A ‘Knight’ to remember: Alumni gather for inaugural College event

Five decades.

That’s approximately how long it had been since George Bailey had stepped foot inside his alma mater.

But on November 1, the Class of 1970 alumnus returned for the first time to attend the College’s inaugural ReuKnighted celebration. Held at the Welland Campus, the event was a collaboration between the College’s Alumni Relations and Athletics departments, and included a reunion weekend of activities.

For Bailey, attending the pre-game tailgate party sparked a trip down memory lane, as he marvelled over how much the College has grown and changed since he attended during its early days.

“There were only two buildings when I was here and that’s where we had our programming,” said the former Radio and Television student who enjoyed a career in public relations and communications for 30 years and wrote a travel column for 20.  “I’m very impressed by the College’s programs and the facilities today. And the people here are still as enthusiastic and friendly as they have always been.”

Bailey was among an estimated 150 attendees who returned for a tailgate party on November 1. Hosted by NC’s Alumni Relations team, the event was held at the Core, and drew former athletes and alumni – mostly from Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film, and Sport Management programs – as well as College staff and students.

For former Knights athlete John Mataya, who is VP and CFO of Bosch Rexroth in Welland, ReuKnighted was another reason to return to NC. Mataya has been a frequent visitor to the College since he graduated from Financial Management in 1984. In addition to cheering on the Knights basketball teams at home and on the road, he has been a supporter of the College and events such as the Seafood Gala and Golf Classic. He has also hired many college students and alumni over the years. His son also followed in his footsteps as a NC graduate.

“It’s always nice to come back to campus, connect with friends and watch the basketball team,” said Mataya.

The event also drew more recent alumni such as television host, reporter and basketball coach Amy Audibert, who graduated from the Broadcasting program in 2012 and has since worked for sports media networks including CBS Sports, NBATV, and NBATV Canada. The Niagara Falls native, who was a basketball player for the University of Miami prior to her days at NC, was an assistant coach for the Knights women’s basketball team (2011-2012) and men’s basketball team (2018-2019). She noted that she was happy to support ReuKnighted by working to broadcast the basketball games and attending the tailgate.

“There are a lot of people I work with in the industry that are here tonight,” she said. “A lot of NC grads work in the TV industry so it’s really fun when we get to chat.”

The alumni tailgate was followed by Knights home-opener basketball games in the Athletic Centre and an after-party. Festivities continued on November 2 with a National Scholar Brunch, a Hall of Fame induction and a volleyball double-header.

NC alumni engagement officer Jana Boniferro noted that following the success of the first alumni reunion of its kind, the College is considering future events to engage the wider alumni community, numbering more than 90,000 worldwide.

“Our first-ever ReuKnighted was a tremendous success,” said Boniferro. “It was amazing to witness the reactions of attendees after not seeing each other in years, and we love all the new memories that were created as we brought together members of our alumni community while cheering on our NC Knights.”

“It was great to see and meet so many Niagara College Knights alumni,” said Michele O’Keefe, associate director of Athletics and Recreation. “With basketball the focus on Friday, and Knights Hall of Fame induction of the 1999 and 2000 men’s volleyball teams on Saturday, the camaraderie ignited a flood of memories and storytelling. Our current student-athletes felt the pride in the gym for basketball and volleyball.”

Funds raised from ReuKnighted ticket sales support scholarships and bursaries NC.

ReuKnighted: Former Knights to reunite at Niagara College for alumni tailgate on Friday, Nov. 1

Niagara College is gearing up to welcome the spirit and enthusiasm of former Knights at the Welland Campus for ReuKnighted, the first alumni reunion of its kind. The weekend will kick off with a tailgate on Friday afternoon followed by a Knights basketball game, with festivities continuing into Saturday.

Tickets are still available and alumni are welcome to register for the event this Friday.

Former Knights athletes and alumni from NC’s Broadcasting – Radio Television and Film, and Sport Management programs, will come together for an exclusive tailgate party with appetizers and refreshments beginning at 4:30 p.m. in The Core, hosted by the Alumni Relations team. The indoor tailgate will be followed by the men’s and women’s basketball home-opener games in NC’s Athletic Centre. An after-party featuring entertainment will follow.

