2012

Mark Runciman - Architectural Technology, 1977

2012 Business Recipient

Mark Runciman

Mark Runciman has been a long-standing employee at the RBG starting as Superintendent of Buildings and Equipment in 1984 and moving up in the organization becoming the CEO in 2009. Under the leadership of Mark, new funding arrangements have helped the organization in moving forward, enabling the RBG to continue to play its vitally important role as a living museum and major visitor attraction. Since Mark becoming CEO, the RBG has received several tourism, environmental and building related awards in the past five years. He has also had the pleasure of representing RBG at RBG Kew's 250th anniversary in London, England and meeting Her Majesty the Queen.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

To be honest, my original plan was to be an Architect and I applied to architectural programs at university, but I was turned down. Finances were another factor. So I checked around and heard that Mohawk College had an excellent Architectural Technology program so I applied to it and did not look back. The fact that it was a Co-op program made a big difference to me as well.

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

“Keep your nose to the grindstone”. I found this phrase appropriate during school and at work, meaning apply myself conscientiously to both. Work hard and keep focused on the job at hand.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

“Don’t leave your Texas Instrument – Scientific Calculator in your locker”. My uncle spent a fortune on this unit and it disappeared in less than a week.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

Years ago, my wife bought me a Homer Simpson t-shirt as her attempt at humour. At first blush, one wouldn’t think a childish, somewhat selfish, couch potato would be one to identify with, but the reality is, Homer embodies the life that most of us strive for. He balances work, his family, and personal life very well. At the end of the day, he loves his wife and kids and would do absolutely anything for them, which is the most important thing for a husband and father.

I admire him for the way he deals with everyday happenings by connecting them with a moral message and other societal issues, usually while wearing his reading glasses! This is very admirable.

I must admit that he makes me laugh, as I do see some similar traits.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

We’ve Only Just Begun – by the Carpenters

One Thing Leads to Another – by the Fixx

Life’s What You Make It – by Talk Talk

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

Snooze

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

Other than my wife and children:

My Mom

Alan Parson (Musician)

Gary Larson (Cartoonist)

Clint Eastwood (Actor)

Frank Lloyd Wright (Architect)

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

1. Hiring someone

2. Hiring someone

3. The individual.

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

The program is very diverse and covers many facets of the construction industry which present endless possibilities. Be prepared to work hard. Be outgoing, make friends and most importantly, have fun!

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

Mohawk College’s reputation and in particular the Architectural Technology program were certainly recognized in the community and as a result helped start my career quickly. I learned about project management; working with others; teamwork; building confidence; presentation skills and that working hard does pay off. All of these elements have helped me throughout my career.

Debbie Logel Butler - Early Childhood Education, 1981

2012 Community Services Recipient

Debbie Logel Butler

Debbie Logel Butler has enjoyed many successes in her career, leading up to her current role at Ronald McDonald House Hamilton where she recently led her team through a capital campaign to expand the House from 15 to 40 bedrooms. The campaign exceeded its $5 million fundraising goal by over $1 million within one year of its launch. She has been responsible for the revitalization of St. Peter’s Foundation fundraising activities and has also previously headed Mohawk College’s first-ever “Shape the Future” capital campaign surpassing their fundraising goal by half a million dollars. Debbie is also a strong member of the community, having been involved with many committees including the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction as a selection committee member, the Association For Healthcare Philanthropy and has been involved with multiple Mohawk Program Advisory Committees.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

At the time, my family was living in Owen Sound and Mohawk came highly recommended by the High School Guidance teacher. Also, many ECE teachers that I had met were graduates of Mohawk College

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

The importance of Life Long Learning, continue to seek out new learning opportunities whether it is in your workplace, your volunteer work, your community or with your family and friends.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Stay calm, smile and meet as many new people as possible because everyone is feeling the same way that you are on that first day of College.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

Wendy (Peter Pan)
The eldest child of the Darling family, who is sweet and polite usually, but she can show strength and steel when threatened. She will fight for her dreams and fight against growing up. She is a fantastic storyteller, telling her brothers of exciting Peter Pan tales.

