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Bob Kilger

Former Cornwall Mayor Bob Kilger

 

Maybe it’s Bob Kilger’s experience as an OHL hockey player and coach of the Memorial Cup winning Cornwall Royals that gave him the ability to withstand the bumps and bruises of public office. Or maybe ten years as an official in the NHL. Whatever the reason, his tenacity, ingenuity and dedication have been the instrumental to the city’s record growth and rebranding from a “mill town” to a “world of possibilities.”

 

As a Member of Parliament for Stormont, Glengarry and Dundas for 16 years, and Cornwall’s mayor for eight, Bob worked hard to transform the Cornwall from a town with very little development to one that now has popular stores, a full service hospital, a booming distribution industry, new grocery stores, and of course, a newly restored St. Lawrence College campus.

 

Bob’s dedication to St. Lawrence College is legendary. Under his stewardship as mayor, when he and city council were asked to make a significant contribution to The Difference We Make Campaign, he endorsed a one million dollar donation. In addition, during and after the campaign he frequently shared his enthusiasm about the college’s renovations always with the goal to increase student enrolment and sustain the college for future generations. In addition to the City’s donation, he himself made a substantial gift from his family. 

 

But his gifts weren’t just monetary, Bob would regularly attend SLC’s orientation day to encourage and welcome new students to work hard to achieve their dreams. “I really enjoyed meeting the students and challenging them to strive for success,” Bob said. “I loved their energy and enthusiasm they brought not only to the college, but to the city.”

 

While now retired, Bob maintains close ties to the college and is thrilled to receive the Honorary Diploma. “It means a great deal to me. St. Lawrence College is such a vital part of Cornwall, and I’m honored to be among the recipients.”

Leslee Thompson

KGH CEO Leslee Thompson

A career in health care came very naturally to Leslee Thompson, President and CEO of Kingston General Hospital (KGH). With a doctor for a father and a nurse for a mother, coming to Queen’s University to study Nursing was not unexpected. From her start as a critical care nurse through a 30 year career, Leslee has held many senior positions and led multiple changes in both public and private sectors, while always maintaining her focus on patient care.

 

As well, being at the helm of KGH has given Leslee a solid understanding of the deep ties between the hospital and St. Lawrence College.  “St Lawrence College is a very progressive, dynamic learning institution, filled with smart capable students who will be well prepared for the future,” she said. “The college is a great partner to other organizations, a caring, responsible citizen in the community and a place where many fine faculty and staff build long and productive careers.”

 

KGH is now one of the largest placement providers for our students; they offer real world learning experiences to students from not only Health Sciences, but across our other areas of study. Leslee has been a champion of interdisciplinary practice and education, and she has fostered strong partnerships and collaborations to advance joint conference activity and student engagement opportunities.

 

Leslee knows the standard of excellence that students gain at St. Lawrence College and is proud that KGH hires so many of our graduates. “When SLC students become staff at KGH, they join an organization that is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in patient-centered care, education and research. The dynamic environment KGH provides for our students to learn in is also one that attracts and retains our graduates as they grow their careers and continue to make a difference in the lives of people they serve.”

 

Maintaining balance while having such a dynamic and busy career has also been important to Leslee, as she has also devoted herself to her family,  her husband Mike, whom she met while at Queen’s, and their two children, Charlotte and Spencer.  “When I reflect on the past 30 years of my career, I think I am most proud of the fact that I continue to have such strong, loving relationships with my family and close friends,” she said “it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air sometimes, but if you have a strong support team around you, anything is possible”.

 

Receiving an Honorary Diploma from SLC is humbling for Leslee, as it is an acknowledgement also of the strength of the relationship between the two institutions, she said.  “I see this Diploma as an extension of our existing relationship – and a symbol of a connection that will last for years to come. It makes me feel even more a part of your family, and your community, and for that I am very grateful.  It makes me feel very proud as well. To be here with all of you who have studied so hard to achieve your goals is inspiring, and I share your excitement about the future from here.”

Justice Allan Letourneau

Justice Allan Letourneau

 

Justice Allan Letourneau has been a tireless supporter of Kingston’s disadvantaged youth for several years. His efforts have resulted in dozens of young people being able to attend summer camps. As well, his charitable work contributed to the establishment of three scholarships at St. Lawrence College: The Jeanine Perry Scholarship Trust Fund; The Kingston Chief of Police Bursary; and the OPP Youth Foundation Bursary.

 

This drive to give back comes from his own background of hard work and not letting his family’s modest financial resources impinge upon his educational goals. He has shown throughout his life that hard work and determination can overcome any adversity.

 

According to Allan, at the end of the day, a community is only as good as its constituent parts. “We are social beings by nature,” he says. “When our bodies finally give up the ghost it will be the personal relationships that we enjoyed during our lives and not the material goods that we will remember and cherish.”

 

While Allan has worked very hard throughout his life, he has also had a tremendous amount of good fortune, as he explains, more than his fair share. “I am cognizant that there are countless people in our community that have not been as fortunate. In my view, we all have a duty to help those in our community who are less fortunate.”

 

Allan grew up mostly around the Kingston area, while his father, a carpenter, often had to move the family to where he could find work. Allan obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree and Law Degree from Queen’s University. He was inspired by his sister Debby, who was the first person to pursue a post-secondary education not only in Allan’s immediate family but also the extended family on both sides. “She was a petite lady who did not back down from anyone,” said Allan. “She left home very young and managed to complete high school and university on her own dime. I thought if she could do it, maybe I could too.” Unfortunately, Debby died in 2002 of breast cancer at the age of 39.

