Each year, St. Lawrence College recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals or organizations whose accomplishments are of such excellence, inspiration and leadership that they serve as an example for the students and graduates of our college with our Honorary Diplomas.
To make a nomination, please complete this nomination form. Nominations received before January 31, 2017 will be considered for Convocation events June 2017.
If you have further questions please contact Maggie Stevens at email@example.com.
Past Honorary Diploma Recipients
Click here to learn more about past Honorary Diploma recipients.
2016 Honorary Diploma Recipients
Rolland (Rollie) Billings, Kingston
Rolland (Rollie) Billings is a great example of how one individual can change the world around him.
He began his professional journey at Novelis Kingston (formerly Alcan) in production which led to a position as Plant Manager at Kingston’s largest manufacturing and production site, and then a global executive role in health and safety in the manufacturing setting. Throughout this impressive career, Rollie’s sight was firmly planted on the social fabric the Kingston community and he decided to make a difference in the lives of those on the margins of our community through fundraising and sport.
For parts of five decades Rollie has tirelessly served those in need in Kingston. He became involved with the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, working in various positions, including roles in the Campaign Cabinet and Board Chair. In June of 2013, Rollie was recognized by the United Way for 30 years of volunteer service. Rollie has also been involved in many volunteer roles with the Kingston and District Board of Approved Basketball Officials, supporting the Kingston branch of Special Olympics Ontario basketball league, and was coordinator for the Salvation Army Christmas hampers campaign through Alcan/Novelis. Rollie was also co-chair of the new library building fund committee for the Kingston Frontenac Public Library - Calvin Park Branch.
It’s important to be involved in your community because it is YOUR community, Rollie explained. “So much of what goes on every day needs to be supported by volunteers in order to thrive. You don’t get involved as a volunteer because you have an obligation to, you get involved because you believe in the values of the organization and you want to make a difference. Volunteer first because you want to and stay because you truly believe it is the right thing to do.”
Rollie’s work with the United Way is only a small fraction of his volunteering. He has been the President of the Knights of Columbus Basketball League (now the ‘Pete’ Petersen Basketball League) at St. Pat’s School for more than 20 years as well as a coach, referee, website administrator and unofficial photographer for more than 35 years.
The league provides an opportunity for more than 500 children from across the city every year to have a safe, affordable and fun place to play in a basketball league at a cost of only $10 per child. Rollie helps manages more than 100 volunteers annually, from registration to banquet clean up so that the kids experience the dignity and inspiration of team sport.
As a placement provider for St. Lawrence College students, Novelis Kingston offered real-world learning experiences to students from many programs. Rollie supported joint student engagement opportunities in a number of areas. An employer of our graduates, Rollie was instrumental in ensuring St. Lawrence College students had the opportunity to establish a career that began with Novelis Kingston.
“St. Lawrence College is very much a part of the Kingston and Eastern Ontario communities. As a willing partner with area businesses and public sector operations, the College gives real, practical experience to individuals as they move from student to worker,” Rollie said. “St. Lawrence College’s willingness to partner and understand what the market needs are allows them to tailor programs to what the community needs. For sports, SLC has been willing to run clinics for our basketball league and allowed us and other community groups to use their facilities. That is a great example of commitment to your community.”
Receiving an Honorary Diploma is especially meaningful for Rollie as it recognizes his contribution to the community through volunteering.
“It means a lot to me that an institution I respect so much is recognizing what I have done as a volunteer. It means the College believes in the importance of volunteers and the difference they can make. It is both thrilling and humbling for me at the same time. I share the honour with my wife, Susan, because she has believed in what I’ve done and supported me through the years.”
In addressing the graduating class of 2016, Rollie offers this advice: “The message I hope to give is threefold. First, get involved in your communities. One person can make a difference in the lives in your community at work and in the greater community where you live as well. Second, don’t let your work define who you are. Each of us has the chance to be so much more than what our job alone would define us as, and when you’re retired your life will be so much richer for what you have done through helping others. Third, be proud of what you do and who you are.”
Peng-Sang Cau, president and CEO of Transformix Engineering, Kingston
As a young girl, Peng-Sang Cau listened to stories her parents told of their life in Cambodia, how they started a successful company from nothing but hard work, determination and integrity, only to lose everything during the genocidal reign of Pol Pot in the 1970s.
Peng and her family arrived in Canada as refugees in 1980. She and five of her siblings are now successful entrepreneurs. Peng says she, her brothers and sisters were raised with the expectation that they would contribute positively to society. “In addition to teaching us to value hard work, honesty, loyalty and tenacity, my parents showed us how to treat people with respect, integrity and empathy.”
“Coming as a refugee to this country, I am so grateful to the Canadian government and feel I have a stronger obligation to give back to society and leave the world a better place than I found it,” Peng said.
After graduating at the top of her class in high school, Peng went on to graduate in 1994 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University. She then held sales and marketing posts at Quantum Information Resources and Lever Pond prior to starting Transformix Engineering Inc.
