Distinguished Alumni Awards
Esther Simon receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award
Esther Simon (2nd left) receiving Distinguished Alumni Award
On Thursday, 10 March, 2005, Seneca College held its 2005 Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner, at the Hilton Suites, 8500 Warden Avenue, Markham, Ontario, Canada. A key highlight of the ceremony was the induction of Esther Simon, Executive Director of the Broad African Resource Centre (BARC).

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious honour Seneca College presents to graduates that are high achievers. Established in 2000, the award recognizes and showcases graduates' professional accomplishments and community contributions.

Those honoured with this award represent the thousands of Seneca Alumni who have successfully combined a Seneca College education with their own energy, passion and commitment to achieve career, personal and public success.
Esther Simon with Beverly Thomson Esther Simon with Hon. Alvin Curlin
Esther Simon being congratulated by Beverly Thomson (left) and the Hon. Alvin Curling (right)
By this induction, Esther Simon has joined the ranks of other Distinguished Seneca Alumni Award recipients such as Beverly Thomson, CTV Canada AM, The Honourable Alvin F. Curling, Speaker, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada.

Addressing recipients and guests at the awards ceremony, the keynote speaker, Beverly Thomson, of CTV Canada AM (a 2000 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient), talked about the need to build on our humble beginnings. The speaker stressed the importance of the Alumni network as a way to gain significant benefit and to also give back to the community.
Esther Simon being congratulated by friends at the award ceremony Esther Simon being congratulated by friends at the award ceremony
Esther Simon being congratulated by friends at the award ceremony
'Humble beginnings' indeed typify the path that Esther Simon has followed to accomplish the successes she was recognized for. Coming to Cananada a few years ago and experiencing the challenges facing new immigrants, armed with a Seneca education, Esther founded BARC as an after-school program. Despite a shoe-string budget, the agency has matured in its objective of seeking to help ease the settlement pains facing new immigrants to Canada and to provide support for the underprivileged members of our society.

Esther has also held the position of Housing Counselor with York Community Services; Manager Adult/Shelter program, Central Neighbourhood House; Community Support and Crisis Intervention Worker at the Davenport-Perth centre.

Accepting her award, Esther thanked Seneca Alumni Board for this honour. She identified the need to give back to the community as the motivating force behind her work and the decision in founding BARC. She also thanked the Board of BARC and organizations that have and continue to support her work such as Toronto City Council, MicroSoft Canada, Salvation Army Family Services Association, private donors from the African business community, Seneca College Department of Computing, to mention a few. She emphasized the need for individuals, organizations, stakeholders government and community members to work together to build a productive society.
Esther Simon being congratulated by friends Emmanuel Munis, Youth Coordinator
Esther Simon being congratulated by friends, Emmanuel Munis (right)
Esther was also full of praise for the encouraging support she has always received from her family, friends and members of the community, some of whom were on hand to lend their support at the awards ceremony.
Distinguished Alumni 2005
Distinguished Alumni 2005
Six other distinguished Seneca graduates were inducted at the 2005 ceremonies. They included Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada; Neil Hetherington, CEO Habitat for Hummanity Toronto; Michael Foster of Union Communications; James Derbyshire, President of Derbyshire Viceroy Consultants Ltd. Also inducted were Paul E. Sims, a medical practitioner and Helen Szumigaj, Vice President, Mother Parker's Tea and Coffee.

Esther Simon is also a proud winner of the Premier's Awards 2004.
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