“We’re excited to welcome alumni back to Niagara College,” said Michele O’Keefe, associate director, Athletics and Recreation. “Alumni are integral to NC Knights tradition and ReuKnighted is our way to celebrate and engage them.”

The reunion weekend will continue into Saturday with the National Scholar Brunch and Hall of Fame induction in the morning, followed by a volleyball double-header in the afternoon. Tickets include game admission for both the Friday basketball and Saturday volleyball games.

“ReuKnighted is a great opportunity for alumni to come back to campus and reconnect with former classmates, teammates, faculty, and friends of Niagara College,” said Jana Boniferro, NC alumni engagement officer. “We’re very excited to host members of our alumni community and look forward to getting ‘reuKnighted’ as we help cheer on our NC Knights.”

ReuKnighted is a family-friendly, ticketed event, and a chance to reconnect with former classmates and teammates. Registration is open at niagaracollege.ca/alumnirelations/reuknighted.

The first 100 alumni to register will receive a special gift – an NC-branded alumni scarf – courtesy of Alumni Relations. All event proceeds support scholarships and bursaries for student athletes.

Being the first alumni reunion of its kind, NC is considering future events to engage the wider alumni community, numbering over 90,000 worldwide.

 

ReuKnighted: Former Knights to reunite at Niagara College for alumni tailgate on Friday, Nov. 1

Niagara College is gearing up to welcome the spirit and enthusiasm of former Knights at the Welland Campus for ReuKnighted, the first alumni reunion of its kind. The weekend will kick off with a tailgate on Friday afternoon followed by a Knights basketball game, with festivities continuing into Saturday.

Tickets are still available and alumni are welcome to register for the event this Friday.

Former Knights athletes and alumni from NC’s Broadcasting – Radio Television and Film, and Sport Management programs, will come together for an exclusive tailgate party with appetizers and refreshments beginning at 4:30 p.m. in The Core, hosted by the Alumni Relations team. The indoor tailgate will be followed by the men’s and women’s basketball home-opener games in NC’s Athletic Centre. An after-party featuring entertainment will follow.

“We’re excited to welcome alumni back to Niagara College,” said Michele O’Keefe, associate director, Athletics and Recreation. “Alumni are integral to NC Knights tradition and ReuKnighted is our way to celebrate and engage them.”

The reunion weekend will continue into Saturday with the National Scholar Brunch and Hall of Fame induction in the morning, followed by a volleyball double-header in the afternoon. Tickets include game admission for both the Friday basketball and Saturday volleyball games.

“ReuKnighted is a great opportunity for alumni to come back to campus and reconnect with former classmates, teammates, faculty, and friends of Niagara College,” said Jana Boniferro, NC alumni engagement officer. “We’re very excited to host members of our alumni community and look forward to getting ‘reuKnighted’ as we help cheer on our NC Knights.”

ReuKnighted is a family-friendly, ticketed event, and a chance to reconnect with former classmates and teammates. Registration is open at niagaracollege.ca/alumnirelations/reuknighted.

The first 100 alumni to register will receive a special gift – an NC-branded alumni scarf – courtesy of Alumni Relations. All event proceeds support scholarships and bursaries for student athletes.

Being the first alumni reunion of its kind, NC is considering future events to engage the wider alumni community, numbering over 90,000 worldwide.

 

On-air personality and NC alumna Amy Audibert to return for ReuKnighted

Television host, reporter, colour analyst, basketball coach – Amy Audibert wears many hats.

An alumna from Niagara College’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film (2012), Audibert returned home to study in Niagara after nearly a decade as a student and basketball player at the University of Miami. Today, Audibert – a Niagara Falls native – is well-respected in the world of sports media, having graced the networks of CBS Sports, NBATV, and NBATV Canada, among others, with her vibrant on-air persona. After years playing basketball with the Miami Hurricanes, her favourite place to be is on the court and in front of the camera.

It wasn’t until her homecoming that she realized that her passion for sport media and journalism had career potential. “When I found myself back home in Niagara, I started looking into the BRTF program,” said Audibert. “It didn’t take long to realize how fortunate I was to have a program of this caliber available locally.”

