Tag Archives: McGill

TransfORming Our Globe – Krystal Chong ’02

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Krystal Chong ’02, who has used her own experiences to propel her into success as a mental wellness entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Read how she risked everything in search of her calling and found it in New York City.

Krystal calls her time at Ridley “priceless,” and says that her Ridley education was the best gift her parents ever gave her. From 2000–2002, Krystal embraced all that Ridley had to offer; filling her days with swim practice, competing on the tennis courts, volunteering with Alzheimer’s patients and learning valuable skills that would accompany her on her career path. Like many Ridleians before her, one of the most important lessons Krystal learned while at Ridley was time management. “[Ridley] really taught me the value of maximizing a day and it made me realize how much you can accomplish if you manage your time well and push yourself,” shared Krystal. Above all of these timeless life lessons, Krystal is thankful to the faculty of Ridley for instilling in her a love of learning.

 “The teachers at Ridley were just so spectacular, I had never experienced anything like that until and since then. They single handedly taught me to enjoy learning, and that I was actually good at it, as long as I put the effort into it. They made me enjoy the process of becoming better and better and seeing myself progress as a result of what I put in, gave me the confidence that there was no limit for myself but myself.” – Krystal Chong ’02

After graduating Ridley, Krystal studied Psychology and Business at McGill University in Montreal, before returning to Jamaica. She strongly believed that in order to be happy in life, she needed to love her career and have a meaningful connection to the work she was doing. She decided to become a part of the family business and work alongside her loved ones. She spent many years working for Honey Bun Ltd. – the fastest growing wholesale bakery in Jamaica – eventually working her way up to the Chief Marketing Officer position. Krystal recalls, “one of my proudest contributions to date is to have played an integral part in building the company’s brand and taking the company public.” However, after eight years with the company, she felt a deep desire to find her true purpose in life. The realization that she needed to move in a different direction, but didn’t know what direction that was, intensified her pre-existing struggles with anxiety and depression. Desperate for a change yet tasked with a difficult decision to take a risk or stay within her comfort zone, Krystal found herself at a pivotal moment.

“In the end there was one thing I knew for sure. I could live with trying and failing, but I could not live with never knowing what could have been.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal resigned from her position at Honey Bun Ltd. and made the leap in moving to New York City on a journey to discover what her life’s purpose was and what would truly make her happy. Luckily for Krystal, this story has a happy ending. The lessons she learned on that journey helped Krystal conquer her anxiety and depression, leading her to a moment of clarity. Krystal is now an author, speaker and entrepreneur, dedicated to helping others live a flourishing life.

Krystal wrote the highly-acclaimed book, “What The Hell Am I Supposed To Do With My Life?! – A fun and friendly guide to finding your magic, your purpose and yo’ self”. This book sets out to help others discover meaning and connection in their lives, regardless of what hurdles may stand in their way.

“To hear from readers all over the world with wonderful stories about how the book is changing their lives, to hear about them becoming empowered to overcome their challenges and live the lives they want for themselves, to hear that for the first time in a long time they feel ‘hope’ and that has moved them to change, has been my ABSOLUTE GREATEST joy in life.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal’s profession is her passion, so she is constantly working towards her next big goals and continuing to better herself. With another book on the horizon and a new company, Anxiety Schmanxiety, which provides a comprehensive, organic, and enjoyable approach to conquering anxiety and improving mental wellness, Krystal is truly thriving.

As someone whose job is to instill confidence in those around her and motivate individuals to chase their dreams, Krystal shares some words of wisdom with Ridleians who are on their own journey to self-discovery:

“You are on a wonderful, wonderful journey and sometimes that journey may not feel so wonderful, but that’s the universe speaking to you. Try to understand what it’s telling you and learn and grow from any adversity. Always remember, you have the power, at all times, to determine how your life will end up. Move away from the things that bring your down and towards the things that make you light up, the things that feel right deep down inside. You have a divine compass within you which is the most powerful thing you possess. Learn to listen to that compass and let it guide you, and you’ll find everything you seek, and so much more.

And I’ll leave with this: close your eyes and imagine the best possible version of yourself. That is who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe that.” – Krystal Chong ’02


 TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to kory_lippert@ridleycollege.com.

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Ted Kirkpatrick ’05 & Adrian Pennachetti ‘05

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For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumni, Ted Kirkpatrick ’05 and Adrian Pennachetti ‘05, who saw a business opportunity that was both environmentally sustainable and prosperous. Read about how these two Ridleians started Tree to Table – a Niagara based company that salvages, mills, cuts and converts reclaimed wood into live-edged tables.

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In 2001, Ted and Adrian first met. Throughout the course of their time as Tigers, both boys were active members of the Ridley community. Ted and Adrian were House Captains during their final year, they could be often found on the field or rink, and were both involved in the arts at Ridley – working on set designs and playing in the Cadet Band.

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After Ridley, Adrian and Ted attended McGill University and Wilfred Laurier University, respectively. It was years later, when both Ridleians had their focus directed elsewhere, that Tree to Table was born. After a wind storm at Adrian’s family farm, Ted and Adrian were cleaning up the fallen trees. A beautiful, black walnut tree had come down and they didn’t want to see it go to waste. They saw the potential to turn it into a piece of furniture, and a business was born. Ted did wood-working as a hobby, and while at Ridley, both Ted and Adrian learned wood-working skills from Mr. Giles Campbell, the Design Technology teacher, who still teaches students today.

