Alumni Awards 2020

Alumni Awards 2020

2020 Alumni Award Recipients

Hariett Madigan

Dr. James Jamieson Influential Alumni Award

Presented to a graduate whose dedication and leadership has influenced significant change and prosperity within their community. The recipient may be an alumnus of one of the following institutions: North Bay Normal School, Teacher’s College, Nipissing University College or Nipissing University.

Madigan Hariett portrait

About Madigan Hariett

Hariett Madigan has been an active social and environmental champion in North Bay for decades. Graduating from North Bay Teacher’s College in 1970 and from Nipissing University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986, Hariett’s passion for education and learning can be seen in all that she does. As an educator with the Near North District School Board from 1981 to 1996, Hariett taught her students to be passionate about the world around them and to pursue whatever interests they had. Since her retirement Hariett has not slowed down. In fact, she is just as busy in her retirement as she was in her working career. She is currently the President and CEO of the community events hub,, as well as the owner and facilitator of Living Fit Senior Women’s Club. Living Fit Senior Women’s Club actively promotes learning from various people within the North Bay community and creates networking opportunities for women 55 and over.

In addition to her business pursuits, Hariett is a passionate volunteer. Hariett has paired her love for the environment with her expertise in horticulture to lead activities throughout the city of North Bay for many years. She has been actively involved in many volunteer led groups such as the North Bay Heritage Gardeners (Co-founder and Chair), Communities in Bloom (Co-Chair), Community Waterfront Friends (Vice-Chair), The Waterfront Pergola project (Lead for Fundraising), Nipissing Botanical Gardens (Founder and Past Chair), Trees 4 Nipissing (Board Member),and North Bay Heritage (Board Member). Currently, she is the founder and lead for Clean, Green, Beautiful North Bay, a grassroots initiative encouraging citizens to make a difference to the environment around them by keeping it litter-free.

Above all, Hariett is a mentor that has created many positive changes within the North Bay community. She has been recognized with the Queen’s Jubilee medal twice, once as an Honorary Colonel with the 22 Wing North Bay (2002) and as the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year (2012). Her passion and enthusiasm are contagious to many around her and her leadership is inspiring. When asked what her greatest achievement thus far has been, Hariett said, "My greatest achievement in life is being able to live what I love, my passion, to be an active contributor to the growth and beauty of our community, and to help build a culture of volunteerism and stewardship through different programs and projects in which I have been involved."

Dr. Thomsen D'Hont

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is presented to an alumnus whose achievement and excellence in their endeavours have distinguished them as a valued leader. The recipient will have demonstrated positive influence through their professional pursuits and as a result of their actions, the alumnus will have made a strong contribution to the prestige and reputation of Nipissing University.

Dr. Thomsen D'Hont portrait

About Dr. Thomsen D'Hont

Born and raised in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Dr. Thomsen D’Hont grew up camping, fishing, hunting and trapping throughout the southern Northwest Territories with his family. Representing Canada at the World Cup and the World University Games, Dr. D'Hont has trained and competed in cross-country skiing for most of his life and was a decorated member of the Lakers Varsity Men’s Nordic Skiing team during his time at Nipissing University. Dr. D'Hont graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Science in 2015 and has since gone on to graduate from the Northern Medical Program at the University of British Columbia this past year.

Dr. D’Hont is interested in Indigenous health issues and promoting physical activity. He has worked as a researcher for the Métis Traditional Knowledge Survey and he has conducted a research project on Harm Reduction for the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority. One of his many career and academic-related accomplishments includes winning the Dr. A.E. Dennis Wardman Family Aboriginal Prize in Medicine, awarded to the top Indigenous student in the second year of the UBC MD undergraduate program. He is also the winner of a $1,000,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize as a Board Member of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation. In addition, Dr. D'Hont is a recipient of the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship, presented by the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation recognizing leadership potential among young northern Canadians that are eager to address policy challenges facing the North. The fellowship provided Dr. D'Hont with the opportunity to create and publish a public policy paper titled Addressing the Need for Indigenous Physicians in the Northwest Territories. He is also the recipient of the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Centre for American Indian Health travel grant and scholarship that allowed him to partake in Summer MPH courses. 

Reflecting on his time at Nipissing, Dr. D'Hont said, "As an alumnus, I think back to the good times I had. My fondest memories are of balancing my academics with athletics while on the ski team at Nipissing. I am proud to have been a part of such a unique program that valued this balance and one that provided exceptional training facilities, such as on-campus ski trails and an elite gym training facility. I also have many fond memories of various activities with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives on campus."

Cameron Ghent

Rising Star Alumni Award

The Rising Star Alumni Award is presented to a recent graduate of Nipissing University who has demonstrated significant achievements on a professional, community or volunteer basis or has displayed promise of significant future accomplishments. It is awarded to an alumnus who has graduated in the last five years.

Cameron Ghent portrait

About Cameron Ghent

Cameron Ghent graduated from Nipissing University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) specialization in Gender Equality and Social Justice in 2019. While at Nipissing, Cameron worked as a student staff member within Student Development and Services in the role of Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Outreach Assistant. Cameron also revitalized the Equity Centre, a student-run safe space on campus that advocates on behalf of marginalized people. Thanks to Cameron’s leadership, the Equity Centre and its staff have grown to be a recognized resource on campus sought out by staff, faculty and students for support, education and training.