Words to describe Wendy: imaginative, dreamer, polite, sweet, adventurous, mature, motherly, feisty

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Give a Little Bit- Supertramp
One- U2
I Hope you Dance – Lee Ann Womach

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

Catching up with friends either by phone, email or in person.

Linda Rourke - Broadcasting, Television and Communications Media, 1990

2012 Creative Arts & Design Recipient

Linda Rourke

While attending Mohawk, Linda Rourke was deeply involved in the television program from the technical side to getting in front of the camera as much as possible. For three years she hosted the media department's annual awards show - the Andy Awards. It's a testament to her talent that she is the only student to ever host three years in a row. Her varied media career since graduation has taken her across the country and includes media sales in radio at Q107, PRN and Canadian Broadcast Sales, a weather specialist and morning show host at The Weather Network in Montreal and Ontario, morning show host and location producer for Vancouver Breakfast (CTV), back up sports and weather host on Canada AM, radio hosting at Country 95.3 Toronto, and host and producer, host, videographer of Hamilton Life and City Matters at Cable 14, Hamilton. Linda has also contributed her talents to Mohawk College as a part-time instructor and has volunteered as host for productions for International Women's Day and Media panels.  For the past 5 years Linda has volunteered on the Alumni Council as a member, vice-chair and chair.  Additionally, when Linda’s children were young she volunteered on the school parent council, was a member for 4 years of the Waterdown BIA and continues to volunteer for various organizations in the Hamilton area when time permits. Linda will be leaving her long career in media to join the Mohawk College Foundation Team July 9th as Senior Development Officer Academic partnerships.  Bringing her full circle.  

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

Location and really liked the instructors I met when I was going through the interview process.

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

You can’t change others you can only change how you react to them.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Pay attention and learn as much as you can while having fun.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

I admire the character of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Her growth through the series of books takes her from a know-it-all young teenage girl (like many of us are at times) into a smart beautiful woman that becomes the glue holding everything together. I think many women can identify with finding balance in life, juggling work and family and providing the “glue” to keep things together, that important foundation offering strength, intelligence and compassion. Hemione is that women in all of us.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Girls just want to have fun.
Time of my Life
Life is a Highway

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

I’m a television grad – I watch TV. Ok and I do yoga and love to read!

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

The Dali Lama, Nelson Mandela, William Shatner, Betty White, Craig Kielburger

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

I took a risk when I signed on with TSN, women in sports had always been a tough go and I knew it would be a challenge, unfortunately, it did not work out but it taught me to find my kahunas in this business!

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

Work hard, learn everything you can and don’t waste a moment. It will become part of the best years of your life.

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

My educational experience at Mohawk gave me the foundation I required to make it in the business. The hands-on learning, being put into groups to work on various projects despite your differences and perspectives gave me the ability to work with various types of people in a productive and creative way throughout my entire career.

Elaine Principi - Physiotherapy, 1982

2012 Health Sciences Recipient

Elaine Principi

Since beginning her role as Chief of Physiotherapy (PT) Practice in the summer of 2010, Elaine Principi has been responsible for the clinical practice of approximately 105 physiotherapists and 40 occupational therapist assistants/ physiotherapist assistants (OTA/PTAs) across six sites at Hamilton Health Sciences. As a sign of her dedication to the field of Physiotherapy, Elaine has taught in the McMaster School of Physiotherapy for many years, being awarded for Outstanding Contribution in Education in 2002 and appointed as an Assistant Clinical Professor in 2009. In her spare time, Elaine has been a selection committee member for the Mohawk College Athletic Alumni Hall of Fame and has been a volunteer judge for the Hamilton Trillium Garden Award among many other volunteer commitments.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

The answer to this question is simple. They accepted me! I tried at least 3 times to get into a physiotherapy program and on my second application to Mohawk College, I was accepted. So I suppose you could say that Mohawk chose me and for that I am thankful. It was a decision by Mohawk that changed my life. So although Mohawk wasn’t my only choice for physiotherapy school it has been my choice to remain connected as an alumni and support the school that took a chance on me.

