By Erin McLaughlin
Toronto, Ontario -- September 10, 2017 -- Tropicana Employment Services has recently graduated its 2017 class of pre-apprenticeship autobody repair students. The 16 students who graduated were celebrated for their hard work, dedication and passion, while all attending looked ahead to a promising future. As Imad Bajwa, one of the graduating students put it, “This graduation is just the start.”
This ceremony marked the end of a five month autobody repair program that taught students not only how to weld, paint and repair, but also nurtured positive attitudes and teamwork. “Tropicana gave me a career, and an opportunity to grow,” said Michael Samuels, another of this year’s graduates.
Marc Tremblay, the Pre-Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, told the audience, “Tonight is going to be a celebration.” And that it certainly was. The night kicked off with a beautiful dinner provided by Radisson Hotel, and students and family members alike enjoyed full plates of eggplant, potatoes, dragon fruit and chicken. The hall in which the ceremony took place was buzzing with conversation, laughter, proud students and parents. One mother was seeing two of her sons graduate—she was practically glowing. Speeches of congratulations soon followed.
Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education started it off. “Somehow,” she began, “You [Tremblay] worked it out that on the week of back to school, I’m right here where I’m supposed to be.” She continued, “Knowledge is something you own, and no one can take that away from you. You are well on your way. You know that you can do it because you have come this far. Become a licensed technician, because it is in your grasp. So reach out and grasp it.” Addressing the Tropicana staff, she said, “The lives you have touched are helping to shape our communities.”
Peter Wrong from 3M then spoke, expressing how proud he was to be attending the graduation ceremony. Tremblay expressed his pride, too, after noting, “Don’t worry, I don’t get mushy often.”
Tremblay presented the gifts the graduating class were going to receive from various sponsors, whose kindness and generosity, Tremblay added, helped make Tropicana’s pre-apprenticeship autobody program what it is today. This year, Tropicana had more industry sponsors than it has ever had. “This is one of the most amazing industries I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never seen a group so unselfish,” said Tremblay.
PPG, one of Tropicana’s most recent sponsors, is giving every graduating students a free paint certification class. Collision Industry Information Assistance will offer each student a free estimating course and all of this was topped off with I-CAR Canada donating full Platinum I-CAR Scholarships to the entire graduating class. The reaction from the students in the audience was enough to know that these classes would not go unappreciated.
Two awards were presented. The Director’s Choice Award, awarded to a student showing great leadership in the classroom and commitment to the program, and the CARSTAR Best-in-Class, pesented to a student based on a scoring system. It was presented by Jean-Marc Julien, who, when addressing the audience said, “We here as a community have to embrace new people coming into the industry.” Both awards were presented to student David Wei.
Tremblay had one last bit of homework for the graduating class. “I have a challenge to this class: give back.” The autobody repair community is strong because it’s filled with people who are willing to contribute to their community in a meaningful way, and Tremblay, as well as the rest of the team working behind the Tropicana Pre-Apprenticeship autobody repair program, are contributing to the industry’s strength through nurturing students who care about bettering their community. “I have one thing to say about Tropicana students,” he said. “They always succeed.”
For more information on the Tropicana autobody program, please click here.