Peng founded Transformix in 1995 with three engineers, and has since guided its transition from a local provider of engineering services to an international supplier of advanced automation solutions. Peng says she has built her company on four pillars: Integrity; Innovation; Respect; and Passion.
Peng and her partners won the Kingston Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award in 2007. She was inducted into the Kingston Chamber Business of Hall of Fame in 2011 and the next year was Kingston Business Woman of the Year. In the spring and fall of 2014, Peng accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper on trade missions to the Netherlands and China. Peng was also the recipient of Queen’s University’s Jim Bennett Achievement Award for 2015.
Peng consistently embodied the values of student success and academic excellence throughout her academic career, and – since forming Transformix – has shown a deep commitment to leadership in the Kingston community.
To that end, Peng started the Transformix Apprenticeship program, whereby she hires general labourers with little to no experience, provided they show a work ethic and willingness to learn. Peng gives them an opportunity to work for a year in various capacities from millwright to electrician while they attend St. Lawrence College. If they successfully complete their program, Transformix will pay for their education and provide them with a job after they graduate.
Peng says St. Lawrence College is an important place in the community because it’s a critical part of the economic engine to the province. “The college allows people to do what they’re passionate about. I’m so honored that the College is recognizing me with an Honorary Diploma. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an important post-secondary institution.”
Her solid work ethic and determination to succeed by supporting others and allowing their creativity to shine have led Peng to become a respected member of the international business community. With Peng at the helm, teamwork and innovation drive Transformix’s success: she understands that listening to people and seeking their feedback is vital to her company’s growth and expansion. Peng is committed to growing Transformix locally, with a focus on hiring local tradespeople and engineers, as well as many St. Lawrence College graduates.
In addition to leading Transformix, Peng serves on Kingston General Hospital’s Board of Directors and advised the Council of Ontario Universities as part of the Research Matters Advisory Panel.
As well as participating in a number of the City of Kingston’s economic committees, Peng also volunteers at her children’s school and sports clubs. When she was inducted last year into Kingston’s Business Hall of Fame, Peng’s son and daughter joined her at the award ceremony.
In addressing St. Lawrence College’s graduating class of 2016, Peng offers this advice: “I made a choice long ago not to let my gender or race prevent me from doing what I want to do in my career and in my life. My experience is that if you speak up and know what you’re talking about, those things don’t make a difference.”
Living in Kingston has also allowed Peng to balance her work life and family life with her two young children more easily. “I save so much time by not having a long commute,” she says. “And if I need to travel, the Kingston airport is perfect for me.”
“My children joined me at the office the week after they were born and grew up hearing that Mommy has to work so that other parents will get paid. They know that when they need me, I am always there for them. I hope that I am setting the same example for my children that my parents did for me. I want my daughter to grow up believing that we’re not limited as women and that we can have a successful career and a family at the same time.”
Don Head, Kingston
As a long-time Kingston resident, Don Head has been a supporter of St. Lawrence College for over 30 years. His career in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has spanned close to four decades, and under his leadership as Commissioner, has developed several key partnerships between CSC and SLC.
These partnerships include employment opportunities for our graduates, placements for students, and program development with SLC Corporate Learning and Performance Improvement to address the needs of the inmate population. These programs include horticultural training and masonry programs.
“St. Lawrence College fulfils an academic role, but it creates opportunities and experiences for people with diverse backgrounds,” Don explained. “SLC is a place where individuals can become the best that they can and develop the personal and professional leadership skills that will benefit all community members.”
Don began his federal public service career as a correctional officer in 1978 in the Pacific Region. He held various operational and managerial positions between 1978 and 1995, working in four federal penitentiaries, the Pacific Regional Headquarters, Ontario Regional Headquarters, and National Headquarters.
As Commissioner since 2008, Don’s achievements mirror SLC’s college values and he serves as an inspiration and role model to the students, graduates, and our community. Under his leadership CSC is seen as not only a national leader on corrections but in staff engagement, innovative thinking and preparing offenders to contribute to the community through the skills and vocational programming provided by St. Lawrence College.
Don has received numerous commendations and awards throughout his career including the Governor General's Corrections Exemplary Service Medal and Bar, the Public Service Award of Excellence for Diversity and Employment Equity, the Aboriginal HR Council's CEO Leadership Award for Diversity and Inclusiveness, and the Federal Council of Visible Minorities Leadership Award for Diversity.
Don is a proud supporter of the United Way and leads the organizational attainment of goals and its promotion within the Correctional Service of Canada and is clear in his support of the local campaign even freeing up resources here to assist with the campaign. Another passion of Don’s is the Canadian Cancer Societies’ Daffodil Appeal. These two organizations, along with Ronald McDonald House, are close to his heart and enrich not only our community but the nation as well.
“Both my wife, Sherry, and I have been active in every community we have lived in, either through donating time or resources to assist others in need,” Don said. “We have always believed that a strong, healthy community is achieved by everyone chipping in and helping others through those moments when an extra hand or boost is needed.”
