A year in review: DC’s top 10 must-read blogs

From inspiring student stories to practical tips to help you thrive at Durham College (DC), this year we’ve shared everything you need to know about student life, our campus community, and the difference some of our students and alumni are making in the world. So, grab a hot chocolate and curl up while you enjoy these most popular blog posts of 2023!

 

Two generations, one classroom: A mother and son’s unique journey to DC

DC runs in the family. Read this inspirational story of a mother and son who study Practical Nursing together.

 

Prepare for these five in-demand careers at DC!

The job market is always changing and a number of industries are experiencing rapid growth. Find your perfect program at DC and step into the vacancies that employers are desperate to fill.

Honouring her son through education: Danita Algar’s inspirational journey to DC

Earlier this year, Danita Algar crossed the stage at convocation after completing DC’s Carpentry – Building Construction Technician program in honour of her late son, Ben.

How you can build career connections as a DC student

 As a DC student, networking opportunities are all around you. No matter what program you’re in, read about some of the ways you can get out into the world and meet the people who are leading the way in your chosen field.

Four ways to help finance your DC education

The cost of a post-secondary education should not be a barrier to you achieving your future goals. Learn four ways you can help pay for your tuition and start investing in your future.

Kristen Gainforth answers the call for those in need

Meet Kristen, an alumna of DC’s 9-1-1 Emergency and Call Centre Communications program who secured a job in her field before she even graduated!

Boost your employability with a Durham College degree

Check out these degrees at DC that put your in-class knowledge into practice through a field placement – making sure you gain real-world experience and hands-on training.

Returning to school to pursue her passion: How Zoe Straw is turning her love for video games into a career in Virtual Reality development

It’s never too late to change career paths. Read how Zoe decided to turn her passion for video games into a career.

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

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.

Cybersecurity student transforms co-op placement into full-time job

For DC’s Cybersecurity student Melanie Gimoto, hands-on learning opportunities led directly to landing a job in her field after graduation.

Be part of the action at DC and make 2024 your year! Discover our January programs online.


New year, new you: Some of our most popular programs are accepting students for January

The best time to move forward towards a new or upgraded career is now. Durham College (DC) is ready to support you in the New Year with more than 60 career-driven programs in IT, science and engineering, business, hospitality, culinary, healthcare, social work, community services, skilled trades, media, art and design and more.

What are some of the programs available in January?

Are you business-focused or entrepreneurial? Programs like Accounting, Finance and Human Resources are open to new students. Check our joint diploma-to-degree programs where students earn a diploma in programs like Entrepreneurship and Small Business and Supply Chain Operations and then transfer to Ontario Tech to complete a Bachelor of Commerce.

Consider combining your creativity with technology in our Interactive Media Design program or with business in Marketing. Or explore the art of food in our Culinary Management program!

Interested in being a first responder? Consider 911 Emergency and Call Centre Communications and Police Foundations. The Protection, Security and Investigation program prepares students for careers in border security, bylaw enforcement and corrections.

Trying to decide what to take? Our fundamentals programs, such as Business Fundamentals, are two-semester certificates which give you a solid foundation in the field while exposing you to a variety of career pathways and further areas of study.

Where should I start?

Explore all of DC’s market-driven programs to narrow your focus based on your interests. Connect with our student recruitment team, who will help you learn more about DC programs, show you around campus with a tour or arrange a virtual appointment.

What if I don’t have the right qualifications?

Find out more about academic upgrading so you can pursue the career of your dreams. Upgrading courses are tuition-free, and qualified learners can access funding for daycare and transportation costs. Learn more about registering and speak to one of our student advisors during a Steps to Success webinar.

Commit to yourself in the New Year and join us on campus! You belong at DC.


Transitioning to a fresh career: How Prince Francis found his place in the kitchen

Growing up, Prince Francis would often find himself replicating the delicious Caribbean dishes his mother prepared. So, it was no surprise when he found himself switching from an education in HVAC to one that included cuisine.

Prince, a Durham College (DC) Culinary Management student is also one of the 2023 DoorDash #Blackfoodenergy culinary scholarship recipients, an opportunity exclusively available at DC.

We caught up with Prince to ask him about his experience at DC and what life is like after receiving the $20,000 scholarship.

What inspired you to apply to the Culinary Management program at Durham College?

My mother instilled a love for cooking in me and when she saw I was at a crossroads, really deciding what I want to do with my life, she told me everything she had heard about the Culinary Management program at DC and I haven’t looked back.

What does it mean to you to have been awarded the DoorDash #Blackfoodenergy scholarship?

It means a lot to me. Not having to worry about student debt is one major part, but also the experiences and connections so far because of the scholarship have really made this culinary journey way more fun than I imagined. It also means a lot to me that DC employees saw my potential and I really appreciate how much they support me and involve me in as much as possible.

