Tag Archives: Niagara College

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate Sheds Light On Adversity For Fall 2021 Grads

Randell Adjei convocation address: Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, addresses NC’s Fall 2021 graduates during a video message played during the livestream ceremonies as NC president Sean Kennedy and VP Academic Fiona Allan watch from the Welland Campus./Niagara College photos.

Like Niagara College’s Fall Class of 2021, who had to overcome unprecedented challenges to graduate during a global pandemic, Randell Adjei has faced adversity.

But when Ontario’s first poet laureate shared his words of wisdom as part of the College’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies, he inspired graduates to view it in a positive light.

“See adversity as a seed of opportunity,” he said.

Adjei, who was appointed poet laureate in April – a provincial position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip – addressed more than 1,000 new NC graduates, along with their families and friends from around the world who gathered virtually to celebrate in two unique ceremonies livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29.

The special guest speaker, who was recognized with an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies during the ceremonies, told graduates that those facing adversity are like seeds buried and rooted into the darkness, which eventually find their light, and bloom.

“Sometimes we are buried into the darkness. Sometimes we are going to question, ‘why is this happening to me.’ Sometimes we are going to feel like victims but, I can reassure you, that you are being given an opportunity to grow,” he said. “You are transforming. You are evolving and blooming to become your best self.”

Adjei explained how adversity has played a key role in his own life, leading him not only to write as a form of self-expression, but to form RISE Edutainment (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) to help GTA youth express themselves creatively through performance arts. 

“If it wasn’t for the adversities that I went through, I would not be who I am today,” he said. “Adversity is what allowed me to look deeper within myself to question what I had to offer into this world.”

Adjei encouraged graduates to think about the legacy they hope to leave behind and what they can do to make the world better.

“Your legacy starts today,” he said.

Graduates were also treated to his gift of the spoken word, when he recited his poem, “The Dash,” which references the mark between dates on a tombstone and, figuratively, the course of a lifetime.

“It’s not about the day we’re born, nor is it about the day we leave, it’s really about everything we do with the dash in between,” he said.

President Sean Kennedy, who addressed the graduates live from the Welland Campus during the ceremonies, also shared advice with the Class of 2021. He spoke about the power of education and encouraged them to embrace lifelong learning as a key to realizing their dreams.

“As we learn, our worlds get bigger. Open your minds – and your hearts – to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of being and knowing,” said Kennedy. “And when you are moved, impacted and affected by what you learn, embrace that opportunity to grow and change. This is lifelong learning at its core.”

While the morning ceremony celebrated 511 new graduates from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and schools of Business and Management; Environment and Horticulture; Hospitality and Tourism; and Trades; the afternoon ceremony honoured 513 new graduates from the schools of Allied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; Nursing and Personal Support Worker; and Academic, Liberal and Access Studies.

Zoom screenshot Practical Nursing: A screenshot from the afternoon ceremony livestream features a group of Practical Nursing graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom program party.

More than 270 new NC graduates were from the School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker alone – at a time of escalating need for health-care workers in Ontario.

Among them is St. Catharines resident Allison Cronkwright, who graduated from Practical Nursing, 11 years after graduating from the Personal Support Worker program. After developing a rare immune disorder and unable to continue her work as a PSW, she became determined to pursue her dream career. She went from wheelchair, to walker, to Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) during the past six years. On her convocation day, she considered herself the “luckiest woman on Earth” living out her dream as she begins her new full-time job as an RPN on a surgical unit at Niagara Health, where she completed her consolidation placement.

“Nursing was something I was born to do. From my very first memories as a child, I wanted to give back. I wanted to work in service of others,” she said. “COVID has put so much negative into the world. My nursing career is not one of them. I will adapt to whatever comes in front of me. I would move mountains to get where I am today.”

The Fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies between June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

NC’s standout interactive virtual convocation ceremonies, which debuted in June 2020, feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates.

The formal ceremonies took place at the Welland Campus, and were livestreamed to a virtual audience, powered by a team of staff, faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program. Between the two ceremonies, the livestreams garnered 3,259 live views from 34 countries.