Audibert was a standout in her BRTF class, thriving in mobile productions and craving any opportunity to work on her on-air delivery. Her most memorable moment as an NC student? Helping to produce nation-wide coverage alongside her classmates for the NC-hosted 2011 CCAA Women’s Basketball Championships.

With her years of experience playing centre, Audibert took on the role of assistant coach with the Knights women’s basketball team in 2011-12 and the men’s basketball team in 2018-19 under head coach Phil Mosley. “There is no question that the Niagara College Knights set a high bar for their student athletes, but through the hard work of the students, coaches and administration there is unlimited potential to excel in the gym, classroom and for years to follow.”

“My time at NC really laid the foundation for my current broadcasting career. I was provided with a fantastic education but also built some great relationships with classmates and professors that I still lean on. The BRFT program is one of the most respected in Canada and there is truly something special when getting to work with fellow NC alumni in the field.”

Of her BRTF professors, Audibert cites Peter ‘Dutch’ Vandenberg as “one of my greatest mentors,” citing his encouragement of the many students who found success in the industry.

Audibert’s secret to success? Hard work and great mentors. “The best thing you can do – especially when cracking into an industry – is to put in the work and earn respect early and often. People recognize hard workers; that is always in our own control.”

On November 1, Audibert will be among the NC alumni who will take part in the inaugural ReuKnighted, a celebratory reunion event. “I am so excited to come back to NC and connect with friends, both new and old. I am most looking forward to spending time in my favourite place – the basketball gym – on a Friday evening to cheer on the Knights.”

Join us on November 1 to reconnect with former classmates and teammates. To register for ReuKnighted, visit: niagaracollege.ca/alumnirelations/reuknighted. Proceeds from ticket sales support scholarships and bursaries for NC student-athletes.

 

 

Staff announcement: Development and Alumni Relations

A message from Wendy Dueck, director, Development and Alumni Relations:

I’m delighted to announce that Erica Walters joined our Development & Alumni Relations team on October 21 as our new development officer – Scholarships & Bursaries. In this role, Erica is responsible for cultivating and stewarding relationships with new and existing donors to support fundraising for scholarships and bursaries, helping to ensure ongoing financial support is available for our students. Erica is taking over this role from Helen Armstrong who retired in August.

Erica comes to us from the Brock University where she has been a Major Gifts Officer with the Advancement team. Erica was responsible for managing a major gift portfolio of almost 200 donors and prospective donors, building relationships and engaging donors in the life of the university to support priority fundraising needs, while helping donors fulfill their personal philanthropic goals.

Prior to that, Erica spent more than five years as the community engagement & development officer for McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Niagara Regional Campus, where she managed donor development, alumni relations, community engagement, marketing, communications, and events for the Niagara Regional Campus.

Erica also worked at Niagara College from 2010-12, supporting the dean of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute as a communications and business development officer, and has worked in marketing with Niagara Economic Development.

Erica is very community minded and dedicates significant personal service on the Board of Director’s of several local not-for-profit organizations, and has been recognized with a 40-under-40 award.

Please join me in welcoming Erica!

Staff announcement: Development and Alumni Relations

A message from Wendy Dueck, director, Development and Alumni Relations:

I’m delighted to announce that Erica Walters joined our Development & Alumni Relations team on October 21 as our new development officer – Scholarships & Bursaries. In this role, Erica is responsible for cultivating and stewarding relationships with new and existing donors to support fundraising for scholarships and bursaries, helping to ensure ongoing financial support is available for our students. Erica is taking over this role from Helen Armstrong who retired in August.

Erica comes to us from the Brock University where she has been a Major Gifts Officer with the Advancement team. Erica was responsible for managing a major gift portfolio of almost 200 donors and prospective donors, building relationships and engaging donors in the life of the university to support priority fundraising needs, while helping donors fulfill their personal philanthropic goals.

Prior to that, Erica spent more than five years as the community engagement & development officer for McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Niagara Regional Campus, where she managed donor development, alumni relations, community engagement, marketing, communications, and events for the Niagara Regional Campus.

