New graduates ready to provide compassionate care to children

Category: Mature learners

Category: Student Profiles

Graduate Spotlight: Alexis Joyce and Khala Sutherland

After completing six semesters in two years, the new graduates of Durham College’s (DC) compressed Child and Youth Care program could probably use a rest.

But instead of taking a breather, Alexis Joyce and Khala Sutherland have already found employment and are ready to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.

We spoke to Alexis and Khala about their time at DC, what they learned in the program, and their plans for the future.

What was your DC experience like?

Alexis: The professors made an effort to learn everyone’s names, hobbies and future goals. They made our classrooms a positive and safe environment for reflection, advocacy and self-determination. Each professor gave me a new outlook on the field and pushed me to continue in my development.

Khala: I could not have been more pleasantly surprised at just how quickly the two years went, how much knowledge I gained, and how many real-world, transferable skills I garnered. There were key faculty and students who made the journey a complete success. I loved being a DC student because I grew into a confident, knowledgeable and employable individual in my field.

How did the program help you prepare for your career?

Alexis: The program was a fantastic start to my career. The professors used assignments that were based on real scenarios. The goal was to give us employable skills that could directly be used in the field. I felt very prepared when applying for my current position and am confident in my skills. DC provided me with a positive experience that really pushed me towards a better version of myself. I am very thankful for the opportunity to develop my skill set and set meaningful goals.

Khala: In my final placement, I chose to be a student clinician at the Durham College Care Clinic. Through that, I had the wonderful opportunity of being a facilitator with the Youth Job Centre in Bowmanville. A colleague and I created evidence-based presentations on life skill topics such as self-esteem, conflict resolution and problem-solving. We presented about a dozen times, creating relationships and building rapport with young people. This role was one I didn’t ever think to do, but that opportunity opened my eyes to how I could do the same thing. I applied to Durham Family Court Clinic (DFCC) in Oshawa, and in August I was offered the job as a violence prevention program coordinator.

Would you recommend the program to future students?

Alexis: My experience with the program was very positive. I had an amazing time getting to know all of my professors and classmates. The program is really based on practical work that is directly related to your chosen future field of employment. For example, if you’re really interested in being a child and youth care practitioner for a school board, the professors help you do assignments from that perspective. Overall, I strongly recommend the program.

Khala: I would say go for it. You won’t know your capabilities until you take a chance. This program is well-rounded, it gives you practical, hands-on skills, and then provides the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned. There are many benefits, not only to you as a professional, but as a person in the community where you can think from a trauma-informed, person-centred stance. You will become more compassionate, more caring and more understanding of the diverse needs of others.

What do you love most about DC?

Alexis: My favourite part of DC was the environment. The college always had fun events occurring around the campus that allowed students to make friends. It is important to have a post-secondary experience that you really feel a part of and that you as an individual are making a difference. DC provided me with that experience.

Khala: I love that DC is a diverse, yet inclusive school. It never felt like I was out of place or didn’t deserve to be there. I believe that the culture created at DC and the willingness to grow in cultural competency shows where their heart is.

What are your future goals?

Alexis: I am continuing my education working towards a bachelor’s degree in both child and youth care and psychology. I am also working as a part-time child and youth care practitioner getting to experience the amazing path the youth are on. In the future, I would love to complete a master’s degree and possibly work in a clinical setting!

Khala: My future goals are to continue to work with youth, children and families in a plethora of mediums, in the community and in schools, assisting them in creating and meeting their goals and reaching their full potential.

Does a career in social services appeal to you? Check out these popular programs offered at DC in the Faculty of Social & Community Services: