DC alumna making noise in the music business

Durham College (DC) alumna Anne Stirk’s successful career in the music business has been recognized with a place on the inaugural Women in Music Canada Honour Roll.

Working in artist and label partnerships at Spotify, she amplifies the voices of Canada’s homegrown artists and introduces them to the world, while also helping international artists increase their presence in the Canadian market.

She joined her peers at a gala event in Toronto on International Women’s Day, March 8, for an evening of recognition, gratitude and, naturally, music.

“I feel so deeply honoured to have been nominated, and even more so to have shared the space with such amazing individuals,” she said. “So much laughter, love and good vibes were had, and the evening was a testament to the incredible power of women coming together. It was an incredible and long overdue celebration.”

The career she enjoys today is one she dreamed of as a young girl growing up in a musical family. She found that she was more interested in working behind the scenes than in performing, and she spent her time exploring the nascent internet for news on her favourite bands, meeting fellow fans and interviewing musicians for her own website.

Her passion led her to DC’s Music Business Management program.

“DC started it all for me. That program is really good at making sure you have the fundamentals of everything in the music business, from publishing to copyrighting to event management.”

She is often reminded of her time at DC thanks to her enduring friendships with her classmates, some of whom also work in the industry. She has also employed a number of interns from the program over the years, confident that they have received a great education.

“The real-world scenarios that get thrown at you in that program are what prepared me to deal with different personalities and different people in the business, especially artists. You can teach people anything from a book, but nothing prepares you for life and dealing with people until you’re actually in those real-life scenarios. It gave me the ability to evolve quickly.”

That’s an ability she’s had to call on many times in her career. After graduating in 2007, she spent over a decade at Universal Music Canada, where she experienced a seismic change in her own career and the industry itself. She worked with the biggest music retailers in Canada on a number of in-store events with popular artists like Justin Bieber, Drake and Halsey before the rise of streaming services changed the way people buy music. Transitioning into digital marketing, she made sure that Universal artists were properly promoted on the new platforms.

In the constantly shifting music business, she has thrived by embracing change, and jumping to Spotify in 2018 was another big one. There, she works with artists and their managers to ensure that as broad an audience as possible hears them. Her most rewarding experiences are when an artist she has helped to cultivate experiences a surge in popularity on the platform.

Working at Spotify has given her a whole new perspective on the business, and not just the good parts. Her new position showed her the true scope of the inequalities faced by women, people of colour and Indigenous artists in the industry, and she devoted herself to addressing that imbalance. With so many voices struggling to be heard, she takes every opportunity to promote those that have been marginalized.

“If someone who needs and deserves support might not get it otherwise, we can amplify them a little further. That’s what keeps me going; making sure the artists that deserve to be heard, are heard, and have equal opportunity.”

Now that she has a voice of influence in the industry, she is determined to use it to create positive change, not just for artists around the world, but for those closest to her.

“I just want a world where my nieces don’t have to worry about being women, or being part Indigenous. I know the music business is a small percentage of that overall equity conversation, but if I can make a little difference for them, I will.”

That motivation will fuel her as she continues to lead the way in reshaping the music industry.

Countdown to Grad prepares students for life as DC alumni

The Durham College (DC) Class of 2023 learned more about what lies ahead at Countdown to Grad.

Over 500 students attended this week’s events in Oshawa and Whitby, which gave the soon-to-be graduates a valuable preview of some of the benefits they will enjoy as members of DC’s alumni family.

DC graduates become lifelong members of the Durham College Alumni Association (DCAA), granting them exclusive benefits and discounts using the free DC Alumni Connect app.

They also have access to DC’s career development site, the Hired Portal. Whether they’re hunting for their first job out of school or looking to take an established career to the next level, they can search job listings, speak to a career advisor, attend on-campus recruiter events and workshops and much more.

Attendees at Countdown to Grad also learned about a number of Pathways to continuing their education. Whether they’re interested in a diploma, degree, graduate certificate or fast-track option, a DC credential provides a valuable head start.

DC offers a wide variety of in-demand graduate certificate programs like Cloud Computing and Pharmaceutical Science. In less than a year, students can gain valuable skills and hands-on industry experience that will give them an edge in the competitive job market. A select number of graduate certificate programs offer weekend delivery options, allowing students to complete their on-campus learning experience without attending traditional weekday classes.

DC continues to innovate with new bachelor’s degree programs like Community Mental Health and Paralegal, which can get our alumni even closer to their dream careers.

Alumni are encouraged to stay connected with DC on social media and share the stories of their success with us. Graduates are also eligible for DC’s Alumni of Distinction award, which recognizes graduates who make extraordinary contributions to society while also achieving career success.

