Relationships, community impact key themes on day two of Spring Convocation

Kim Plewes, principal development director at WE, addressed students in the School of Community Services and the School of Allied Health in the first of two ceremonies on the second day of Niagara College’s Spring 2019 Convocation celebrations June 18. Plewes was presented with an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies. Niagara College photo

Niagara College press release – “The world is calling on us to lead a life of positive impact, to rise to the occasion and use our talents and skills to help others. And you’ve responded.”

With those words Kim Plewes, principal development director at WE, inspired students in the Schools of Community Services and Allied Health in the first of two ceremonies on the second day of Niagara College’s Spring 2019 Convocation celebrations.

As the principal development director of WE, formerly called Free the Children, Plewes works to drive growth, engage families, oversee programming and empower youth and organizations to do good. She has been a leading voice in the WE movement for nearly two decades, and has spent her career working with and mentoring ‘change-makers’ who are charting a path for the next generation.

As part of the ceremony, Plewes was also awarded an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies. In her address to the graduates, Plewes shared advice she has learned in her pursuit of her own goals. Her key message: to have a commitment to impact.

Child and Youth Care graduate Emily Stewardson Gregory was the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Governor General’s Academic Medal. Stewardson Gregory graduated at the Tuesday morning convocation ceremony with a 98.43% grade point average. Niagara College photo

Plewes illustrated the lessons learned from her own adventures in life, which have led her to make a positive difference in the lives of those in need and have brought her to over 50 countries around the world, including Kenya and India in pursuit of that goal. She closed with a challenge to the class of 2019:

“As the day’s celebrations wrap up and you look at what’s next, I challenge you to invest in the legacy you’ve already begun to create. As you face the challenges that life will inevitably present, by staying true to your own north star, to the impact you are choosing to create, the life you live will be invaluable.”

The 10 a.m. ceremony also saw the presentation of the Governor General’s Academic Medal, awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, approved college or university program. This year’s recipient was Child and Youth Care graduate Emily Stewardson Gregory, who finished with a 98.43% grade-point average. Read more about Stewardson Gregory here.

The afternoon ceremony saw Richard Taylor, president of Niagara Casinos, receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies and address graduates in the School of Business and Management Studies.

Taylor imparted four pieces of wisdom, learned over his extensive career in business, to the audience. He spoke of the importance of building and valuing relationships, no matter what field the graduates find themselves in. He illustrated the importance of having a positive attitude, stating that “Attitude, not aptitude, determines your altitude,” and urged the graduates to be adaptable in their business pursuits, and kind in their everyday interactions with others.

“So to the leaders of tomorrow, I ask you to remember to always be kind, lead by example, don’t talk down to others, focus on the positive and always be courteous.”

Niagara College President Dan Patterson presents Richard Taylor, president of Niagara Casinos with an honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies at the Tuesday afternoon convocation ceremony. Taylor addressed graduates in the School of Business Management Studies. Niagara College photo

Taylor left the grads with a call to take in all that life has to offer. “Life has a funny way of working itself out. Enjoy all of these life experiences, because these are what you’ll remember at the end of the day.”

Spring Convocation ceremonies continue June 19 – 21 at the Welland Campus. Over 5,100 students from more than 90 countries will graduate over a total of eight ceremonies. Grads and guests attending the college’s remaining ceremonies will hear from a diverse roster of distinguished speakers:

  • M. Mustafa Hirji is the acting medical officer of health for the Niagara Region, and will be granted an Honorary Diploma in Health Studies. (Wednesday, 10 a.m.)
  • Betty-Lou Souter is the CEO of Community Care, St. Catharines and Thorold. She will receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies. (Wednesday, 3 p.m.)
  • Carolyne Watts is the plant manager for General Motors, St. Catharines Propulsion Plant, and a former chair of the Niagara College Board of Governors. She will receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies. (Thursday, 10 a.m.)
  • Mike Crawley is an Ontario provincial affairs reporter for CBC News. He will receive an Honorary Diploma in Journalism. (Thursday, 3 p.m.)
  • Kelly L. Brown is Senior Vice-President, Legal and Corporate Affairs for Arterra Wines Canada will receive an Honorary Graduate Certificate in Wine Business Management (Friday, 10 a.m.)

Thursday, June 20/2019, will also be a milestone for the College, as it will see the first cohort of graduates from the college’s Commercial Cannabis Production program at the 10 a.m. ceremony. The Graduate Certificate program is the first of its kind in Canada, and was launched in the fall of 2018 to meet a significant demand for qualified, professional workers in Canada’s pioneering cannabis industry.

Friday, June 21 will mark another group of pioneer graduates, as the first class of NC’s unique  Artisan Distilling (Graduate Certificate) grads cross the stage, ready to become leaders in Ontario’s burgeoning craft distilling sector.