over 30 years. His career in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has spanned close to four decades, and under his leadership as Commissioner, has developed several key partnerships between CSC and SLC.

These partnerships include employment opportunities for our graduates, placements for students, and program development with SLC Corporate Learning and Performance Improvement to address the needs of the inmate population. These programs include horticultural training and masonry programs.

“St. Lawrence College fulfills an academic role, but it creates opportunities and experiences for people with diverse backgrounds,” Don explained. “SLC is a place where individuals can become the best that they can and develop the personal and professional leadership skills that will benefit all community members.”

Don began his federal public service career as a correctional officer in 1978 in the Pacific Region. He held various operational and managerial positions between 1978 and 1995, working in four federal penitentiaries, the Pacific Regional Headquarters, Ontario Regional Headquarters, and National Headquarters.

As Commissioner since 2008, Don’s achievements mirror SLC’s college values and he serves as an inspiration and role model to the students, graduates, and our community. Under his leadership CSC is seen as not only a national leader on corrections but in staff engagement,

innovative thinking and preparing offenders to contribute to the community through the skills and vocational programming provided by St. Lawrence College.

Don has received numerous commendations and awards throughout his career including the Governor General's Corrections Exemplary Service Medal and Bar, the Public Service Award of Excellence for Diversity and Employment Equity, the Aboriginal HR Council's CEO Leadership Award for Diversity and Inclusiveness, and the Federal Council of Visible Minorities Leadership Award for Diversity.

Don is a proud supporter of the United Way and leads the organizational attainment of goals and its promotion within the Correctional Service of Canada and is clear in his support of the local campaign even freeing up resources here to assist with the campaign. Another passion of Don’s is the Canadian Cancer Societies’ Daffodil Appeal. These two organizations, along with Ronald McDonald House, are close to his heart and enrich not only our community but the nation as well.

“Both my wife, Sherry, and I have been active in every community we have lived in, either through donating time or resources to assist others in need,” Don said. “We have always believed that a strong, healthy community is achieved by everyone chipping in and helping others through those moments when an extra hand or boost is needed.”

For Don, receiving an Honorary Diploma is a reminder to strive to be the best he can be and to continue to support the community. “It is truly a privilege and extremely humbling. It is also just as much about the support, love and dedication of my wife, without whom I could never do the job I have done for the last 38 years.”

According to Don, Kingston is a community in every aspect of the word. “People look out for each other and rally together in good times and difficult times. It is a community that strives to preserve its heritage while staying current with developing trends.”

Don enjoys Kingston’s proximity to the outdoors without having to travel too far. “With the opportunity to access literally thousands of lakes within minutes my fishing addiction is well taken care of 12 months of the year here.”

Don has the following advice for our graduating class of 2016. “Remember that everything you have learned and gained at SLC has positioned you to positively impact the lives of people. It could be friends, family or members of the community at large. Never forget to put people first and apply your knowledge, skills and abilities in order to make life better for someone. This approach and philosophy will serve you well and ultimately build stronger and healthier communities.”

Daniel Parkinson, Cornwall Chief of Police, Cornwall

Cornwall Chief of Police Daniel Parkinson is no stranger to receiving honors. As this year’s St. Lawrence College Honorary Diploma recipient in Cornwall, Chief Parkinson says, it’s a

reminder that we are not anonymous in what we do, and that we can all make a huge difference in our communities if we only try.

“I’m humbled to have been nominated, and to receive this prestigious honor,” he said. “I am profoundly aware that this is the highest form of recognition that the College can bestow, and it is a significant landmark in my personal and professional life.”

According to Parkinson, St. Lawrence College plays a significant leadership role in Cornwall and surrounding area. “I’m proud to be recognized by the College, as it provides an opportunity for its students to develop the skills and tools necessary to compete in today’s fast paced and ever changing job market. It stands proudly as a highly visible institution, a beacon of hope woven into the very fabric of the communities of Eastern Ontario.”