Through program Zoom parties held alongside the ceremonies, graduates could be seen smiling and waving on screen with their classmates, as select clips were featured during the livestreams.

Those who missed their live ceremony broadcast, may view it at their convenience via the College’s website. For information about convocation or to access the ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate To Address Niagara College’s Fall Graduates

Ontario’s first Poet Laureate Randell Adjei / Photo courtesy of Lady Mensah Studios

Niagara College is planning an epic virtual send-off for almost 1,000 new graduates this fall with a special guest who is well versed in the spoken and written word.

Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, will deliver the convocation address at NC’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies on October 29. The Scarborough native was appointed poet laureate in April – a position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. As poet laureate for a two-year term, Adjei is dedicated to writing and championing poetry, art and literacy, celebrating Ontario and its people, and raising the profile of poets in the province.

“The Niagara College community looks forward to welcoming Randell as our guest speaker and honorary diploma recipient for Fall Convocation. We are honoured that he will share his extraordinary talents with our Fall 2021 graduates,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “Randell’s mantra of resilience is sure to both inspire and resonate with our 2021 graduates, who have achieved their academic goals during an unprecedented time in history and are now poised to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives.”

Adjei is a celebrated spoken word artist who has performed around the world. He has won multiple awards for his dedication to helping youth express themselves creatively through performance arts as the founder of RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment.

NC will confer an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies upon Adjei in recognition of his contributions to the literary arts, which serve to unite and bring attention to social injustice.

“I am ecstatic to be addressing the Class of 2021 graduates at Niagara College because it is a pivotal time in their lives,” said Adjei. “Niagara has often been a place of getaway and rejuvenation for me. Also given Niagara’s approach to learning and education, I am really looking forward to being involved.”

About Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation

Two unique convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29: the 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate new graduates from NC’s schools of Business and Management, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Hospitality and Tourism, and Trades. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be dedicated to the schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Applied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; and Nursing and Personal Support Worker Studies.

The fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

Virtual convocation enables graduating students to celebrate their academic achievement in a safe and meaningful way during the COVID-19 pandemic before moving on to the next chapter of their lives. The upcoming ceremonies follow the resounding successes of the College’s previous virtual convocation ceremonies that drew tens of thousands of viewers from Niagara, Canada and around the world since they debuted in Spring 2020.

The College’s standout, interactive virtual convocation ceremonies feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates. The formal ceremonies conducted by Kennedy and vice president Academic Fiona Allan will take place at the Welland Campus and will be livestreamed to a virtual audience thanks to a team of faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program.

Graduates and their families may visit the convocation website to view their ceremony as it happens, live in real time, from anywhere in the world. The name of each graduate will be called out, one by one, and appear on screen.

Videos will be incorporated into the live broadcasts, featuring well-wishes from the College community and beyond. Graduates will be invited to connect with their classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties to be held during their ceremony. Select clips from program Zoom parties – showing graduates smiling and waving – will be featured during the ceremony livestreams.

Virtual convocation also includes an immersive social media experience. Photos, videos and text messages with the NC convocation hashtag #NCGrad2021 will also be incorporated into the ceremonies.

For the convenience of those unavailable to attend the virtual ceremonies in real time, ceremony broadcasts will be available for later viewing via the Convocation website.

For information about convocation or to access the virtual ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Niagara College Marks National Day For Truth And Reconciliation

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of Niagara College, addresses a group gathered in front of a fire during an Honouring the Children event. The event was held in the Indigenous Garden (Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake) on the morning of September 30. /Niagara College photo.

It was a day to mourn losses, honour survivors and learn about the truth of residential schools.

On September 30, students, faculty and staff at Niagara College joined residents across Canada in commemorating the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“Our priority at Niagara College is to commemorate the day in a meaningful way,” said College President Sean Kennedy. “Our goal is to amplify Indigenous voices, and encourage our College community to learn the truth of residential schools, and to engage with truth and reconciliation initiatives at our College and in the community.”

