It’s never too late to start a new career – Pivoting to PR and Communications at DC

Student spotlight – CLAUDIA NOSSEIR

After a long break from work to raise her family, Claudia Nosseir found herself at a fork in the road. Looking for a different direction from her original career path of psychology, Claudia decided returning to school was the best option.

Originally from Toronto, she explored many schools and was thrilled when her research led her to Durham College’s PR and Strategic Communications Advanced Diploma.

While her children thought it was funny that she was going back to school, she wanted to show them that it is never too late to achieve whatever you want. The three of them now study together!

We caught up with Claudia to learn more about her program, life and next steps.

Why did you decide to go back to school?

I felt it was the right time to complete a program I had been interested in for many years. I was incredibly intimidated entering a college program at this stage of my life, but the staff at DC were my cheerleading squad. Every time I would feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities I was juggling, there would be someone there helping me back up and encouraging me to continue – always with a ‘yes you can, and you will’ attitude.

Why did you choose Public Relations and Strategic Communications at DC?

I was very particular about the college I chose and felt that Durham College was the right fit for my professional development. In Toronto, there are many communications options, but I was impressed with the curriculum and field placements the program at DC offered.

Within three months of being at school, I applied to the work-study program. I landed a part-time job – which has led to full-time summer employment – on the social media team in the college’s Communications and Marketing department. I was thrilled to be part of their team as this was the perfect complement to my studies. Just by being in the PR and Strategic Communications program, so many doors have already opened, confirming that I made the right decision to choose this program over others I had considered.

How do you balance school with your busy family life?

It’s not easy! I have many things on the go all the time, and I did struggle with time management at first. So, I took a Time Management webinar through the Student Academic Learning Services, and it provided me with strategies that I have used to be more efficient and it worked.

DC is a one-stop shop for your needs. They know what the students need and provide it. As a mature mom, I was very impressed with the college’s services, such as wellness supports and the financial aid office, which made the transition so seamless for me.

Why PR and Strategic Communications?

I chose PR and Strategic Communications because I had taken on various comms roles, such as writing speeches for others, editing, and presenting, during my previous work and volunteer experiences. I started to see a theme in what others came to me for, so I decided to explore this career path more and further develop the skills I already had.

Would you recommend the PR and Strategic Communications program to others?

Absolutely. I made the correct decision in choosing to take this program at DC. I am entering my second year and can’t wait to learn more. The support system in this program is amazing. My knowledge base for communications has increased significantly in just one year, as has my writing. The courses have been interesting and engaging and the material is very relevant and exciting. In addition, they have an impressive contact list for field placement partners, so I feel secure in the knowledge that I will be working as soon as I complete the program.

What advice do you have for other students who return to school later in life?

As I entered my first year, I saw that some students came in with a range of education, work and life experiences. Durham College embraced them all and offered services to accommodate everyone. Wherever you are in your life, DC has got you.

What advice do you have for others considering going into communications and PR?

Come to Durham College! You won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun, engaging and relevant program. There is a demand out there for communications roles, and from what I have seen so far, this program sets you up for success.

“Backbones of recovery” – How one international student is turning his experience into a rewarding nursing career

Student Spotlight: Darshan Patel

Darshan Patel has always been inspired by the medical field, but it wasn’t until he experienced a family member’s illness that he knew it would become his career.

It’s been nearly two years since Darshan arrived in Canada from India for an exciting new opportunity in Durham College’s (DC) Practical Nursing program.

Recently, we met up with Darshan, who is starting his second year in September, to learn about his DC experience and what he hopes to achieve in the future as a nurse in Ontario.


What inspired you to pursue a career in nursing?

As I watched the care and compassion that the nurses provided my loved one, I realized that they were the backbone of his recovery. It amazed me how much of an impact they had on his well-being and how dedicated they were to making him feel comfortable in his time of need. That experience, and my desire to help others, led me to pursue nursing.

Why did you choose the Practical Nursing program at DC?

After deciding that I wanted to enrol in Practical Nursing, I started to research colleges. I was immediately drawn to Durham College’s hands-on opportunities and labs. I had already completed DC’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Advanced Diplomas and Degrees program so the fact that I was already familiar with the campus made it an easy decision.

How has DC supported you along the way?

My experience at DC has been great. I love how the college supports students through a number of helpful services, like DC Hired. As an international student, when I moved to Canada, I was unsure how to find employment. DC Hired helped me create a cover letter and land a job that worked around my schedule.

I also worked as a DC content creator for the college’s social media team. The flexible hours made it easy to work around my studies and I learned how to network and create content for different areas of the college. When I filmed content for Open House, I had the opportunity to interview different faculty members and learn about various programs offered at DC.

What has been your favourite part of your program?

My favourite part of my program so far has been the clinical placements, where I get to put everything I learn in the classroom into practice everything I learn and interact with patients in a real healthcare setting. Working alongside experienced nurses, I can observe their techniques and learn from them while thinking critically and developing my communication skills and professional bedside manner.

What advice would you give to those considering DC or students about to begin your program?

If you are on the fence or considering other colleges, I could not recommend Durham College enough. Along with the DC’s bustling campus, Durham Region is a growing economy with so many opportunities.

It has been an incredible journey so far. Every day, as I witness firsthand the difference my classmates and I can make in someone’s life through our care and expertise, I am reminded of why I chose this profession.


If you’re interested in a nursing career like Darshan, DC has the program for you. Here are some of our programs that will equip you with the skills you need to make an impact in this highly demanded sector.

Gaining on-the-job skills before graduation sets DC students up for success

Future fitness professional and Durham College Fitness and Health Promotion student, Josh Malbon, is getting on-the-job experience before he even graduates from college.

He is one of a number of students participating in a collaborative project* with students in the Firefighter – Pre-Service Education and Training program who are measuring the vital physiological responses of future firefighters as they perform real-life fire simulations to help learn how to improve their health, safety and performance.

“Working with students in the firefighter program is strengthening my ability to connect and communicate with clients in a professional setting,” said Malbon. “And the chance to work with a special population and learn specific procedures and protocols related to occupational testing is a huge benefit.”

Providing opportunities like this for students to participate in hands-on learning – also known as experiential learning or work-integrated learning – is a focus and priority for Durham College. Whether it is field placement, applied research, apprenticeship or co-op, they all have the shared objective to strengthen the skills students learn in the classroom by applying them to real-life settings.

And the result is undeniable that it gives students the skills employers are looking for and helps set them apart from the competition at graduation.

For Russell Waring, a third-year Computer Programming and Analysis student at DC, the opportunity was a co-op experience with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that he says has helped boost his employability in the competitive field of information technology in advance of his graduation this spring.

“The Experiential Learning office supported me throughout the entire co-op experience,” said Waring. “Without the opportunities provided by DC’s work-integrated learning, I would not be graduating with the experience and confidence that I have today.”

Hands-on learning opportunities can also be student-led. In the Faculty of Media, Art & Design (MAD), a collaborative project lets students test out entrepreneurship and gain first-hand business experience.

Project Founders Drive*, a series of podcasts launched by DC’s Enactus Team, is helping student entrepreneurs realize their dreams and materialize business opportunities. With 18 jobs created for students across six MAD programs, the project has helped young professionals start seven businesses and exposed 780 people to entrepreneurship, not to mention the experience gained by the team.

No matter the form of learning, it’s all about gaining valuable experience while completing your studies to be job-ready on graduation day. And DC is here to help you get there.

To learn more about hands-on learning at DC, visit

*These projects are funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Work-Integrated Learning program and Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub.