Distinguished Alumni Award
The most prestigious award of the GPRC Alumni/Foundation, this award was established to recognize GPRC alumni for outstanding accomplishments in their professions, and/or in service to their community, society or GPRC. The Distinguished Alumni is an example of alumni success for current and future GPRC students.
The nominees must be alumni of GPRC. The candidates have demonstrated outstanding excellence in his/her profession, community or society and are therefore an example of alumni excellence for GPRC. Alumni currently serving the College as Board members are not eligible.
Nominations will be accepted from the public and the College Community. Nominations will be reviewed and selected by a committee of the Alumni/Foundation Board. The recipients will be contacted in advance so he/she may attend the event to receive their award.
2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Stephen Graf
Stephen Graf was a graduate of the first Harley-Davidson® Technician Certificate course at what is now the GPRC Fairview Campus. Graf’s training in Fairview included the six-month motorcycle program followed by the first 12-week Harley-Davidson® program. He has owned the Harley-Davidson® dealership in Smithers BC for 34 years.
Graf has been a supporter of GPRC in many ways - from financial contributions and donating motorcycle parts to assist with learning, to hiring technicians who have graduated GPRC programs, and sending employees to GPRC for training. He’s also returned to upgrade his own skills.
Read Stephen Graf's Acceptance Speech
During my 35 years in business as Harley-Davidson® of Smithers; Fairview College has been a source of invaluable information and support for me, my technicians and Harley-Davidson® as a whole. To be acknowledged with such a prestigious award from a place I think so highly of is quite the honour.
My father and I started Harley-Davidson® of Smithers in 1985, and in 1988 I attended the Fairview College 6-month Motorcycle Program. From the beginning I recognized the importance of getting trained in motorcycle mechanics and that it was the backbone to running a solid business. I had searched for schools and at the time there were only a few options, but it was Fairview that stuck out to me most. The program fit perfectly into my schedule, being able to do school for three months before the summer, work the summer than do three months after. They also had family rooms available making it possible to bring my wife and baby daughter along with me. I was lucky to meet Andy Smith at my initial time at the school and he told me about his aspirations to start a 12-week Harley-Davidson® specific mechanic program. That got me very excited because it fit perfectly into what I was already doing, and after discussing it with my dad I was able to attend the first ever Harley-Davidson® program at Fairview College in 1989. My time at the college set me up with confidence and knowledge on motorcycle repairs that I used throughout my whole career and will continue to cherish as I tinker on my own motorcycles.
As time went on it was great to see Harley-Davidson® acknowledged continuous education, as they offered specialized and specific courses through Fairview. After years of working in the back shop, I had to step back and help manage the business and add additional techs to my staff. I always made sure to send my techs to Fairview for the continuing education.
Now as my wife and I are winding down the business, I reflect on the years and believe that I would not have been as successful had I not attended the college or sent my technicians to their courses. Their initial program plus the continuous training they offer are an asset and of great value to anybody looking at starting a career in motorcycle mechanics. With that, I would like to say thank you again for recognizing me with this award, I’m truly grateful!
Past Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Distinguished Alumni Award 2019: Shawna Miller
Shawna Miller completed her Business Administration diploma and first two-years of her Bachelor of Commerce degree at GPRC in 1994.
On top of running a small oil and gas service company along with 16 successful regional Subway Franchises with over 150 employees, Miller has dedicated much of her time to volunteering with the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce and held the position of Board Chair in 2013-2014. She currently sits as Chair-elect and in May 2019 will assume the role of Chair on the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and will then represent the province on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Board. Her commitment to the organization and business community is an inspiration to many.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2018: Dr. Bart Lardner
Dr. Lardner graduated in 1984 from GPRC Fairview with a diploma in Animal Health Technology. He later received his Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan and has conducted world-renowned research in the beef and forage industry.
He is currently an Adjunct Professor with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, specializing in animal and poultry science. Bart has numerous publications to his credit and has been invited to give over 250 talks in Canada and other countries including the United States, Australia, Finland, China and Mongolia.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2017: The Hon. Brian Hougestol
Brian graduated from GPRC in 1978 and went on to attain a Law Degree from the University of Calgary.
