Georgian College celebrates resiliency, innovation, and student champions

The Georgian College Board of Governors recognized an exceptional group of employees, alumni and community partners

from Georgian College

The Georgian College Board of Governors recognized an exceptional group of employees, alumni and community partners during a virtual ceremony this afternoon. Every year the board hosts its Awards of Distinction, honouring those who’ve made an outstanding contribution to Georgian.

This year’s impressive group of recipients went above and beyond to support the college and its students, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main highlights of the ceremony was the Team Award. For the first time in Georgian’s history, all employees received the award, with 12 other teams granted honourable mention.

“We were proud to grant all employees the Team Award. The award recognizes the incredible innovation, perseverance and outstanding commitment to excellence all Georgian employees demonstrated this year. Together, they accomplished amazing outcomes while facilitating the best teaching, learning, service and working environment possible,” said Board Chair Paul Larche.

The board recognized five individuals and organizations with a Community Partner Award. Andrew Ojamae, President and CEO of AutoIQ Dealership Network and an alumnus of Georgian’s Business Administration Automotive Marketing program, has been a strong supporter of the college since graduating in 2002.

Under Ojamae’s leadership, the company recently launched the AutoIQ Leadership Academy. Through an online portal, Georgian’s Automotive Business School of Canada students can view and apply for top-notch co-op
positions with 17 automotive dealerships throughout central and southern Ontario. Successful applicants are paired with an industry mentor to assist them through their educational journey and transition to their career. In addition, AutoIQ offers part-time employment for students who can balance work with their studies.

Bombardier Recreation Products Inc. (BRP) was recognized for providing ongoing support to Georgian through the Can-Am Rider Education Program. BRP recognized the need for three-wheeled vehicle training at a time where none was offered.

Georgian and BRP, in conjunction with a local dealer, spent a year developing this program to receive approval and signing authority to license through the Ministry of Transportation. Georgian has supplied the curriculum to other colleges wishing to provide this training and licensing with the support of BRP.

Honda of Canada Manufacturing and Honda Canada Foundation were honoured for close to two decades of support. In 2019 they announced a $1.8-million donation in cash and in-kind to Georgian as part of a multi-faceted partnership.

They’ve provided students with over $20,000 in scholarships every year and offer summer employment and co-op opportunities. They’ve also committed to ensuring students learn on leading-edge equipment through numerous capital and gift-in-kind donations. Their most recent donation of $750,000 to purchase equipment will benefit over 30 program areas and 3,000 diploma and degree students. Among other support, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they donated two Honda Civics to Georgian’s Owen Sound Campus for use in the new auto mechanic apprenticeship program.

Georgian Bay General Hospital was recognized for providing invaluable learning opportunities for students to integrate knowledge into practice, meet the entry requirements needed to achieve registration as a healthcare professional, and be practice-ready as future members of the interprofessional team. They’ve been a long-standing community partner for over 20 years, providing clinical learning opportunities for students from multiple programs. This past summer, they partnered with Georgian to create a telehealth initiative. Students were paired with seniors in the community dealing with pandemic-related social isolation.

Additionally, Rob Smith, Community Program Manager for CLH Developmental Services, received a Community Partner Award. Smith and CLH have been partners with Georgian for the past few years, consistently progressive in supporting students through a variety of engagements – from providing insight as a member of the program advisory committee for the Developmental Services Worker program to co-developing unique student learning experiences.

Smith is one of the first community partners to help and participate in programming led by the Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, and subsequently bringing those concepts, learnings and tools to other community agencies and departments within Georgian as a means of increasing knowledge for all.

“The support our community partners provide is incredibly valuable to the success of our students and was more appreciated than ever during this challenging year,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian’s President and CEO. “All five of our recipients are deeply invested in partnering with us to provide our students with access to high-quality education and innovative learning experiences. Together, we’re ensuring students have the skills and mindset they need to be innovators and leaders in their field and compassionate citizens who will define and influence a better future for us all.”

Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to two graduates who have made a significant contribution in their field while serving as a college ambassador. The first was awarded to Chief Donna Big Canoe. She’s a trailblazer, community volunteer and important voice for Indigenous communities.

She’s also a double Georgian graduate, receiving a certificate in General Arts and Science in 1995 and a diploma in Native Education – Community and Social Development in 1998. Among many achievements, Big Canoe was elected the first female chief of the Chippewas of Georgina Island in 2007, at age 31, and continues to serve as Chief. She has been involved in the historical court settlements of two major treaties, the Coldwater Treaty and the Williams Treaty. In 2012, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and in 2013, the YMCA Peace Medallion.

Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO, St. Lawrence College, was also presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award. After beginning his postsecondary education at Georgian with a Business – Accounting diploma, Vollebregt went on to support thousands of postsecondary students through his work in the Ontario college sector. He speaks fondly of his time as a Georgian student, and credits his Georgian education for laying the foundation for his career.

Under his leadership, some of his significant achievements at St. Lawrence includes the installation of a $1-million clinical simulation lab; and completing the final stages of the college’s largest-ever expansion, a $42-million construction project that included The Centre for Behavioural Studies and the Student Life and Innovation Centre.

Three Georgian employees – Renée Ferguson, Samantha Marinner and Chris Varney – were recognized with Awards of Excellence for their superior achievements supporting teaching and learning.