Chief Parkinson will add the Honorary Diploma to many other impressive honors and awards he’s received, including: the 2015 Paul Harris Fellow Rotary Clubs of Cornwall, the highest honour a club can bestow; the 2013 Officer of the Order Merit, Police Forces, Government of Canada, for exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Services; the 2013 Police Exemplary Medal, which recognizes police officers who have served in an exemplary manner characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency; and the 2012 President's Award of Merit Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, bestowed by OACP to a member who has made significant contribution to policing in the Province of Ontario.

A shining example of Chief Parkinson’s leadership and community spirit was brought to life last January, when the Cornwall police banded together to buy back a wedding ring that an elderly man had pawned in order to buy groceries for himself and his wife, who was suffering from dementia. The force also purchased groceries and put the couple in touch with local social services for further care.

“The officers were humble about it,” Parkinson said “It was just the right thing to do. My own leadership style is based on ‘Servant Based Leadership’”, Parkinson explained. “Essentially, this style of leadership turns traditional hierarchy upside down, so that front line personnel are in a position of prominence within the organization. The officers who banded together show that everyone counts, everyone matters and we can all make a difference.”

As a member of the St Lawrence College Community Council and St. Lawrence College Centre of Excellence Advisory Committee, Chief Parkinson has shown his strong support for SLC by hiring many of its graduates, also providing Ride Along programs for students in the Police Foundations program, which provides important experiential learning opportunities for students.

“The Cornwall Police and St. Lawrence College have enjoyed a highly satisfying relationship in which we have accessed a number of students for full-time employment. We may not be able to hire all of you, but we will undoubtedly hire some of you.”

Outside of going above and beyond to serve the community in his capacity as the Chief of Police for the Cornwall Community Police Service, Chief Parkinson has also served and continues to serve on many local boards including: Cornwall Community Hospital;Baldwin House women's shelter; Family Counseling Services of Cornwall; Koala Place Child and Youth Advocacy Centre

PrevAction; Cornwall Youth Advisory Committee; and the Social Development Council of Cornwall. Chief Parkinson is also currently the Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of Cornwall and SDG.

“I believe that community involvement provides an opportunity for people to take an ownership role for a community that we share,” Parkinson explained. “A strong sense of volunteerism is alive and well in Cornwall. It seems that everyone is contributing in one way or another. One of my personal favourite methods of contributing has been through my involvement with some wonderful people collaborating to bring a Boys and Girls Club to Cornwall. The Boys and Girls Club is a “great place to be” for many of the young people in our city.”

When Chief Parkinson isn’t working or volunteering he and his wife Leslie spend time being involved with their church community, golfing, and shopping for food. “Don’t be surprised to see me in the grocery stores in town. I truly enjoy shopping as a means to satisfy my interest in cooking,” he said.

As an inspiration to our graduating class of 2016, Chief Parkinson offers the following words: “I encourage the graduates of 2016 to be courageous and confident in the pursuit of their chosen area of employment or continuing education. They need to know that their diligence in studies has provided them with a significant knowledge base to be successful, however, it will require wisdom to effectively apply the knowledge they have gained in order to use it for maximum benefit.”

Bob Kilger

Maybe it’s Bob Kilger’s experience as an OHL hockey player and coach of the Memorial Cup winning Cornwall Royals that gave him the ability to withstand the bumps and bruises of public office. Or maybe ten years as an official in the NHL. Whatever the reason, his tenacity, ingenuity and dedication have been the instrumental to the city’s record growth and rebranding from a “mill town” to a “world of possibilities.”

As a Member of Parliament for Stormont, Glengarry and Dundas for 16 years, and Cornwall’s mayor for eight, Bob worked hard to transform the Cornwall from a town with very little development to one that now has popular stores, a full service hospital, a booming distribution industry, new grocery stores, and of course, a newly restored St. Lawrence College campus.

