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Valedictorians: Class of 2019

Meet the 2019 NSCC Valedictorians. These phenomenal students, selected by their campuses, represent the achievements and experiences of their graduating class.


Derek Hill
Derek Hill

Before attending college, Derek could be found running his business and raising his two children. With a goal of obtaining his high school diploma, Derek chose the Adult Learning Program at NSCC because of its flexible schedule and learning environment. His plan going into the program was to make the most of the experience and get involved in absolutely everything he could. He says the more he did, the more he enjoyed each experience.

Derek’s future plans include spending the summer working and building his business before continuing his education by pursuing a Business Administration Diploma and focusing on courses that align with his passion for entrepreneurship.

Derek’s words of advice for the graduating class: “Some goals are reached quickly, and others take time and persistence. Be persistent and live the life you are meant to live.”

Katrina Pierce
Katrina Pierce

Seeking an educational experience that would challenge her, Katrina chose Heavy Duty Equipment / Truck & Transport Repair Diploma. She says she worried that her lack of experience would be an issue; but she quickly discovered a love for what she was learning. Continuing to work during her schooling, Katrina took her busy schedule on with a positive attitude and always woke up excited to start her day.

After graduation, Katrina plans to gain employment and work toward obtaining her Red Seal. By building on her training and experience, Katrina hopes to one day teach future generations of technicians.

Her message to the class of 2019: “It’s okay to be scared about doing something that you've never tried before. Fear is normal. What’s important is your reaction to that fear. Don't allow it to hold you back. Instead, let it push you forward into a future you never imagined possible for yourself.”

Liam Gowan
Liam Gowan
Geographic Sciences - Advanced Diploma (Geographic Information Systems Concentration)

Liam, a Computer Science graduate from Dalhousie University, came to NSCC to develop practical skills in the world of geographic sciences. Liam’s love for the outdoors, making sense of the physical world and programming caused him to chart a course to the Centre of Geographic Sciences and the Geographic Sciences Advanced Diploma program. It was important to Liam that his capstone project focus on a very relatable issue in Nova Scotia: potholes. His project collected data that can eventually be translated into an early warning system for vehicles about known pothole locations.

Liam plans to gain employment in the industry as a GIS Developer or Analyst somewhere in Canada – but he is flexible as to where he might begin his career.

His message to the class of 2019: “To achieve great things, you must be patient with yourself… and ArcMap.”

Jayson Gardner
Jayson Gardner

Looking for hands-on experience in a trade that would challenge him, Jayson chose to take on NSCC’s Plumbing Certificate. His experience in the Options and Opportunities (O2) program while in high school gave him a chance to volunteer in the field. It also helped him realize that practical experience was important to his learning approach and that NSCC would offer that as part of his education.

Jayson believes that if you’re not working toward a goal, you’re not working at all. His goal is to become the best in his trade.

His message to the class of 2019: “Be the best that you can be. It takes time in and outside of the class to really master the skills you learn. Be humble and know that you're going to mess up sometimes. Always learn something from your mistakes.”

André-Michel McCauley
André-Michel McCauley

In search of a positive post-secondary experience and an opportunity to work in an industry where he could make a positive change in society, André-Michel applied to NSCC’s Social Services Diploma program. He describes his experience as “amazing” and is grateful for the quality education he received from the faculty in the program. André-Michel is proud to have grown throughout his time at NSCC, improving skills such as communication, adaptability and professionalism.

André-Michel plans to work before returning to school to further his education. He will work toward a Master of Social Work and the goal of opening a practice of his own.

His message to the class of 2019: “I have deeply appreciated our time together. Remember, wherever life takes each and every one of you, I’ll always be rooting for you.”

Brendan Stone
Brendan Stone

Interested in staying in his hometown after high school, Brendan went in search of an opportunity that would challenge him. He landed on NSCC’s Electronic Engineering Technician Diploma program, which he completed in 2017. From there, he decided to add to his education in an area that would fuel his interest in business, the stock market and marketing and enrolled in the Business Administration Diploma program. Brendan is grateful for the continuous support of the faculty, and says that with their words of encouragement, he was able to achieve all the goals he set out for himself.

