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A golden Algonquin College convocation

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


Algonquin College's Class of 2017 received a few words of encouragement from a former prime minister as the storied institution marked its golden year convocation.

Taking their first steps as the leaders of tomorrow, 200 proud and beaming graduates from the Pembroke Campus ended years of study and hard work as they received their diplomas in front of family, friends and faculty during ceremonies at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. This 50th anniversary convocation was much memorable thanks to the college's special guest, Paul Martin, the 21st prime minister of Canada.

“We are not captive to the inevitable,” said Martin during his keynote address to the graduates. “We can change the future. You can change the future.”

There was a round of applause as the robed graduates from a diverse slate of trades programs, ranging from nursing and social worker to forestry technician and business administration, headed up to the stage to receive those precious college diplomas. Delivering her remarks, Algonquin College president Cheryl Jensen congratulated the collegians and challenged them to go out and make a difference in the world.

“Your work here at Algonquin has given you the skills to succeed in this rapidly changing world,” said Jensen. “You have the resilience and you have the grit to not only survive anything this world throws your way but to be the architect of your future.”

In her valedictory address, Holly Mortensen, a graduate of the personal support worker program, praised the college for its remarkable 50 years of offering personal and academic growth opportunities adding they all chose Algonquin as their ticket to success.

“We are graduating today because we chose a goal and we persevered with drive, passion, and dertermination,” Mortensen told her fellow graduates. “We chose to catch a dream that was just a shadow in our minds years ago, and to pursue it no matter how many times we were frustrated or presented with obstacles to overcome.”

The valedictorian recounted that it has not been an easy college journey. Some had to move far from their homes to attend Algonquin. Others had to struggle to form new friendships, or deal with heartaches, homesickness, or coped with the military deployment of loved ones. However, Mortensen said they were blessed to have a caring college family with faculty and staff who always offered an open door. While their Algonquin experience better prepared them to build their future, the valedictorian had some parting advice.

“Never apologize for your creativity, passion, and drive,” she said. “We are blessed to live in a country as beautiful as Canada, where we are free to grow as unique individuals and aspire to be whatever our hearts' desire. Today marks a journey with no particular destination, an open road lies before us and no matter how far, or in what direction we travel upon it, we will never lose sight of our experience here at Algonquin College.”

Among the major award recipients, Sarah Broeze was presented with Annual Award for Excellence. This award is given to the student who has combined outstanding academic achievement with demonstrated leadership ability and community participation. Jennifer Kenmir received the Robert C. Gillett Leadership Award, which is given to the student who demonstrates exemplary volunteer leadership to the overall Algonquin College student experience. Michael Fielding received the Alumni Association Award.

Recipients of awards are as follows: General Proficiency Award for Nursing – Corrin Wiebe; Lois Chahill Memorial Award – Katrina Smith; Children's Garden Literary Award – Tamara Kirby; Renfrew County Early Childhood Education Program Directors' Award – Frances Perreault; Wise Owl Day Care Award – Peyton Hart; Ontario Provincial Police Service Award – Blayne Commanda; Police Foundations Program Award – Mary Rowe.

Roy Reiche Award – Johnathan Rice; TestReadyPro Police Recruit Candidate of the Year Award – Don Allison; L.A. Nienkirchen Award – Terran Chaput; RPNAO Award for Student Excellence – Erin Lomore; W.T. “Eldon” Craig Memorial Award – Amanda Kuipers; General Arts and Science Program Award – Erin Morley; Personal Support Worker Program Award – Megan Grife and Rebecca Nagora; Pat Hern Excellence in Palliative Care Award – Christal Hoffman; Canadian Nuclear Society Award – Alexandra Comeau and Philip Freire.

Dean-Sinclair Chartered Professional Accountants' Award of Accounting and Small Business Finance - Robin McGregor; Kiwanis Award – Robin McGregor; Marketing Management Bursary Award – Robin McGregor; OACETT Award – James Norton; Environmental Technician Program Award – Emily Krutzelmann; Dr. D.A. Fraser Award – Russell Long; Keith Harold Wright Memorial Award – Alexander Emond; Benson Auto Parts Award – Nicholas Perron; Darwin Wendover Memorial Award – Sarah Broeze; NAPA Auto Parts Award – Christopher MacRae; Moncion Metro Award – Rachel Pecoskie; Vivian Schutt Office Administration – Executive Program Award – Emily Sandrelli.

Scott Rosien Black & Locke, Chartered Professional Accountants' Award – Tonya Sarazin; Outdoor Adventure Program Award – Cecilia Charles; Wilderness Tours Award of Excellence – Bryghton Levere; Outdoor Adventure Naturalist Program Award – Jennifer Kenmir; RONA Petawawa Award – Jordan Greene; Smitty's Home Hardware Award – Tim Hummel. 

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