Niagara College kicks off convocation with distinguished alumnus

Chef David Penny, recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award, addresses Niagara College’s new graduates from the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute on June 21.

Niagara College kicked off its Spring Convocation Ceremonies on June 21 by welcoming more than 775 new graduates into its alumni community from the College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; and Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

Addressing the crowd was convocation speaker David Penny, a graduate of two NC programs: Bachelor of Applied Business – Hospitality Operations Management program (2008) and Culinary Management (2004) – who was honoured with a Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his professional successes.

Penny, who is a resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, spoke to the new graduates about the importance of carving their own path. Since he left the College, his path has led him to taking on a management training program with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii, to a position as executive chef Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate – two of Canada’s most recognized wineries – and his current position as executive chefs at Signature Retirement Living, a luxury retirement residence in Burlington. It has also led to opportunities for him to collaborate with some of the top chefs in the country and to television appearances on City’s Breakfast Television, CHCH Morning Live, CTV’s Canada AM, and more.

“Food is truly a universal language, and cooking as a path has taken me to many exciting places, and allowed me to meet truly amazing individuals – from serving Ozzy Osbourne and family on a beach in Hawaii, to cooking for Rachel McAdams and Gord Downie at Jackson Triggs,” he said. “People are central to this business. It’s the relationships that you form and the connections that you build that will help you fortify a great and fulfilling career.”

College president Dan Patterson also addressed the new graduates during the ceremony. “It is you who will help drive our economy and future prosperity because it is college graduates who make our communities work, and in no place is that more evident than right here in Niagara,” he said. “If you look at all the major sectors of the economy you will see college graduates succeeding and leading.”

NC’s Class of 2016 will be its largest to date with more than 4,570 students to graduate from its Spring Convocation Ceremonies, held at the Welland Campus from June 21-24.

Upcoming ceremonies

Ceremonies will continue on June 22 with Ontario Provincial Police superintendent Mike McDonell, who will receive an honorary diploma in Justice Studies  at the morning ceremony (10 a.m.);  and designer/ entrepreneur Shannon Passero who will receive an honorary Bachelor of Applied Studies at the afternoon ceremony (3 p.m.). On June 23,  Jane Rufrano, CEO and CFO of Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre, will receive an honorary diploma in Health Studies at the morning ceremony (10 a.m.); and Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation, will receive an honorary diploma in Community Studies at the afternoon ceremony (3 p.m.). Ceremonies will conclude on the morning of June 24 with Paul Charette, chair of the Board of Directors (and former CEO) at Bird Construction, who will receive an honorary diploma in Technology Studies (10 a.m.).

Watch live stream

Niagara College’s convocation ceremonies are streamed live at:


About NC

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit




Previous Spring Convocation 2016 Media Releases


View NC Media Release about NC’s Spring Convocation Ceremonies here:


NC’s top grad inspired by life experiences:
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