After serving as a lawyer for 25 years in Grande Prairie, in 2008 Brian was appointed to the bench, serving as Judge for Grande Prairie Provincial Court.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2016: Dr. Dana Goedbloed
Goodbloed graduated from GPRC in 1975 with a certificate in Secretarial Science. She later went on to earn her Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education degrees. She eventually completed her Ph.D. in Policy and Leadership at UBC.
In 2008, Goodbloed’s career took her to Kwantlen College in BC where she became the first female Dean of Apprenticeships in Canada.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2015: Dr. Jeremy Begalke
Just a few months after graduating from the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science, Dr. Jeremy Begalke, who now practices in Grande Prairie, was volunteering at his first eye clinic in a remote region in Mexico, and he has never faltered in his early commitment to bring his medical expertise to villages in developing countries around the globe. His eye care missions have included trips to Cambodia, Burma and Zanzibar.
Begalke began that journey at Grande Prairie Regional College in 1994, where he completed his first two years of post-secondary studies in the University Transfer Program. In his second year, he was honoured as the recipient of the 1996 Valedictorian Award. Today, balancing a career with his young family has temporarily put his medical mission work on hold. When the time is right, however, Begalke plans to return to the volunteer work he finds so meaningful.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2014: Bridget Hennigar
The achievements of Bridget Hennigar are an inspiration, and a strong example of the impact that GPRC alumni make in the communities of our region, in our Province, and across our Country. Throughout her career, she has consistently demonstrated that we can make a difference with the education we receive, and that it is our role to help our communities achieve major projects, sustain volunteer organizations, build businesses, and to help create a sense of community.
She has demonstrated outstanding excellence and service to her profession, to her community, and to society in general through selflessly giving of her time and energy. She has served on numerous community organizations, in roles including: President of GPRC Alumni Foundation Board (97-98), President of the GP & District Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of Centre 2000, Treasurer of the Northern Extreme Freestyle Skiing Association, and currently as President of the Grande Prairie Regional Agricultural and Exhibition Society. In addition to these official roles, she has been involved in many other organizations as a member of committees and working wherever her skills were needed.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2013: Ian Macdonald
Ian Macdonald graduated with honours from the first class of the Alberta School of Agriculture, Fairview, in 1953. During the 20 plus years following his graduation, he was a prominent member of numerous Alberta and North Peace agricultural cooperatives and committees. He is widely known for having helped the Alberta cattle industry earn its international reputation for high-quality beef.
In 1978, Mr. Macdonald was appointed to a six-year term as the Chair of Fairview College’s first board of governors. Returning in 1987 at the request of the Minister of Advanced Education, he became the longest-serving board chair in the history of Alberta’s college system. Under his leadership, the college successfully navigated a change in its governance structure and enjoyed exponential growth while remaining on a solid financial footing. The College’s programming expanded from agricultural studies to include trades/ full apprenticeship programs, and specialty programs though Mr. Macdonald gives great credit to the administration and staff of the time for these accomplishments. Ian was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1997, the same year Fairview College awarded Mr. Macdonald an honorary diploma for outstanding service to the college and the community of Fairview. He also received the Canada 125 Confederation Medal in recognition of his work on the college’s Board of Governors.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2012: Gary Borstad
Mr. Borstad was among the charter class of 66 students in 1966/67 when the Grande Prairie Junior College was established. He enrolled in university transfer science and then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in zoology and chemistry at the University of Alberta. In 2011, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society awarded him with the prestigious Francois J. Saucier Prize in Applied Oceanography.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2011: Senator Dennis Patterson
In the fall of 1966 when the Grande Prairie Junior College opened its doors, Dennis Patterson was one of 101 charter students. Soon after Dennis would be taking a leadership role as the first Students’ Executive President; a role that helped to lay the groundwork for what the College is today. He was named to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on August 27, 2009.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2010: Mr. Joseph Redhead