Indigenous Education at NC hosted two events for the College community on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – one in-person and one virtual. The day kicked off with a morning Honouring the Children event held in the Indigenous Garden at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The College community was invited to drop in, pay their respects and reflect on the children who were forced from their communities to attend residential schools.

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of NC (Electronic Engineering Technology, 1971) lit a fire, offered medicines, and guided the College community through the time of reflection.

“Be the vanguard. The world is watching what Canada does right now,” he said.

A Virtual Circle Discussion: Truth Before Reconciliation event drew participants from the College community via Zoom during the afternoon to listen to stories told from survivors and those impacted by residential schools. Attendees heard from guest speaker Sharon Slippery, who is a third-generation residential school attendee, as well as Elder Gary Parker of the Seneca Nation.

The event focused on the importance of understanding the truth of the profound effects that residential schools had and continue to have on Indigenous communities. It addressed the forced assimilation of Indigenous children, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and it honoured the strength of survivors.

“Niagara College’s September 30 events are intended to be a starting point for an ongoing discussion around Truth and Reconciliation and as initial steps in the important work that our College will be undertaking related to Truth and Reconciliation,” said Rick Anderson, Vice President, Student Success, who became NC’s first Indigenous vice president when he was appointed to the role in January 2021.

Lianne Gagnon, Director of Student Services, which includes Indigenous Education at NC, noted that while this was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the College, it follows in the footsteps of its annual Orange Shirt Day initiatives. Hosted by Indigenous Education, Orange Shirt Day events have served as a reminder of the devastating history of Indigenous residential schools; their impacts on Indigenous children, families, and communities; and to reinforce that every child matters.

“Now that it is officially known as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we are focusing on the truth first. Before non-Indigenous people can do reconciliation work, it is important to first learn about Indigenous culture and the effects colonization had on them,” said Gagnon.

“We can’t start rectifying the wrongs if we don’t know what they are. We felt that the Virtual Circle would be a valuable way to share information with our staff and students, and to give them a better understanding of why reconciliation is important, while we remember and honour residential school survivors.”

In addition to the events on September 30, some areas of the College also hosted initiatives leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On September 27, NC’s Centre for Academic Excellence hosted a session for faculty and staff members grounded in the book Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit by Marie Battiste. NC’s schools of Business and Management; Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; and Environment and Horticulture held a virtual session on Sept. 27 to help its faculty and staff learn about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and about how to support Indigenous students.

(Source: Niagara College release)

On-Campus Vaccination Clinics For Students, Staff And Public To Be Held September 13, September 20

The GO-VAXX Bus is coming to Niagara College. 

Niagara College students, staff, and members of the public will be able to receive a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on campus this September.

GO-VAXX bus, a mobile vaccination clinic, will be on campus for drop-ins on the following dates: September 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Welland Campus in parking lot A (east side); September 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake in parking lot A (south side).

Maps of campus lots can be found on the NC website. Parking is free for those visiting the GO-VAXX bus.

The GO-VAXX bus operates as a fully functioning vaccine clinic with the necessary supplies and trained staff to provide assistance to people and ensure vaccines are administered safely.

 All COVID-19 safety precautions will be followed on board, including the required pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination monitoring. A tent will be set up where you will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your vaccine. The GO-VAXX bus is administering the Pfizer vaccine.

Bring your health card. If you do not have a health card or if it’s expired, bring another form of government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, status card, or birth certificate. Please do not visit the GO-VAXX bus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

To learn more about the GO-VAXX bus, visit ontario.ca/page/go-vaxx-bus-schedule.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

City of Welland, Niagara College Safely Welcoming Students Back In September

As students of all ages return to the classroom in September, one of the most significant increases in campus activity will occur at Niagara College, where thousands of students will return to in-class learning. 

Understanding that an influx of students from around the province is returning to Welland to live, study, and engage in the community, Niagara College and the City of Welland is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the community by sharing pertinent news and information relating to COVID-19.

