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Coaching Corner: 2019 MPI Ottawa Prix Prestige Student of the Year and Rising Star Recipients


By: Erin Bellwood | Jul 19, 2019

The Prix Prestige Awards Gala is an amazing event to highlight and recognize MPI Ottawa members on their hard-work, dedication and commitment to the chapter. The Student Liaison Subcommittee, who are the ones contributing to the Coaching Corner articles, are very excited to be able to highlight the Student of the Year and the Rising Star Recipients from this year’s gala. Congratulations again to all the nominees and recipients.

Student of the Year:

Brittany Cosgrove, Algonquin College Student
Alexandra Melbourne, Canadian Bureau for International Education
Emily Wong, Signatures Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu

Rising Star:

Kalli Foster, Canadian Bar Association
Courtney Jones, CMP, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
David Manias, Residence Inn by Marriott and The Metcalfe Hotel
Danielle Tomarelli, CERIC
Gabrielle Whittaker, WPICC, Brookstreet Hotel

We were able to catch up with Alex and Courtney to ask them a few questions about their involvement with MPI. Check it out!

Student of the Year – Alexandra Melbourne

Alex Melbourne Headshot

Congratulations on receiving the Student of the Year award! How did it feel when you found out you were the recipient?

The nomination was a great surprise and I feel very lucky to have been recognized alongside such great individuals. Finding out I won was very exciting. I took a chance on changing my career and entering into this industry. The unknown can be very intimidating, but receiving this award was not only such an honour, but also validation that I am on the right path. I know that I'll look back on this moment fondly and use it as a reminder to continue working hard.

What made you decide you wanted to become a meeting planner?

As some may know, I worked in the field of Developmental Services and Acquired Brain Injury Services for five years before embarking on this new path. Although I enjoyed what I did, I longed to know what career was meant for me, as so many of us do at some point. I've always been one to volunteer to plan any event. From high school prom, college networking events, to graduation events, yet I never realized it was a passion I could follow. While planning our wedding back in 2017, it finally dawned on me that this was a profession I could pursue. I've always had a passion for learning, so when I felt I needed to know more about this industry, I turned to the Event Management program at Algonquin College, and the rest is (a very recent) history.

What are your plans/goals for your future involvement in the chapter?

I've learned so much on the marketing committee and I feel ready to take on more. I really want to immerse myself in MPI, not only because of the amazing experiences that come from it but because of the valuable friendships I've found along the way. I've recently signed on to volunteer for the AGM/Golf Day and look forward to volunteering for more committees and events. It's a great way to learn new skills that I may not otherwise learn in my day-to-day.

Do you have any words of encouragement for current or graduating students who are looking to join MPI Ottawa?

MPI Ottawa is an incredibly valuable resource for furthering your knowledge or perfecting your skill set. I joined MPI because I felt it was incredibly important to continue to surround myself with like-minded individuals and stay current on industry trends. The MPI Ottawa chapter members are very welcoming and eager to support new members. The key is to get out of your comfort zone and say hello to someone new at a networking event, or make some time to meet with someone you find inspiring.

I truly believe in the power of networking and further learning. Attending events has not only helped me meet new people, but has also inspired the work I do as a conference coordinator. You will truly get so much out of your membership if you're willing to put some time into it.

Rising Star – Courtney Jones

Courtney Jones Headshot

Congratulations on receiving the Rising Star award! How did it feel when you found out you were the recipient?

It was really exciting but also really scary to have to get up onto that stage - I’m not big on public speaking! It was a true honour just to be nominated for Rising Star along with some other really amazing MPI volunteers. I am so grateful to those who nominated me.

When accepting your award, you said you are lucky to have amazing mentors who have provided you with guidance and support. What is some of the best advice they have given you?

Be courageous and don’t let fear hold you back!

What are some achievements you hope to accomplish in your professional career?

To become a leader within the industry and hopefully have the opportunity to give back by mentoring others. Maybe to get my CMM one day.

Do you have any advice for young professionals who are looking to get more involved in MPI Ottawa?

Just do it! It is so beneficial in so many ways. You will make connections within the industry, meet new friends and gain some great experience.

If you have any questions about this article, student membership or have topics you would like to see in future “Coaching Corner” articles, please don’t hesitate to send a message to

Erin Belllwood Headshot[4407] Article compiled by Erin Bellwood, Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association

Article edited by Rozanne Lyons, CMP, Intertask Conferences

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