Quarter Century of Distinction

Mohawk College has been recognizing its standout alumni for 25 years

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

Over the past 25 years, Mohawk College has recognized 160 of its successful and accomplished graduates—standouts among the 134,000 alumni of the college—with its Alumni of Distinction award. 

“Alumni of Distinction are doing tremendous things socially and economically to support their community, their city, their province, their nation and their world,” said Wendy Makey, Director of Alumni Relations. 

“Many have also given back to Mohawk College by volunteering on our board, contributing to program advisory committees, mentoring students and supporting our foundation.”  

The awards were first handed out in 1996 with four categories. Over time, that’s grown to 10. And 15 years ago, the awards added a gala dinner to celebrate the award winners. 

“To see the journey of our graduates and what they’ve accomplished is inspiring. It’s a great sense of pride for the college.” 

Makey, who has been in her role since 2005, says graduates always look back at their time at Mohawk as a positive, formative experience that set the foundation for their career. 

Alumni of Distinction nominations are accepted from October to February each year.  

Recipients in each category are chosen by a selection committee made up of past recipients, a student, and representatives of the alumni advisory committee, the Mohawk Foundation, and human resources.  

Recipients often don’t know they’ve been nominated until they get a call from Mohawk College President Ron McKerlie.  

“We are very proud of our winners but we are also proud of our award program,” said Makey. “It’s an amazing achievement to reach 25 years and it’s a testament to the incredible graduates that complete their credentials at Mohawk and go on to achieve such impactful things.” 

Each year, a number of recipients are selected to be considered for a Premier’s Award, which recognizes college graduates from across Ontario. As well, to honour each recipient, the Alumni Association makes a one-time donation of $500 to a Mohawk College bursary to support current students in achieving their goals. That has amounted to $80,000 over the past 25 years. 

Recent recipients 

Bella N. Dietrich
Alumni of Distinction – Technology, 2020
Architectural Technology & Civil Engineering Technology (2008) 
European Sustainability Program Manager, Amazon 

As the European Sustainability Program Manager at Amazon, Bella N. Dietrich is heading up efforts to achieve net-zero carbon efficiency by 2040. Prior to that, she headed an $8.7-million research portfolio at an engineering consultancy. She has also taken part in engineering and construction research around the world that has led to publication and two patents. 


Jad Saliba
Alumni of Distinction – Technology, 2018, Premier’s Award, 2018
Computer Systems Technician – Network Systems (2001) 
Founder & CTO, Magnet Forensics Inc. 

Jad Saliba was a digital forensics investigator with the Waterloo Regional Police Service when he decided to tackle the challenges of technology in modern crime. In 2011, he retired from the police service and founded Magnet Forensics. As chief technology officer, Saliba is focused on staying ahead of criminals in all of their attempts to stay hidden in the digital world. 


Dr. Bonnie Freeman
Alumni of Distinction – Health Sciences, 2019
Native Community Care – Mental Health, 1992
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, McMaster University 

Dr. Bonnie Freeman is an assistant professor at McMaster University and acting director of the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI). Freeman, who is Algonquin/Mohawk, Bear Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, credits her time at Mohawk College for both laying the foundation for a career in academia, but also for setting her on a path to healing and advocating for Indigenous people. 


2021 Alumni of Distinction Recipients 

Albert Duwyn
Architectural Technology (1978) 

Carlos Barrios 
Health Sciences
Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography (2002) 

Daniel Guest
Plumber (2013) 

Katherine Kalinowski
Community Services 
Social Service Worker (1993) 

Kelly Dunham (posthumous) 
Office Administration – General (1991) 

Leen Alramlawi
Recent Graduate
Broadcasting – Television & Communications Media (2016) 

Len Larose
Business – Marketing (1995) 

Lori Morgan
Mohawk College Employee
Advertising (1988) 

Nicole McCormick
Creative Arts & Design 
Broadcasting – Television & Communications Media (2002) 

Ryan Roberts 
Advertising (2003) 

To read more about Mohawk College's Alumni of Distinction visit here