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

“Don’t spend your time waiting for things to get back to normal – constant change and some amount of chaos is normal.” This was a reply to my naïve comment that we could tackle this new project once things got back to normal. And things have not yet returned to “normal” in my 30 plus years in health care.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Don’t be afraid that you don’t know everything, this process is designed to help you figure out what you don’t know and find ways to learn it. The time to be afraid is when you think you do know everything. So join forces with those students/colleagues who will also admit that they don’t know and see what happens when you mix open thinking, creativity, and hard work – magic.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

I struggle to name a single character that I identify with but I know that I always admire those characters who take a chance in life. Taking a big leap of faith to make a change that releases their creativity, passion or life’s work. I admire that ability to take a risk and see where life takes you.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Any Christmas Carol – Christmas was always an important time in my family life growing up and continues to be a time for old traditions mixed with welcoming new friends to our life.

Stompa by Serena Ryder. Although this is a new song it has come to define a major transition in my life. It has also proven to be a very powerful reminder of our ability to look inside ourselves for what we need and take the time to slow down and see the world around us.

Any disco song from the 1970’s – We are Family etc. They make me want to dance and that is one of the things I love to do.

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

In the summer, I spend time in our garden. I like to putter around and see what has changed, what needs trimming or cleaning up or what needs a little extra attention. It is calming to spend time in the green space even if it is just weeding or observing.

In the winter, I like to read or cook. And sometimes I combine the two and read about cooking and enjoy planning the next great meal.

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

Although I understand that this question might be intended to elicit the names of those people we admire and may not get a chance to ever meet I would have to say that I would invite my 5 siblings. Of course with them come their partners and my husband. To me, they are the people I admire the most. We can count on each other without question. Most importantly, I laugh the hardest when I am with them.

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

Taking a risk is itself sometimes difficult. Even to take that step has required some reflection and courage. At work, I have taken risks and failed and succeeded to varying degrees. One of the common elements to those failures or success is the amount that I seek out support and utilize people to the best of their ability. So for me the success of a project, life decision, or new activity is related to my willingness to be open to help. I work to understand who might be able to support me and allow them to do that. So I also try to keep that in mind when I look at my colleagues, family and friends. What can I do to make their project a success and be open to an invitation to help.

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

Be open to all the possibilities that the school and your new profession have to offer. You may have a career path in mind that might be exactly right for you. Just be open to the possibility that you don’t know all that is out there.

And enjoy your time, find some balance between school and life. This is one of the best lessons that you can learn to help you when you graduate. When you are working – work hard. And when you are not working – fully enjoy your other activities.

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

Mohawk gave me the solid foundation to really believe that I could do anything with my career. They prepared me to be a physiotherapy clinician and also to consider other opportunities in education, research, management – really anything. When I look at my classmate now – and we get together regularly- I see such a wide variety of successful Mohawk graduates. It is a true testament to one of the most valuable lessons we learned. You can do anything.

Kevin Ford - Mechanical Engineering Technologist, 1975

2012 Technology Recipient

Kevin Ford

A serial Entrepreneur, Kevin Ford is currently the founder and CEO of a mobile applications platform company, Parliant Corporation (opens new window). A two-time winner of "Best Product of the Show" at MacWorld Expo and winner of "Best Product of the Year" from MacWorld Magazine. Working with the Manitoba Association of Native Languages, in 1995 Kevin's company created a website that used an on-line storehouse of Cree, Dene, Dakota, and Ojibwe Canadian Aboriginal languages. This technology will ensure that these languages won’t die with the few people who still speak them. In his spare time, Kevin has been a judge for Venture Education Innovation Challenge, where six high school teams compete for the chance to win $1000 in seed capital for their ventures courtesy of the local Community Futures Development Corporation.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

Mohawk was the only college in Ontario that I was aware of, with a Co-Op program in the field I wanted: Mechanical Engineering Technologist that would accept/advance someone with Grade 13 Credits

The Co-Op part is not so unusual today, but back then Mohawk and Waterloo were alone in that arena. Mohawk was the first community college in Ontario to recognize the value of Co-op.

