“Woman to Watch in the Trades” From St. Lawrence College Wins Premier’s Award

Headshot of Melissa Phelan, Winner - Apprenticeship Category, Premier's Awards
Photo credit: Bernard Clark, 2021 Premier's Award Nominee.

St. Lawrence College (SLC) is thrilled to announce that alumna Melissa Phelan is the recipient of a prestigious Premier’s Award in the category of Apprenticeship. The announcement was made November 18 during a virtual ceremony to celebrate Ontario’s outstanding college graduates.

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. Recognized as a woman to watch in the trades, Melissa is both a talented welder and technician and a leading voice within the Canadian manufacturing sector. Based in Kingston, she uses social media and online forums as a force for positive change. Melissa is a confident millennial woman who uses her skills and experience to encourage, inform, and inspire the next generation of women in the trades.

The Premier’s Awards recognize college graduates making important social and economic contributions to Ontario, and are administered by Colleges Ontario. A self-employed entrepreneur, Melissa graduated from SLC’s Welding & Fabrication Technician program in 2016, as well as Welder Apprenticeship levels I, II, III in 2015 from the Cornwall campus. Melissa is the first woman from SLC to win this award and is one of seven St. Lawrence College alumni honoured with a nomination for this provincial award.

"On behalf of the entire SLC community, I want to congratulate Melissa on her incredible win. Her passion for welding and for encouraging more people to enter the trades is inspiring," said Glenn Vollebregt, SLC President and CEO. "I would also like to congratulate all our exceptional nominees for their contributions to their communities. The strength of all our nominees speaks to how SLC prepares our graduates for the careers they love."

"I am so honoured to have won this award," Melissa said. "I want to thank St. Lawrence College for nominating me, and to also congratulate all of my fellow nominees, you’re all amazing and I’m proud to be in your company. I am grateful for all the people who contact me to tell me I inspire them to get into the trades, it keeps me going to be able to do what I do."

"Congratulations to Melissa on her win in the Apprenticeship category," said Elizabeth Gorman, SLC’s Director, Development and Alumni Relations. "We are proud to see her recognized for her advocacy of women in the trades and for her many accomplishments in her young career. Melissa’s journey is a shining example of the rich and diverse careers SLC graduates pursue, and we are proud to share that with all of Ontario."

St. Lawrence College congratulates all its 2021 Premier’s Award Nominees:

  • Business Award Nominee: Karyn Robarts, Founder and Partner, Robarts Spaces
  • Community Services Award Nominee: Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, Founder and CEO, Robyne HD Inc.
  • Creative Arts & Design Award Nominee: Bernard Clark, Photographer and Owner, Bernard Clark Photographer
  • Health Science Award Nominee: Christine Bruce, Senior Director, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network
  • Recent Graduate Award Nominee: Clayton MacKinnon, Digital Marketing Specialist, Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity
  • Technology Award Nominee: Fernando Ferrer, Founder and Director, Immutable Data



St. Lawrence College is situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples; we are grateful to live and learn on these lands. With campuses in Kingston, Brockville, and Cornwall, SLC delivers education and training that meets the needs of community, industry, and employers. The College prepares students to succeed in the global economy through relevant, practical programs and experiential learning opportunities. SLC offers more than 100 full-time programs including diplomas, degrees, graduate certificates, apprenticeships, micro-credentials and life-long learning opportunities. Everyone belongs in the SLC community, comprised of 12,000 full-time students and more than 100,000 alumni in 75 countries around the world.


Media Contact:
Laura Tulchinsky
Communications Officer
St. Lawrence College

Julie Einarson
Senior Advisor, Communications and Government Relations
St. Lawrence College

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