GRANDE PRAIRIE – The annual Grande Prairie Regional College President’s Awards Luncheon today recognized several members of the community for contributions to excellence in education. The event, hosted by the GPRC Alumni/Foundation, was established in 2004 and honours its donors and presents GPRC’s most prestigious awards.
The Distinguished Volunteer Award is in recognition of exceptional contributions of time and energy dedicated to the advancement of GPRC and was presented to Marjorie Taylor.
Taylor is a tireless volunteer and dedicated artist, whose efforts have made a huge impact on the community. Taylor, who obtained a diploma in Fine Arts from GPRC, has dedicated much of her life to serving and assisting boards and committees to help further the development of local arts and culture in Grande Prairie.
She served as the Chairperson for the GPRC Fine Arts Advisory Committee and dedicated her time to the Art of the Peace Board, served as Chair for the Prairie Art Gallery Board of Directors (now the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie) and was an integral volunteer for the Montrose Cultural Centre. Taylor also served on the McNaught Homestead Restoration Society Board, City Arts Committee and the Grande Prairie City Municipal Planning Committee. She is a leader by example and has served as an inspiration to many.
The Steps to the Greater Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of GPRC alumni early in their careers. This year, GPRC is pleased to award two outstanding alumni with this award. The recipients are David Lario and Joren Manz.
Lario, a professional engineer and entrepreneur finished his first year of engineering at GPRC in 1995 before heading off to the University of Alberta to complete his Bachelors and then, Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout his career, Lario has always made a point to give back and help future and upcoming engineers in our region through his volunteering with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists.
Lario lends his expertise on engineering panels at the College, assists with presentations and workshops throughout the region and serves proudly as a mentor for young engineering students in the pursuit of their dreams.
Manz, has always had an interest in helping others and is currently embarking on his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Alberta. Manz started his academic career at GPRC and was an active member of the Wolves community, running cross-country and track during his time at the College. Manz was an inspiration to his teammates and coaches with his countless hours spent volunteering and juggling the demands of being a student-athlete while still achieving honours.
While achieving academic success, Manz also was a GPRC Wolves Summer Camp leader, Canada West University Athletics Association Silver and Bronze medalist, worked with the Steadward Centre coaching para- and wheelchair track athletes and volunteered his time aiding care on missions to the Philippines, Croatia and Kenya. Manz continues to inspire all those around him with his humble attitude and desire to help.
The Alumni Award of Excellence recognizes specific, recent accomplishments of alumni. This year, GPRC is excited to award two outstanding alumni with this award. The recipients are Kelly O’Hallahan and Brett Hart.
O’Hallahan, achieved much success in her Wolves career during her time at GPRC and hasn’t stopped breaking barriers since. During her time at GPRC she was honoured with the 2013 Female Athlete of the Year, named a two-time ACAC All-Conference player and a CCAA All-Canadian.
O’Hallahan left Grande Prairie to play professional basketball in Ireland has made her mark and persevered through injury. She was named the 2017 and 2018 Basketball Ireland Player of the Year and her significant contribution led her team, the Marble City Hawks, to win the Ireland Division 1 National League Championship in 2017. O’Hallahan is a dedicated and passionate player who has helped change the future of ladies basketball both in Grande Prairie and Kilkenny, Ireland.
Hart completed his Motorcycle Mechanic Certificate from GPRC Fairview in 2006. Since graduating with top marks and landing a Head Technician role at Blackfoot Motorsports, Hart has competed in the biennial Yamaha Technician Grand Prix competition since 2012.
This year’s competition, Hart achieved the Canadian Champion title and was sent to Japan to compete against the head technicians from all over the world. With his skill and passion for the trade, Hart successfully bettered all the competition and was named the first Canadian to have the World Champion in the Sports Model Class title. Hart’s positive and hard working attitude is an inspiration to all and embodies that nothing is impossible when you follow your dreams.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was established to recognize GPRC alumni for outstanding accomplishments in their professions, and/or in service to their community, society or GPRC. GPRC honoured alumna Shawna Miller with the award.
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.
The Board of Governors Award of Distinction is the College’s highest tribute to individuals or groups within our community. This award has been established to honour individuals whose actions have made exceptional contributions to our community and to the advancement of higher education.
Pete Merlo is the 2019 Award of Distinction recipient. Merlo served eight years on the GPRC Board of Governors including three years as Chair of the Governance Committee and finished his term in June 2017 following three years as Board Chair.
Merlo has been dedicated to strengthening the College community and was instrumental in leading a partnership between his company, LSM and GPRC to develop and implement the sheet metal worker program at the College, which continues to be an important program for industries across the region. Merlo also helped in the advocacy of the College becoming degree-granting, a milestone that was achieved in 2018.
Merlo has also been very active in the Grande Prairie community throughout the years. He served on the Board of Directors for Alberta Blue Cross representing Northern Alberta, Construction Committee Chair for the Centre 2000 project, past President of Grande Prairie & District Chamber or Commerce, past President and current member of the Swan City Rotary Club, and was a founding Board Member of The Community Foundation to name a few.
Currently, Merlo is an active member of the College’s VITAL Campaign Cabinet and continues to help our College community make strives to better serve our region in making post-secondary dreams come true.
Today’s event also inducted 20 new members to the GPRC President’s Council. The President’s Council consists of individuals who have completed service to GPRC on the Board of Governors or Alumni/Foundation Board of Directors, volunteered as Chair of a major fundraising event, made a planned gift to the College, or received a distinguished award at GPRC.
More than 150 GPRC donors and supporters were present for the ceremonies, held today in Clarkson Hall at Evergreen Park.
Check out the event photo album here
GPRC is a comprehensive community institution, publicly supported to provide opportunities in post-secondary education in northwestern Alberta. Established in 1966 in Grande Prairie, GPRC now includes campuses in Fairview and Grande Prairie, and learning centres in Edson, Grande Cache, Hinton and Jasper. GPRC offers a wide variety of career certificates and diplomas, pre-employment and apprenticeship trades, university transfer studies, and several opportunities for on-campus degree completion at baccalaureate and master levels through collaborations with four-year universities. For more information visit gprc.ab.ca.
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