Bob’s dedication to St. Lawrence College is legendary. Under his stewardship as mayor, when he and city council were asked to make a significant contribution to The Difference We Make Campaign, he endorsed a one million dollar donation. In addition, during and after the campaign he frequently shared his enthusiasm about the college’s renovations always with the goal to increase student enrolment and sustain the college for future generations. In addition to the City’s donation, he himself made a substantial gift from his family.

But his gifts weren’t just monetary, Bob would regularly attend SLC’s orientation day to encourage and welcome new students to work hard to achieve their dreams. “I really enjoyed meeting the students and challenging them to strive for success,” Bob said. “I loved their energy and enthusiasm they brought not only to the college, but to the city.”

While now retired, Bob maintains close ties to the college and is thrilled to receive the Honorary Diploma. “It means a great deal to me. St. Lawrence College is such a vital part of Cornwall, and I’m honoured to be among the recipients.”

Leslee Thompson

A career in health care came very naturally to Leslee Thompson, President and CEO of Kingston General Hospital (KGH). With a doctor for a father and a nurse for a mother, coming to Queen’s University to study Nursing was not unexpected. From her start as a critical care nurse through a 30 year career, Leslee has held many senior positions and led multiple changes in both public and private sectors, while always maintaining her focus on patient care.

As well, being at the helm of KGH has given Leslee a solid understanding of the deep ties between the hospital and St. Lawrence College. “St Lawrence College is a very progressive, dynamic learning institution, filled with smart capable students who will be well prepared for the future,” she said. “The college is a great partner to other organizations, a caring, responsible citizen in the community and a place where many fine faculty and staff build long and productive careers.”

KGH is now one of the largest placement providers for our students; they offer real world learning experiences to students from not only Health Sciences, but across our other areas of study. Leslee has been a champion of interdisciplinary practice and education, and she has fostered strong partnerships and collaborations to advance joint conference activity and student engagement opportunities.

Leslee knows the standard of excellence that students gain at St. Lawrence College and is proud that KGH hires so many of our graduates. “When SLC students become staff at KGH, they join an organization that is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in patient-centered care, education and research. The dynamic environment KGH provides for our students to learn in is also one that attracts and retains our graduates as they grow their careers and continue to make a difference in the lives of people they serve.”

Maintaining balance while having such a dynamic and busy career has also been important to Leslee, as she has also devoted herself to her family, her husband Mike, whom she met while at Queen’s, and their two children, Charlotte and Spencer. “When I reflect on the past 30 years of my career, I think I am most proud of the fact that I continue to have such strong, loving relationships with my family and close friends,” she said “it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air sometimes, but if you have a strong support team around you, anything is possible”.

Receiving an Honorary Diploma from SLC is humbling for Leslee, as it is an acknowledgement also of the strength of the relationship between the two institutions, she said. “I see this Diploma as an extension of our existing relationship – and a symbol of a connection that will last for years to come. It makes me feel even more a part of your family, and your community, and for that I am very grateful. It makes me feel very proud as well. To be here with all of you who have studied so hard to achieve your goals is inspiring, and I share your excitement about the future from here.”

Justice Allan Letourneau

Justice Allan Letourneau has been a tireless supporter of Kingston’s disadvantaged youth for several years. His efforts have resulted in dozens of young people being able to attend summer camps. As well, his charitable work contributed to the establishment of three scholarships at St. Lawrence College: The Jeanine Perry Scholarship Trust Fund; The Kingston Chief of Police Bursary; and the OPP Youth Foundation Bursary.

This drive to give back comes from his own background of hard work and not letting his family’s modest financial resources impinge upon his educational goals. He has shown throughout his life that hard work and determination can overcome any adversity.

According to Allan, at the end of the day, a community is only as good as its constituent parts. “We are social beings by nature,” he says. “When our bodies finally give up the ghost it will be the personal relationships that we enjoyed during our lives and not the material goods that we will remember and cherish.”