Brendan’s next step is to take advantage of an articulation agreement between NSCC and St. FX University, and complete his degree in just two more years. Brendan’s ultimate goal is to become a high school teacher.

Brendan’s message for the class of 2019: “Set goals and work towards them, but don’t be afraid to adjust your goals as your needs change. Be true to yourself and what you want —always — and you will be successful.”

Kyra Boyle
Kyra Boyle

While living in the United States, Kyra had found herself in a job that lacked room for advancement. She felt stuck, and decided she needed to make a change. She went in search of an opportunity that would provide the education and confidence she needed to begin a career with room to grow and thrive. With its reputation for producing highly-skilled professionals, it was clear to Kyra that NSCC’s Office Administration Diploma program was the one for her.

Through opportunities on campus, Kyra found herself a place in the NSCC community. She plans on using the skills NSCC has taught her to pursue a career in the public service with either the federal or provincial government.

Kyra’s message for the class of 2019: “I leave you with a quote that I was brought up with: ‘Wherever you go, there you stay.’ It means that every experience you’ve had, has made you who you are today. It’s important to find commonality with each other and create a community where you are.”

Salma Rehman
Salma Rehman

Salma’s goal of getting her high school diploma to create a better future for herself is what attracted her to NSCC’s Adult Learning Program. She believes that NSCC has opened doors for her that wouldn’t have existed before. Salma says she’s gained many skills through the program, including study skills, time management and language skills.

She plans to continue her education and return to NSCC to complete an English for Academic Purpose Certificate to improve her communication skills and prepare herself for university.

Her message for the class of 2019: “You don’t have to be a certain age to get an education. We can get it anytime we want, and NSCC is there to support students of all ages.”

Aimee Watson-Reynolds
Aimee Watson-Reynolds

Aimee was in search of a learning option that could fit into her busy life when she found NSCC’s Business Administration Diploma program. She needed to continue working while in school, so she knew she would benefit from smaller class sizes and a program that was affordable. Her talent for math and puzzles quickly led her to her program’s Accounting concentration. Aimee says that during her time at NSCC, the entire staff and faculty were amazing and her post-secondary experience was incredibly uplifting.

Aimee has secured a position with a locally-owned and operated film production company. She plans to work to gain experience and hopes to, one day, follow in her mother’s footsteps and gain a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.

Her message for the class of 2019: “Keep moving forward. Make a goal and work toward it. The road may be difficult, but if you keep trying you’ll get there. It might not be as soon as you’d like, but someday is better than never.”

Josie Brewer
Josie Brewer

Inspired by her parents, Josie learned, first-hand, about compassion and empathy, resilience and perseverance. These attributes, combined with a passion to provide care for those who need it, led her to NSCC’s Practical Nursing Diploma program.

Josie plans to pursue a career in mental health nursing. She feels mental health nursing is an under-served area in our community that also provides a great opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. She wants to also serve as an advocate for better practices and improved client care. Her long-term goals include becoming a registered nurse and a nursing instructor. Josie is determined to give back to the community that has already given her so much.

Her message for the class of 2019: “This journey has been unique for us all, but in so many ways the same. Congratulations, we made it!”

Kate Sunabacka
Kate Sunabacka

Kate discovered the Industrial Engineering Technology Diploma program while visiting Ivany Campus’s Technology Showcase event with Women Unlimited. The combination of analytical thinking, problem solving, efficient processes, creativity and working with people, is what really sold her on the program. Encouraged by her instructors, Kate participated in several travel abroad experiences through NSCC International. This allowed her to build her resume and gain international work experience. She says the opportunity has been nothing short of amazing and she feels more empowered than ever to pursue her dreams.

Kate plans to start working in the industry as soon as possible. In the spirit of life-long learning, she also aims to enhance her business management skills by achieving a Lean Six Sigma Certification.

Her message to the class of 2019: “Be open, try your best and always keep pushing yourself a little outside of your comfort zone. That's where true growth happens.”

