DC grad nominated for Daytime Emmy® Award and James Beard Foundation Award

Kristin Atwood, an alumna of the Durham College (DC) Culinary Management program, has been combining her passion for food and filmmaking since graduating in 2017. What began as a freelance gig creating media content for local restaurants, has since evolved into an award-winning independent production company called Chef Studio, where she produces cooking tutorials and web series that bring the joy and magic of cooking to digital streaming and video-on-demand platforms.

With more than 5 million views on her channel, Kristin has been able to turn Chef Studio into a thriving full-time job, allowing her to showcase her creativity and skill in cinematography, as well as her culinary prowess as she helps others learn to cook. It’s also landed her two incredible nominations.

This week, her At Home Pasta series was nominated for an Emmy® Award – which recognizes outstanding achievement in daytime television – in the Outstanding Single Camera Editing category. The seven-part series was inspired by the lack of kitchen staples available in grocery stores during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, when “panic buying” was at it’s worst. Using a few simple ingredients, Kristin was able to develop unique recipes, like beet pasta or egg yolk and ricotta ravioli, and created short films that explain how viewers could easily replicate these meals at home.

Chef Studio is up against five other programs in this category from Netflix, Hulu, and the Food Network, with the winner set to be announced at the 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Lifestyle Programming ceremony on Sunday, July 18 at 8 p.m. ET. The series was also recently nominated for two Webby Awards in the Best Food and Drink and Best How-To, Explainer and DIY categories.

Prior to her Emmy nomination, Kristin was also recognized in 2020 with a prestigious nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award – America’s most coveted and comprehensive honour for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors and other leaders in the food and beverage industry – for her series The Crumby Bits. With a focus on creating something beautiful and delicious out of ingredients that would have normally been considered scrap, waste, wilted or worthless, Chef Studio’s Cricket Macaron episode received its nomination in the Online Video, Fixed Location and/or Instructional category for its innovative take on culinary sustainability.

Kristin was also recently the recipient of an Alpha Female+ Grant. For her grant project, she intends to create a five-part series called Flight of the Bumblebees which will celebrate the beauty of spring and summer, and highlight the important work honeybees do during those seasons.

Congratulations to Kristin for her incredible culinary and filmmaking successes – your DC family is cheering you on from home!

Watch one of Kristin’s Chef Studio videos below – Making an Edible Forest Floor, as part of her Best Laid Schemes cooking series inspired by the lands and lochs of Scotland, where she currently resides.

2021 Alumni of Distinction recipients

Since 1990, Durham College (DC) has awarded graduates, who make extraordinary contributions to society while also achieving career success with the Alumni of Distinction award.

If you know a DC graduate who deserves special recognition, please consider nominating them for this award. Please submit a completed nomination form by email to

Durham College recognizes the class of 2021

Durham College (DC) pride is at an all-time high as it celebrates the class of 2021. While a physical convocation ceremony wasn’t possible, graduation festivities are in full swing as friends, families and the entire college community have come together to celebrate the hard work of its more than 3,800 graduates.

They will be invited to attend an in-person ceremony when it is safe to do so, however it was important to mark the completion of the students’ credentials once the semester ended, so the college has created a dedicated Convocation Recognition Website.

Filled with elements typically seen at convocation, the site features:

  • Messages of congratulations from DC’s chair of the Board of Governors, president, and executive vice president, Academic, as well as the deans from each academic school.
  • The names and programs of all graduating students.
  • The names of student award winners.
  • Virtual shout-outs and recognition for grads submitted by family, friends, faculty and more.
  • A list of frequently asked questions related to graduation.
  • Links to order DC merchandise, from grad rings to flowers.
  • Information about life as a college alumni, including details about special benefits for DC grads.
  • Digital DC swag so #DCGrad2021 pride can be shared online.

In addition, the site acknowledges this year’s Alumni of Distinction winners. The Alumni of Distinction award honours the extraordinary contributions DC graduates make to society while achieving career success. Congratulations to Tamara Dus (Registered Nursing, 1996), Caroline Wright (Sport Management, 1996), Thomas Coughlan (Business Administration – Accounting, 2005) and Stuart Petrie (Mechanical Engineering Technology, 2014).

The DC Alumni Association (DCAA) is also helping celebrate the graduates by providing free, DC-branded lawn signs for display at their homes so they can proudly mark their achievement.