On August 16, Niagara College announced that it requires students, employees, visitors, and contractors who are learning or working on campus in September to be vaccinated against COVID-19; this in addition to students living in residence and all student-athletes.

Everyone visiting a Niagara College campus for college business is required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received the first dose of a Health Canada or World Health Organization-approved vaccine by September 7, and a second dose/full vaccination by October 18.

The policy comes after close monitoring of COVID trends and consultation with public health authorities. With the recent rise in cases, including variants of concern, vaccination rates, and increased access to vaccines, requiring vaccination for on-campus study and work is a significant step in ensuring the safety of the Niagara College community. It also brings the college closer to an eventual full return to campus.

All on-campus activities will comply with public health measures and directives for the fall term. Niagara College plans for physical distancing, health screenings and PPE requirements will remain in place in September.

Since last fall, Niagara College has had students and staff on-campus without incident of transmission. Access controls, comprehensive safety measures, and adherence to public health guidelines have allowed for this successful track record and remain in place as students return to campus in September.

For regular updates on Niagara College operations, please visit www.niagaracollege.ca/covid19.

As a responsible and staunch community partner, the City of Welland looks forward to welcoming Niagara College students back to the community and encourages all students and staff to practice public health-recommended guidelines to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

Welland City Hall is planning to reopen in the fall, and information about the health and safety measures and guidelines will be available in the coming weeks.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Niagara College To Require Vaccinations For On-Campus Students, Employees

With a significant increase in on-campus learning, services and activity planned for the Fall 2021 term, Niagara College announced that it will require students, employees and contractors who are learning or working on campus in September to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Students, employees, contractors and those visiting a Niagara College campus for college business will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a first dose of a Health Canada or World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine by September 7, and a second dose/full vaccination by October 18.

The policy comes after close monitoring of COVID trends and consultation with public health authorities. With the recent rise in cases, including variants of concern, vaccination rates and increased access to vaccines, requiring vaccination for on-campus study and work is a significant step in ensuring the safety of the Niagara College community, and it helps to bring the college closer to an eventual full return to campus.

The vaccine requirement policy is intended to add an additional layer of protection to the comprehensive health and safety measures that are already in place – including screening, physical distancing, mask requirements and enhanced cleaning. These ongoing measures have kept the Niagara College community safe since the onset of the pandemic – including three terms of hybrid programming that have seen almost half of Niagara College students experience some on-campus classes or labs – with no incidents of on-campus transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

A full policy and process will be released by Monday, August 23 and will include an accommodation process for those who are not vaccinated due to medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Niagara College’s on-campus businesses, including the Wine Visitor + Education Centre and Greenhouse will continue to operate within existing provincial COVID measures and requirements for businesses.

Niagara College had previously announced a mandatory vaccination requirement for on-campus residences and is also implementing a mandatory vaccine requirement for all student athletes. Details will be available on the Niagara College Athletics & Recreation website.

Studies continue to show that vaccines are safe, and the most effective tool in reducing the risk of serious illness and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Currently, people 12 years of age and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For further information, including updates on eligibility, how to book vaccination appointments, and frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Niagara Region Public Health vaccine page and the government of Ontario’s vaccine page.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Awards Of Merit Applaud College’s Community Impact

Culinary Management students and staff helped to prepare 300 meals per week during the winter term as part of the Feed the Community initiative, spearheaded by chef professor Olaf Mertens (pictured). (Supplied photos)

From preparing meals for those in need, to manufacturing face shields to help protect healthcare workers, Niagara College has gone above and beyond to assist the community over the past year —and these efforts have recently gained formal recognition from the Niagara Region.

Award of Merit certificates were recently delivered to the College as part of the Region’s Niagara Impact Awards, which recognize individuals, non-profit organizations, and private sector businesses for their efforts in improving the quality of life of those living in Niagara.

Launched during the Winter 2021 term, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s Feed the Community initiative aimed to address food insecurity and to support health and wellness in the community and within the College’s student population.

Each week, 300 fresh healthy meals were prepared at the CFWI and transported to different shelters on a rotating basis. Some meals were also provided to students living in on-campus residences.

