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2024 Honorary Diploma recipients

Annie Elizabeth Johnson
Annie Elizabeth Johnson

School of Technology and Environment
Strait Area Campus

Annie E. Johnson is a leader who is committed to protecting the environment and natural resources in her home community of Eskasoni and all of Unama’ki (Cape Breton). In both her work and personal life, Annie integrates Netukulimk (Mi’kmaw traditional ways of using natural resources) with Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing – viewing the world through the strengths of Indigenous knowledge together with conventional methods).

Passionate about culture, Mi’kmaq language and the natural world, Annie is the Director of Administration of the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources which leads in aquatic research and stewardship, Mi’kmaq knowledge and conservation.

Dedicated to many initiatives in her community, she was a driving force behind locally held Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI) conferences, ensuring meaningful, cultural experiences for attendees from across Turtle Island.

Annie exemplifies many of NSCC’s values, especially accessibility, diversity, inclusion, public accountability and sustainability. As a mentor and an employer, her ongoing support for the College and NSCC graduates has spanned almost two decades.

Annie is an avid volunteer and currently serves as a member of the board for Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Atlantic Canada. 

Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston

School of Technology and Environment
Institute of Technology Campus

Michael Johnston, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia, is a technology industry founder who believes in the power of investing in people and innovation together to achieve greatness.

Following an IT career in Boston, Mike returned to his roots in Atlantic Canada to establish REDspace, a technology firm that builds custom platforms, apps and services that entertain, educate and empower millions around the world. Headquartered in Halifax, REDspace has grown into a dynamic team of over 250 talented professionals renowned for their creation of award-winning web, mobile and video solutions. Notable partners include industry giants such as Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony Pictures, IBM and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Mike is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal for Service to Business/Commerce in 2023 and two Emmy awards for apps developed by REDspace. Passionate about helping the next generation of young Canadians unlock their potential, he serves as national Board Chair and interview committee chair for the prestigious Loran Scholars Foundation. Mike is also founding President of the Harvard Club of Atlantic Canada and serves as regional interview chair.

Mike’s dedication to education extends to shaping the future of IT and actively supporting the next generation of technology innovators. He is a member of the NSCC IT Programming Advisory Committee, shaping curriculum and participating in key industry events including the annual NSCC IT Job Fair and TechConnection. Recognizing the value that NSCC graduates bring to the industry in Nova Scotia and abroad, over one third of REDspace employees are NSCC alumni - a testament to Mike's commitment to hiring and nurturing local talent.

Outside of his professional pursuits, Mike finds joy in music as an avid woodwind musician, participating in various performing ensembles. A devoted father to his three children, he treasures family time and adventures around the globe. Alongside his wife Angela, Mike co-manages The Johnston Family Foundation, a philanthropic endeavour dedicated to unlocking the potential in others through strategic investments in programs that foster lasting positive change, in education, literacy, the performing arts and healthcare research.

Krista Lee Langille
Krista Lee Langille

School of Trades and Transportation
Akerley Campus

Krista Lee Langille is an NSCC Women Unlimited graduate who has found success as a Red Seal welder at Halifax Shipyard with Irving Shipbuilding and is an advocate for women pursuing careers in skilled trades.  
Krista has made significant contributions to her community and NSCC. From graduating with honours to her continued involvement empowering young women, she is a true ambassador of the College’s vision helping to transform the province one learner at a time. 
Krista’s journey to NSCC was not an easy one, having overcome many hardships in her life. She dropped out of school in grade 10 and moved to Toronto at age 16. She eventually returned to Nova Scotia as a mother of two, earned her GED and found work at a call centre. While in search of something more, a worker at the employment insurance office told her about NSCC's Women Unlimited program to explore careers in trades and technology, which inspired her to embark on a new path as a student. 
In 2012, Krista began her journey with Women Unlimited which led to her love for welding. In the program, Krista made new and lasting friendships, discovered skills she had within herself and learned about trades in shop visits at NSCC. She chose to pursue welding and worked hard at school and at home. 
Through perseverance and resilience, Krista graduated with a Welding diploma from Akerley Campus in 2014. In 2016, she achieved her Red Seal certification - the first Women Unlimited participant to receive a Red Seal in welding.  