“Given the circumstances of the past year, this class of students has displayed an incredible amount of perseverance,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Amidst a lot of challenges and change they have completed their post-secondary education, which is anchored in transformative, hands-on learning, innovation and courses that responded to current trends. As a result they have developed flexibility, resilience and a sense of purpose, which will certainly serve them well throughout their careers. On behalf of the entire college community, I want to congratulate each and every one of them.”

DC grad launches inclusive bandage brand Heal in Colour

For Tianna McFarlane, a Durham College (DC) Supply Chain and Operations – Business (formerly Business Operations) alumna, starting her own company had always been a lifelong dream – but the opportunity to create something significant didn’t present itself until 2019, when she was inspired during a simple trip to the drugstore to buy bandages.

As she searched for one that could cover a cut on her own leg, the lack of products for people of colour was striking. While there were plenty of nude, pink and even purple colours, there was nothing that she felt would blend in with her skin tone.

“In that moment I knew I had an opportunity to bridge the gap and create my own brand of adhesive bandages for Black and brown skin,” recalls Tianna, who spent the next two years laying the groundwork for her company Heal in Colour.

Finding a trustworthy and reputable manufacturer was her first test as an entrepreneur. Creating bandages in these shades has rarely been done, and never in Canada – because of that, finding a manufacturer who could create the product was challenging. She also faced additional barriers in the shipping industry, which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Tianna worked to get her product to market, she leaned into grit and perseverance, as well as the knowledge gained during her time at DC, to make her dream a reality. Her project management training aided in the creation of timelines and action plans to keep the project on track, and she analyzed the seven Ps (product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people) to determine a strategic launch and marketing plan to reach her target audience.

The hard work paid off quickly, with Tianna receiving impressive news coverage soon after the product launch in April, and already more than $3,500 in sales. With Heal in Colour now available in the Canadian and U.S markets, consumers across the continent are already rallying around this innovative new product.

“We’re revolutionizing the way people shop for bandages, and it’s already had such a powerful impact,” explains Tianna. “I’ve had teachers reach out to express how happy they are to be able to give their students bandages that match their skin tone. It’s something so small, but will hopefully lead to something much larger.”

Tianna is continuing to dedicate herself to making Heal in Colour a household name – with a strong growth and expansion plan already in place to offer new products in the near future, such as athletic wraps and waterproof bandages. She also hopes to provide bandages to hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and colleges, elementary schools, daycares and more.

“At the end of the day, I hope Heal in Colour will inspire others to be innovative and create products that promote inclusion,” says Tianna. “It’s our goal to encourage young Black women by showing them that they too can bring their own ideas to life through hard work and determination.”

Heal in Colour’s bandages are currently available for purchase at

DC Alumni Association Donates $300,000 to Building for Skills Campaign

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the fundraising campaign for the Whitby Campus Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology has received a significant donation of $300,000 from the Durham College Alumni Association (DCAA).

The generous donation will go toward the Building for Skills campaign, which has raised $6 million to date, supporting a 60,000 square foot addition to DC’s Whitby campus.  When completed, the expansion will allow 750 more students to study skilled trades and professions each year.

“The DCAA is supporting this expansion because we understand the need to train more young people in the trades and that DC is at the forefront of training students to meet industry need,” said Nicole Blackman, President. “Further, the work of our board focuses, not only on connecting alumni, but on ensuring we provide support to the college and its students in a variety of ways. We are delighted to be able to provide this financial support at such an exciting time for the college.”

In recognition of the DCAA’s gift, the food services area located in the main entrance will be called “The Durham College Alumni Association Café”.

Construction continues at DC’s Whitby campus with plans to open in fall 2021.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the DCAA and the 95,000 alumni who make up the association. This generous donation demonstrates a dedication to our college and our students. This gift will help Durham College continue to develop skilled workers who contribute to a strong economy and vibrant communities,” said DC President Don Lovisa.

For more information on how to support the Building for Skills campaign, please contact

DC journalism students and alumni see success at Better Newspaper Competition Awards

Durham College (DC) students and alumni from the Journalism – Mass Media program won big this year at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s (OCNA) Better Newspaper Competition (BNC), an annual competition that recognizes the outstanding work produced by the OCNA’s member newspapers.

Taking first place once again in the General Excellence – College/University category, DC’s student-produced campus newspaper The Chronicle was praised for its professionalism, photography and layout, as well as its “solid stories and editorial”.  Durham also finished third in Best College/University Newspaper Website category.

