Seven Niagara College alumni up for 2022 Premier’s Awards


Published November 25, 2022 at 11:41 am

Seven members of Niagara College's alumni community have been nominated for 2022 Colleges Ontario Premier's Awards (clockwise from top left): Matt Vandermolen, Monique Belair, Anthony Spiteri, Derek Christensen, Christine White, Murray Brewster, and Erica Williams. (Photo: Niagara College)

While six Niagara College grads have won Colleges Ontario Premier’s Awards in the past, this year’s nominations sees seven former students from both the Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland campuses on the list.

That is likely the most lop-sided number of graduates ever to grace the nominee list.

This year’s nominees feature people who have really made a difference in their communities since graduation.

They include a trailblazing fire chief who inspires young girls to enter fire services; a multi-award-winning journalist who has reported from the front lines of conflicts around the world; a dedicated social service worker who supports Black women across Southwestern Ontario and a caring healthcare professional dedicated to mental health and addictions services in Niagara.

“We are incredibly proud of our amazing NC alumni community, of more than 100,000 graduates, and their impactful contributions to their professions and communities,” said college President Sean Kennedy.

“Our 2022 Premier’s Awards nominees are exemplary members of our alumni community who are making a difference throughout Niagara, across Ontario and around the world.”

Presented annually by Colleges Ontario, the Premier’s Awards honour the important social and economic contributions of Ontario college graduates in seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

Niagara College’s 2022 Premier’s Award nominees include:

  • Apprenticeship: Christine White (New York), Lead Technical Trainer, Stellantis N.V., has revved up success in a traditionally male-dominated field and helped revolutionize how technicians stay in line with cutting-edge knowledge in the auto sector. White graduated from NC’s Automotive Certificate of Qualifications in 2006.
  • Business: Anthony Spiteri (Burlington), President and Chief Commercial Officer, Freshstone Brands Inc., graduated from NC’s Business Administration – Marketing Management program in 1989 and received a Distinguished Alumni award from NC in June 2018. Spiteri worked his way up the ‘food chain’ from being the first student from his college to land a co-op role at Maple Leaf Foods, to a highly successful career with more than 30 years of experience in North America’s food space.
  • Community Services: Monique Belair (Belleville), Director of Emergency Services and Fire Chief, City of Belleville, graduated from NC’s Law and Security Administration program in 1985. Belair has not only blazed trails in her fire services career during the past three decades, she has made it her mission to empower and educate young women to do the same, as Founder of Camp Molly.
  • Creative Arts and Design: Murray Brewster (Ottawa), Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Policy Reporter, CBC News. Since he graduated from NC’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program in 1985, Brewster has built a world-class career which has helped Canadians, as well as victims of conflict around the world. The award-winning journalist was recognized as with a Niagara College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017.
  • Health Sciences: Derek Christensen (Niagara), Regional Educator Mental Health and Addictions Services, Niagara Health, graduated from Nursing in 1991. Christensen is a decorated and caring health-care professional, with more than 31 years of experience as clinician, manager and educator in mental health and addictions. As a Captain with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, Canadian Forces Reserve Army, he has also has participated in training exercises throughout North America, and he was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to Canada in 2012.
  • Recent Graduate :Erica Williams (Niagara), is the Founder and CEO of Erica’s Embrace Support Services, which gathers and distributes Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters across Southwestern Ontario. Since she graduated from the college’s Social Service Worker program in 2018, she has been a dedicated social service worker and non-profit entrepreneur, who has created a necessary and otherwise overlooked support services for racialized individuals.
  • Technology: Matt Vandermolen (Toronto), Vice-President, Portfolio Lead – E-Commerce, Valtech, who graduated from NC’s Computer Programmer and Interactive Media programs in 2006 and has built a successful career using technology to improve the lives of everyone from bankers to winemakers to parents of children with learning disabilities.
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