Georgian College alumna Rose Adams is the winner of a prestigious 2003 Premier's Award for contributions to the business sector. This is the first time in the history of the awards that a Georgian nominee has won.
"I'm thrilled and honored to have won this award," Adams said. "It has special meaning for me given the extraordinary impact Georgian College has had on my life. When I first came to Georgian, I was a lost soul, but the people here made me feel like I belonged. I will always be grateful for that and the many experiences and opportunities Georgian has given me."
Georgian College alumna Rose Adams won the 2003 Premier's Award.
Launched in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of Ontario colleges, the Premier's Awards for Graduates of Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology honour the important social and economic contributions that college graduates make to the province. They are presented annually, and this year's winners in six categories were selected from 87 candidates nominated by their respective colleges.
Adams has certainly made the most of the opportunities -- or lack of them -- that life has presented to her. At the age of six months, she was taken by officials from her maternal home in Toronto and, together with her four-year-old sister, was placed in foster care. She was shuffled through nine homes in seven years before ending up with a family in Simcoe County.
After such a childhood, it seemed miracle enough that she finished high school, yet she went on to study office administration -- legal at Georgian College. To finance her education, she cleaned houses and checked coats at the Queen's Hotel. Somehow, she still found the time to become actively involved in student life and was elected president of the students' athletic council.
Upon graduation in 1984, Adams moved to Toronto and got a job at a law firm. Over the next seven years she was promoted through the ranks, eventually becoming the office manager. She also attended night school and earned her law clerk certification. All the while she kept mulling over an idea planted by John Saso, her supervisor during her 1983 summer internship at Georgian. Saso, a lawyer himself, suggested she consider attending law school as a mature student. She had also been encouraged to do the same by Barrie lawyer Eric Taves, at whose law firm she did her co-operative education placement in 1984.
In 1991, Adams applied to and was accepted into Osgoode Hall Law School.
To pay tuition and living costs, Adams again took cleaning jobs and waited tables to supplement her student loan. And, once again, she jumped into student activities, serving as vp of the legal and literary society.
At the same time, Adams entered and won the Miss Black Ontario Pageant. That experience gave her the opportunity to travel across Canada and Bermuda to speak with high school students about the value of fortitude and education.
After graduating with her law degree, Adams got to work to pay off a substantial student debt, and, typically for her, she also began contributing to the local community. Having re-established herself in Barrie, she jumped into teaching law-related courses at Georgian and another local college, and continues to serve on the advisory committee for Georgian's office administration programs.
She has also been actively involved with Barrie's Out of the Cold program and has served as a board member for both Big Brothers and the Simcoe Literacy Network.
Today, Adams runs her own law firm practicing in family law and real estate, overseeing a staff of four. And if that wasn't enough, she is currently working towards a BA in psychology through the Laurentian University at Georgian program.
Georgian College president Brian Tamblyn noted that Adams was praised by the judges for her "fortitude and perseverance in overcoming a number of serious obstacles in her life.
"Rose is an outstanding role model for young people, demonstrating what can be achieved through an unfailing commitment to lifelong learning," Tamblyn added.
Adams and the other winners will receive their Premier's awards in a ceremony in Kingston on Feb. 23. Each will be presented with a framed certificate signed by Premier Dalton McGuinty, a bronze medal designed by sculptor Dora de Pedery-Hunt, and a $5,000 bursary which they can direct to the college of their choice.
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