The meals were prepared, cooked and packaged by participating chefs and student volunteers from the Culinary Management program who used top quality products left from the kitchen labs. The team then connected with shelters to transport all the meals each week to those who needed them.

An Award of Merit acknowledges the impact that NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute had through their Feed the Community initiative.

The initiative was spearheaded by chef professor Olaf Mertens with leadership from the CFWI’s former associate dean Gary Torraville (director, International). Chefs Dan Leblanc and Tom Liu joined the effort along with four second-year Culinary Management students who volunteered to get involved. Full health and safety measures were followed, noted CFWI dean Craig Youdale.

“I am immensely proud of our team and their continued support of the Niagara community,” said Youdale. “The Niagara Impact Award of Merit is really special to our staff because it will bring some light to the important issue of food insecurity and also inspire more of our team to join the effort.”

The initiative was applauded by several recipient organizations such as Port Cares Reach Out Centre, which experienced a significant increase in demand for its food bank and meals during the pandemic while facing challenges including a reduction in food donations and staff. In a letter to the CFWI, Amanda Upper, site supervisor at Port Cares Reach Out Centre, noted that CFWI’s Feed the Community initiative helped to make a difference as it provided hundreds of beautifully packaged and artfully crafted nutritious meals for about 1,700 of the agency’s clients.

“These donations could not have come at a better time as the pressure and fatigue of the pandemic begins to set in for our small team who are working tirelessly to keep up with the rising demand,” stated Upper. “We at the Reach Out Centre are truly appreciative to have benefited from this project, and sincerely hope the project may continue to support Niagara foodbanks as they continue to perform this essential work in spite of the hardships of COVID-19.”

Duaa Hussein, food program coordinator at Start Me Up Niagara in St. Catharines, noted that the Feed the Community project provided them with more than 150 meals for individuals with life challenges on multiple occasions.

“The quality of food was excellent and highly nutritious. There were a variety of meals with suitable portions packaged in recyclable appropriate containers that made it easy to distribute to clients,” said Hussein. “Overall, this was such an incredible initiative and had a great impact on our clients as they enjoy those nutritious meals. Start Me Up is very appreciative of the service provided by CFWI Feed the Community project.”

Face Shields manufacturing

An Award of Merit recognizes the College’s efforts in manufacturing and donating thousands of face shields to protect healthcare workers during the pandemic.

An Award of Merit recognized the College’s exemplary support for healthcare workers over the past year through the manufacturing and donation of more than 25,000 face shields.

“Your ability to pivot, design and manufacture these much-needed shields as well as your generosity in donating those to most in need is outstanding,” states the Award of Merit signed by Niagara Region chair Jim Bradley.

In 2020, research at the College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) produced 37,000 face shields, certified by Health Canada with a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL Class 1). WAMIC distributed 17,300 face shields to the local Niagara Health System for front-line workers, and close to 20,000 shields were donated to other essential workers and community members throughout the province.

The WAMIC research team used computer-aided design to create the face shield prototype and then partnered with a local industry partner, Niagara-based Jay-Line, for its die-cutting services to accelerate the number of plastic visors pressed.

“It’s a priority for us at Niagara College to respond to the needs of our community,” said Marc Nantel, vice president, Research and External Relations. “We are proud to leverage our spirit of innovation to help support those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Niagara Health expressed its gratitude for the College’s efforts.

“The Research & Innovation division at Niagara College provided invaluable services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when PPE inventories were running low, and the supply chains were disrupted,” said Amir Gill, director, Capital Planning, Engineering Services, and Biomedical Engineering, Niagara Health, “The Niagara College team stepped in and started to locally manufacture and supply us with face shields. They continued to send us a daily supply until the supply chains were re-established.”

The project was funded by the Niagara College-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) through Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) contributions.

(Source: Niagara College news release.)

Double Gold At National Competition A First For Teaching Winery Sauvignon Blanc

College winemaker Gavin Robertson holds up the award-winning wines from this year’s All Canadian Wine Championships. The NC Teaching Winery scored four medals, including a double gold for its Sauvignon Blanc, the best performance for a college-produced Sauvignon Blanc. /Supplied photo.

