Why is Mohawk committed to building a more welcoming college and community? I made my case in a guest column that was published this week in The Hamilton Spectator. As part of the conversation we’re planning with our students and college partners, I welcome your ideas, insights and experiences. Post comments here or email me at email@example.com.
Thanks to all the students who campaigned in the Mohawk Students’ Association election. Putting your name on a ballet takes courage and there’s no higher calling than public service.
I look forward to working with the MSA’s 2015-16 Board of Directors on continuing to deliver an exceptional college education and experience to our students.
President: Luke Baylis
Vice-President Marketing and Communications: Troy Anstett:
Vice-President Fennell Campus: Logan James:
Vice-President IAHS Campus: TJ McBean
Vice-President Stoney Creek Campus: Jared Zeliznak:
Director of Media, Entertainment and Interdisciplinary Studies: Samantha Hoover:
Director of Business: Taylor-Anna Kaus:
Director of Technology: Caitlyn Davidson:
Director of Community and Urban Studies: Alexander Presta:
Mohawk College Board of Governors: Moe Mahmood:
This morning I had the opportunity to go before the City of Hamilton’s General Issues Committee and talk about two new initiatives – our Everyday Heroes campaign and our Welcoming Communities project.
Here are the remarks I made to the Committee.
Thank you Deputy Mayor Duvall.
Serving as tour guide is one of my unofficial duties as President of Mohawk College. It’s also one of the best parts of a really great job.
So thank you to Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Lloyd Ferguson, Doug Conley, Aidan Johnson, Rob Pasuta, Tom Jackson and Arlene VanderBeek for touring our college. If you haven’t been to Mohawk in a while, I’d be happy to show off our facilities and introduce you to our amazing students, faculty and staff.
I also want to thank your team here at the City for hosting our Alumni Breakfast. This was the first breakfast we’ve ever held at City Hall. It was great to start the day in the company of all the Mohawk alumni who work for the city and help make Hamilton a great place to call home.
Not only does the City hire a lot of Mohawk grads. You also help train our students. The City of Hamilton is one of more than a thousand partners who offer our students co-ops, placements and projects that extend the classroom out into every corner of our community.
And I want to thank Council for giving Mohawk a few minutes on the agenda this morning. We’d like to do two things – debut a new video and announce a new college and community project.
So that was the official world premiere of Mohawk’s Everyday Heroes video. The video was created by the same team that produced your Ambitious City video. In the weeks ahead, we plan to showcase everyday heroes – ordinary people who are making a real difference in our community. We’ll be approaching community leaders and asking them to nominate their everyday heroes. We’d love to have Councillors recognize everyday heroes at City Hall, in their wards and from across the City.
This morning, I want to introduce you to an everyday hero.
Vanh was 12 years old when she arrived in a refugee camp with her mother, stepfather and four siblings. The camp would be her home for five agonizing years. Every day was a fight for survival with 10,000 other people at the camp. There was never enough food or water. There was no school for Vanh to attend. Infectious diseases ran rampant.
On August 13th 1985, Vahn and her family stepped off a plane in Canada and made their way to Hamilton.
Vahn finally got to go to high school. She was 17 years old when she started Grade 9 at Sir John A. MacDonald.
She went on to study at Mohawk College and graduated in 1991. She was the first in her family to earn a postsecondary education.
Six years after graduating from Mohawk, Vanh bought her first business.
In 2001, she opened her first restaurant.
Today, Vanh owns and operates restaurants in downtown Hamilton, Ancaster, Burlington, Brantford and Waterloo.
She employs 70 people, pays property taxes and gives back to the community.
After growing up in an overcrowded refugee camp, Vanh has made a home on 10 acres in the country just outside of Ancaster.
Vanh Kalong is a Mohawk College graduate. She’s the owner of the My Thai chain of restaurants. And we’re thrilled that this everyday hero joins us this morning in Council Chambers.
Bringing more everyday heroes like Vahn to Hamilton is the focus of a new project we’re launching at Mohawk.
