Niagara Catholic Announces 2015 Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award

Niagara Catholic is pleased to announce the 2015 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award.

This year’s recipients are an oncologist who strives to better the lives of those he comes into contact with every day; an aspiring lawyer and advocate for those on the Autism spectrum; and the founder of a company that promotes artisans in developing nations around the world to help lift them out of poverty.

Niagara Catholic created the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012 to recognize our graduates whose life journeys are visibly rooted in the Niagara Catholic education they received while attending our schools and who are described as distinguished, notable or acclaimed. Graduates selected for the annual Niagara Catholic Distinguished Alumni Award continually fulfill the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations through their personal or professional involvement in our local or global community.

Niagara Catholic created the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012 to recognize graduates whose life journeys are rooted in the Catholic education they received while attending one of our schools, and whose words and deeds fulfil the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations; a key component of the nomination criteria.

The inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented during Catholic Education Week in May, 2013, and the recipients included social justice activists, an acclaimed composer, a philanthropist, a journalist, a soldier, a doctor a scholar.

“Today, I am proud to announce the recipients of the 2015 Niagara Catholic Distinguished Alumni Award,” said Director of Education, John Crocco. “Terri-Lynn Woodhouse, Dr. Michael Levesque and Joseph McDonald are very accomplished individuals in their own right and are outstanding examples of Catholic education. Each, in their own way, works to improve the lives of others, whether it is through medical treatment, advocacy or helping alleviate poverty. On behalf of Senior Administrative Council, I congratulate each of our recipients and look forward to presenting them with their awards during a celebration at the Catholic Education Centre on May 8.

This year’s recipients are:

FullSizeRenderDr. Michael Levesque

Dr. Michael Levesque thought he would be content to work in a laboratory throughout his career. He imagined himself as a researcher, diligently working to find a way to cure cancer, far removed from the people his research might one day save.

A decade of experience of working at a women’s shelter in downtown Toronto changed Dr. Levesque’s perspective and he knew a solitary life in a laboratory was not for him. He realized that it is the connections we make with people every day – big and small – that truly impact each other’s lives and what he truly thrived upon, so he combined his love of social work and his love of science and became a doctor.

Dr. Levesque felt the draw to return to Niagara in 2008, and has often found himself treating former teachers and classmates and their families – something that can often be difficult but is vitally important, says Dr. Levesque.

Since his return, Dr. Levesque has treated former classmates and teachers – even his former family doctor – and their families. He said although it can often be difficult, it is a privilege to be able to serve people during such a difficult time in their lives, offering comfort and dignity to not only his patients but the loved ones who support them.

Dr. Michael Levesque is a graduate of St. Antoine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary Schools, and was a member of the Saint Paul Catholic High School Class of 1985. He holds several degrees from the University of Toronto, including a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and Doctor of Medicine. He is currently an oncologist with the Walker Family Cancer Centre in St. Catharines and an Assistant Professor at the McMaster University School of Medicine’s Brock University Campus.


McDonald, Joseph - photoJoseph McDonald

Joseph McDonald developed a keen interest in global events while attending Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School, after participating in the Students Taking Action Now: Darfur group, a student-action group opposed to the genocide in Darfur. He went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Political Science and English (Double Major), before taking time off to backpack around the world.

That experience built upon the foundation Joseph received as a student at Blessed Trinity, and drew him to a career as a policy analyst at the Canadian International Development Agency, which administers foreign aid in developing nations. In addition to wanting to assist people around the world, Joseph was eager to aid people at home, so he volunteered his time at the Ottawa Mission, was a tutor at Discovery University through the Mission and assisted the Salvation Army.

In 2012, Joseph returned to Toronto and was elected to the Board of Directors of Autism Ontario, an organization he joined in support of a family member who is on the Autism spectrum. At the same time, he launched synapsABILITY, a web-based platform to connect families of individuals who share common areas of interest.  In 2013, he was recognized as a Centre for Social Innovation’s Agent of Change. He has also helped organize “University in the Community” in Toronto; a program funded by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which provides low-income individuals with the opportunity to take free, university-level courses in the Humanities.

Joseph is currently enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Upon graduation, he aspires to have a legal career focusing on social justice.

Joseph McDonald is a graduate of St. John Catholic Elementary School and was a member of the Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School Class of 2002. He is also a graduate of McMaster University and Carleton University.


Woodhouse, Terri-Lynn - photoTerri-Lynn Woodhouse

Terri-Lynn Woodhouse’s career in teaching and training adults has taken her across Canada and the United States, and in 2006, she started her own consulting firm that saw her work with some of the most recognizable brands in the world.

In 2013, Terri-Lynn participated in Camino de Santiago in Spain and took a side-trip to Africa. That experience led her to return to her hometown of Thorold and start a company that would allow her to help artisans around the world market their products in North America. Today, there are more than 200 independent consultants selling products from Morocco and Peru across Canada.

As a result of Terri-Lynn’s investment in Morocco, local artisans now work in a covered space to protect them from sun and rain, and they also have access to washrooms, which they did not previously have. In Peru, artisans were able to build a bridge from their mountain location to connect them with the rest of the world.

Terri-Lynn Woodhouse is a graduate of St. Charles and Monsignor Clancy Catholic Elementary Schools and was a member of Denis Morris Catholic High School’s Class of 1989. She is also a graduate of Brock University, Mohawk College, Sheridan College and Walt Disney University.

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