While Allan has worked very hard throughout his life, he has also had a tremendous amount of good fortune, as he explains, more than his fair share. “I am cognizant that there are countless people in our community that have not been as fortunate. In my view, we all have a duty to help those in our community who are less fortunate.”

Allan grew up mostly around the Kingston area, while his father, a carpenter, often had to move the family to where he could find work. Allan obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree and Law Degree from Queen’s University. He was inspired by his sister Debby, who was the first person to pursue a post-secondary education not only in Allan’s immediate family but also the extended family on both sides. “She was a petite lady who did not back down from anyone,” said Allan. “She left home very young and managed to complete high school and university on her own dime. I thought if she could do it, maybe I could too.” Unfortunately, Debby died in 2002 of breast cancer at the age of 39.

As a respected Kingston lawyer for more than 21 years before he was appointed judge of the Ontario Court of Justice three years ago. He is known as a fair and reasonable judge and an expert on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He lives with his wife Marjiane, who also hails from Kingston. They have one son, Ryan, who lives in Vancouver.

Receiving the Honorary Diploma reinforces Allan’s view that there is a heightened sense of community in Kingston. “It reinvigorates my desire to continue to contribute to this community.” Allan believes that St. Lawrence College plays a significant role in developing students’ skill sets, critical analysis and independent thinking. “If there is one single message I would like to give the graduates, it would be that we are very fortunate to live in a country where almost anything is possible if you are prepared to work hard.”

Mike Sewell

Students are at the centre of everything Mike Sewell does. As Program Leader of Skills Training and Technology for the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) since 2003, and a Certified Skilled Tradesperson himself, Mike is a great advocate for the cognitive and social benefits of vocational Technological Education.

Mike got his start in the skilled trades early on in High School at H.B. Beal in London where his own inspiration came from his grade 11 Auto Body teacher John Hogg. “He was a colourful and pragmatic man, who could build or fix anything with his hands.”

Mike studied Auto Body Repair and Welding, and began his apprenticeship right after high school, graduating with Journeyman status Red Seal in 1982. Mike attended Fanshawe College in London to complete the in-school portions of his apprenticeship, and then later studied education at University of Western Ontario and Queen’s University.

Mike moved to Napanee in 1985 to accept a Technology Teacher position at Napanee District Secondary School. He was appointed Program Leader for the LDSB in 2004, and moved to Kingston in 2007. He later returned to live in Napanee in 2014.

Mike has championed many innovative student integration strategies with St. Lawrence College, including the Limestone Skills Competition, Focus Programs, Dual Credits, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship, Slow Cookers for Kids, and the Young Women’s Innovation Conference. “I like the fact that an individual can get involved in the community and the results of your effort can be readily seen he said. “I love to meet and chat with former students I taught who are now contributing to all of our future; I can see the evidence of their hard work.”

The role of SLC, Mike believes, is to provide a local and necessary transition for secondary students and adults wishing to make a meaningful entry and re-entry to the work force. “The school-to-college-to-work and apprenticeship pathways are vital to the workforce in Eastern Ontario, whether a small business, a start-up, or a larger organization looking to upgrade the skills of their workforce, businesses need access to authentic learning activities that keep their employees and businesses moving forward.”

Being awarded an Honorary Diploma from SLC is an important acknowledgement to Mike that skilled trades matter in a very fundamental way. “Because I received my most formal and influential education through apprenticeship, I have often been overlooked by those who hold other forms of post-secondary education,” he explains. “There still exists an educational hierarchy based on the myth that a university education is a guarantee for a life of success, and an insurance policy against unemployment. We know that isn’t always true. This diploma acknowledges the skills and experiences I received prepared me well for the workforce, and that there is added value in the college and apprenticeship model of learning.”

Bruce Lounsbury

As the son of a Niagara grape farmer and a school teacher, Bruce Lounsbury, CEO and co-founder of newterra, learned early in his life to appreciate and respect the natural world, and the value of education.