Erica also worked at Niagara College from 2010-12, supporting the dean of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute as a communications and business development officer, and has worked in marketing with Niagara Economic Development.

Erica is very community minded and dedicates significant personal service on the Board of Director’s of several local not-for-profit organizations, and has been recognized with a 40-under-40 award.

Please join me in welcoming Erica!

Globe and Mail: Meet the country’s next top chefs

Alumnus from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Benjamin Lillico, has been named among Canada’s next top chefs.

Lillico, who is the now the executive chef at Holt Renfrew’s new flagship location in Toronto, was featured in a Globe and Mail article posted on October 11, ‘Canada’s Kitchen: 2019 edition, Meet the country’s next top chefs.’

A graduate of NC’s Culinary Management, and Bachelor of Applied Business and Hospitality programs (2014), Lillico was a member and former captain of Junior Culinary Team Canada, which was comprised of students and recent grads of NC’s CFWI from 2013 to 2016.

The team was among 20 junior national culinary teams from around the world to compete at the IKA / Culinary Olympics in Octobr 2016 where they won a gold and a silver medal . In November 2014, the team won a gold and silver medal and ranked fifth overall at the Expogast Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. In August 2015, the team captured a gold and silver medal and the overall championship title at the American Culinary Classic in Orlando, Florida.

Lillico was also named among the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 Under 30 Rising Stars in 2015.

View the October 11  Globe and Mail article here.

NC nominates seven outstanding alumni for 2019 Premier’s Awards

They’ve each built successful careers in their own respective fields – a corporate chef, a filmmaker, a professor, a CEO, an athletic trainer, an entrepreneur, and a hotelier. Together, they are now among a select group of Niagara College alumni to enter the provincial spotlight as prestigious award nominees.

Niagara College has nominated seven members of its alumni community for 2019 Ontario Premier’s Awards. Presented annually by Colleges Ontario, the Premier’s Awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of college alumni in Ontario and throughout the world. Awards are presented in seven categories: Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

Niagara College’s 2019 Premier’s Awards nominees:

Apprenticeship – Todd Clarmo

Corporate executve chef, Charcoal Group of Restaurants (Burlington), and graduate of NC’s Chef Apprentice program (1986)

An award-winning executive chef, Todd Clarmo (Milton) has studied the art of cuisine in world-class, Michelin-starred restaurants globally. Recruited for exceptional start-up skills, Clarmo opened 14 restaurants including the famous Canoe Restaurant in Toronto. Chef Clarmo is currently in command of food operations for all eight restaurants under the Charcoal Group of Restaurants and spent over a decade working with Toronto Taste, a celebrated culinary extravaganza supporting Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity. In 2019, Clarmo cooked alongside Jamie Kennedy at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, a testament to his exceptional culinary skills.

Business – Tim Hansing 

Founder and CEO of Red Planet Hotels, and graduate of NC’s Hotel and Restaurant Administration program (1987)

Tim Hansing (Thailand) is a seasoned hotelier, co-founder and president of Red Planet Hotels (RPH) and has built 30 hotels in four countries, redefining the value hotel experience in Asia, the world’s fastest growing travel market. Attaining over $280 million in investments since 2010 and achieving $50 million in revenue in 2018, Hansing has consistently grown RPH, while leveraging its success to help make a difference in the communities it serves. Whether creating a community-welfare project that boosts education opportunities for underprivileged children, or empowering his employees to actively clean oceans and coastlines, Hansing believes firmly in giving back.

Community Services – Kevin Rempel

Founder and CEO, The Sledge Hockey Experience, and graduate of NC’s Event Management (2009) and Business Administration Marketing (2005) programs

Kevin Rempel (Toronto) is a retired world-class sledge hockey Paralympian with four medals including three World Championships and a Team Canada 2014 Paralympic bronze medal. He is a former freestyle motocross competitor, author, corporate motivational speaker, and founder/CEO of The Sledge Hockey Experience. Rempel reinvented himself as an entrepreneur after a motocross accident left him as an incomplete paraplegic in 2006 and has since devoted his career to making the world a better place for people with disabilities. He helps individuals and organizations unlock new perspectives about the disabled community, while creating an inclusive culture where everyone can embrace change.

