The efforts of two professors were celebrated by the College’s Student Administrative Council at a recent award ceremony.
2017 Educator of the Year Awards were presented to Fitness and Health Promotion professor Jodi Steele and chef professor Osvaldo Avila.
Steele, who received the full-time Educator of the Year award, was honoured by the recognition. “I never thought I would have a second career as amazing as my first,” she said. “I am so proud, surprised and grateful.”
Steele joined College faculty in August 2015. After she was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue disease, a form of systemic arthritis, she said she had been feeling lost and defeated in her previous career. She had been teaching Oncology rehab courses to health-care professionals for more than 10 years, and when she heard about a job opportunity at the College, she jumped at the opportunity. Little did she know at the time how much she would enjoy her new career.
“Fitness and Health Promotion is an amazing department with such kind and supportive,” she said. “The students are engaged, friendly and eager to learn, which makes teaching them totally worth it.”
Avila, who was the recipient of the part-time Educator of the Year Award, was surprised by the honour.
“It was absolutely an unexpected award and an occasion that not only made me feel very humble and honoured but also brought me to reflect on our profession,” he said. “It’s a chance to share knowledge and create a path for students which can transform their lives.”
Originally from Cuba, he has worked at renowned venues including the Hotel Meliá Cohíba, Morro Cabaña Resort, the Tocororo Restaurant, and the Japanese Embassy in Havana. He attended Niagara College as well as the University of Mexico and, after returning to Canada in 2002, worked at Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino before returning to NC as a chef professor and as a sous chef at Benchmark restaurant in 2009.
“I must admit, I have received more from my students, who have energized, challenged and inspired me every day,” said Avila. “I have been lucky at Niagara College to have wonderful students and great colleagues on the faculty and in the administration who share one goal—providing an exceptional journey for our students.
“Also, thank-you to Canada. This nation and its people continue to give me opportunities personally and professionally.”
Wall of Fame Award
NCSAC also inducted a College administrator to its Wall of Fame for 2017: Vince Malvaso.
The director of Financial Services received the award in recognition of his significant contributions. The award honours excellence and acknowledges those who support NCSAC goals and student life in the areas of work performance, and customer service.
Malvaso said he is truly humbled to be recognized in this way. “I have been privileged to participate on the NCSAC Board and fortunate to continue to work with the NCSAC team,” he said. “Over the years it has been inspiring to seeing the leadership development of our students.
“I commend NCSAC for their leadership on such initiatives as mental health, the breakfast program and the support of the campus redevelopment.”
As a member of the NCSAC Board of Directors from August 2009 until March 2016, Malvaso was described at the award presentation as an “unselfish advocate, mentor and friend to many of the past and current NCSAC staff and board members,” and as an integral link between NCSAC and the college administration.
With his financial advice and guidance, NCSAC has been able to continue to provide and improve on the services available to the students of Niagara College. Malvaso, who has been working at the College since 2003, was noted as always considering the students first when making decisions or suggestions, and as always willing to share his expertise with NCSAC members and staff. He was also praised for being courteous to staff and students and for his financial advice and guidance, which has assisted NCSAC with continuing to provide and improve on the services available to the students of Niagara College.