Tristan Grant
Tristan Grant

Tristan entered the Music Business Certificate program with a Bachelor of Arts degree and an already established resume in the music industry. As a two-time East Coast Music Award nominee, Tristan could often be found performing shows, running workshops and hosting public speaking engagements. He knew something was missing and wanted an opportunity to focus on professional training in administration, marketing, entrepreneurship and law so he could take his career to the next level. Tristan enjoyed his time in the program and gives thanks to the faculty and his fellow students for their support and inspiration.

Tristan plans to put his newly refined skills to work, focusing his efforts on releasing three, short extended plays (EP’s) over the next year. He will also be coordinating a short tour — including promotions and a video production — to complement his new releases.

His message to the class of 2019: “Be humble. Acknowledge your limitations and face your fears. Breaking through those barriers will help you become a more well-rounded individual with the confidence to chase your dreams. Never give up.”

Jessica Reddick
Jessica Reddick

After doing some research and talking to her sister — an NSCC graduate — Jessica decided to follow in her footsteps. The Business Administration Diploma program appealed to Jessica as she wished to gain tangible skills that would help her succeed in the areas of product development and people management. Jessica found comfort in NSCC’s strong sense of community. She says the College has a way of making people feel like they belong exactly where they are. It was a highlight of her experience.

After graduation, Jessica plans to continue her studies at Vancouver Island University. Jessica’s ultimate goal is to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration and secure a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.

Jessica’s message for the class of 2019: “We are bonded in a common experience. Life does not wait for you to study. We had to balance so much of our lives to get to this point. It is our determination, combined with the compassion and dedication of our instructors, that will push us forward after graduation. Best of luck to you all.”

Joanie Murray
Joanie Murray

Kingstec Campus’s proximity to her hometown was important to Joanie when choosing NSCC’s Early Childhood Education Diploma program. With financial support from her great aunt, Joanie was able to invest her time in developing effective communication skills, mastering theories of child care and development and learning the essential ways to nurture and care for children and their families.

Joanie’s future plans will find her in the Northwest Territories where she will put her new education and skills to work. Down the road, she is interested in continuing her education in a degree program and coming back to Nova Scotia to work in the pre-primary program.

Her message for the class of 2019: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail once in a while. We’re all human and it is how we deal with failure that really helps us grow.”

Michael Nicholson
Michael Nicholson

Michael’s initial interest was in NSCC’s Electronic Engineering Technician Diploma program, in hopes to expand upon his past experience in cell phone repair. When Michael found he needed to complete his Grade 12, he turned to NSCC’s Adult Learning Program. He upgraded his math and completed Grade 12 in just one semester. Michael praises his instructors and says they provided the inspiration and support he needed to succeed.

Determined to achieve his original goal, Michael will be starting the Electronic Engineering Technician Diploma program at Kingstec Campus in the Fall.

Michael’s message for the class of 2019: “We all share a common bond in the level of hard work and dedication it takes to make education a priority and to lead a better life – for us, for our families and our communities. Celebrate it!”

Krystallum Wagner
Krystallum Wagner

In search of a career and not just a job, Krystallum was looking for an opportunity that would allow her to provide for her family. She knew that she had experience in office work, and in her spare time she loved to learn about science and medicine. The answer was obvious – NSCC’s Medical Office Administration Certificate. Krystallum enjoyed her time at NSCC, noting: “It’s not just a college within a community, it is a community within a college.”

After graduation, Krystallum wants to secure full-time employment with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Once she has established her career, she aspires to continue her education and become a medical transcriptionist, converting voice recordings of health care providers into written reports.

Krystallum’s message to the class of 2019: “We all came to NSCC at a crossroads in our lives, whether straight from high school or a change in an already established career. No matter what our trials and tribulations were that brought us here, we worked up the courage to take on the change. We tackled the unknown and we overcame our fears.”

Bill Meuse
Bill Meuse

Having been out of school for some time, Bill found comfort knowing that NSCC would support him in the challenges he might face and provide him with the resources needed to succeed as he took on the Adult Learning Program. After graduating in 2016, Bill was ready for another challenge and is now graduating from the Electrical Construction & Industrial Diploma program.