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

There were so many. Most of my teachers were practitioners, not someone with an advanced degree from a university so the advice was based on personal real world experience and very pragmatic. Alas this cannot be said for many university engineering programs taught by people who completed a PhD then became a Prof.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Some people study to optimize their marks on the exam, some people study the subject. Make sure you get a respectable mark but don’t worry so much about optimizing your marks. Also take advantage of the experts in front of you. Don’t let school mandated curriculum interfere with your education.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

MacGyver

Wikipedia says:

“The series revolved around MacGyver, whose main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items – along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife. The clever solutions MacGyver implemented to seemingly unsolvable problems – often in life-or-death situations requiring him to improvise complex devices in a matter of minutes – were a major attraction of the show, which was praised for generating interest in the applied sciences, particularly engineering and for providing entertaining story lines.”

He uses his personal moral compass to help the needy, with materials and technologies at hand, using his scientific knowledge and creativity. What better role model for a technologist is there? We all need more MacGiyvers.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

This is a tough assignment- to encapsulate a life with a few song titles, without sounding cheezy, but here goes:

“I did it my way” by Frank Sinatra,

“A Long and Winding Road”,

A song for my retirement “Sail Away” by Celtic Women.

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

This has changed over my lifetime, but now it includes Internet surfing for positive motivational stories like those at TED and keeping up to date on technical advances or creative applications of new technologies throughout the world

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

-Richard Dean Anderson (CDN Actor-Macgyver, Star Gate)

-Ivan Ferguson (developed IMAX and OMNIMAX film systems)

-Ken Taylor (Canadian ambassador smuggled Americans out of Iran, 1980 - called The Canadian Caper)

-Jim Chamberlin (opens new window) (B.A.Sc. 1936) – (Aerodynamicist and chief designer of the Avro Arrow (opens new window), major designer for the Gemini space capsule (opens new window) and Apollo Lunar Module (opens new window))

-Malcolm T. Gladwell (author The Tipping point, Blink, Outliers)

-Don Tapscott (author Wikinomics)

All of the above are Canadian with great stories to tell.

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

To consistently deliver leading edge of technology solutions, one has to be an early adopter, selecting immature technologies to develop your product around, and hope they mature by the time your product is ready to ship.

By mature, I mean a convergence of feature complete, stable, in the time frame you need, at a price your product can afford. We developed products around Artificial Intelligence, Expert Systems and Genetic Algorithms, all of which failed in one or more of the above criteria.

One must be careful to build a solid product which advances the state of the art in only a few areas, with the remainder of the product being built on solid, well understood technologies. Otherwise your product will never ship or be as stable as it should be.

The art is in evaluating the appropriate level of risk in mixing mature and immature technologies into a single solution. Using these criteria, we had great success in the early adoption of speech recognition into our award winning telephony products, or WebObjects (the software library used to develop Apple’s App Store) into our Web baWeb-based administration systems or html5 into our Paperless Conference mobile applications.

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

Don’t let school interfere with your education. Study the subject not the test. Lose a few marks by doing so but maximize your learning. Also develop as a whole person by taking advantage of the clubs, social and recreational opportunities offered at the college.

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

My time at Mohawk was the best educational experience that I have ever had. The college instructors were able to connect the theory to the practical so you could see where what you were learning fit into the real world. I was very engaged contrasted dramatically with the pure theory that followed in my subsequent education.

Narine Dat Sookram - Social Service Worker, 2013

2012 Recent Graduate Recipient

Narine Dat Sookram

Narine is a registered Social Service Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. He currently works at the employment services branch of Lutherwood as a Job Developer where he has helped hundreds of job seekers find meaningful work. The Community Champion was named one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants in 2013 and the Waterloo Region Record’s Top 40 under 40 in 2010. Through voluntarily serving as a mentor and being a ‘go to’ person for many Narine has demonstrated commitment and dedication to help the community in all aspects of life.