In addition to this, Cameron also contributed to the development of Nipissing University’s first Sexual Violence Response Policy, the designation of an all-gender washroom, the implementation of trans-inclusive signage in all bathrooms across campus, and educating students and staff through workshops about gender, sexual violence and bystander intervention. The work that Cameron accomplished as Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Outreach Assistant contributed to Nipissing University being recognized as #1 for “steps to prevent sexual assault on campus” in the primarily undergraduate category of the Maclean’s Universities Rankings. Although the legacy of this work has been taken up by a new generation of students, it would not have been possible without Cameron’s foundational contributions.

Cameron has continued their advocacy work beyond graduation. They developed and presented a webinar for front-line staff working in the settlement sector regarding advocacy for 2SLGBTQ+ clients and community members, which included local research and data collection for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). They developed and facilitated Positive Space workshops for Canadore College in June 2019. Cameron took on the role as Executive Assistant at Amelia Rising Sexual Violence Support Centre in July 2019, with a focus on increasing overall capacity to better serve and advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ clients. As part of this role, Cameron organized a community vigil for Trans Day of Remembrance in November 2019. They have been involved with Art Fix, a local artist collective focused on creating social change, as a Steering Committee member since 2019. Since 2018, Cameron co-hosted and produced a community event called North Gay Trivia, which aims to provide a space for 2SLGBTQ+ people and their allies to gather and have a good time. From 2018 to 2020, Cameron was also a Champion of OCASI’s Positives Space Initiative.

Cameron is truly dedicated to creating significant change within the community of North Bay, especially for marginalized individuals and those who have experienced gender-based violence. Cameron, a proud member of the community said "Aside from earning my BA from Nipissing, I am proud to continue to call North Bay my home post graduation and to be part of a community of folks that are passionate about social justice, supporting the arts and celebrating life in the North."

Dr. Denyse Lafrance Horning

Honorary Alumni Award

The Honorary Alumni Award is presented to an individual who is not a graduate of the university, but whose actions and dedication have made a positive impact on the Nipissing University experience. This honour recognizes friends of Nipissing University for outstanding service, commitment and contribution, past or present, to the University.

Denyse Lafrance Horning Profile Photo

About Dr. Denyse Lafrance Horning

After graduating with a Bachelor of Administration and a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Ottawa, Dr. Denyse Lafrance Horning joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies (J&J). She began her career in consumer sales and eventually found her niche as a member of the marketing team. She has managed such national leading brands as Tylenol*, Splenda*, Pepcid AC* and Motrin* IB with a focus on new product launches and Olympic sponsorship management.

While working at Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Lafrance Horning also taught marketing courses part-time at Nipissing University. The energy of the classroom swayed Dr. Lafrance Horning from industry to academia where she has been a full-time marketing professor at Nipissing’s School of Business since 2007. Dr. Lafrance Horning draws on her industry experience to complement academic curriculum and learning. In November 2014, she successfully defended her PhD entitled An Investigation of Sponsorship Effects at Charity-Linked Sporting Events: Does Gender Matter? which was recognized as a finalist in the International Marketing Trends best thesis award competition. Dr. Lafrance Horning is currently engaged in marketing to women, sports marketing and sponsorship research. She is also a member of the Nipissing University Athletic Advisory Board and was instrumental in creating the annual Lakers Break the Ice on Mental Health charity hockey game which raises money for mental health supports. 

In addition to her evolving professional roles and responsibilities, she values her time with family and friends. She enjoys her summers at the family ‘camp’ and winters on the hockey rink. Dr. Lafrance Horning is very involved in coaching her daughters’ competitive hockey teams and in 2015 she was recognized with the Hockey Canada Hero of Play award. In 2017, she became a coaching mentor with the Coaches Association of Ontario. "I feel very fortunate to have had many great opportunities throughout my life.  By far, my greatest achievement is my family," Dr. Lafrance Horning said of her accomplishments. "My husband Steve and my daughters, Ellie and Sydney, are what makes everything else in life enjoyable. Together, we have built a wonderful life that eventually led us back to my hometown and to the great community of North Bay."

Cindy Karugia

Philanthropy Alumni Award

The newly created Philanthropy Alumni Award is presented to an alumnus or champion of Nipissing University who is making significant contributions to improve their community through their generosity, dedication, commitment and service. The ideal candidate is passionate about an important social cause, freely gives their time, exemplifies great leadership qualities and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the social challenge related to his or her cause. This can include attempting to break down biases, change perceptions and alleviate issues impeding progress while working toward conquering a problem or responding to a need in a tangible way.

Cindy Karugia portrait

About Cindy Karugia

This year's inaugural award recipient is Cindy Karugia. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Criminal Justice in 2018, Cindy has dedicated herself to amplifying voices of young womxn and girls, and advocating for gender equality. Through her work on numerous boards and committees, Cindy has been able to meet and network with hundreds of women across Canada with the same goal. She has continuously represented Nipissing University and North Bay well in initiatives such as Girl Belongs Here 2019 - Seat Share with Plan International Canada, in which she was able to share responsibilities with the CEO of Manulife, Roy Gori, for a day. Presently, Cindy is a member of the Young Women’s Leadership program which is aimed at empowering, mentoring and training one hundred womxn from across Canada into community change makers. Cindy was also selected to sit on the Board of the G(irls) 20 program which places community-focused young women on governance boards in their communities. Cindy has a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism, and to help women and girls on a national and international level.

Reflecting on her time at Nipissing, Cindy said, "The community of colleagues and mentors that I built at Nipissing continues to positively contribute to my present day life. The best decision I ever made was to get involved in volunteering and working at the University as a student. One person that I’d like to celebrate is Gemma Victor, an employee of Nipissing who earlier in life spotted the potential in me. In turn, she took her time to professionally mentor and coach me as I was approaching graduation and transitioning into my professional career."