The scales tipped in favour of Niagara College’s Balance Sauvignon Blanc at the recent All Canadian Wine Championships.

The white wine, made by NC winemaker Gavin Robertson and students in the Winery and Viticulture Technician program, won double gold at the 2021 edition of the national competition that saw 1,365 wines entered from 217 Canadian wineries.

It’s the first double gold for a college-produced Sauvignon Blanc, making it NC’s best showing for the varietal yet, Robertson said.

It’s one of four medals the Niagara College Teaching Winery won at the awards, including gold for the first-ever Balance Muscat. The medalling wines in their respective categories are:

•   2019 Balance Sauvignon Blanc (Top Sauvignon Blanc)

•   2019 Balance Muscat (Gold – Other single vitis vinifera whites category);

•   2019 Dean’s List Savant (Silver – Red icewine category); and

•   2018 Balance Gamay Noir (Silver – Gamay Noir category).

All are wines that Robertson and his students don’t make every year, which makes the results particularly notable, he said. The Balance Gamay Noir is only the second Gamay vintage produced in the program.

“That’s satisfying. I’ve been the winemaker here since 2014 and I feel like I’m finally getting my head wrapped around certain grapes,” said Robertson, who graduated from the College’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program in 2011. “What I like about this showing is Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay Noir and Muscat aren’t normally grapes I would consider entering.”

Although a grape like Muscat is less commonly used by Canadian wineries, working with such varietals prepares students for what they might encounter after they graduate, Robertson explained.

“Anything our students can graduate into within the industry and have to produce, it’s important to expose them to,” he said. “For a small winery, we have dozens of SKUs with grapes and styles that someone in the industry is making. That’s really important since we’re a teaching winery.”

More than a bragging right, though, these latest awards show that students in the program work with high-quality fruit and turn out vintages that can compete with those from other Canadian wineries. They also speak to the quality of education happening at the College.

“Consistently winning top medals is a testament to our academic deliveries and the abilities of our Winery and Viticulture Technician students at Niagara College,” said Steve Gill, general manager of NC’s Learning Enterprise Corporation. “We are all proud of everyone involved.”

Such a performance isn’t uncommon for the Teaching Winery at the All Canadian Wine Championships.

“The competition results from Niagara College consistently show the calibre of the teaching staff, and the talent of its students,” said Bev Carnahan, All Canadian Wine Championships director. “Year to year, the college comes away with a fistful of medals and on occasion, a trophy. Their Balance Brut is not to be missed.”

The award-winning wines, along with other vintages produced by the Teaching Winery, are available for sale at the Niagara College Wine Visitor + Education Centre, located at its Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, or online at ncteachingwinery.ca. Sales of the wines support student education.

Visit allcanadianwinechampionships.com for more information about the All Canadian Wine Championships.

Tasting notes from Bev Carnahan, All Canadian Wine Championships director:

2019 Dean’s List Savant

Rich, creamy, concentrated fruit, good structure, ripe cherry and nicely balanced with a clean finish.

2018 Balance Gamay Noir

Pretty, sippable, cherry-based Gamay. Juicy fruit on palate.

2019 Balance Sauvignon Blanc

Crisp, tart, eminently refreshing. 

2019 Balance Muscat

Clean, flavourful, ask for more! Floral, dry, mineral finish, fresh, light fruit — fun. Delightful.

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery is the first and only commercial teaching winery in Canada. It is located at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, along with the NC Teaching Brewery and the NC Teaching Distillery, which were also the first of their kind in Canada.

(Source: Niagara College news release) 

Niagara College Reaches 100,000-Graduate Milestone

Emily Gushue, who graduated Tuesday with her diploma in Community and Justice Services, is Niagara College’s 100,000 graduate. (Supplied photo)

There was brief pause in Tuesday afternoon’s virtual convocation ceremony but it wasn’t because of any technical difficulties.