For the past two decades, Narine has contributed to the development and advancement of the less privileged population here in the Region of Waterloo through his past role as an Outreach Coordinator while working at Opportunities Waterloo Region as well as through his current role as a Job Developer at Lutherwood Employment Services. He is the initiator of the award-winning Dreams Concert and the weekly Spice Community radio show. Narine is also the proprietor of Empower Employment, a small business which he started to aid job seekers in attaining their best career fit.

Narine’s formal education includes a Graduate Certificate in Career Development from Conestoga College as well as a Bachelor of Professional Arts Degree in Human Services from Athabasca University.  He also graduated from several other programs including an Adult Education Certification from Brock University and a diploma in the Social Service Worker program from Mohawk College.

Narine Sookram is the official world record holder for “Most Awards/Recognitions for Community Work” awarded by Official World Record.  His work as a local community activist and longtime volunteer who has dedicated over 24 years to many local initiatives has led him to receive over 200 awards/recognitions and several world records. These include the Kitchener-Conestoga 150 for Canada’s 150th Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, the Global Public Peace Prize, the International Service Excellence Award for Director of the Year, the Ontario Newcomer Champion Award. Narine has won “10 Ideas to Change Waterloo” twice. Also, on Narine’s list of achievements is the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, the Ontario Volunteer Service Award in recognition of 20 years of service, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, The Waterloo Award (The city’s highest civic honour), a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction Award recipient and many others.

The main attribute that sets Narine apart from all other candidates is that he has a proven track record of achieving results and that he has advocated for and helped many people in the community to find meaningful work and motivated them to maximize their potential.

Steve Marsh - Law & Security, 1981

2012 Entrepreneur Recipient

Steve Marsh

After working in the insurance industry for approximately 10 years, Steve Marsh joined a local broker to assist in managing his clients. First starting as an employee and then 10 years ago, he bought the broker's business. Starting out as a small at-home business Steve and his wife, Rosemary have built it into a business that employs three staff and two off site associates located in an office in Hess Village in Hamilton. Steve has grown the business by 350% and now is proud to represent 65 national and international corporate clients. A dedicated member of his community, Steve has volunteered with Camp Maple Leaf, the Tiger Town Council, Habitat for Humanity and the Mohawk Alumni Council, among others.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

Quite honestly, because Hamilton was home, after all the considerations, it made most sense. It was all about continuing my education.

What 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

“Progress, not Perfection.” When you work, work hard. Harder than the next guy. When you play, do that the same way as you work. Enjoy life and the people around you who you share it with…

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Remember, it’s a school. The people around you may make it your second home. Your life will become enriched from the relationships you develop while you are there.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

That’s a tough one… I guess, DonQuixote. As one works hard to do one’s best, during their life time, you never know who you will run into along the way and the impact they may have on your life.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Anything by Tower of Power, Sister Hazel or Chicago

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

I like checking out iTunes, to build more music for my library. Music drives and inspires me even today.

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

Senator Romeo Dollaire, General Rick Hillier, Chuck Mangione, Steve Kupka and Emilio Castillo

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

I think this happens every day. Being in business for your self, it’s all about finding ways to mitigate risk. When you have successes, it’s usually because you learned something from when you failed.

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

Show up. Stay committed. Enjoy what could become a process for life long learning.

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

After navigating my first year, I chose to get involved with College life. I worked in Student Activities, ran Lunch and Learn programs, participated in events with other departments in the school and generally, had a great time. I ran for student government at the end of my first year and quite frankly, that experience changed my life. I learned leadership skills and if you can believe this, after 32 years, still have a handful of people around that I spent my college years with who I call friends. Most importantly met the coolest girl ever, who today, I call my wife.

Thanks Mohawk. Tending bar at Sam Mitminger’s retirement party had a lasting effect on me. Congratulations again to all of the recipients… I consider myself in the company of some pretty great people!!

