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CHALKBOARD: Local medical student handed GG honours

By Don Fraser, St. Catharines Standard

Eric Sonke was recently handed a prestigious gold Governor General's Academic Medal from Western University. (Photo Special to The Standard)

Eric Sonke was recently handed a prestigious gold Governor General's Academic Medal from Western University. (Photo Special to The Standard)

Eric Sonke from St. Catharines was recently handed a prestigious gold Governor General’s Academic Medal from Western University.

The annual awards go to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as approved college or university programs.

Gold medals are issued at an institution’s graduate level.

Sonke, 25, attended St. Francis High School in the city’s north end and graduated as an Ontario Scholar.

He participated in many sports including hockey, soccer at the local level and southern Ontario level, and rowing for St. Francis and St. Catharines Rowing Club.

Sonke has also been a longtime volunteer at places such as the emergency department of St. Catharines hospital and the local March of Dimes.

He graduated from Western University as both an undergraduate and graduate and received his master of science from Western in the department of anatomy and cell biology.

Sonke said his life experiences living in the area — through volunteering, academics and sports — “got me on the right foot, got me motivated and set me on the path to where I am today.”

He also thanked people in Niagara “who’ve helped me out a lot,” including with rowing, volunteering at the hospital and at TrYForce Triathlon club.

He is now living in Montreal and attending McGill University in his first year of medical school.

The Governor General’s Academic Medal was first awarded in 1873 by the Earl of Dufferin. It has since become one of the top awards that a student in a Canadian educational institution can receive. 

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A new video game program partnership between Brock University and Niagara College has already seven times the number of applicants than available spaces for the first September term.

In a release, GAME program director Brock Professor Michael Winter says 366 people have applied for the degree/diploma program, which has spots for 50 students.

In the program, unique in Canada, students earn a university degree and an advanced college diploma in four years.

They can choose their stream at Brock: a BA in game design or BSc in game programming. At the same time, they will be working towards an advanced college diploma.

Students will team up and create original games starting in the second year. In their fourth year, the best games will be presented at Level Up, a renowned industry showcase held in Toronto.

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On April 1, students in the Specialist High Skills Major ICE — Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship — program held a training day for a program with the Niagara River Lions basketball team.

Niagara Catholic District School Board said students were asked to come up with creative ways for the team to advertise sponsors in the arena. To that end, the class took a trip to a game for their initial observations.

After that, students spent a day brainstorming ways to better acknowledge sponsors.

Following the workshop, students gave their “elevator pitches” to the team. Those videos will be reviewed and considered by the team.

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On April 21 and 22, District School Board of Niagara is hosting the annual International Concussion Summit.

In addition to a lineup filled with researchers and medical experts, this year’s conference will feature longtime Buffalo Bills great Thurman Thomas. Education Minister Liz Sandals is also scheduled to speak on the Friday morning.

For more information, visit www.icsniagara.com.

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Don Fraser’s Chalkboard Niagara education column runs weekly. For tips and releases e-mail him at donfraser@postmedia.com.



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