A timeout was taken to recognize Niagara College’s 100,000th graduate, Emily Gushue, who received her diploma in the Community and Justice Services program.

“Reaching (this) milestone is meaningful for all of us at NC,” said College president Sean Kennedy. “It underscores our growth and success as a college over the past 53 years while highlighting the ever-expansive reach of our global alumni community, which, including our Spring 2021 graduates, will now stand over 100,000 strong.”

The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Gushue, who was made aware of her status before the ceremony. She appeared briefly on camera celebrating in front of a lawn sign announcing the milestone at her home in Ridgeway.

“I have goosebumps right now,” she said when learned she was lucky No. 100,000. “I definitely was not expecting this at all.”

In addition to Gushue, the spotlight was on nearly 800 students from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, School of Allied Health and School of Justice and Fitness, who joined in the celebrations on June 22 and received their degrees.

They are among the nearly 4,000 students graduating from NC this spring.

As Fiona Allan, vice-president Academic noted, the Class of 2021 completed their studies in a way unlike any class before it. 

“Our Class of 2021 graduands are the first in our College’s history who have completed over a year of their studies under the extraordinary circumstances presented by the pandemic,” Allan said. “Almost everyone needed to adapt to completing their studies at least partially online. Some of our graduands even completed their entire program remotely without stepping foot on our campuses or meeting with their faculty or classmates in person. You all put the NC in the words ‘perseverance’ and resilience.’”

Student success in the spotlight

The afternoon ceremony saw James Casselman, Governor General’s Award recipient, graduate from Police Foundations. Casselman earned the prestigious recognition for achieving the highest grade point average — 98% — of any NC graduate. The Niagara resident also received the Dean’s Award for the highest grade point average in his academic school.

“The Governor General’s Award means something to me beyond words but it really pales in comparison to what we’ve all accomplished through the adversity of the pandemic,” Casselman said to students during the ceremony. “As the old saying goes ‘Character is what you accomplish when nobody is looking,’ and we all accomplished so much without anybody looking.”

Sidney Stefanac, who graduated from the Pharmacy Technician program, and Geoffrey Mclellan of the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program, were also announced as recipients of dean’s awards from the School of Allied Health and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, respectively.

“I am so honoured to be receiving the Dean’s Award,” Stefanac said. “I have always tried hard to succeed as my grades are important to me, but I never would have thought I would have achieved this accomplishment.”

Niagara College’s June Virtual Convocation ceremonies, which kicked off on June 21, will continue twice a day – at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – up to and including June 25. The ceremonies include an address and performance by guest speaker Sarah Blackwood, the Canadian singer, songwriter and musician from the Juno-award-winning band, Walk Off the Earth.

Visit the College’s Virtual Convocation site to view the schedule or to access the livestream ceremonies niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Sarah Blackwood Offers Inspiring Wakeup Call To NC’s Class of 2021

Guest speaker Sarah Blackwood (musician, Walk Off the Earth) holds up her Honorary Diploma in Media Studies from Niagara College. (Supplied photos)

After a year like no other, graduating students from Niagara College’s Class of 2021 are poised begin the next phase of their lives in a world forever changed from the impacts of a global pandemic –but, this week, they celebrate.

The College kicked off its five-day Virtual Convocation week on June 21, by shining the spotlight on 800 new graduates from its schools of Business and Management, and Hospitality, Tourism and Sport. Two highly interactive virtual ceremonies were broadcast live from NC’s Welland Campus – each celebrating different academic areas of study – thanks to a crew of students and staff from the College’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program working behind the scenes to bring the livestream into the homes of viewers around the world. The first day’s virtual events received more than 4,115 live views.

Special guest speaker Sarah Blackwood – Canadian singer/songwriter/musician from Juno-award-winning band Walk Off the Earth – addressed graduates with an inspiring speech, including a powerful wake-up call that the road of life is constantly changing.