Even though his father did not finish high school, he was what Bruce describes as a lifelong learner. “Reading and learning were always part of our lives, and there was no question we would go to university,” Bruce said. Bruce earned an Engineering degree from Queen’s University and a Masters of Management Science from Carleton University.

In 1990 Bruce and his family relocated to Brockville from Calgary so his wife, Sue could pursue a career opportunity with Shell Oil for what they thought would be an 18 month stay. They fell in love with the community, in large part because of the quality of life and access to the outdoors that Bruce has always loved. He and Sue raised their three boys in Brockville, who all went on to study Engineering at Queen’s. During this time Bruce founded the newterra Group, a leading provider of decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions to the resource, private development and municipal markets.

Living in Brockville, Bruce also grew to understand the importance of St. Lawrence College in community. “The college to me means access to opportunities for lifelong learning, it has so much to offer.”

To that end, he has been supporting St. Lawrence College students through a generous bursary that improves accessibility to education for students with financial need. By supporting future graduates in technology, including the Energy Systems Engineering Technology, Biotechnology, and Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology programs, newterra is helping close the skills gap, while also furthering the College’s strategic initiatives of sustainability and accessibility for our students.

Bruce has taken an active role in his community, with more than 20 years of commitment to the United Way, both locally and provincially. He is currently a director on the board of the Brockville United Way, and also served on the St. Lawrence College Board of Governors for six years, and now sits on the board of the Brockville General Hospital. Bruce continues to be an environmental visionary and entrepreneur and is dedicated to creating products that focus on sustainability and economic stability.

Bruce’s message to graduates: You’re graduating today, but this is really just the beginning of your education. Be open and receptive to life’s lessons outside the classroom. I consider it a bad day when I haven’t been exposed to something new.

Sandy Singers

It would be wonderful if someday our communities didn’t need the food bank, but with such a demand, it’s great to know Kingston has a champion like Sandy Singers. With his legacy of caring, helping and nurturing, Sandy recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at Kingston’s Partners in Mission Food Bank (PIMF). He is a critical community partner who helps both individuals and families in need through PIMF.

Sandy, an accomplished musician, grew up in Toronto and moved to Kingston in 1980. He and his wife Leslie are parents of two girls and it was the desire to spend more time with his family which led him to seek out a day job as Warehouse Manager at the Food Bank, a position he held for eight years.

“This job turned into my career, and a calling to help others,” Sandy said. “I saw firsthand the incredible need in the community; this year alone we have helped more than 6500 people in the Kingston community.” Sandy became the Executive Director twelve years ago; a position he still holds today. With innovation, talent, and creative mind, Sandy was able to foster partnerships and come up with new ways to increase awareness and assist with the growing needs of this important facility.

His music career runs parallel to his role with the PIMF and sometimes intersects, such as when his band Soul Survivor reunited after a ten-year hiatus to create a music CD with proceeds going to the Partners In Mission Food Bank. Sandy is the lead singer of the reunited band Soul Survivor, which continues to perform today.

Sandy works diligently with community partners and has been able to successfully secure and improve the facility to meet the increased need. “I try to ensure that PIMF maintains a positive and visionary profile in the community which in turn increases the sustainability of this much needed facility,” he said.

In addition to his position as Executive Director, Sandy volunteered with the Kingston Social Planning Committee, co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty Reduction, was a member of the Meal Providers Networking Group, a board member of the Food Sharing Project and involved in many additional projects.

Sandy exemplifies and instills the pay-it-forward principle and works closely with St. Lawrence College’s Enactus SLC team members and Business, Energy Systems Engineering Technology, and Community Integration through Co-operative Education students. Sandy nurtures the experiences of these students by providing them with engagement opportunities. His passion to help people’s lives continues to impact the Kingston community.