What’s your favourite part of your program?

I like the environment of my program. There’s an understanding that we are all here to learn and get better. The chefs are constantly giving tips and tricks as well as offering opportunities for extra curriculars. The environment helps me de-stress and find comfort.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about taking Culinary Management at DC?

That there are plenty of opportunities here, people who care about your success, and people who make you feel seen (not just someone lost in the sea of students). I would also mention the accomplished chefs who that we have as professors and the students who have gone on to see success.

What do you like best about DC?

Honestly, I like the people at DC, from my classmates to the faculty and chefs. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with has been really nice and supportive. Everyone wants you to be your best, and in an environment like that I feel like it’s impossible to fail. It really allows me to be comfortable, and you can ask anyone in my classes, I’m always smiling and laughing.

If you could summarize your experience so far in one word – what would it be?

I would say it’s interesting. I’m never bored and there’s something that piques my curiosity every class. The fact that sometimes we change the recipe on the spot, figuring out the most efficient way to do things, hearing the different opinions of the chefs, the skills and thought processes that they are teaching are things that will help us even beyond the culinary realm.

What are you looking forward to doing while studying at DC?

The two things I am most looking forward to in my program besides the cooking are my placement and all the future culinary theory classes. I’m really excited for my placement because it will give me a chance to see how a catering business is run and will introduce me to new flavours. I’m also very excited for my culinary theory classes because I find it really interesting and cool to hear the science and reasoning behind cooking as well as the experiences and opinions of seasoned chefs.

What is your dream career?

My dream career is to own and run my own catering business that serves elevated Caribbean dishes based on my mother’s recipes that I grew up on and serve a unique dessert each month. I’d also really like to curate a social media account where I can show some simple inexpensive recipes, talk about my life and what cooking did for me, and of course promote my business.

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Discover DC’s field-to-fork philosophy and find your perfect program inside the Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science.


Fascinated by food, culinary management grad headed back to DC

Graduate Spotlight: Liv Domik

Though she’s crossing the stage and picking up her diploma in Culinary Management, Liv Domik is not quite finished with her DC journey.

That’s because she’s continuing on in the Horticulture—Food and Farming program where she will pick up skills, training and experiences that naturally complement her culinary management background.

“I dream of becoming a food product developer on a corporate level or becoming a chef at a food and drink magazine,” said Domik. “I love to be creative with food and I think an environment like that would be my perfect place.”

Her journey began during the COVID-19 pandemic when she was selected for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a school-to-work program that allows secondary school students to complete their high school diplomas while gaining experience in the skilled trades. She began attending DC in February 2021.

“In my second year, I hit the ground running with experience in the industry under my belt and a fire in me to become the person I wanted to become,” she said. “This drive got me a job at The Springwood right out of college.”

Located in Whitby, The Springwood restaurant focuses on locally sourced food and seasonality.

Based on her experiences at DC and working at the restaurant, Domik decided to return to college for the Food and Farming program.

She said she learned key culinary skills for her industry at DC.

“I also got to learn many different cuisines and service styles which felt unique to this program.”

Domik encourages potential students to consider the culinary management program.

“People take the program for multiple reasons,” she said. “Some people take it to learn the language of food and have a deeper appreciation for it while others take it to become great chefs and own their own restaurants.”

Any advice for future students?

“I want you to remember that tough times don’t last, tough people do. Love yourself and just remember we are all a work in progress.”

Are you looking to make a career out of a love for food? Check out these popular programs offered at DC in the Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science:


Cybersecurity student transforms co-op placement into full-time job

Grad spotlight: Melanie Gimoto

For Cybersecurity student Melanie Gimoto, experiential learning opportunities at Durham College (DC) – including a co-op placement – led directly to landing a job in her field upon graduation.

Originally from the Philippines, Gimoto worked as a software developer there before moving to Singapore where she worked as a software engineer and then later as a security assessor.

“That’s where my hunger to understand cybersecurity began,” she said. Gimoto decided to look for a college in Canada, ultimately selecting Durham College’s Cybersecurity (graduate certificate) program.

An honour roll student at DC, Gimoto found the school to be a vibrant and welcoming institution.

“The campus is modern and well-equipped, providing a comfortable and conducive environment for learning,” she said. “The faculty is knowledgeable and approachable, always ready to assist and guide students in their academic journeys.”

She took full advantage of practical opportunities in her program. For example, for a hacking course, she demonstrated the dangers of connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi by simulating a man-in-the-middle attack using a Wi-Fi Pineapple, a device that allows hackers to intercept messages between two parties. She said students at DC get a chance to work on real-world projects through the DC Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation.

“While studying, I was able to acquire a job in the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) as a cybersecurity research assistant,” she explains. “It was a really exciting role as we were developing practical solutions for partner companies, even as a student.”