The time is right for this project. We know that immigration will account for all of the future growth in Hamilton’s population, our workforce and student enrollment at Mohawk.
Immigrants built this city and newcomers will remain the lifeblood of our community.
We’re also coming off the latest City Magnets report card from the Conference Board of Canada.
Hamilton was one of 13 Canadian cities to score a D.
When a student gets a D at Mohawk, we offer a helping hand.
Our response is no different when it’s our community.
We can debate and appeal the grade. Or we can take it as a challenge and put in an A+ effort.
Mohawk is ready to step up and do our part, as both Hamilton’s community college and as one of Hamilton’s largest employers.
Here’s how we’re going to help. We’re going to engage the community in a year-long conversation. These conversations will start with the same question. How can we do even better at attracting, developing and retaining people like Vanh?
We’re going to connect with our 1200 international students who are from more than 70 countries. We’re going to connect with the hundreds of foreign trained professionals enrolled in our health and technology bridging programs. We’re going to connect with our community partners. We’re going to connect with Hamilton employers.
Employers who are desperate for highly skilled, highly experienced workers and who want their workforce to reflect the diversity of their customers and the people they serve.
Mohawk is going to listen. We’re going to learn. And then we’re going to act.
This will not be an academic exercise. At the end of the year, Mohawk will bring forward an action plan. And just like a Mohawk education, our plan will be practical and hands on.
Our plan will outline the steps we’ll take to make Mohawk a more welcoming college and employer. It will show where we can marshal our resources to best support community partners and projects. We’re already committed to helping Global Hamilton Connect. And we’ll be hosting a conference this fall to share best practices and forge new partnerships.
Our goal over the coming year is to come up with a game plan that welcomes the world to Hamilton. And connect Hamilton with the world.
We’re going to share our action plan and lessons learned with our college partners.
And we’re inviting other Hamilton employers to join us on the journey. We’re recruiting a dream team that will meet for the first time within a month. We’d love to have the City of Hamilton at the table.
Becoming a more welcoming college and employer is not only a priority for Mohawk. It’s a personal mission.
I’ve had the good fortune to travel to every continent. I’ve been to 68 countries and counting.
I also serve as Chair of World Vision Canada. I’ve met with many remarkable and resilient people like Vanh – everyday heroes living in unimaginable conditions – who would give anything to come to Hamilton and contribute to our community.
Through my travels, I have come to appreciate the value and power of diversity. I always return home with new ideas, fresh perspectives and a reaffirmation that we live in the best community in the best province in the best country in the world.
Neil Everson tells us that Hamilton’s best economic development strategy is to grow our own. To retain hometown companies and help them compete on the world stage.
Whether it’s advanced manufacturing, life sciences, creative industries or agri-business, the most valuable resource is human capital.
We’re building that capital at Mohawk. We’re educating and training 22,000 students and apprentices every year. The majority of our students continue to live and work in Hamilton once they graduate.
We work with industry partners on applied research projects. These projects bring innovative ideas to market and give companies the competitive advantage that comes from working alongside Mohawk students, faculty and staff.
Along with developing homegrown talent, we’re importing talent from around the world. We’re committed to welcoming that talent and making a strong case for putting down roots in Hamilton.
We want to import the talent who will help local companies export made-in-Hamilton goods and services to customers around the world.
And Mohawk wants to welcome everyday heroes like Vanh. Newcomers who share her drive, determination and entrepreneurial spirit. Newcomers who will launch small businesses, create jobs, build prosperity and enrich our community in every sense of the word.
Newcomers from all the corners of the globe who, like Mohawk and Vanh, will be proud to call Hamilton their home.
Thank you for your time. We look forward to working with the city in welcoming everyday heroes and opening up a world of opportunity for Hamilton.
The Hon. Reza Moridi , Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, visited our Fennell Campus Tuesday morning. Minister Moridi met with students, faculty and staff at our Aboriginal Student Centre, Energy Research Centre, our mHealth & eHealth Development and Innovation Centre and our Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Advanced Manufacturing. Thanks to Mohawk Students’ Association President Max Brown and everyone who welcomed the Minister to Mohawk. You made a great first impression.