“I work with a dedicated army of volunteers who not only give of their time to build hampers and sort food, but also conduct food drives and collections,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do my work without the volunteers”. With Sandy at the helm, they have a strong leader with a powerful voice, be it belting out tunes with his band, or speaking up for all of those in need.

Conlin McCabe

How many 20-somethings get their own municipal "day"? Well, when you bring home an Olympic medal, that’s what you can expect in the close-knit community of Brockville. Last summer when rower Conlin McCabe returned to his hometown after the Olympics with a silver medal win with the Men’s 8 team, he was given a well-deserved hero’s welcome by the community. August 23, 2012 was named ‘Conlin McCabe Day’, and every marquee in the community, including St. Lawrence College’s, proudly displayed a message to him.

And while Conlin may live far away in Seattle now, his heart will always be at home. “Brockville has a special place in my heart, no matter where I go or live in the world, every time I come back to Brockville it immediately feels like home,” he said. “The infrastructure might change but the consistent thing about Brockville is the people that live there. From my experiences travelling, it’s the people within a city that make it unique and exciting.”

Conlin grew up in a close family with his mother Sharon, father Michael, and two younger sisters, Mollie and Elizabeth, who are, not surprisingly, both rowers too. Sharon, also a former rower, is a graduate of St. Lawrence College from the Personal Support Worker program, and his father works at Proctor and Gamble. “Both of my parents come from large families, so there were lots of aunts and uncles and cousins around while I was growing up.”

He credits his close relationship with his family for helping him achieve his goals, as well as his phenomenal coaching at the Brockville Rowing Club. “My parents are very hard workers; my mom seems to always be working, but enjoying herself at the same time. Her attitude and kindness are tough to match. My father is extremely creative and always has unique solutions to help me clear any obstacle in the way of reaching my goals.”

Conlin rowed in many regattas during his high school years, in different seat positions depending on the crew, and was almost always in medal contention. He graduated from Brockville Collegiate Institute with a full scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. The head coach of the rowing team recognized his sheer strength, hard work, and determination.

Conlin is currently pursuing his degree in Geography from the University of Washington in Seattle. “Getting my degree will be the second greatest accomplishment of my life when I complete it. University hasn’t been easy by any means, and is still something that I am striving to achieve every day. I know having this degree will help create opportunities for me in the future.”

The future, of course, includes training for the 2016 Olympics. “It was very rewarding to visit schools in Brockville and the surrounding area and talk to the children, aside from being asked some hilarious questions, I was touched by how enthusiastic so many of the kids were. I knew immediately that I would be committed to training for another four years to see if I could bring a gold medal back to Brockville!”

Sean Adams

On Wednesday afternoons, as a small child, Cornwall lawyer Sean Adams would accompany his father Ron to his small satellite office in Maxville, Ontario, and there he saw firsthand the difference his father, a lawyer, made in the lives of people. “He had a small office in the King George Hotel,” Sean recalls. “People would bring him gifts of fresh produce and food, and be so thankful to him.” And, in what may sound a little like a John Grisham novel, Sean knew from a very young age that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and go into law.

Sean grew up in Cornwall with his three sisters in a very close-knit family, along with a large extended family who lived nearby. There was no shortage of family get-togethers, outings, and general camaraderie in the Adams’ clan.

Sean’s mother Ann, a teacher who stayed home to raise her children, was of Slovak origin, and he grew up being very close to his maternal grandmother. So close, in fact, that Slovak was his first language. “I spent a lot of time with a grandmother who doted on me, and heard how difficult it was for immigrants when they came to Canada in the 1920s to make a better life for themselves and their families. My grandmother was very proud of her Slovak heritage which gave me a strong appreciation of my roots.”

After graduating from General Vanier High School, Sean attended Queen’s University for two years and was accepted into law school at the University of Ottawa without first completing an undergraduate degree. This was also in line with family tradition, as his father did the same. Ronald Adams was the first graduate of the University of Ottawa Law School in 1960. “It was great to be taught by some of the very same professors who taught my father.” While in law school, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Linda, and they have a son, Nikolai, who recently graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours Degree in History.