“Welcome to the rest of life. It doesn’t matter when or where you are, your journey will always be unpredictable,” said Blackwood, who was honoured with an honorary diploma in Media Studies. “There’s no big light at the end of the tunnel … it’s ever-changing. And the first thing I suggest for all of you is to get comfortable with uncertainty and get excited about not knowing exactly where you go from here. Get comfy living with a giant question mark over your head at all times.”

Blackwood encouraged them to “say yes to everything,” to focus on positivity and their own evolution.

“Life is not about one big defining moment. It’s about all the small things that you experience and live through so you can allow your soul to grow and guide you.”

Following her speech, Blackwood treated the graduates to a melodic solo performance, singing to them as she played her acoustic guitar. NC’s Class of 2021 will also receive a special gift: an exclusive video of Walk Off the Earth performing Farther We Go which will be emailed to them on Friday after the final ceremony concludes.

College president Sean Kennedy – who will be presiding over all 10 ceremonies from the Welland Campus during convocation week, along with vic- president, Academic, Fiona Allan – also shared words of wisdom with the Class of 2021, encouraging them to embrace challenges ahead with enthusiasm and positivity.

“Always remember that the bigger the challenge, the more your skills, creativity and determination will be tested,” said Kennedy. “These challenges may leave you exhausted and uncertain. All of them will be opportunities for growth and the seeds of good memories and stories down the road.”

Student success in the spotlight

Two Niagara residents were announced as the recipients of dean’s awards during Monday’s afternoon ceremony for achieving the highest GPA in their academic school.

St. Catharines resident Stephanie Peters, 40, who graduated from Office Administration – Executive (Co-op) program, received the Dean’s award from the School of Business and Management. Peters was a university graduate working in retail position she no longer enjoyed before she made the difficult decision to return to school as a mature student and make a positive change in her life. Now, she not only graduates at the top of her class but with a full-time position, which arose out of her program’s co-op placement.

“As a single mom, I wanted to work hard and demonstrate that, at no matter what your age, if you are determined and hardworking, you are able to accomplish great things,” she said. “Going back to school, and now graduating, has refreshed my love of learning. It also means that all of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices have been worth it.”

Welland resident Connor Joliffe, 21, graduated from the Sport Management program with a Dean’s Award from the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport.

“I always give 110% effort into all the tasks and, being a major sports fan, coming to Niagara, I was just very excited and motivated to learn about the sport industry from a business perspective,” said Joliffe, who also played varsity men’s basketball for NC. “One of the main reasons I chose Niagara College was because I knew I would be able to complete a full term field placement, as well as get a more personal and integrated learning experience.”

Joliffe has received a full academic transfer scholarship to pursue a Sport Management degree at Niagara University this fall.

Virtual Convocation Week

Through its interactive virtual ceremonies, the College aims to celebrate the graduating class in a memorable way before they embark on the next chapter in their lives, while bringing the college community ‘NC together.’

As they watched their livestream ceremony take place in real time – which included many traditional elements such as speeches and the reading of each graduate’s name aloud – graduates connected with their classmates through pre-organized Zoom program parties. They also had an opportunity to make a virtual appearance onscreen during the ceremony broadcast as clips of graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom parties were incorporated into the livestream. 

Virtual convocation also taps into the power of social media, incorporating posts and tweets using the hashtag #NCGrad2021 into the ceremonies.

The live ceremonies also incorporate video well-wishes from the college community and beyond. Videos from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, regional chair Jim Bradley, NC Board of Governors chair Del Rollo, a roster of distinguished alumni, and several members of College faculty, staff and administrators have been woven into this week’s ceremonies.

Almost 4,000 students will graduate from Niagara College during its June Virtual Convocation ceremonies, which will continue twice a day – at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – up to and including June 25.

This convocation week will also mark a highly anticipated historic milepost for the College: its 100,000th graduating student, whose identity will be revealed at the moment the College hits the mark during one of its 10 ceremonies when the graduate’s name is about to be read aloud. The Class of 2021 will bring NC’s global alumni community to more than 100,000 strong.

Visit the College’s Virtual Convocation site to view the schedule or to access the livestream ceremonies niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.

(Source: Niagara College news release)