Creative Arts and Design – Christopher Bessette 

Writer, producer, director, New Reformation Pictures, and graduate of NC’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program (1984)

During his 36-year career as a writer/director/producer, Christopher Bessette (Niagara) has logged over a thousand hour s of produced broadcast television and film, receiving multiple awards including three Best Director awards for his feature films. Fulfilling his passion to tell powerful stories that make an impact, Bessette’s Trade of Innocents is a raw representation of the work done on the front lines against human trafficking. The film, which stars actors Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney, raised global awareness about the issue and was a catalyst in raising funds that contributed to the rescue and rehabilitation of human trafficked women and children. In September 2019, Bessette also won Best Screenplay for his epic television series pilot Prophets & Kings at the Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival (CIFF) in Toronto. Bessette is also a part-time faculty member at Niagara College. He currently teaches two courses: Dramatic Scriptwriting, and Directing for the Screen.

Health Sciences – Sarah Moore, PhD

Full-time professor, Douglas College, and graduate of NC’s Therapeutic Recreation program (2003)

Sarah Moore, PhD, (Maple Ridge, British Columbia) is an award-winning, internationally recognized professor participating in life-altering research to help understand barriers to and benefits of play and physical activity in children with and without disabilities and their families. She has an interest in tracking healthy lifestyle behaviours from childhood through adulthood believing that several adult conditions have pediatric antecedents and targeted early interventions can reduce the likelihood, or delay the onset of, these conditions and improve quality of life. As a mother of two boys, she has instilled community service in both by demonstrating commitment to her community through volunteerism and fundraising efforts.

Recent Graduate – Matrixx Ferreira

Founder and CEO, Iron Performance Center, and graduate of NC’s Exercise Science program (2015)

Matrixx Ferreira (Niagara) is an accomplished athlete and founder of Iron Performance Center (IPC), a top-rated, world-class facility built on his relentless pursuit of knowledge with practical application to ensure the success of his athletes and clients. As head strength coach, Ferreira trains athletes looking to achieve global success. Whether helping an elite competitor on a national team obtain a medal on a global stage, helping a high school athlete achieve his dream of getting into an ivy-league school, or encouraging women to get active through its Lift Like a Girl seminar, IPC is impacting lives all over the world.

Technology – Sandro Perruzza

CEO, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, and graduate of Environmental Management program (1995)

A steadfast leader and a voice for over 15,000 members of the engineering profession as the CEO of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, Sandro Perruzza (Oakville) supports the evolving needs of the industry by advocating with governments, offering valued member services and providing ongoing learning and networking opportunities. A committed volunteer, Perruzza actively sits on multiple boards to share expertise and advocate for change in the industry. His volunteer efforts included lobbying for the Pay Transparency Act, which achieved unprecedented pay equity at multiple pay levels for female engineers in Ontario when it was enacted in 2018.

Ontario Premier’s Awards

Nominations were submitted from each of Ontario’s 24 community colleges, with 118 nominees overall for the 2019 awards. Nominees will be celebrated and winners will be announced at a gala event on December 2, as part of the Colleges Ontario Higher Education Summit in Toronto.

Over the years, several Niagara College alumni have been recognized with Premier’s Awards, including:

  • 2014 winner Royal Canadian Navy Capt. Rebecca Patterson (Nursing grad, 1987);
  • 2012 winner David Pratt (Greenhouse Technician grad, 2007);
  • 2011 winner Jerry Howell (Computer Engineering Technology grad, 1988);
  • 2008 winner Jordan Harris (Winery and Viticulture Technician grad, 2004);
  • 2003 winner Heather Kilty (Social Welfare Worker grad, 1969); and
  • 1995 winner Carol Alaimo (Journalism-Print grad, 1984).

For information about the Premier’s Awards and 2019 nominees, visit www.co-awards.org/

Golf Classic is a hole in one for NC student athletes

Over 160 golfers spent a day on the green helping to raise an incredible $54,000 at the 18th annual Niagara College Golf Classic.