Four DC alumni were also honoured for their stories, three of whom placed first, including Sam Odrowski (Fort Frances Times) in the Best Business and Finance Story category, Sarah Hyatt (Northumberland News) in the Best Rural Story (circulation over 10,000) category, and Reka Szekely (Oshawa This Week) in the Best Feature News Series (circulation over 10,000) category. Additionally, alumnus Chad Ingram (Minden Times) placed third in the Best News Story (circulation under 9,999) category.

DC’s journalism program was introduced more than 40 years ago and since then, our students and graduates have won dozens of OCNA awards, including the student-produced news publication The Chronicle, which finished first last year in the General Excellence Newspaper – College/University category and second in the Best College/University Newspaper Website category.

The OCNA is a non-profit industry association focused on helping community newspapers prosper by promoting and enhancing the image of the industry among readers.

Congratulations to DC’s Journalism – Mass Media students and alumni on this recognition of their hard work and dedication to their craft.

DC Alumnus and Bird Mechanical Ltd. CEO Contributes $150,000 to DC Skilled Trades Expansion

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the Whitby campus has received a significant donation of $150,000 from Bird Mechanical Ltd, whose chief executive officer, Brandon Bird is a DC graduate, Alumnus of Distinction, and Premier’s Award nominee. The generous donation will go toward the Building for Skills expansion campaign, which has now raised $5.3 million of its $10 million goal, supporting a 60,000-square-foot addition to DC’s Whitby campus. When completed, the expansion will allow 750 more students to study skilled trades and professions each year. 

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Bird Mechanical Ltd. Brandon is a long-time supporter of his alma mater. He has contributed his time and talent as chair of DC’s Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing Program Advisory Committee, donated in-kind to our skilled trades programs, and is now helping to fund the Building for Skills campaign. This gift will help the college train the next generation of skilled tradespeople and professionals for the benefit of employers across southern Ontario and beyond,” said DC President Don Lovisa.

Working in various roles for his family’s third-generation plumbing and heating company, Brandon knew he would need a solid foundation before he could take over leadership of the business. He enrolled at DC and completed his Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate in 2012. A licensed Red Seal plumber, he returned to the company and continued working his way up the ranks and in 2016, at just 29 years old, Brandon became the youngest CEO in the company’s history. Under his tenure, the business has successfully grown, especially following the acquisition and amalgamation of John McKenzie Plumbing, allowing Bird Mechanical to offer more services and enter new markets, including Atlantic Canada. Brandon continues to strategically expand the business and today, he oversees a team of 100 employees, 70 of whom work as tradespeople.

“Increasing the number of skilled tradespeople being trained by Durham College will help employers meet the need for talent in the construction and industrial trades. We believe in what DC is doing and are pleased to support this campaign,” said Bird.

Construction continues at DC’s Whitby campus with plans to open in fall 2021. For more information on how to support Building for Skills, please contact

DC grads give advice on life after college at DC Talks: Alumni Series event

Two Durham College (DC) graduates returned to campus on February 6, meeting with students to discuss their careers and life after graduation during the annual DC Talks: Alumni Series event.

This year’s event featured Gabby De Sousa, who graduated from the college’s women-only Elevating Devices Mechanic (EDM) pre-apprenticeship training program in 2016 and EDM apprenticeship program in 2017. Joining her was Nicholas Coleman, a 2016 graduate of DC’s Architectural Technology program.

Gabby De Sousa:

During her time at DC, Gabby proudly shared her experiences, not only as a student but also as a female studying a skilled trade. Representing the college, she attended the Clarington Energy Seminar in 2015, presented to the Whitby Town Council about the women-only EDM pre-apprenticeship program and spoke with Elevator World Magazine in February, 2017 about DC’s female-focused elevating devices recruitment efforts. Gabby now works as an apprentice for Delta Elevator Co. and will be writing her certification exam in January, 2021, as she builds on her DC training through the varied, hands-on problem solving she does each day on the job.

In addition to launching her career, Gabby is giving back to her alma mater by volunteering her time as a member of the DC Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. She also served as an alumni representative at the college’s Taste of the Trades event in November 2019.

During the event, Gabby encouraged young women to explore career paths they may had never considered before, and to not be afraid of saying yes to new opportunities.