After law school, Sean articled for Seguin, Landriault and Lamoureux, a mid-sized law firm in downtown Ottawa, where he gained invaluable experience. He was hired by the firm after completing his bar admission course, and practiced there for four years before heeding the call to return home to join his father’s firm in Cornwall. Tragically, his father passed away one year later, at the age of 53. “We only worked together for a short time. I am grateful for the time we did have,” Sean says.

Over the years, Sean has been very focused on giving back to the community. He has been involved with organizations such as the United Way, Knights of Columbus, Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation, Rotary Club, The Children’s Treatment Centre, The

SD & G Law Association, Heart & Stroke Foundation, The Weave Shed Arts Centre, The Patrons of St. Columban’s Foundation, as well as coaching hockey, ball hockey and lacrosse. “I’ve always believed in giving back,” Sean says. “My parents raised us to be appreciative of our good fortune. They were involved in many charitable organizations, but also did things behind the scenes that nobody saw.”

Sean has seen the transition of Cornwall from an industrial town to a modern city and believes that St. Lawrence College is a key player in that change. “I had a tour of the campus recently and was impressed by the range of technologies, the teaching facilities, the theatre; it’s a beautiful campus. A true gem for the City of Cornwall.”

“It’s such an honor to receive an honorary diploma. I am very humbled.” Sean’s advice to the graduating class: “Be passionate about what you do and put all of your energy into those endeavours. Don’t be afraid to fall. Just pick yourself up and continue on your way to reaching your goals. You can make a difference, a real difference!”

Clark Day

For Kingston restaurant owner and chef Clark Day, a restaurant isn’t just a business, it’s a way to make a positive impact on someone’s life. “People eat in restaurants to celebrate and mark important times in their lives,” he said, recalling a conversation with a longtime patron of his former restaurant, Clark’s on King. As a regular guest, when she found out she had cancer, she dined for possibly her last time, and came again to celebrate her recovery. “I was very moved by her story and it made me realize that restaurants are more than just places to eat, they are part of personal memories.” Clark Day grew up eating what he calls “really delicious food” and was exposed to fine dining at a very young age while growing up. His father was in the RCMP and the family spent his early childhood in Germany and Switzerland. “I was a picky child. I knew what I liked to eat, and the way food should taste,” he said. “I liked playing around with flavours and food and cooking with my mother.”

Clark’s many achievements are well known to Kingstonians, who have been enjoying his culinary delights for 30 years. But they may not know that Clark got into the restaurant business almost by accident. After running his own successful business at the age of 22, he decided to move to the Ottawa Valley where he had purchased property when he was 19. He started serving part time and found the business quite intriguing. He moved to Edmonton where he worked as a part-time server at one of the top restaurants in town called Jonathan’s. With no formal culinary or hospitality training, at the age of 25 Clark was promoted to general manager, and he had 80 staff members reporting to him. “I was completely immersed and learned everything: front of house, back of house, menu planning, and how to create flavours.”

With his new expertise and passion, Clark came to Kingston with his high school sweetheart and wife of 35 years, Laurie, in 1985. They opened what would be his first restaurant, The River Mill, in the run-down and virtually abandoned Woolen Mill building in the heart of the old industrial inner harbour. “Everyone thought I was crazy,” he says with a laugh. “But one of my favourite challenges is when someone says, ‘you can’t do that’, I always say, ‘wanna bet!’”

The River Mill was a success. Clark was pouring 100 hours a week into running it, and Laurie at least 55 hours a week. The one day a week they devoted to family time was Sunday. After a year, they decided to sell because it was important to spend more time with family. At that time, in 1987 they opened Clark’s by the Bay, and lived on Clark’s 1831 family homestead in Collins Bay, the 15 acre Bayview Farm. “I’ve always been a back-to-the-land kind of person,” he says. Clark’s maternal side of the family extends back to the United Empire Loyalists, and since that time, someone in his family has been doing business in the area, running a rafting company, a distillery, five mills and even the food business; his grandfather owned an ice cream factory, and according to family lore, was first person to make maple walnut ice cream. Clearly, food innovation is in Clark’s DNA.

