2021 JOSEPH G. DORIA EXEMPLARY STUDENT AWARD RECIPIENT: Jonathan Hughes

Over the course of the last four years, I have enriched myself in my school community and have aimed to embody all of the virtues that make up a community-minded citizen: kindness, hard work, and dedication. My name is Jon Hughes and I grew up in the rural community of Norwood. I completed JK-Grade 8 at Saint Paul Elementary School and Grade 9-Grade 12 at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School. From Kindergarten to my Senior year of high school, I have had the privilege of growing up with and supporting Mitchell McColl. While taking on peer support roles during school, I played hockey and volunteered on tyke teams, and also maintained a welding job (part-time during school and full-time in the summers).

My experience working for John Kloosterman Equipment Sales has helped me realize my dreams of creating through welding. Welding has provided me with both a creative outlet and a place of release and meditation. Welding has had a dramatic impact on my life in a positive way.

Growing up with Mitchell McColl has also had an extremely important impact on my life. Mitchell was born with Allen/Herndon Developmental Syndrome, which is a chromosomal disorder. Growing up, I never really had a best friend or a solid group of people, but I have always had a true friend in Mitchell, who has always been by my side cheering me on and has really taught me what a genuine friend is. He has taught me the values of resilience, kindness, and loyalty. Mitchell has taught me that any job is easiest when done with kindness and humility.

During elementary school, Mitchell and I would be allowed to compete in Cross Country/Track & Field events together as a “team” because of Mitchell’s physical disabilities. Not only was I in awe of Mitchell’s determination to complete each event, but we also developed a deep and lasting bond. During high school, Mitchell and I were partners in Holy Cross’ Amigo’s Program, which helps kids with disabilities transition to high school smoothly. In the future, I plan to use a portion of the profits from my welding shop to start a charity that provides equipment for families with children with physical disabilities.

My interest in welding developed in Grade 9, after my older sister took me to her friend’s welding shop to try out some of his equipment. Shortly after this, I began my job with John Kloosterman and am still employed with him nearly 3 years later. During my time here, I have been able to explore a variety of different types of welding. We specialize in custom gates and other fabrications for farmers. I have also explored automotive welding with the help of Mr. Kirk Campbell at Holy Cross. My experience in the automotive welding course allowed me to achieve my first CWB Mig Flat Certification.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, my job with Mr. Kloosterman was deemed essential and I was able to work full time while doing my school work online. Because of this, I was able to purchase my first MP welder. My older sister’s friend has allowed me to use his CNC plasma cutter and custom equipment to start my business, Jon Hughes Fabrications. I design and make custom fire pits, signs, and welding exhausts. I have since been able to purchase a Tig and Spool welder and hope to expand my business to fix and customize metal docks in the Kawartha Region. While working full-time and growing my business, I was still able to achieve 120 involvement hours by the end of high school.

I am beginning the Welding Techniques program at Conestoga College in Cambridge, ON in September. After completing my welding education, I plan to go to university to get a Bachelor of Business and begin an apprenticeship with the Iron Workers Union. I plan to work in the Union while growing my business and building relationships within the welding community.

I am currently in the planning process of developing a fundraiser to raise money for adaptive sports equipment for the Norwood Community Center. Growing up, Mitchell did not always have access to the adaptive equipment that would have allowed him to fully engage and participate in the sports we played. I want to provide the members of the community I grew up with the opportunity for fair play. I will be organizing a 3-pitch tournament, a soccer tournament, a bottle drive, and will be pitching my fundraiser to local businesses for donations.

At my graduation this year, I was awarded the Peterborough Professional Fire Fighters Award, which is presented to a deserving graduate entering a precision metalworking program. I was also awarded the Lansdowne Canadian Tire award which is presented to a deserving graduate demonstrating excellence in transportation technology.

This scholarship will greatly support me in the upcoming academic year. As the youngest child in my family, I have watched my parents sacrifice a lot to help my sisters get through university (my oldest sister is doing her Ph.D. and they still help her out). I applied for this scholarship because I felt that I am a dedicated, community-minded citizen. I have pushed myself through high school to grow towards being the best person I can be, and I truly believe that kindness, generosity, and hard work will help me achieve this. This scholarship will provide me with the extra support I need to get there.