Nicholas Coleman:

Nicholas began his career right after graduating in 2016, working for a number of integrated design firms. In his current role as architectural technologist for the Toronto studio of Lemay, he is able to combine his passion for science, technology and sustainable design with creative thinking, analytical sensibility and technological savvy on a broad variety of large-scale projects including towers for financial institutions, medical labs and luxury residential. He is also a licensed technologist with the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences and a member of the national innovation team at Lemay.

As he answered student questions, Nicholas emphasized the importance of seeking out mentorship from those in the industry and following what motivates you, instead of the path that seems the most natural after graduation.

DC Talks: Alumni Series is part of DC’s backpack2Briefcase program, a series of events designed to help students and recent alumni make a smooth transition from college to the workplace. Events and workshops are held throughout the year to offer opportunities for both personal and professional development that will enhance the skills and training students learn in the classroom.

Alumni show their DC pride cheering on the Oshawa Generals

On January 31, more than 162 Durham College (DC) alumni, employees and students spent the evening at the Tribute Communities Centre, watching the Oshawa Generals take on the Peterborough Petes during the college’s annual Alumni Night – the best turn-out for this event since its inception.

Held annually, Alumni Night at the Oshawa Generals is a chance for the DC community to come together to reconnect over great hockey and a private reception.

Kicking off the evening and representing the college in a ceremonial puck drop was DC President Don Lovisa. He was joined on the ice by three Sports Business Management alumni who all currently work for the Oshawa Generals, as well as Cameron Ackerblade, president of the DC Alumni Association. Never one to miss out on a sporting event, DC mascot Lord Durham also got into the action by giving away t-shirts and hats to the crowd.

DC also sponsored the intermission entertainment, testing the knowledge of game goers with college-related trivia.

The evening was capped off with a win by the Generals.

Three Durham College alumni nominated for 2019 Premier’s Awards

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that, in recognition of their outstanding career success related to their college experience and the significant contributions they have made to their community, three of its alumni have been nominated for Colleges Ontario’s 2019 Premier’s Awards.

Andy Popko, who graduated from DC’s Public Relations program in 1987, has spent over 40 years in the oil and energy sector working closely with western Canada’s Indigenous peoples to develop equitable joint venture partnerships that will protect Indigenous land rights. For his work, Popko was named an honourary Chief at Heart Lake First Nations and also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribal Chiefs Institute in 2003. Presented on behalf of the Treaty 6 Chiefs, Popko is the first non-Indigenous person to be presented with the award. In 2004, he was also recognized as a Durham College Alumni of Distinction. Today, he is vice-president of Aboriginal Relations at NC Services Group Limited and a director at energy start-up Bitcrude. Popko is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Business category.

Over the last ten years, Cailey Jones has worked her way up from volunteer to full-time teacher, vice-principal and finally principal of Botshabelo Urban Kids Educentre (UKE) in Midrand, South Africa. A 2010 graduate of DC’s Early Childhood Education program, she is driven by the knowledge that early access to education can change a child’s life. Over the past nine years, she’s helped build Botshabelo’s preschool program from the ground up, filling a need for children who may not otherwise access preschool education. In her role as principal, she introduced play-based learning, parent workshops, standardized assessment processes, and regular teacher evaluations and training. In 2019, she was recognized as an Alumna of Distinction at Durham College and was a guest speaker during the Global Grad event. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

Bev Woods has given thousands of people a reason to smile over her 39-year career. Since graduating from DC’s Dental Assisting program in 1980 and the Dental Hygiene program in 1986, she has worked in both general practice and public health as a dental hygienist, consultant, and as a member and past president of numerous dental hygiene associations. In 2009, Woods founded Gift from the Heart (GFTH), a non-profit organization and annual one-day event that brings together dental hygienists across the country to offer no-cost dental hygiene services to those unable to afford or access care. The event has provided over $1.2 million in no-cost dental hygiene care to vulnerable populations over the past ten years. In recognition of Woods’ generous work with GFTH and meaningful contributions to dental hygiene and her community, she was recognized as a Durham College Alumna of Distinction in 2019. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

“Using the skills they learned at DC, these three remarkable individuals have built successful and meaningful careers for themselves. We are so proud of their achievements and the impact they are having in their communities and worldwide,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This is yet another example of how college education provides graduates with the foundation for success.”

This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced during a gala reception on Monday, December 2 in Toronto. For more information about the Premier’s Awards, please visit