By BRITTANY STEWART
Strive to achieve more than landing a great job after graduation.
Each year, the Premier’s Awards recognize graduates making significant contributions to the community in their careers.
The awards, presented on behalf of the provincial government, bring successful Ontario college graduates to attention.
The recipients receive a $5,000 bursary from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, which they are asked to direct back to their graduating college.
David Pratt, head grower of Sundrop Farms in Australia, was presented with the Premier Award in the recent graduate category.
Pratt graduated from the Greenhouse Technician program at Niagara College in 2007 and was employed at Sunmaster Produce shortly afterwards.
By 2010, Pratt began negotiations with Sundrop Farms to work on a new green energy project integrated with greenhouse technology.
He is part of a team using renewable resources, saltwater and solar energy, to produce food in arid climates.
The system uses the sun’s energy to desalinate seawater into freshwater to be used for irrigation. It then provides energy to power, heat and cool the greenhouse.
In an email interview, Pratt says he was tired of listening to people complain about different issues in the industry.
“I always wanted to be part of a solution, join a team that did not waste their time complaining and rather come up with answers. Everyone talks about green projects that might work;
I wanted to realistically be able to save the planet.”
He says the Premier’s Awards are important to Niagara College students.
“The recent grad category is a great way to influence students that great things don’t always take time.
If you take what Niagara College has given you, combine that with sacrifice, determination and hard work, nearly anything is possible.”
He says it’s important to inform the province and the rest of Canada about the achievements of Ontario graduates.
“I don’t think it should be viewed as a show-off campaign, but a way to award the efforts of those that have the honour of being nominated.”
Christopher Bessette, writer/director, nominated for the creative arts and design category, says Niagara College gave him a good working knowledge to enter into the industry.
“I didn’t set out to be nominated for the Premier’s Awards, I set out to be the best writer/director I could be; all else follows.”
Bessette says it’s important to never stop learning. “You need to continue to learn. It’s important to focus on whatever you’re doing, to be the best you can.”
Bessette won best director and best drama award for his film Trade of Innocents at the 2012 Breckenridge Film Festival in Colorado.
Each of the 24 Ontario colleges nominate one graduate from each of the following categories: business, community services, creative arts and design, health sciences, technology and recent graduate.
Nominations are being accepted for the 2013 Premier’s Awards held on Monday, Nov. 18.
Nominees for outstanding achievement in the six categories can be sent to Catherine Barkwell at firstname.lastname@example.org
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