Joe first enrolled at GPRC in 1983-84, but with few supports in place for Aboriginal students at the time, he struggled and had to drop out. Returning to GPRC in 1996, he completed his Associate Science credential in 1998, going on to complete his BSc in Nursing at the U of A in 2002. As Nurse in Charge at Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Joe fulfills a huge and demanding role with his strong medical skills and “the art of humanity”. Joe has served on the Board of the GP Friendship Centre, and is a strong advocate for the on-campus Friendship Centre at GPRC. He is part of the Youth Justice Committee through Native Counselling Services of Alberta and was recently recognized as a Home Town Hero by the City of Grande Prairie.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2009: Dr. Marie Moreau
Dr. Marie Moreau is an inspiration to the northern Alberta student. She completed the first 14 years of her education in the small classes of her high school and her first two years of pre-med at GPRC, receiving the Valedictorian award in 1982. She went on to successfully complete her MD in the Department of Medicine, U of A. Returning to the Peace Country, she has practiced for some 25 years in general medicine and oncology and is currently the Director of the Grande Prairie Cancer Clinic at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. An accomplished pianist, she is frequently in demand as an accompanist, and plays both for her church and for the GP Boys Choir. Her three sons are all members of the Choir and Marie has served on the Board.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2008: Darlene Horseman
In her early years, Darlene took on many roles for the Horse Lake Band, becoming Band Manager, then transferring into the Land Administrator role. Once a new Band Council was elected, Darlene enrolled at GPRC where she began upgrading for her high school diploma. While upgrading, she discovered that she would be required to obtain a degree before she would be admitted into Law School, so she decided to pursue a degree in Education. She transferred into the Teacher Education North program, achieving her BEd in 2008. Darlene was appointed to the GPRC Board of Governors in 1997 and served two terms. After teaching for a couple of years Darlene hopes to move to Saskatoon and get her Law Degree.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2007: Robert J. (Bob) Maclean
Robert MacLean is a respected corporate and community leader, who has generously contributed of his personal success to encourage and support the efforts of others. Bob completed his Business Administration diploma at GPRC in 1972 and went on to earn his Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Alberta. Currently, he is Chairman of the Board and Director of the Edmonton Eskimo Football Club, and Co-chair of the University of Alberta Campaign 2008. As a volunteer fundraiser, advisory board member, and donor, Bob has contributed tirelessly to educational institutions of northern Alberta, including GPRC.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2006: Koralee Samaroden
Koralee Samaroden completed two years of her Bachelor of Physical Education at GPRC, then transferred to the University of Alberta, to finish her degree. Dedicated to making her community a better place to live, she proudly performs the role of Community Development Coordinator with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, coordinating recreation & leisure programs for the residents in the region. Koralee Samaroden encourages others, by her example, to participate and volunteer in their chosen fields, offering expertise to their communities. She is dedicated to giving back all that was given to her and her enthusiasm is infectious
Distinguished Alumni Award 2005: The Hon. Willie deWit
In 1978, a High School research project introduced deWit to the sport of boxing, and it quickly became his passion. deWit went on to be ranked number 5 in the world with a professional boxing career of 67 wins and 12 losses that included the North American Amateur Heavyweight championship, the World Amateur Heavyweight title and a silver medal for Canada in the 1984 Olympics. Upon his retirement from boxing in 1987, he enrolled in pre-law at GPRC and has given credit to the College as “the perfect place for me to learn how to learn again…” He attended GPRC from 1989-1991, going on to graduate from the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta and has been practicing law in Calgary ever since.
Distinguished Alumni Award 2004: Dr. Cora Voyageur
A member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Cora began her academic life as a student of GPRC in 1986. She chose to pursue a career in Sociology, and became the first First Nations woman to earn a doctorate from the University of Alberta. Today, her research explores the Aboriginal experience in Canada and is widely published in journals and books. She has received numerous awards for her work, which has added immeasurably to the awareness of the contributions of First Nations people in Alberta, Canada, and internationally. Among her dozens of conference presentations was that to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues workshop in New York City in January 2004.