He takes pride in how his experience at NSCC has changed him. From academic accomplishment, to career opportunities and leadership roles, Bill has taken full advantage of his NSCC journey. Bill says NSCC gave him the confidence to know that he’s capable of accomplishing whatever it is he sets out to do; and he has the determination to get it done.

Bill’s message for class of 2019: “Today's students overwhelm themselves with frustration of the workloads they're faced with. My advice to them is to just ask a simple question of someone who can help, and that will enable you to overcome the hurdle you need to get the job done.”

Devin Pickup
Devin Pickup

Interested in finding both a stable and a rewarding career and one that would allow him to stay in Cape Breton, Devin chose the Practical Nursing Diploma program. He says that his overall experience at NSCC has been nothing less than incredible. He spent his time fostering relationships with students and faculty, and takes pride in the knowledge and skills he gained through classroom learning and hands-on training.

As he graduates, Devin is confident that he will have success in his nursing career. He attributes his confidence to his time at NSCC. Through the program, Devin says he gained a strong sense of compassion and excellent communication skills, enhanced his time and stress management abilities and learned that he works well under pressure.

Devin’s message for the class of 2019: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Recognize when you need help and ask for it. You can always find someone willing to help you in achieving your end goal, which is SUCCESS!”

Cody Reddick
Cody Reddick

Friends and family pointed Cody in the direction of NSCC. There was a local campus that provided many opportunities to train in the trades that he was looking for. His research showed him NSCC’s Welding Diploma program would suit him. Once enrolled, he immediately knew he would strive for advanced standing, so he could qualify for the Welding Inspection & Quality Control Diploma program once he graduated. Cody’s time at the College has taught him to believe in himself and in the process – he has learned you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Cody plans on securing employment in the field. He will then work toward achieving his Red Seal with an ultimate goal of working as a Level 1 Inspector.

Cody’s message to the class of 2019: “You can do whatever you set your heart on. Put your head down, get to work and you can achieve your goals.”

Holly Harding
Holly Harding

As a mature student and single mother, Holly was nervous to go back to school. She chose NSCC’s Continuing Care Certificate program because of the testimonials from previous students and the small class sizes. Through the support of her classmates and faculty, Holly felt a boost in her confidence and swiftly tackled all of the challenges that came her way. She feels that her time at NSCC has helped her become a stronger, more resilient person.

Holly’s future goals include pursuing employment with the Tri County Victoria Order of Nurses and obtaining her certification as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Her message for the class of 2019: “Believe in yourself. Even on the hardest days, focus on what you’ve achieved already and follow your dreams — no matter how big. We’re the only obstacles keeping us from reaching our goals. Wake up each day with a fresh mind and don’t spend time stressing over things that you can’t change. We worked hard to get to this day, be proud!”

Adrianne McMahon
Adrianne McMahon

NSCC’s Behavioural Interventions Advanced Diploma program gave Adrianne the balance she was searching for. She knew she wanted an opportunity to explore and apply new learnings. She also wanted a program that would build on her existing education, skills and experiences. Adrianne loves that the work she’s doing will have lasting impacts for individuals, their families and their communities.

Adrianne plans to work full-time and hopes to continue learning, developing her skills and staying current with best practices in her field.

Her message to the class of 2019: “It’s important that everyone comes together to support one another. In our class, we learned that coming from various backgrounds, having different interests and a range of strengths, can only make a group stronger. Together we can invest in each other to succeed.”

Megan MacNeil
Megan MacNeil

Inspired by the promise of applied learning and a hands-on approach, Megan signed up for what she found to be a transformative learning experience. Throughout her life, Megan had a passion for making a difference and helping others. She chose NSCC’s Social Services Diploma program for the opportunity to learn the skills she needed to effectively enhance the quality of life of people in her community.

In the long-term, Megan would like to become an NSCC faculty member and teach Social Services. In the short-term, she plans to continue her studies and obtain a Bachelor of Social Work.

Megan’s message for the class of 2019: “As this chapter in our lives ends, remember that you’re always growing. Appreciate the time we’ve spent staying up late writing papers and studying for tests. Be grateful, for now we have the knowledge and the skills we need to achieve our dreams.”