2021 Nicole LeClair Welding Bursary Award Recipients

We are pleased to share the 2021 award recipients of the Nicole LeClair Welding Bursary Award:
Shaelyn Hagen, Conestoga College, ON
Zachary O’Rourke-Caton, St. Clair College, ON
Erin Bruce, Fleming College, ON
Amy McNeill, The Institute of Technical Trades, ON

CWB Welding Foundation congratulates the award recipients of the 2021 Nicole LeClair Welding Bursary Award. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours in welding!

Read on to see what Nicole LeClair has to say about each of these amazing recipients:


Meet Shaelyn!  She is a student at Conestoga College, dedicating her remaining year, of a three year Welding Engineering Technology program, to a Welding Inspection Co-Op.  While in high school, Shaelyn took a welding class in grade 11.  She was the only girl in the class and hesitated to stay enrolled.  Despite a few visits to the guidance counsellor over this matter, she remained in the class and I’m so glad she did!  She continued to take welding each semester until she graduated and earned the welding award in her graduating year.  Congratulations, Shaelyn!  Despite being the only girl in the class, you sure persevered and showed them how it’s done!  No doubt that your first years at Conestoga were the same in terms of your drive to “strive and persist”.  May your final year be a fun and successful one, as you learn even more about welding inspection.  I also love that aspect of the trade. I can’t wait to follow your success as you enter into the field after graduation, seeking a role as a welding inspector!  No doubt that a company will scoop you up in no time.  I hope you’re enjoying your time at Conestoga as much as I did when I was there (21 years ago – yikes!)  All the best, Shaelyn, and congratulations again!

Shaelyn Hagen
Shaelyn Hagen

Zachary is someone I’m so happy to support!  Even before he entered high school, Zach took a week-long “try a trade” event and instantly fell in love with welding, which was one of the trades he had an opportunity to try there.  He later attended a “Mind Over Metal” camp, offered by CWB Welding Foundation and got to try his hand in fabricating some projects, including a fishing rod holder which he still uses.  In high school, he excelled mainly in manufacturing courses, which told me that my investment in him was one well spent.  Zach even did two welding co-op rotations during his final year in high school where he got to try different welding processes.  He concentrated on welding in his final year and wound up graduating with honours, which made him proud – as he should be!  He has found his niche and will be pursuing his welding education at St.Clair College this Fall in their one-year program.  He loves the trade so much that he’s also bought his own welding equipment for home use, so he can practice whenever he likes.  It is such a great feeling to know that you’re where you’re meant to be.  I wish I knew I wanted to be a welder when I was his age!  We all find our paths at different stages in life, and Zach is lucky to know at such a young age.  He has a great future that awaits him in his welding career!  Weld-on, Zach!

Zachary O’Rourke

Everybody meet Erin!  She’ll be attending Fleming College, taking their 2 year Welding and Fabrication Technician program this Fall.  I just want to start by saying thanks for pursuing welding instead of plumbing!  Erin did a dual-credit course in plumbing while in high school and did very well in it, so she is not shy to the trades.  Lucky for us, she decided she liked welding more!  She was one of three girls in a class of almost 30 in her high school manufacturing class and despite being told many times that it’s a man’s job, she has proven herself there as I know she will do in college too.  I hear ya, Erin, I was one of two girls out of 65 in one of my years of welding school!  In addition to her love of welding, she’s acquired various other certifications.  Some of which include:  Working at heights, working in confined spaces, CPR, and lockout tag training.  Erin has also graduated from a high skills major course in high school that focussed on manufacturing.  I wish that when I was in high school, that I was exposed to more trade options!  Erin, you sound well on your way to being successful in your courses at Fleming College and I wish you all the success in the world!  Thank you for being “in it with all your heart”!

Erin Bruce

Amy has made the brave choice to get into welding after having already had a career in a non-trade-related job.  That job made her stressed with the long hours, screen and phone time, and overall pressure of being available at all hours etc.  Since her switch to welding, which started in the summer for her at school, she has since “found her people”.  She always knew she’d love it and has had her eye on attending this welding school for 7 years!  Finally, her dream is becoming a reality and she is no longer restricted on all the creative possibilities that await her.  Even from a young age, Amy was known as the creative one in her family and always enjoyed her time working with her Dad in their garage on his 1975 Fiat car.  She had the opportunity with him to try some welding which really solidified her desire to pursue welding further.  It is amazing that you’ve made this leap to switch career paths and I am SO happy and proud to support you as you complete your time at ITT in Scarborough.  Amy is also quite proficient at ceramics and stained glass!  She was extremely grateful for this bursary and promised me that at some point in her future, she’d like to pay this forward, which honestly warms my heart.  Keep striving, persisting and being in it with all your heart, Amy!  I know you will succeed in your remaining months of school and I’m happy you’re now a part of the wonderful world of welding!

Amy McNeill