Community-minded students earn provincial recognition

Volunteer Service Awards

From left, student Jesse Green, Chisanga Puta-Chekwe, deputy minister, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, and student Tyler Merkus. Absent from photo: student Vaishnav Mayekar.

While many NC students earn recognition within their field of study, three students were recently honoured for their contributions and achievements outside the classroom.

Vaishnav Mayekar, Tyler Merkus and Jesse Green were recently received Ontario Volunteer Service Awards in recognition of their extensive involvement in the community.

“Ontario’s six million volunteers demonstrate active citizenship through their dedication to making our communities a better place to live and work,” said Michael Coteau, Ontario’s minister of citizenship and immigration. “I’m delighted to recognize their commitment and efforts through the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards.”

Vaishnav (Vish)  Mayekar, from Mumbai, India and a 2014 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Management program, was recognized for his long list of volunteer activities, that included contributions both within his field of study – including work at community festivals and events – as well as work with Niagara College’s Student Administrative Council, including a term as Director of Clubs and Volunteers and work with mental health awareness projects.

“I feel accomplished and really proud,” said Mayekar, who missed the awards ceremony as he was gaining valuable culinary experience working at the Cannes Film Festival in France. “The opportunities I have through Niagara College helped me network with a lot of people, and helped me market myself in the culinary world.”

Green, an Advanced Law Enforcement and Investigations student from Markham, was recognized for his work as a tutor and security volunteer at several local events.

“My volunteer opportunities gave me the opportunity to grow as an individual, learn to work in a team environment, and meet some wonderful people,” he said.

Merkus, a Police Foundations student from Wainfleet, said his extensive volunteer experience showed him the importance of giving back to his community.

“Canada is such a bountiful country, and the Niagara region has so much to offer. It’s only fair that I contribute.”

Merkus was recognized for his work as a security volunteer at events in Niagara and Hamilton, including the visit to Niagara College by Canada’s premiers as part of the 2013 Council of the Federation.

The students’ community work was tracked through Niagara College’s Co-Curricular Record, which documents the important work students do outside the classroom. NC’s Co-Curricular Record recognizes the value that community and leadership experience adds to a students’ educational experience and employability.

The co-curricular activities are supported by Niagara College’s Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership, which also administers the Co-Curricular Record.

“These types of activities are crucial in developing the intangible skills and experiences that enhance our students’ educational and career pathways,” said Lesley Calvin, manager of the Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership. “Vish, Jesse and Tyler exemplify the key values we seek to instill in our students: leadership, hard work and commitment to community.”

The students received stylized trillium pins and personalized certificates at the ceremony, which was held in Niagara Falls in May.

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