Her co-op placement at CarltonOne Engagement led to a job as a cyber risk analyst.

“The role involves the sophisticated analysis of phishing emails and threat commands and ensuring that potential vulnerabilities are swiftly identified and addressed,” said Gimoto. “In addition, I conduct in-depth risk assessments providing valuable insights into the security landscape and meticulously analyze threat alerts to safeguard the organization’s digital assets and integrity.”

Her advice to students in the cybersecurity program is to look for a community to support them in their learning and she recommends joining professional groups like the Toronto chapter of ISACA, a global association for IT professionals and WiCyS (Women in Cybersecurity).

“Foster a love for learning and you’ll experience continuous growth,” she said. “That’s essential for achieving success in any field where continual learning is of utmost importance, especially in the cybersecurity landscape.”

Are you ready to start your career in IT? Check out these popular programs offered at DC in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Information Technology (SEIT):


Changing career paths and preparing for the in-demand skilled trades industry

Graduate spotlight: Kathryn Fullerton

After beginning her bachelor’s degree in criminology and justice, Kathryn Fullerton felt lost and confused about her future. In search of a new challenge, she applied for the Electrical Techniques program at Durham College (DC) and hasn’t looked back.

“I finally feel like I am headed in the right direction towards developing a career that I find engaging and exciting, and a life I can be proud of,” she says.

Now, as a new graduate, we chatted with Kathryn about her experience at DC, the Canerector Scholarship she received, and her future goals.

What was your favourite part about being a DC student?

My favourite part about being a student was knowing that DC collaborates with community partners. This really helped me learn the skills employers are looking for. Durham College also adapts with industry changes, which helped me feel confident that I would be well-prepared to enter the workforce.

What are you most grateful for from your time at DC?

I am grateful for all the people that I got to meet and connect with. From the amazing professors whose encouragement helped me feel confident in myself and my abilities to the friends I made along the way. It really helped knowing that my professors – who have such vast experience in the field – believed in me. They helped me believe in myself.

What would you say to other female students who are interested in taking the same program as you?

I always felt respected at DC. Sometimes it can feel daunting to be only one of a few females in a class, but I knew I deserved to be there! To another female interested in taking the same program, or any of the other skilled trade programs, I would say go for it. This is a viable career option that’s extremely fulfilling.
What did it mean to you to be a recipient of the Canerector Scholarship?

I was so happy to be selected as one of the Canerector Scholarship recipients. It made a huge impact on my time at DC, the extra financial help made a big difference and helped me focus more on my studies.  I also felt recognized for my hard work. It really made me feel excited for my future in the skilled trades.

What are you looking forward to after graduation?

After graduation I am looking forward to entering the workforce and beginning my journey towards a career I can be proud of. I plan to obtain my electrical journeyman’s license and eventually become a master electrician. After finally finding a career path I am excited for, I am really happy to be starting this new chapter of my life.

Are you ready to start your career in the skilled trades? Check out these popular programs offered at DC in the Faculty of Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship:


Social Service Worker grad driven by passion for helping others

Graduate Spotlight: Ajurenmisan Emiko

For Ajurenmisan Emiko, social work is more than a job. It’s a calling to make a difference in the world.

The new graduate of the Social Service Worker program at Durham College (DC) is ready to get out there and help those in need, regardless of their circumstances.

“Social work is a profession of hope and compassion. The world may think in good or bad and black or white, but as social workers, we are grey,” she said. “We are the spot in between, a safe space with no judgement and no discrimination; only advocacy and a strong passion for equality and equity.”

From courses in counselling techniques and group dynamics to community outreach projects and placements at various agencies, the program gave her the practical skills and experience needed to work in the diverse and complex field.

“The past two years have been an incredible learning experience. I’ve gained valuable knowledge and insights into the world of social work,” she said. “I’ve met inspiring professors and fellow students who share my passion for positively impacting people’s lives. I also had the opportunity to work alongside dedicated professionals who inspired me to continue on this path of making a positive impact in our community.”

Though she’s always had a passion for helping others, the curriculum gave her a solid academic foundation, from courses in psychology to specialized subjects like counselling techniques, case management, and addictions and mental health. There was also a strong emphasis on gaining practical experience with a required student placement of over 600 hours at different agencies. That allowed Ajurenmisan and her fellow students to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world settings, working directly with clients and communities.

“My experience and the connections I made here showed me the power of empathy and care. It’s incredible how a compassionate ear and genuine support can make a world of difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Her goal is to provide compassionate support as a counsellor and to help people work through the struggles and issues they are unable to share with others out of fear of being judged or misunderstood.

As she moves forward in her life and career, she’ll look back fondly at DC.