When Ted and Adrian graduated high school, they left Ridley with time-management skills and the ability to focus on the task at hand, but they said that their biggest take-away was the connections they made. When their business began to take off, their Ridley connections were the direct cause. Their workshop was rented from a Ridley parent, many of their first customers were Ridleians, and their materials were – and still are – harvested and collected from a Ridley family farm.

Ted and Adrian take great care in ensuring their products are completed with the utmost quality and sustainability. It can take up to eight months for a product to be completed, from the collecting of the dead trees to the sealing of the tables. All of their wood is salvaged from standing dead trees, which would have otherwise been used for firewood.  The wood must then be brought to the sawmill, stacked, and fully dried out, all before they begin to form the reclaimed wood into a usable table. Although it may seem like a long process, it ensures that Tree to Table remains green, and that each customer receives a top of the line product.

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In the last four years, business has been nonstop for Tree to Table and has nearly doubled each year since they began. One of the company’s recent jobs was creating and installing all of the live-edge tables in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Garrison House. Since both Ted and Adrian have full-time jobs, they work hard to maintain a balance between their other commitments and Tree to Table. While they love their other jobs, Tree to Table gives them a creative outlet and a place to relieve stress. With their recent success, the business partners have begun discussing where to take their company next.

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To Ridleians who are looking to start their own businesses, Ted and Adrian gave some of advice:

“When you see an opportunity, you have to capitalize on it. Don’t wait around. Be mindful of your life. Find a healthy balance between your work and your personal life. Let your business flourish, but not at the expense of your wellbeing”

– Ted Kirkpatrick ‘05

“Be a sponge. Ask questions and surround yourself with strong mentors.”

– Adrian Pennachetti ‘05


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

Old Ridleian Begins Post-Secondary Journey as a Loran Scholar

Photo by Humans of St. Catharines
Photo by Humans of St. Catharines

In February of 2016, Ridley was proud to announce that Grace
Lowes, from the Class of 2016, was awarded the prestigious Loran Scholarship, that each year, only 30 individuals
receive. The scholarship includes a renewable undergraduate scholarship, valued up to $100,000, for the duration of the recipients’ four years of post-secondary education. Inaddition to the monetary support, these scholars receive the opportunity to intern abroad for three summers, receive residency support and are connected with a mentor for the duration of their educations.

During her time at Ridley, Grace was an active member of the Ridley community. She co-founded the Model U.N. group, formed a Days for Girls charitable activity on campus, joined clubs such as the Syrian Refugee Club and Positive Spaces Group, and helped lead the school, during her final year, as a Prefect. When we sat down with Grace last year, she expressed a profound feeling of gratitude when asked how receiving the scholarship felt.

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“With the Loran Scholarship and with Ridley, I’ve had so many opportunities to be educated at the highest prestige and it’s just such an amazing privilege and it is something I will never take for granted.”

Grace graduated in May, and has since spent her summer preparing for the start of her post-secondary education. As part of her Loran Scholarship, Grace had the opportunity to partake in a Loran Scholars Foundation retreat, that would provide opportunity to strengthen her leadership and team-building skills before her first year of university. The retreat began with a canoe excursion through Algonquin Park with other scholars.

“It was extremely outside of my comfort zone, but was an amazing opportunity to meet some of the students that had also been awarded the scholarship. It was also an extremely physically and mentally challenging trip for myself. During the canoe trip I had to spend a 24-hour period completely alone in the woods, equipped with only a handful of granola, a sleeping bag and a tarp. This was a highlight of my trip. I found it to be an extremely valuable time to reflect and be thoughtful.”

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The second portion of the retreat took place in Guelph, Ontario. Scholars like Grace – who were just beginning their post-secondary journeys – were able to meet with those who were in different stages of their four-year scholarships. This gave Grace the opportunity to converse with likeminded individuals and see what her future as a Loran Scholar might have in store.

Her biggest takeaway from the retreat was the advice she received about the importance of gratitude.

“Everyone advised me that during the school year things will be hard, they will be overwhelming and that I will likely feel stressed, but to remember what a privilege it is to be educated and even more so what a privilege it is to be educated without fear of financial hurdles. I thought this is great advice. Being thankful and appreciative all the time is so important.”

This September, Grace begins her post-secondary journey at McGill University, where she will study politics and philosophy. Grace says she is most looking forward to getting back in touch with some of her favourite things – like writing and playing music. With the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is the Loran Scholarship, Grace will also have the chance to explore some of her passions in the coming summers. The Loran Scholarship allows each scholar to spend three summers on paid internships, all over the world. We look forward to seeing where Grace goes; on both her internship, and her future.

Grace has spent her summer immersed in gratitude and has been reflecting about past, present and future opportunities. To the students who are just beginning their Ridley journeys, Grace says this:

“I would give the same advice as what I received. Being educated at Ridley is a luxury. Don’t forget that. Soak in everything you learn and take advantage of every opportunity you are given and be grateful for all of those things. Always say thank you, not just with your words but also with your actions.”

Good luck to Grace at McGill and good luck to the Class of 2016 as they too begin their post-secondary journeys.