Since then, she has worked steadily as a welder and spent a year teaching trades at the high school level and running an after-school trades program for teen girls.  
Krista loves to inspire and be inspired. She was hired by Irving Shipbuilding in January 2021 where she continues to mentor welding apprentices and “pass along the positivity" every day. Aside from empowering young women interested in the trades, she says building ships for the Royal Canadian Navy is the most rewarding job she has ever had.  
Dedicated to giving back, she often returns to Women Unlimited as a guest speaker and mentor, offering words of wisdom and a look at the welding trade as a skilled and passionate alum. 

Sandra Anne McKenzie
Sandra Anne McKenzie

School of Access, Education and Language
Ivany Campus

Sandra Anne McKenzie is a champion for Nova Scotia ingenuity and is known for leading transformational strategies in workforce development, adult education, economic development, policy development and strategic planning. 

Sandra's career is inextricably linked to the success of NSCC. Twenty-six years ago, she played a pivotal role as a member of the provincial government team supporting the creation of the College. Since the beginning, she's stood behind NSCC as a catalyst for community and individual prosperity.  

 As one of the founders of the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL), Sandra advocated for accessible, high quality post-secondary education. Other legacy initiatives include the foundations for province-wide career and employment counselling through Nova Scotia Works, the Workplace Education Program, the Read to Me Program with Dr. Richard Goldbloom, the Halifax Youth Foundation and the IWK, and the Family Literacy Initiative Endowment Fund. Her extensive government experience led her to serve Nova Scotia as Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Deputy Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, and Acting Deputy Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. Sandra also chaired the Ships Start Here partnership which brought government, businesses and leaders together to support the bid for the federal shipbuilding contract.  

Following her time in the government, she has launched a successful consulting business, McKenzie Consulting, and is co-founder of the Forge Institute, a thinker space dedicated to thought leadership for social innovation. She was also the inaugural chair of the Forestry Innovation Transition Trust. An active member of her community, Sandra chairs the Alderney Landing Board, Get Everyone Online (GEO) and is vice-chair of the Halifax Youth Foundation. She also is a board member of the Provincial Government Employees Credit Union.  

Outside of professional life, Sandra enjoys spending time with family, friends and many pets. 

Sandra's dedication and unwavering commitment to community and individual prosperity is truly reflective of the College's values regarding education and the importance of fostering community

Virginia 'Ginny' Smith
Virginia 'Ginny' Smith

School of Health and Human Services
Burridge Campus

A community leader for over 50 years, Virginia ‘Ginny’ Smith has impacted lives and contributed to the quality of life and education of people across the province and nationwide.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Ginny, alongside her husband Andy, made Nova Scotia their home in the 1970s. She worked at Southend Renewal and became a volunteer coach for the YMCA Yarmouth Whitecaps Swim Team and continued in this role for over 45 years. Ginny holds a master's degree in education and a bachelor of arts in education with a concentration in child psychology. She also holds a bachelor of arts in psychology. For over 27 years, she worked with the Yarmouth District School Board, holding various roles such as administrator, teacher and special education specialist.

Dedicated to her community, Ginny’s involvement in numerous initiatives created lasting impacts that go beyond the classroom. She played a pivotal role in co-founding the Yarmouth Literacy Council and was instrumental in starting the Yarmouth Adult Literacy program, empowering individuals to complete their GED. She is also the founder of the Southwest Paddlers Association and the Yarmouth Association for Community Residential Options (YACRO). Ginny's advocacy also extends to environmental causes. She has contributed her efforts to the Yarmouth Environmental Think Tank (YETT) and the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association. She is an active advocate for environmental conservation through initiatives like the Coastal Protection Act.

Ginny’s many accolades are a true reflection of contributions to her community. She was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, has coached Nova Scotia Canada Games teams and earned recognitions including the Swim Nova Scotia Sovereign’s Medal and the Swimming Canada Volunteer Contribution Award. She was also the first female in Atlantic Canada to achieve a level 4 National Coaching Certification.

From shaping young minds to nurturing swimming talents, Ginny has touched the lives of countless individuals, fostering a culture of excellence and embodying the spirit of lifelong learning.