The CEO of a major retail chain has joined a hospital president, a high-tech veteran, a community non-profit leader, a popular drag queen/pop star, a development technologist, and an automotive technical trainer as part of a select group of distinguished NC alumni to be nominated for prestigious Premier’s Awards.
The group represents the first cohort of Niagara College’s annual Alumni of Excellence honourees. Introduced this year, the annual program recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of a distinct group of NC alumni through a series of on-campus programs and events and is the most significant recognition of NC graduates.
The Alumni of Excellence honourees have also been put forward for provincial recognition, as nominees for Colleges Ontario’s 2023 Premier’s Awards, which celebrate outstanding contributions that college alumni make to Ontario and the world.
Nominations are submitted from each of Ontario’s 24 colleges in seven categories: Apprenticeship, Business, Creative Arts and Design, Community Services, Health Sciences, Technology and Recent Graduate (within five years). NC’s 2023 nominees include:
- Christine White (Apprenticeship) Lead Technical Trainer, Stellantis N.V. (NC Auto Service Technician grad, 2006);
- Jason Ofield (Business), President and Chief Executive Officer, Bulk Barn Foods Limited (NC Business, Sales and Marketing grad, 2006);
- Mark Carl (Community Services) CEO, Habitat for Humanity Niagara (Business Administration – Marketing grad 1997, and International Trade grad, 1997);
- Mark Suknanan/Priyanka (Creative Arts and Design), Drag Queen, pop star and television personality (NC Broadcasting – Radio Television and Film grad, 2012);
- Dorothy Urschel (Health Sciences) President and CEO, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Clinical Professor, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo (Nursing grad, 1991);
- Jessica Garrett (Recent Graduate) Development Technologist, City of Niagara Falls (NC Carpentry and Renovation Techniques grad, 2015, and Construction Engineering Technology grad, 2019);
- John Zambakkides (Technology) President and CEO, Z3 Controls Inc. (Power Engineering diploma, 1972).
“From leading health care institutions and building cross-country retail chains, to working tirelessly to solve housing inequities and diversify the skilled trades, NC grads are at the vanguard of making change and leading our communities,” said Gord Arbeau, Niagara College’s Vice President, Advancement. “This cohort of distinguished Alumni of Excellence reflects NC students and graduates who are making the world and our region better places to work and live. They join past generations of alumni impacting our lives today and in the future.”
Colleges Ontario’s 2023 Premier’s Awards will be presented on November 27 at the Sheraton in Toronto. Nominees will be honoured and winners will be announced at an annual gala event, which is part of the Colleges Ontario Higher Education Summit.
NC alumni who have won previously include:
- 2022: Journalist Murray Brewster (Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film grad, 1985), and Founder of Erica’s Embrace, Erica Williams (Social Service Worker grad, 2018);
- 2014: Royal Canadian Navy Capt. Rebecca Patterson (Nursing grad, 1987);
- 2012: David Pratt (Greenhouse Technician grad, 2007);
- 2011: Jerry Howell (Computer Engineering Technology grad, 1988);
- 2008: Jordan Harris (Winery and Viticulture Technician grad, 2004);
- 2003: Heather Kilty (Social Welfare Worker grad, 1969);
- 1995: Carol Alaimo (Journalism-Print grad, 1984).
Niagara College has an alumni community of more than 120,000 – and growing. Visit niagaracollege.ca/alumnirelations.
Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 11,000 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at niagaracollege.ca.
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