Marco Felvus - Child and Youth Worker, 1999

2012 Mohawk College Employee Recipient

Marco Felvus

Committed to Mohawk and the greater community, Marco Felvus has focused on connecting with and providing at-risk and marginalized youth with support at Mohawk and in the community. Marco has been involved with Youth Net, an innovative project in Hamilton with the goal to promote mental health and early intervention program for youth ages 13 to 18. He is also a collaborator to CURA (Hamilton’s community-university research alliance for the prevention of bullying). As an educator and a strong member of the Mohawk community, Marco also seeks to enhance his student’s learning experiences outside of the classroom. He has done this by bringing a New York Times best-selling author to speak at Mohawk, and for the past few years organizing “Day of Pink” activities on-campus which focus on raising awareness about homophobia.

What was the #1 reason you chose to attend Mohawk?

As a first generation post secondary student Mohawk seemed the obvious choice solely due to it's physical location. When I moved to Hamilton, from Grassie in the Niagara area, I eventually realized how outstanding the program I had chosen was. The program was known on a provincial and national level. I learned that I was part of something huge. At age 19 after completing only one year of the Child and Youth Worker (CYW) Program I learned how valued the program was when accepting a full time position with the Hamilton District School Board. Later I decided to further my studies at Mohawk with an Art and Design course and finished the CYW Program through the part time delivery. Looking back, I found a home at Mohawk where the staff and services supported me in most aspects of my life. Mohawk taught me how to be professional, analytical, responsible and above all gave me the tools I needed to further my education and career.

Mohawk also helped me to discover myself and the potential I had to help others discover themselves, whether it was by being a mentor to youth involved with the streets, supporting youth when they were expelled from school, or now supporting College students as they discover their own potential to start a career within Human Services. Mohawk helped me see myself aside from the sheltered life I experienced growing up.

In my role as Coordinator of Mohawk College's positive space called Social Inc. (Centre for Social Inclusion), I see aspects of myself in many of the students that walk through the doors wanting to understand and come to terms with parts of themselves they prefer to ignore. Moving away from your family and coming to college often pushes us toward aspects in our life which we are uncomfortable with. I was thankful to attend a College that supported me with these challenges inside and outside of the classroom.

What is 1 piece of advice you’ve received in the past has stuck with you to this day?

"Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see" My former school bus driver Mrs. Joy Mckinny told me this. Although I now know that she didn't mean this in the literal sense, it has stuck with me because these words make me want to be sure of what I hear and see.

Evidence based practice means you proceed with evidence that what you are doing makes an impact. I am glad Mohawk taught me how to research and test what I thought I knew and supported me with new methods of intervening with children and youth that support best practices. A big part of belonging to a profession is having the knowledge to support your role. Instead of doing something because it "seems" right, I like to challenge myself to test what I see and hear in order to best serve the people I work with.

If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?

Simply "Do You". I came out as gay late in life and now that I have developed pride in this aspect of who I am, I can't help but think that it kept me from "doing me" for such a long time. I always held back due to being uncomfortable with parts of my life. I think if I had been more confident as a youth on my first day of College, I would have joined a club at the College such as "Mohawk Pride" where I could have depended on the strength of others to help me develop pride earlier on. Being gay is a small part of who I am, but it is a part that many college students are uncomfortable with and as a result, it tends to dominate. Hiding or trying to deny any part of who you are will stop you from reaching your full potential.

The one piece of advice I would give myself today is from Marianne Williamson's book "A Return to Love" "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you notto be?"

In my current role at Mohawk College, I am staff advisor of our "Mohawk Pride" group. In this role it is an honour to be able to support students as they begin to find their light.

What fictional character/characters do you most personally identify with or admire? Why?

I find it difficult to drift to a fictional view of our world, especially when there is so much work to be done in the real one. I have to admit however that it would be nice to be a superhero and change things in our world that cause oppression and hate. Trying to change the perceptions people have on others is a challenge. Nelson Mandela recognized that education was the only thing we had to change the world, however when education does not reach everyone, or when it falls on narrow-minded and hateful ears, superhero powers would be helpful.

What 3 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Joan Baez recorded a song called "We Shall Overcome" in 1963. The song is an anthem in my mind in that it strives to unite everyone regardless of their background and puts into perspective that we all want a better, more peaceful world.

