Amassing awards

It was a banner year for Mohawk’s Advertising students, who earned almost two dozen nods in national and global competitions.

The industry awards piled up for Advertising students at Mohawk College in 2022.

“I think the industry has a lot of respect for our students. Awards are a way of validating what we do at Mohawk,” says Professor Jef Petrossi.

Striving for awards changes the standard of student work, he says.

“They are always reaching for a better idea. It adds an extra level of competitive thinking. That’s great preparation for the industry. Awards prove that you think differently.”

In last year’s One Show student competition, Mohawk College had 11 finalists and Gold Pencil winners in third-year advertising students Catherine Looy and Jan Benavente. The school finished tied for 26th globally.

“Powerhouse ad schools from around the world enter,” says Petrossi.

In Canada’s biggest award show, the Ad and Design Club of Canada (ADCC), Mohawk College also came away with Gold Medal winners in Nick Kidd and Amaris Branco, along with four Silver and three Bronze winners.

In the Applied Arts awards, Mohawk amassed three wins and in the National Advertising Challenge, which asked students to develop concepts for the Toronto Zoo, Nichole Fazzari won Gold.

Kidd and Branco converted a win for their Sleep Country campaign at the ADCC awards into internships and a job offer to join a large agency in Toronto as a team.

“We were over the moon to be named as finalists and to get to go to the awards show. It was so cool to get to see amazing industry work,” says Kidd. “When they announced we had won, we thought we had misheard. We were in shock.”

They got to accept their award on stage and Branco shouted, “Take that, imposter syndrome!”

“It was a fate-changing moment for the both of us,” she says. “I still struggle with imposter syndrome but winning that award definitely helped. I’m here for a reason.”

The College is choosy about the awards programs it enters into, says Petrossi.

“We really focus on the awards that will get us eyeballs in the industry.”

What sets advertising apart is that its awards programs bring industry and student awards together. It is a tremendous opportunity for students to make connections with potential employers, says Petrossi.

Petrossi, who has taught at Mohawk for 15 years, says the college encourages its students to build portfolios that show a diversity of ideas, sectors, brands and platforms.

“Advertising is a thing without a right answer. Portfolios are often received differently by different people. But if something has won an award, people will look at that work differently, even if they didn’t like it, because they know a team of judges has liked it.”

Anisa Rouhani has earned five awards in industry competitions, along with a faculty award. Her honours include a win at the 2022 Applied Arts Awards for a Grey Poupon campaign called “Hip Hop’s Favourite Condiment.” She also earned two Silvers in the ADCC awards in 2022.

Now in her last year, Rouhani is serving as junior art director at an agency in downtown Toronto.

While Rouhani appreciates the awards, it is her instructors who stress that they will open doors in the field.

“It’s great to get the recognition that what I’m doing is good.”

Both Kidd and Branco have high praise for Mohawk’s program, which is split into two streams: creative and business/strategy. Students have a common curriculum in first year and choose their stream for years two and three.

“I feel lucky to have enrolled in the best Advertising program in Canada that anyone can find,” says Kidd.

“For an exceptional advertising education and portfolio building experience, I highly recommend Mohawk College,” says Branco. Mohawk College logo