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2022 Premier’s Awards: Meet NC’s seven stand-out alumni nominees

With an alumni community of more than 100,0000 grads, there is no shortage of outstanding candidates from Niagara College who are making a difference across the province and around the world.

Seven of them have been nominated for Colleges Ontario 2022 Premier’s Awards.   

NC’s 2022 Premier’s Award nominees are highlighted below. Each one of them is featured with a new Alumni Spotlight article in encores fall digital issue. And many of them are well-known to the College, with previous articles highlighting their career accomplishments or involvement with NC.

The 2022 nominees below are sure to boost your NC pride.

Be sure to cheer them on as they vie for the prestigious awards, with nominees from colleges across the province, culminating in an awards gala on November 28.

Christine White

Christine White – Apprenticeship

Graduate of Automotive Certificate of Qualifications, 2006

Lead Technical Trainer, Stellantis N.V.

Global automaker Stellantis hired White to oversee its major training facility near New York City. When pandemic lockdowns halted in-person teaching, she produced a couple of videos to sustain training. But her “temporary fix” was a huge hit — and people wanted more. To date, she has produced 140 training videos that are being used daily across the U.S.A. White revolutionized how an automaker can help technicians constantly update their knowledge and maintain high standards, which is crucial in a competitive, ever-evolving sector. 

View Alumni Spotlight here.

View White as one of encore’s 2021 Featured Alumni here:

Anthony Spiteri – Business

Anthony Spiteri

President and Chief Commercial Officer, Freshstone Brands Inc.

Graduate of Business Administration – Marketing Management, 1989

View Alumni Spotlight here.

From his humble beginnings as the first student from his college to land a co-op role at Maple Leaf Foods – the largest food processor in the country – to his current place as CEO of Freshstone Brands, Anthony Spiteri earned his place at the table. Spiteri has more than 30 years of experience within the North American lucrative food space, and his legacy includes turnarounds and growth in the millions before heading off to help the next brand. Never too busy to help revitalize his local downtown through economic stimulants that support various charities, Spiteri continues to push the boundaries.

Spiteri received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College in June 2018 at Spring Convocation, where he was also the guest speaker who gave the morning convocation address on June 21, 2018. View Inside NC article here:

Monique Belair – Community Services

Monique Belair

Director of Emergency Services and Fire Chief, City of Belleville

Graduate of Law and Security Administration, 1985

View Alumni Spotlight here.

As the Director of Emergency Services and Fire chief for the City of Belleville, Belair has been a trailblazer for three decades. Getting her start as a pioneer in the Canadian Armed Forces as only one of five female firefighters, Belair is no stranger to advocating for female representation in a male-dominated field.  After rising through the ranks to reach the top rung, and this award-winning Fire Chief is a role model that empowers young women to consider fire services as a viable career. She is an unstoppable force with a legacy that will be carried on for generations to come.

Belair was also featured with a profile in encore in February 2021. View article here: Monique Belair: Firefighter, trailblazer, changemaker

Murray Brewster – Creative Arts and Design

Murray Brewster

Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Policy Reporter, CBC News

Graduate of Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film, 1985

View Alumni Spotlight here.

Murray Brewster is an exceptional example of a college graduate whose world-class career has benefited untold numbers of Canadians, as well as victims of conflict around the world.

Arguably the country’s most informed journalist on military-security matters, his consistent reporting for CBC News helps Canadians truly grasp their country’s ability to protect its sovereignty in this tense era of global wars and threatening geopolitical ambitions.

Brewster’s excellence and impact have been recognized by over a dozen prestigious national awards in his profession, as well as other significant recognitions. His work continues to inform and reassure many Canadians.

Brewster was also featured in encore’s print publication in spring 2017 (page 25-25). View alumni profile  here:

In June 2017, Brewster addressed more than 900 new graduates from the College’s School of Media, Trades and Tehcnology at Spring Convocation where he received NC’s Distinguished Alumni Award. View InsideNC post: Award-winning journalist Murray Brewster returns to alma mater for Spring Convocation

Derek Christensen

Derek Christensen – Health Sciences

Regional Educator Mental Health & Addictions Services, Niagara Health

Graduate of Nursing, 1991

View Alumni Spotlight here.

A decorated and caring health-care professional, Derek Christensen has more than 31 years of experience as clinician, manager and educator in mental health and addictions. He is a detail-oriented Regional Educator for mental health and addiction services at Niagara Health System, where he is responsible for research, development, implementation and evaluation of staff training and education surrounding mental health.

A Captain with the Lincoln & Welland Regiment, Canadian Forces Reserve Army, Christensen has participated in training exercises throughout North America. In 2012, he was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to Canada.

Erica Williams

Erica Williams – Recent Graduate

CEO, Erica’s Embrace Support Services

Social Service Worker, 2018

View Alumni Spotlight here.

A dedicated social service worker and savvy non-profit entrepreneur, Erica Williams created necessary and otherwise overlooked support services for racialized individuals since graduating with her diploma only four years ago. Through her organization, Erica’s Embrace Support Services, WIlliams and her team gather and distribute Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters across Southwestern Ontario. It is the only known service of this kind in the area. Her years in school and the various hands-on experiences she gained allowed her to see this gap in the field and gave her the push she needed to pursue such a meaningful venture.

Williams was also featured in encore’s Alumni News in May 2022 after she was a featured speaker for the College’s Ask an Alumni Anything virtual event series (held in April 2021). View it here:

Social Service Worker alumna Erica Williams embraces advocacy

Matt Vandermolen – Technology

Matt Vandermolen

Vice- President, Portfolio Lead – E-Commerce, Valtech

Graduate of Computer Programmer, 2006; and Interactive Media, 2006

View Alumni Spotlight here.

Matt Vandermolen was smart enough to not just realize he’d made a mistake in his initial career choice but to do something about it.

Abandoning university studies he pursued computer programming, which opened the door to a highly successful career using technology to improve the lives of everyone from bankers to winemakers to parents of children with learning disabilities.

Changing his own vocation not only played to his strengths and passion, but it also allowed him to mentor and inspire subsequent waves of young people to make the kinds of decisions that will help realize their life’s potential.

Premier’s Awards

Colleges Ontario Premier’s Awards honour the important social and economic contribution that Ontario college graduates make to Ontario and throughout the world.

Many of Ontario’s greatest contributors have a solid foundation in post-secondary education. The awards highlight some of these great builders, thinkers and leaders who have graduated from Ontario’s colleges and contributed in significant ways to the country’s economic prosperity and success.

Presented annually, the Premier’s Awards recognize graduates in the following seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate and Technology.

The awards were launched in 1992 and are administered by Colleges Ontario, the advocacy voice for the province’s 24 colleges

Colleges Ontario’s 2022 Premier’s Awards presentation will be held on November 28 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

Visit the Premier’s Awards website at