Niagara College kicks off Spring Convocation ceremonies

Keith Segal, owner, co-founder, president and CEO of guard.me International Student insurance company, delivered the convocation address at the first of eight Niagara College convocation ceremonies.

“Inspiration comes to all of us in different ways and from different and sometimes unexpected sources.”

Those were the words that special guest Keith Segal used to greet the first group of 2019 Niagara College graduates on the afternoon of June 17 as the College began a week of convocation ceremonies. Segal, owner, president and CEO of guard.me International Insurance, Canada’s largest international student insurance company, addressed over 400 graduates in the College’s School of Community and Health Studies in the first of eight ceremonies that will be held during the week. Segal was presented with an Honorary Diploma in International Studies as part of Monday’s ceremony.

Segal has spent more than 25 years serving the education industry and supporting international students in Canada and around the world by providing services and leadership in the development of key international directions and policies. Over the years, Segal and his family have donated more than $1.5 million to support international students at Niagara College.

Segal’s address spoke of the many and diverse sources of that inspiration that have guided his own path to success. He illustrated the impact his father’s journey from the concentration camps in Poland to a successful career in Canada had on him, and shared powerful anecdotes from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Walt Disney, and even Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, all of which have contributed to the person he is today.

Niagara College President Dan Patterson presents Keith Segal with an Honorary Diploma in International Studies as part of Monday’s ceremony

“The secret to my success is personalized service, relationships and compassion,” said Segal. “Be good to others, respect them, and try to empathize with their situation.”

In his address to the newly minted alumni, College president Dan Patterson communicated the immense effect NC graduates have on their local communities, and beyond.

“It is you who will help drive our economy and future prosperity, because it is college graduates who make our communities work, whether it’s here in Niagara, across Canada, or around the world.”

Patterson also urged graduates to remain involved in their community through their life and career.

“When we extend ourselves, we enrich the lives of those around us,” said Patterson. “Service is better than selfishness, and most definitely more rewarding.”

Spring Convocation ceremonies continue June 18 – 21 at the Welland Campus. Over 5,100 students from more than 90 countries will graduate over a total of eight ceremonies. Grads and guests attending the college’s remaining ceremonies will hear from a diverse roster of distinguished speakers:

  • Kim Plewes is the principal development director of WE, a movement and organization which helps communities around the world create positive social change. Plewes will receive an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies. (Tuesday, 10 a.m.)
  • Richard Taylor is the president of Niagara Casinos, and will receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies. (Tuesday, 3 p.m.)
  • M. Mustafa Hirji is the acting medical officer of health for the Niagara Region, and will be granted an Honorary Diploma in Health Studies. (Wednesday, 10 a.m.)
  • Betty-Lou Souter is the CEO of Community Care, St. Catharines and Thorold. She will receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies. (Wednesday, 3 p.m.)
  • Carolyne Watts is the plant manager for General Motors, St. Catharines Propulsion Plant, and a former chair of the Niagara College Board of Governors. She will receive an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies. (Thursday, 10 a.m.)
  • Mike Crawley is an Ontario provincial affairs reporter for CBC News. He will receive an Honorary Diploma in Journalism. (Thursday, 3 p.m.)
  • Kelly L. Brown, Senior Vice-President, Legal and Corporate Affairs for Arterra Wines Canada will receive an Honorary Graduate Certificate in Wine Business Management (Friday, 10 a.m.)

The morning ceremony of Tuesday, June 18 will also honour the recipient of the 2019 Governor General’s Academic Medal, presented to Child and Youth Care graduate Emily Stewardson Gregory, who graduates with a grade average of 98.43 per cent.

Thursday, June 20 will also be a milestone for the College, as it will see the first cohort of graduates from the college’s Commercial Cannabis Production program. The Graduate Certificate program is the first of its kind in Canada, and was launched in the fall of 2018 to meet a significant demand for qualified, professional workers in Canada’s pioneering cannabis industry.

Friday, June 21 will mark another group of pioneer graduates, as the first class of NC’s unique Artisan Distilling (Graduate Certificate) grads cross the stage, ready to become leaders in Ontario’s burgeoning craft distilling sector.

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