Premier’s Awards recognizes the tremendous contribution Ontario’s college graduates make to the success of the province and beyond. The awards were established in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s colleges.
Presented annually, awards are given in the following seven categories: Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.
Visit www.co-awards.org to learn more.
Apprenticeship nominee - Dustin Leitch
Automotive Service Technician Apprenticeship '07
Dustin Leitch was Tesla’s first service technician in Canada, Hong Kong and China. As the Asia Pacific regional service manager, he built the electric car company’s service operations from the ground up, leading a 250-member team across 14 service centres. Dustin reimagined Tesla’s mobile service model when he returned to Canada in 2016, building a fleet of custom-designed and outfitted vehicles and technicians ready to take on any service challenge in customers’ driveways from Winnipeg to Halifax. “College taught me the fundamentals of problem-solving,” he says. “I learned to approach every problem like I would the repair on a car.”
Business co-nominees - Massi Basiri and Meti Basiri
Fitness & Health Promotion '14 and Business Marketing '14
Massi and Meti Basiri are on a mission to educate the world. In 2015, the twin brothers co-founded ApplyBoard, now the world’s largest online platform for international student recruitment and one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Canada. They have helped more than 200,000 students study at 1,500 educational institutions across North America, the United Kingdom and Australia, including 21 Ontario colleges. They’ve raised C$600 million in venture capital funding on a C$4 billion valuation, making ApplyBoard Canada’s only second “edtech unicorn” company. In 2019, Forbes named Meti and Massi to three different Top 30 Under 30 lists.
Community Services nominee - Daisy Wright
Career Development Practitioner '04
As the chief encouragement officer of The Wright Career Solution, Daisy Wright has helped approximately 1,000 clients change their jobs, careers and lives. A certified career development practitioner, she has shared her personal story of immigration and career transition at hundreds of presentations, workshops and seminars across Ontario. Daisy is the author of three books, including a bestselling, first-of-its-kind resource for internationally educated professionals. She is also a former career advisor for CBC Radio Canada International’s “The Link.” Through her Let’s GROW Project, she has helped more than 100 women set career goals and gather the skills and courage to achieve them.
Creative Arts & Design nominee - Vincent Marcone
Graphic Design '98
Vincent Marcone is a digital artist and musician whose work has been described as Tim Burton meets Alice Cooper in The Twilight Zone. He blends the traditional art of printmaking with computer graphics to create mixed-media portraits, album covers, music videos and online worlds. His uniquely whimsical and haunting aesthetic has earned him two Emmys, a Juno, a Cannes Film Festival nomination, and accolades from David Bowie, Guillermo Del Toro and Clive Barker. While continuing to craft new stories through art, Vincent is building a community of local artists and making art accessible to the public through a novel city partnership.
Health Sciences nominee - Stefanie Davis Miller
A college essay about PTSD set the stage for Stefanie’s career as a mental health advocate who is breaking down the stigma and making it acceptable for first responders to say they are not okay. Credited with being “at the vanguard” of a culture shift among first responders, she founded a first responder peer support group, adapted and led mental readiness programming in her paramedic service and impacted approximately 5,000 first responders and their families as a motivational speaker. Stefanie is also a contributing author of two best-selling books and a 13-year volunteer with the Tema Foundation for mental health.
Recent Graduate nominee - Saifullah Muhammad
General Arts & Science: English Language Studies '17
Saifullah Muhammad is a Rohingya youth activist and unstoppable force for change in Myanmar. Since immigrating to Canada from a Bangladesh refugee camp, he has co-founded the Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative, organized a 10,000-strong Queen’s Park demonstration and testified before a Senate committee on the Rohingya crisis. He addressed Canada’s House of Commons, the European Parliament and the UN General Assembly, as well as consulted directly with Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar. Saifullah is co-leading a research project with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and his pioneering local partnerships are helping improve the education and lives of Rohingya Canadians.
Technology - posthumous nomination - Mark Kershey
Electronics Engineering Technology '81
From circuit designer to global sales leader to serial tech entrepreneur, Mark Kershey’s 38-year career was driven by a single passion: to deliver products that solve real and difficult problems. He consulted to more than 70 new ventures and raised more than $15 million in seed capital for North American technology start-ups, including the Ottawa company that later pioneered the first made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test. Mark was an outspoken champion of innovation, college education and women in engineering. He inspired thousands and personally mentored hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs before passing away at the height of his career in October 2019.