For Don, receiving an Honorary Diploma is a reminder to strive to be the best he can be and to continue to support the community. “It is truly a privilege and extremely humbling. It is also just as much about the support, love and dedication of my wife, without whom I could never do the job I have done for the last 38 years.”
According to Don, Kingston is a community in every aspect of the word. “People look out for each other and rally together in good times and difficult times. It is a community that strives to preserve its heritage while staying current with developing trends.”
Don enjoys Kingston’s proximity to the outdoors without having to travel too far. “With the opportunity to access literally thousands of lakes within minutes my fishing addiction is well taken care of 12 months of the year here.”
Don has the following advice for our graduating class of 2016. “Remember that everything you have learned and gained at SLC has positioned you to positively impact the lives of people. It could be friends, family or members of the community at large. Never forget to put people first and apply your knowledge, skills and abilities in order to make life better for someone. This approach and philosophy will serve you well and ultimately build stronger and healthier communities.”
Daniel Parkinson, Cornwall Chief of Police, Cornwall
Cornwall Chief of Police Daniel Parkinson is no stranger to receiving honors. As this year’s St. Lawrence College Honorary Diploma recipient in Cornwall, Chief Parkinson says, it’s a reminder that we are not anonymous in what we do, and that we can all make a huge difference in our communities if we only try.
“I’m humbled to have been nominated, and to receive this prestigious honor,” he said. “I am profoundly aware that this is the highest form of recognition that the College can bestow, and it is a significant landmark in my personal and professional life.”
According to Parkinson, St. Lawrence College plays a significant leadership role in Cornwall and surrounding area. “I’m proud to be recognized by the College, as it provides an opportunity for its students to develop the skills and tools necessary to compete in today’s fast paced and ever changing job market. It stands proudly as a highly visible institution, a beacon of hope woven into the very fabric of the communities of Eastern Ontario.”
Chief Parkinson will add the Honorary Diploma to many other impressive honors and awards he’s received, including: the 2015 Paul Harris Fellow Rotary Clubs of Cornwall, the highest honour a club can bestow; the 2013 Officer of the Order Merit, Police Forces, Government of Canada, for exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Services; the 2013 Police Exemplary Medal, which recognizes police officers who have served in an exemplary manner characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency; and the 2012 President's Award of Merit Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, bestowed by OACP to a member who has made significant contribution to policing in the Province of Ontario.
A shining example of Chief Parkinson’s leadership and community spirit was brought to life last January, when the Cornwall police banded together to buy back a wedding ring that an elderly man had pawned in order to buy groceries for himself and his wife, who was suffering from dementia. The force also purchased groceries and put the couple in touch with local social services for further care.
“The officers were humble about it,” Parkinson said “It was just the right thing to do. My own leadership style is based on ‘Servant Based Leadership’”, Parkinson explained. “Essentially, this style of leadership turns traditional hierarchy upside down, so that front line personnel are in a position of prominence within the organization. The officers who banded together show that everyone counts, everyone matters and we can all make a difference.”
As a member of the St Lawrence College Community Council and St. Lawrence College Centre of Excellence Advisory Committee, Chief Parkinson has shown his strong support for SLC by hiring many of its graduates, also providing Ride Along programs for students in the Police Foundations program, which provides important experiential learning opportunities for students.
“The Cornwall Police and St. Lawrence College have enjoyed a highly satisfying relationship in which we have accessed a number of students for full-time employment. We may not be able to hire all of you, but we will undoubtedly hire some of you.”
Outside of going above and beyond to serve the community in his capacity as the Chief of Police for the Cornwall Community Police Service, Chief Parkinson has also served and continues to serve on many local boards including: Cornwall Community Hospital;Baldwin House women's shelter; Family Counseling Services of Cornwall; Koala Place Child and Youth Advocacy Centre PrevAction; Cornwall Youth Advisory Committee; and the Social Development Council of Cornwall. Chief Parkinson is also currently the Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of Cornwall and SDG.
“I believe that community involvement provides an opportunity for people to take an ownership role for a community that we share,” Parkinson explained. “A strong sense of volunteerism is alive and well in Cornwall. It seems that everyone is contributing in one way or another. One of my personal favourite methods of contributing has been through my involvement with some wonderful people collaborating to bring a Boys and Girls Club to Cornwall. The Boys and Girls Club is a “great place to be” for many of the young people in our city.”
When Chief Parkinson isn’t working or volunteering he and his wife Leslie spend time being involved with their church community, golfing, and shopping for food. “Don’t be surprised to see me in the grocery stores in town. I truly enjoy shopping as a means to satisfy my interest in cooking,” he said.
As an inspiration to our graduating class of 2016, Chief Parkinson offers the following words: “I encourage the graduates of 2016 to be courageous and confident in the pursuit of their chosen area of employment or continuing education. They need to know that their diligence in studies has provided them with a significant knowledge base to be successful, however, it will require wisdom to effectively apply the knowledge they have gained in order to use it for maximum benefit.”