On Thursday, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger (Class of ’83 Community Planning and Development) returned to his alma mater for a tour. We also welcomed Councillor Tom Jackson, the longest serving member on Hamilton City Council.
What’s the one thing we should do to make Mohawk College more welcoming to newcomers?
Hamilton has been a great home for Mohawk College since day one. Local employers have helped us train generations of our students through co-ops and field placements and they’ve hired tens of thousands of our graduates. Hamilton is where the majority of our alumni live and work. We are proud to call Hamilton our home.
Hamilton is also a city that was built by immigrants and newcomers remain the lifeblood of our community. It’s expected that immigration will account all of Hamilton’s future population growth. We can expect even greater diversity in our hallways at Mohawk.
Yet our community scored low marks for welcoming migrants in a recent report card from the Conference Board of Canada. Hamilton was one of 13 Canadian cities to score a D.
When our students struggle, we offer a helping hand.
Our response should be no different when it’s our community.
Mohawk is going to step up and help welcome the world to Hamilton. We’re also going to lead by example by making Mohawk more welcoming as both a college and one of Hamilton’s largest employers.
We’ll be connecting with our 1,200 international students and the hundreds of foreign trained professionals in our bridging programs. We’re also going to invite our college partners join in what will be a community-wide conversation.
This will not be an academic exercise. We’re going to listen, learn and then act. By the end of the year, we’ll have an action plan to welcome more newcomers to our community and our college. We’ll be bringing our partners together to share best practices and lessons learned and we’re going to look at how we can best marshal our college resources to support partners who are also building a more welcoming Hamilton.
You’ll be hearing more about our Welcoming Communities project in the weeks ahead and I hope you’ll join in the conversations. Welcoming the world to Hamilton will open up a world of opportunity for our community and our college.
The stories of four Mohawk College alumni are told in a powerful new video that will get its world premiere next week. Everyday Heroes showcases the many ways that Mohawk graduates are making a real difference in our community. The video was produced by Colourblind Productions, a local company that also produced the award-winning Ambitious City video for Hamilton’s Economic Development office.
Along with the video, we’re launching an Everyday Heroes social media campaign. We’ll be asking leaders in our community to recognize everyday heroes who are quietly making an extraordinary difference. Look for more than a few of those everyday and unsung heroes to be Mohawk alumni.
We’ll be posting the video Wednesday morning and I look forward to your reviews.
We had a very special presentation this week during our Board of Governors meeting. Past Governor and Six Nations Polytechnic President and CEO Rebecca Jamieson presented Mohawk with a Friendship Wampum Belt in recognition of the long-standing partnership between our two institutions. The Wampum Belt signifies the agreement between our institutions that we will support and educate our students about our shared experiences and work together to build a society based on mutual trust, respect and friendship.
In return, Mohawk gave Six Nations Polytechnic a Friendship Wampum Belt designed and created by Ron McLester, Mohawk’s Director and Special Advisor of Aboriginal Initiatives. It was the first Wampum Belt given to Six Nations Polytechnic by one of their educational partners. The Wampum Belt from Six Nations Polytechnic will proudly hang in our Aboriginal Student Centre.
Congratulations to Mohawk Marketing students Matt Brown, Alex Hurley and Scott Merwin on winning gold at the Vanier College BDC Case Challenge in Montreal last weekend.
Matt, Alex and Scott went up against teams from 32 colleges from across Canada. They had just three hours to prepare a comprehensive marketing plan and then deliver a 20-minute presentation to a panel of judges. And then they had to do it all again with a different case study in the semi-final round.
This marks the third time in 10 years that Mohawk students have won the national case challenge. No other college in Canada has won as many gold medals as our Marketing students from Mohawk’s McKeil School of Business.
Special thanks to Mark Valvasori, Drew McTear, Deborah Weston, Janice Long and Giselle Jones for supporting our students who began prepping for the competition back in September.