– College of the North Atlantic (CNA) alumni were honoured for their outstanding achievements and enduring contributions at the inaugural Alumni Acclaim Awards event last Thursday, November 30.
Hosted by Places to Go – NTV News’ Sharon Snow, the event was a testament to the remarkable impact CNA alumni have made in their respective fields and communities.
“This evening is a tribute to our exceptional alumni,” said Elizabeth Kidd, CNA’s President and CEO. “Their journey from the classroom to this podium is an inspiration, not just for all of us here today, but for future students as well. Through dedication to their careers and a willingness to go above and beyond volunteering in their communities, these alumni demonstrate the values that define us as a college.”
Alumni were recognized in four award categories.
Young Alumni Award – Rachel Winsor
“Rachel is an amazing alumni and exemplary contributor to her community of St. Lawrence,” said Heidi Staeben-Simmons, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Advancement at CNA. “She volunteered with the college both as a student and later in a professional capacity with industry associations. To see her continuing to selflessly contribute to organizations that do good in her community is certainly not surprising to us.”
Winsor said she has always given back to her community because it has given her so much.
“Volunteerism has provided me with a lot of wonderful opportunities and experiences,” she said, sharing her advice to “Stay passionate, be persistent, and never underestimate the impact of small actions. Engage actively in your community, seek mentorship, never stop learning, embrace challenges and opportunities for growth, and approach every endeavor with dedication and enthusiasm.”
Winsor was the first female in Canada to be awarded the national Joseph G. Doria Exemplary Student Award from the CWB Welding Foundation.
As a Client Care Coordinator at CareGivers NL, she ensures client well-being. Through volunteerism, she strives to better her community. At present, she is a board member of Burin Peninsula Brighter Futures, advocating for the healthy development of young children. She has also served as President of the CNA Online Student Council. Among her many honors, she has received the Fry Family Foundation Achievement Award, two CNA Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards, and the distinguished Newfoundland and Labrador Student Volunteer Award. She lives in St. Lawrence on the province’s Burin Peninsula.
Community Service Award – Arlene Blanchard-White
“Everyone who knows Arlene describes her as a passionate leader and a huge proponent of growing and preserving Indigenous culture in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Staeben-Simmons said. “She’s advanced many issues on behalf of Indigenous women and students and has travelled the province promoting the Mi’kmaq way of life. There is no one more committed to improving the community around them than Arlene.”
Blanchard-White grew up in a family of 12, seeing her parents always willing to help others in the same way the community was always there to help her family, that’s what motivates her to continue giving back.
“We’re making a community and we’re leaving a legacy for the young people that’s coming behind us so that they can volunteer, they can do the same, so that there’s always volunteers in our communities,” she said. “You don’t do community volunteer work to get an award. You just do it. I feel like, ‘Oh, not me, I don’t deserve this kind of thing’ but it’s an honour. It truly is an honour.”
Blanchard-White is a proud L'nu (Mi'kmaw) woman who hails from Shallop Cove with roots in Flat Bay on the province’s West Coast. She secured funding for Indigenous Women in Business on a national committee in 2019. In 2018, she was appointed to the Provincial Advisory Council for the Status of Women. She is a former ward councilor for Qalipu Mi’kmaw First Nation Band. As a Mi'kmaw Knowledge Sharer, she was the first person to host a Water Ceremony in the province’s House of Assembly.
She chaired the Bay St. George Mi'kmaq Cultural Revival Committee for approximately nine years. Her dedication extends to sports coaching and empowering young women through the "You Go Girl" program. As a volunteer for the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Circle Newfoundland and Labrador, she secured funding for youth in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship. In her role as Assistant Chef de Mission for Team Indigenous NL 2023 and as Director for the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Circle NL, she further champions Mi'kmaw youth in sports.
Innovation Award – SubC Imaging
“The story of SubC Imaging is a fantastic one that should inspire all CNA graduates,” Staeben-Simmons said. “Graduates Chad Collett and Adam Rowe started this company in a basement 13 years ago. Now they have nearly 30 employees and sell their products all over the world.”
Based in the town of Clarenville, SubC Imaging has created cutting-edge technology that continues to revolutionize marine research, offshore oil and gas, renewable energy, aquaculture, and fisheries. With a global client list spanning more than 30 countries, SubC Imaging’s solutions include advanced underwater cameras, LEDs, lasers, recording systems, and software.
“I absolutely love my job. It’s 13 years and I still can’t wait to wake up in the morning and sink my teeth into a new project or whatever it is we’re working on,” Rowe said.
Collett added, “I’m excited about the future. It’s never been a better time to be in the ocean tech sector, and specifically in Canada.”
The company has won several awards, including the David McNamara Incubator Client Graduate of the Year from the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, the prestigious Outstanding Incubator Graduate Award from the U.S. based National Business Incubation Association, 2022 Business of the Year from the Clarenville Chamber of Commerce, and the $20,000 ConX Tech prize for their partnership with Kolossal.
Distinguished Alumni Award – Gary Reardon
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of receiving CNA’s first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award than Gary Reardon,” Staeben-Simmons said. “Gary’s name is well-known in CNA circles for his continuous support of the institution and its students. But his willingness to help and be involved doesn’t end with CNA. Gary has been, and continues to be, involved in too many organizations and projects to list, and is certainly no stranger to anyone involved in the business community of St. John’s.”
With over 51 years of construction experience, Reardon serves as President and Managing Director of the Reardon Group of Companies. He holds a Certified Condominium Specialist (C.C.S.) as well as a Seniors Housing designation.
His educational journey began with the completion of the Civil Engineering Technology program at the college in 1972. In 1999, he earned a Masters Certificate in Project Management (MCPM) from Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Business and the Schulich School of Business, York University.
He has served in roles such as President, Director, and Founder in many esteemed associations, including the St. John's Jaycees, the St. John's Board of Trade, the Canadian Home Builders Association, and Habitat for Humanity Canada. His contributions have earned him several awards – the Business Excellence Award from the St. John's Board of Trade and recognition as one of Atlantic Business Magazine's Top 50 CEOs, among others.
Reardon is the sponsor of the Jennifer Reardon Memorial Achievement Award (an annual $1,000 scholarship available to female CNA students) and engages with CNA as a volunteer and mentor.
“I’ve been involved with the community and volunteerism throughout my life,” Reardon said. “I think if you’re going to be successful in business or life, you have to give back. I’ve been able to give back to the community and see a different part of life.”
Presenting sponsor and TD Relationships Manager with the Affinity Market Group, Prataya Chakraborty, joined the event and congratulated all the winners on their incredible accomplishments.
“The outstanding contributions of the nominees and award recipients to their communities, both locally and across the country, is truly inspiring and will also, without a doubt, help others prosper and thrive,” he said.
The evening event concluded with an inspiring musical performance by two-time East Coast Music Award winner, Juno Award nominee and CNA alumni Kellie Loder.
For more information about the Alumni Acclaim Awards and this year’s winners, visit www.cna.nl.ca/alumni/acclaim-awards
College of the North Atlantic
P: (709) 699-8981