Welding and Fabrication Student Selected As First Recipient of the Melissa Phelan Premier's Award Bursary

Mary Reddon is shown on the left, welding, as sparks fly. On the right, a headshot of Melissa Phelan, Winner - Apprenticeship Category, and the Premier's Awards and Colleges Ontario logos.

Story submitted by Kris Ward, Alumni & Donor Relations Officer

When Melissa Phelan won the Premier's Award in the Apprenticeship category last November, it helped raise the profile of women in the trades. Melissa Phelan is a highly skilled welder and robotics weld programmer who has become a vocal advocate for women entering the welding industry and the trades in general. As part of her win, a bursary was created in her honour, and she determined the criteria for the award. 

This winter, Mary Reddon, a second-year Welding and Fabrication Technician student, was selected as the first recipient. We reached out to her to ask her to share her thoughts on the bursary, the welding field, and how Melissa is making a difference for women in trades.

Q&A with Mary Reddon

You are the first recipient of Melissa Phelan's Premier's Award Bursary. What were your initial thoughts when you found out you won the bursary and how has it helped your Welding school journey?

Mary Reddon: When I found out, I was so excited and very relieved. I honestly didn't know how I would pay for my CWB - Canadian Welding Bureau test without it. A welding test costs about $100 for each position and $25 for a retest. With the bursary, I was able to take four tests and get my Mig and Stick tickets in the flat and horizontal position and a retest if I needed to.

Melissa is raising the profile of women in welding with her Premier's Award Apprenticeship category win. How is she inspiring you, and what are your post-grad plans?

M.R.: I heard a lot about Melissa from the CWB site because she graduated the year before me. She set a great example and I'm a fan of her podcast. My post-grad plans are to work at Cor-Tek here in Cornwall, do some welding in my backyard, and fabricate something on my own. 

Next year, a new SLC recipient will be selected. Do you have any words of advice for students that are considering taking the Welding programs at the College?

M.R.: Apply for bursaries – look for bursaries at SLC and outside SLC. There are lots of resources to help financially. 

Any final comments?

I just wanted to say thanks. 

Melissa Phelan Premier's Award bursary

Created in honour of alumna Melissa Phelan's Premier's Award win in the Apprenticeship category in 2021, it is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need to a student who identifies as female in the second year of the Welding and Fabrication Technician Apprenticeship Diploma program who is planning to work in the Welding Technician Field. Read more about Melissa Phelan.

Premier's Award Nominations Are Open

Last year, the College submitted nominations in all seven categories and hopes to do so again this year. We need your help.

Do you know a grad experiencing outstanding career success and/or demonstrating community involvement? We are calling on the campus communities to submit names for Premier's Awards nomination consideration by May 6. These awards are an excellent opportunity to profile and promote SLC's successful graduates.

Please provide your suggested nominee and brief details of your nominee's accomplishments and reasons for consideration. In addition, you can include links and any supporting materials you would like to submit. Note: grads can be re-nominated if they haven't previously won.

Points to consider:

  • Has the nominee made a significant impact in their chosen career?
  • Has the nominee made a significant contribution to their sector?
  • Has the impact been recognized by others in that industry and/or profession?
  • Has the impact helped shape or change the lives of others?
  • Has the nominee made a significant contribution to the nominee's community?

If you have any questions, please contact Kris Ward at

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