Clark’s by the Bay became hugely successful and was the only CAA 4 diamond award winner between Ottawa and Toronto at the time. After a good run, Clark and Laurie decided to make Bayview Farm a full-time family home with their 3 children and they closed Clark’s by the Bay. “Our loyal customers took that one very hard,” Clark recalls. “It was then I realized how important and personal a restaurant can be to people.”

But before too long, Clark was back with Clark’s on King in downtown Kingston, which he ran successfully for six years. High blood pressure and a building that required complete masonry reworking prompted Clark to change direction. Clark found a new way to be in the business he loves by consulting. He was involved in the opening of Le Caveau in downtown Kingston, and then began to work with the Radisson (soon to be Delta) to create Aqua Terra by Clark.

Clark has always been very involved in local causes and charities. He founded Fare for Friends, the single largest fundraising activity by the United Way in Kingston, which has raised over a million dollars in 20 years. He also supports Martha’s Table, Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital and Almost Home, and the innovative fundraiser Dine in the Dark with Clark to raise funds for the CNIB.

Clark understands the importance of St. Lawrence College in the community. His son, Matt, is a graduate of the Hospitality Management – Hotel and Restaurant program, and runs his own successful restaurant, Days on Front. “I’m honoured and humbled by the Honorary Diploma. It was out of the blue! It’s wonderful, but completely unnecessary.”

His advice for graduates on how to succeed: “Love what you do, care about what you do, and care about the people you do it with.”

Jim Brownell

Nancy Stevens


Lydia Johnson

Rudy Villeneuve

Paul Fournier

Walter Fenlon

2001 - 2010

Neil Burke

John Wright

Daren Dougall

Romeo Dallaire

Karen Sutherland

Tammy Babcock

Jenna Lambert

Jeffrey Ridal

Sandra Lawn

Douglas Hogeboom

Milton Ellis

Dave Jones

Vicki Keith

Leslie Myles

Rommel Masse

Bernard Tekamp

James Brown

Kim Donovan

Peter Kingston

Keith Watson

Annette Valade

Angelo Towndale

Bill Cruden

William Fraser

Pauline Lally

Rosemonde Laberge

Wilfred Wing Fan Chung

Robert Rae

Barry O'Connor

Peter Milliken

Lily Inglis

Louis Tremblay

Tom Kaneb

Albert Maringer

Jens Naumann

Dave Shaw

Margaret Angus

John Cowan

Donald Green

William Leggett

Jane Murphy

Ryan Hreljac

Michael Rasenberg

Gwen Boniface

Joseph Ippoliti

Fred Laflamme

Betty Haley

Anthony Marsh

Jayna Hefford

INVISTA (Canada) Company

Team Cornwall Ambassadors Inc.

Barry King

Venicio Rebelo

Georgette Fry

The Knights of Columbus Basketball League

Mitel Networks Corporation

Bruce Wylie

Jay Abramsky

Elaine Kennedy

Smart City

Sharon Donnelly

1992 - 2000

David Beatty

Jack Chiang

Empire Life

CORK (Canadian Olympic-Training Regatta Kingston)

Helen Cooper

Gerald Charlebois

Sydney Pugh

Micheal Davie

The Tragically Hip

Richard Eamon

Vera Preston

Margaret Cohoe

Allan Cohoe

Eva Zam

Terrence Dickinson

Fred & Bonnie Cappuccino

Andyne Computing Limited

Roy Olsen

Lin Good

Ed Wade

Leton Thomas

Honourable Edward C. Lumley

John Basmajian

Robert Short