 

As a respected Kingston lawyer for more than 21 years before he was appointed judge of the Ontario Court of Justice three years ago. He is known as a fair and reasonable judge and an expert on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He lives with his wife Marjiane, who also hails from Kingston. They have one son, Ryan, who lives in Vancouver.

 

Receiving the Honorary Diploma reinforces Allan’s view that there is a heightened sense of community in Kingston. “It reinvigorates my desire to continue to contribute to this community.” Allan believes that St. Lawrence College plays a significant role in developing students’ skill sets, critical analysis and independent thinking. “If there is one single message I would like to give the graduates, it would be that we are very fortunate to live in a country where almost anything is possible if you are prepared to work hard.”

Mike Sewell

Limestone District School Board's Mike Sewell

Students are at the centre of everything Mike Sewell does. As Program Leader of Skills Training and Technology for the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) since 2003, and a Certified Skilled Tradesperson himself, Mike is a great advocate for the cognitive and social benefits of vocational Technological Education.

 

Mike got his start in the skilled trades early on in High School at H.B. Beal in London where his own inspiration came from his grade 11 Auto Body teacher John Hogg. “He was a colourful and pragmatic man, who could build or fix anything with his hands.”

 

Mike studied Auto Body Repair and Welding, and began his apprenticeship right after high school, graduating with Journeyman status Red Seal in 1982. Mike attended Fanshawe College in London to complete the in-school portions of his apprenticeship, and then later studied education at University of Western Ontario and Queen’s University.

 

Mike moved to Napanee in 1985 to accept a Technology Teacher position at Napanee District Secondary School.  He was appointed Program Leader for the LDSB in 2004, and moved to Kingston in 2007. He later returned to live in Napanee in 2014.

 

Mike has championed many innovative student integration strategies with St. Lawrence College, including the Limestone Skills Competition, Focus Programs, Dual Credits, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship, Slow Cookers for Kids, and the Young Women’s Innovation Conference. “I like the fact that an individual can get involved in the community and the results of your effort can be readily seen he said. “I love to meet and chat with former students I taught who are now contributing to all of our future; I can see the evidence of their hard work.”

 

The role of SLC, Mike believes, is to provide a local and necessary transition for secondary students and adults wishing to make a meaningful entry and re-entry to the work force. “The school-to-college-to-work and apprenticeship pathways are vital to the workforce in Eastern Ontario, whether a small business, a start-up, or a larger organization looking to upgrade the skills of their workforce, businesses need access to authentic learning activities that keep their employees and businesses moving forward.”

 

Being awarded an Honorary Diploma from SLC is an important acknowledgement to Mike that skilled trades matter in a very fundamental way. “Because I received my most formal and influential education through apprenticeship, I have often been overlooked by those who hold other forms of post-secondary education,” he explains. “There still exists an educational hierarchy based on the myth that a university education is a guarantee for a life of success, and an insurance policy against unemployment. We know that isn’t always true. This diploma acknowledges the skills and experiences I received prepared me well for the workforce, and that there is added value in the college and apprenticeship model of learning.”

Bruce Lounsbury

Newterra CEO Bruce Lounsbury

As the son of a Niagara grape farmer and a school teacher, Bruce Lounsbury, CEO and co-founder of newterra, learned early in his life to appreciate and respect the natural world, and the value of education.

 

Even though his father did not finish high school, he was what Bruce describes as a lifelong learner. “Reading and learning were always part of our lives, and there was no question we would go to university,” Bruce said. Bruce earned an Engineering degree from Queen’s University and a Masters of Management Science from Carleton University.

 

In 1990 Bruce and his family relocated to Brockville from Calgary so his wife, Sue could pursue a career opportunity with Shell Oil for what they thought would be an 18 month stay. They fell in love with the community, in large part because of the quality of life and access to the outdoors that Bruce has always loved. He and Sue raised their three boys in Brockville, who all went on to study Engineering at Queen’s. During this time Bruce founded the newterra Group, a leading provider of decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions to the resource, private development and municipal markets.

 

Living in Brockville, Bruce also grew to understand the importance of St. Lawrence College in community. “The college to me means access to opportunities for lifelong learning, it has so much to offer.”

 

To that end, he has been supporting St. Lawrence College students through a generous bursary that improves accessibility to education for students with financial need. By supporting future graduates in technology, including the Energy Systems Engineering Technology, Biotechnology, and Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology programs, newterra is helping close the skills gap, while also furthering the College’s strategic initiatives of sustainability and accessibility for our students.

 

Bruce has taken an active role in his community, with more than 20 years of commitment to the United Way, both locally and provincially. He is currently a director on the board of the Brockville United Way, and also served on the St. Lawrence College Board of Governors for six years, and now sits on the board of the Brockville General Hospital. Bruce continues to be an environmental visionary and entrepreneur and is dedicated to creating products that focus on sustainability and economic stability.

 

Bruce’s message to graduates: You’re graduating today, but this is really just the beginning of your education. Be open and receptive to life’s lessons outside the classroom. I consider it a bad day when I haven’t been exposed to something new.