Tom Robinson Band released a song during the year I was born (1976) that I later came to appreciate called "Glad to be Gay". The song challenged people to confront their own and society's prejudices and awakened the awareness of the persecution gay's experienced.

Paul Simon's "Graceland" helped us view music as being more than an American institution. As a result, it helped us develop an appreciation for other cultures.

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

I enjoy reading for pleasure. As a professor at Mohawk College, I find myself reading text books and endless assignments during the academic year. During non-academic times, my book shelf is full and ready for my attention. Books I have recently read that motivate me to get back into the classroom are: "Far From the Tree" by Andrew Solomon, "Dear Sir I Intend to Burn Your Book" by Lawrence Hill and "Community: The Structure of Belonging" by Peter Block. These books highlight three topics that guide my personal and professional life; people who are marginalized (Solomon), human rights (Hill) and community transformation (Block).

If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party who would they be?

Mother Teresa (1910-1997) to discuss charity and how love is a fruit always in season.

Nelson Mandela to offer his views on leadership.

My twins to listen and take what they heard to use it as a weapon to change the world.

Talk about a time that you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

One of my strengths is thinking in terms of the future. As a result, I don't concentrate on the present or past unless someone brings it to my attention, or unless I lived a bad experience and want to change it for others to prove that bad history doesn't have to repeat itself.

I failed miserably at the social aspects of high school. I lacked confidence in myself and as a result, never saw what I had to offer anyone else. If I knew then what I know now life would have been very different. Early in my career I started an inter-generational mentorship program with high risk youth and older people. Although there was some success, I lacked the experience to separate my own personal feelings associated with my teenage years from the youth I was supporting. As a result, my personal and professional life became blurry and I consumed my days trying to solve the youths problems. I now know that the power to solve their problems lied within the youth and it was my job to help them discover that power and to somehow learn to manage my own feelings of inadequacy that stem from my own traumatic teenage experiences.

Alternatively, now that I have learned the importance of boundaries, one of my last experiences as a Child and Youth Worker was supporting youth living in a foster home through their daily lives that were distraught with familial, social and emotional pain. The risk I took was developing a strong interpersonal relationship with the youth while maintaining an emphasis on separating my personal and professional life. I found that not only did I experience more fulfilment as a counsellor, but it was empowering to the youth I supported as they were able to understand who I was as defined by my role. I allowed and supported them to feel power by helping them identify their strengths. This also made termination of the relationship much healthier.

If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program what would it be?

I am not sure where I heard this, however I would tell this to any student regardless of what program they are entering, "When you embrace difference in others, you embrace it in yourself". The last stage of embracing others according to psychologist Dorothy Riddle (1973/74) is "nurture". When we assume that someone different than who we are is indispensable, we are nurturing them. It really goes beyond basic tolerance or acceptance of others and challenges us to realize our full potential moving forward in a chosen educational adventure. If we only accept others, then we merely accept we have the ability to become great, but if we nurture others, we will nurture our ability to achieve greatness. If you’re planning on working with marginalized children, youth and their families with in the role of a Child and Youth Worker you will need to "relate to the reluctant" as psychologist Larry Brendtro states. Learning how to nurture others is a vital responsibility of a Child and Youth Worker.

How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?

Mohawk allowed me to gain confidence in my academic ability. The college instituted mandatory courses where I learned to write as a professional, research, think critically and appreciate the impact the community I lived in had on my life. Mohawk also supported me by offering professional development opportunities to develop specific skills needed for advancements. Eventually coming to work as a Professor at Mohawk, I continued to take courses that supported areas of my career that I wanted to further develop. The three-year diploma I achieved supported me with paths to more post-secondary education. I inadvertently used Mohawk as a stepping-stone to further my education, however it would not have been possible if Mohawk didn't prepare me for a great career so that I had the ability to financially manage additional educational opportunities. Therefore, Mohawk also gave me the drive to want to become a student for the rest of my life. A colleague at the College told me once that information wants to be free. I would however add that the credentials cost a lot.