The sold-out event, held on Tuesday, September 17 at Peninsula Lakes Golf Club, raised funds in support of scholarships and bursaries for NC student-athletes.

Lequan Cseri-Hylton, a member of the men’s basketball team and general business student, spoke to participants about the impact that donor-funded scholarships and bursaries have for student-athletes who work hard on and off the court.

“On behalf of the entire athletic family at Niagara College, we are incredibly grateful for the community’s financial support throughout the school year,” said Cseri-Hylton. “This support impacts the lives of student-athletes tremendously, providing aid for tuition, books, groceries, bills, and other costly expenses.”

In addition to raising funds for scholarships and bursaries, the event also provided nearly 30 student volunteers with practical program-related experience. Students from NC’s event management program gained hands-on experience helping with logistics at the tournament, paramedic students offered blood pressure checks, esthetician students provided mini hand massages and athletes from the NC Knights varsity golf team provided clinic instruction to golfers before they teed off.

Participants were also treated to the best in food and beverage that NC has to offer. Lunch was provided by NC’s Bench-on-the-Go food truck and a selection of wine, ale, lager and cider tastings was offered from NC’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery.

To round off the NC experience, representatives from NC Research & Innovation, Sustainability and Career Services gave an overview of their current initiatives and projects.

The event concluded with a buffet dinner and awards ceremony where top golfers and winners of the tournament’s various competitions, including a putting challenge, longest drive competition, beat the NC student-athlete and a closest to the NC Keg competition, were honoured.

The tournament was supported by several sponsors including:

  • Presenting Sponsors: Rankin Construction and TD Insurance;
  • Presenting Media Sponsor: Niagara Dailies – St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, and Welland Tribune;
  • Ace Sponsor: CIBC;
  • Eagle Sponsors: Campus Living Centres, Chartwells, Commercial Cleaning Services, Cooper Wealth Management, and Meridian.

Save the date for the 19th annual Golf Classic on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Where are they now? Find out here:

In addition to providing solutions to business and key industry partners through applied research projects and technical services, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division also supports the development of hundreds of students and graduates each year. We wanted to share the success stories of these NC graduates who have put their innovative and specialized knowledge into action in new, exciting careers.

To celebrate their post-NC successes, we have launched a new section of our website filled with profiles, called Alumni.

These NC alumni all share something in common: they’ve all been part of the Research & Innovation team, having the opportunity to work alongside expert faculty, staff and industry partners, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology, and equipment – all to prepare them for real-world professions.

Each has spent time as either a co-op Research Assistant or as a graduate hired as a Research Associate, and all in diverse roles across R&I’s division, conducting applied research or technical services for industry partners from the food and beverage, agriculture and environment, advanced manufacturing, business and commercialization, and digital media sectors.

They were able to interact with industry partners to help develop prototypes, evaluate new technologies, improve products and processes and create new recipes. They had the opportunity to work on real-life applied research projects and technical services, with real-life deadlines, budgets, and deliverables.

For Justin Vigneux, from the Renewable Energy Technician program, the experience in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre helped prepare him in all his positions since graduating from NC in 2013. “It was the first chance that I had to experience project-based employment where we had to sit and meet on a regular basis to keep everyone on the team up-to-date,” says Vigneux. “It also introduced me to things like budgeting, deadlines, and experimental troubleshooting.”

More recently, Ankita Mathkar, a 2018 graduate of the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program, says she learned what research and development was like in the “real world” from her time at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre. “R&I was a fast-paced place to work, with all the projects coming in and deadlines sneaking up daily,” she says. “Most importantly, I was able to make connections with various influential people and suppliers that still come in handy.”

We invite you to spend some time and learn where these graduates have gone on to pursue. As you’ll read, there’s unanimous agreement that, in addition to their education, the real-world experience gained at R&I has played a pivotal role in preparing them in their current careers. Some were hired by the very industry partner they worked with while at R&I, while others took their knowledge base to the dream job in their field.

To the current and future R&I alumni, we encourage you to GET IN TOUCH with us and share your success story!