“I’m filled with gratitude for the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired here,” she said. “I’m thankful for experiencing this amazing chapter in my life at Durham College. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned and apply it to create meaningful change in our community.”

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


New graduates ready to provide compassionate care to children

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:


DCSA chairperson making the most of her final year

Student Spotlight: Megan Bent

In her three years at Durham College (DC), Megan Bent has just about done it all.

Currently enrolled in the Sport Business Management graduate certificate program, she’s already an Advertising and Promotion graduate. She’s a key member of the dominant Durham Lords women’s rugby team that went undefeated last season on its way to provincial gold. And for the second year in a row, she’s leading the way for the Durham College Student Association (DCSA) as executive chairperson.

Though she received a Bachelor of Global and International Studies from Carleton University, it wasn’t quite what she was looking for in a post-secondary experience.

“It just wasn’t the right fit for me. I learn best in a get-your-hands-dirty kind of way, and neither high school nor university played with mud.”

Her search for a more tactile education led her to DC, where she immediately made herself at home both in and out of the classroom. She jumped into student life by helping out at orientation events, and then successfully ran for the position of Media, Art and Design director on the DCSA board, before the outgoing chairperson advised her to pursue the leadership role.   

“Getting the opportunity to join the board, I really got to understand the dynamics of our campus, how the association worked, and the things that we could offer to students,” she said.

Her smiling face has become a familiar sight on campus, and students know they can always approach her with their questions, concerns or friendly greetings.

She credits her counterparts at the DCSA for allowing her to do so much.

“I get a lot of praise for the things that we do, but we really have a well-oiled machine behind the scenes. They’re always pushing me to be better. They’re always taking care of me. I really couldn’t do what I do without them.”

Their support, as well as her own dedication and hard work, allows her to excel in class as well as on the rugby pitch. Now in her third season, she has embraced a leadership role on the team. In the same way she guides new students as DCSA president, she shares the benefit of her experience with the younger players on the team.

“When you’ve been on the circuit as long as I have, you have a lot of knowledge and a lot of insight,” she said. “I love playing with them. My team has been amazing. We’re there for each other.”

Her dedication to DC yielded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity last month, when she was chosen to deliver the ceremonial first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays’ College and University Night. Members of the DC ball teams gave her some tips, and when the moment came, she threw a strike in front of a packed Rogers Centre.

“The stadium feels a lot bigger when you’re standing on the field than when you’re in the seats,” she said. “It was really cool representing our school and getting to see the crowd.”

She will soon be incorporating her passion for athletics with her education. In her upcoming field placement, she’ll be working with the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). She’s already well acquainted with the organization as a member of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee. Combining her multifaceted education with her love of sports would be an ideal career path for her.

Whatever her future holds, she knows it will be tough to say goodbye to DC.

“I’ll be pretty bummed because it’ll be the end of a chapter, and it’s been one of my favorite ones that I’ve ever got to write,” she said. “But then I also get to start a new chapter, and so I’m optimistic that my next stage of life will be as vibrant and lively as this one.”


Two generations, one classroom: A mother and son’s unique journey to DC

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CHERALEE AND JAMES CLEARY

Cheralee Cleary has fond memories of walking her son, James, to his first days of elementary school but never expected that nearly two decades later, their roles would be reversed.

For 32 years, Cheralee worked as a registered nursing assistant in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. As her license renewal with the College of Nurses approached in 2021, Cheralee started exploring her options and even enrolled in a refresher program at a different college at the peak of the pandemic.

“I was feeling pretty defeated and that’s when James suggested Durham College,” she said.

Already enrolled in Durham College's (DC) Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificate program, this time it was James who stepped up to ease his mother's first-day jitters.

Durham College was the first place I felt at home. Right away, I noticed how accessible everything was on campus. No matter who I talked to – a fellow student, an instructor or the information desk – everyone was happy to help.

– James Cleary, Practical Nursing student

And their DC story doesn’t end there.

Building on the momentum of their Pre-Health Sciences program, in 2023 James and Cheralee enrolled in DC’s Practical Nursing program and continue to reap the benefits of studying – and living – under the same roof.

“When we study together, we like to knit pick each other’s answers,” said James. “It helps us remember key information for tests and let’s us have a bit of fun with it.”

It’s hard to stop being a mom at times, but Durham College makes it so easy to go back to school at any age. The professors are so approachable and the number of resources available to you make the transition so smooth.

– Cheralee Cleary, Practical Nursing student

When asked about their plans after graduation, Cheralee looks forward to putting her new skills to work in long-term nursing care and building on her wealth of experience. As for James, his future specialty has yet to be determined, although surgical nursing tops his list these days.

“I’d like to taste the rainbow – I want to go everywhere.”

For now, they’re content with their friendly competitions and working toward the special moment when they’ll both cross the Convocation stage together next year.