Even after graduation, our alumni remain valued members of the DC family.

DC grad named Canada’s Top Chef

Canada’s new Top Chef is a proud Durham College (DC) graduate.

Trevane ‘Tre’ Sanderson, a 2015 graduate of DC’s Culinary Management program, claimed victory last month on the hit show Top Chef Canada. Facing off against 10 of Canada’s best chefs, Tre needed all of his culinary knowledge and passion to come out on top.

“This moment, this win, was so memorable,” he said. “It was a proud moment and a big accomplishment.”

Studying the culinary arts at DC was an easy choice for Tre, who has nurtured a love of food and cooking ever since childhood. His timing couldn’t have been better, as he and his classmates were the very first to learn their trade at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food. Tre cited the unique education he received there, including DC’s field-to-fork and sustainable business practices, as a big factor in the success he has achieved so far.

“DC gave me the confidence to get out there and go into my industry.”

The up-and-coming chef’s career has been on the rise ever since he graduated, with successful stints at notable Toronto restaurants like Baro, Hotel X and Vela. Fresh off his Top Chef triumph, he hopes to return to DC in the near future and give back to the school and its students. Plans aren’t finalized yet, but he’d like to work with the current Culinary Management students, and even set up a pop-up restaurant, hopefully in time for Black History Month in February.

He’ll have plenty of advice to offer to the young chefs at the Whitby campus.

“Always challenge yourself, and never stay comfortable,” he said. “The moment you’re comfortable, you stop learning.”

As for his own future, Tre has big plans, and opening his own restaurant will be just the beginning.

“I want to start this culinary empire I’ve always dreamed of since I started cooking…keep pushing the boundaries and working with different chefs. I want to be a world class chef who people can look up to.”

By becoming Canada’s Top Chef, Tre has demonstrated that anything is possible when you work hard, dream big and can lead with way with a great education.

Over 1,770 Durham College graduates are prepared to lead the way following 2022 Fall Convocation

On Thursday, October 27, graduates from eight faculties, including the first cohorts from the new Pharmaceutical Science and Environmental Health and Safety Management programs, received their post-secondary credentials during Fall Convocation. Family, friends, Durham College (DC) employees and a guest speaker celebrated graduates at the Tribute Communities Centre, acknowledging their achievements and instilling words of encouragement and inspiration throughout two ceremonies.

“As the class of 2022 embarks on their new future, we are just as proud and excited as they are” said Dr. Elaine Popp, Executive Vice-President, Academic. “We know they have developed the skills and hands-on expertise to surpass their goals. We wish them all the best as they begin their careers and we look forward to seeing the types of leaders they grow into.”

Alumnus Thao Nghiem, a 2018 graduate of DC’s Music Business Administration program addressed the graduating class. Thao is the co-director of the Oshawa Music Awards (OMAs) and co-founder of the Vietnam Music Industry Network (VMIN). Combining a passion for business with her dedication to celebrating music and talent, Thao has spent the last five years making meaningful connections on campus at DC and in the community.

In her remarks to the graduates, she encouraged them to challenge themselves by starting something new, being of service to others, making mistakes, learning to love themselves, and striving to impact the lives of others.

“It was an absolute honour to be the guest speaker at Durham College’s 2022 Fall Convocation.” said Thao Nghiem. “Not too long ago I was sitting in the exact same place as our grads, wondering what life would be like as I embarked on my post-DC journey. “I am grateful for the experience I gained at DC and the opportunity to give back to the school and now, my fellow alumni.”

A total of 1,779 graduates from the Faculties of Business; Hospitality & Horticulture; Media, Art & Design; Science, Engineering & Information Technology; Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship; Health Sciences; Liberal Studies; Social & Community Services; and Professional & Part-time Learning received their diplomas and certificates this fall.

For more information about Fall Convocation, including links to videos of each ceremony, visit www.durhamcollege.ca/convocation.

Celebrating outstanding Durham College alumni through 2022 Premier’s Awards nominations

Durham College (DC) is delighted to announce that four alumni have recently been nominated for a 2022 Premier’s Award, which honours outstanding college graduates who are making an impact through social and economic contributions in Ontario and beyond.

The awards have been presented by Colleges Ontario since 1992 and recognize Ontario college graduates every year in the following seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

“Our nominated alumni continue to showcase in their careers the solid foundation of excellence and innovation that they first developed as students at Durham College,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “I’m extremely proud of each of their accomplishments, and take immense pride in knowing that DC was a stepping stone for their exceptional work in our communities. I wish each of our nominees the best of luck at this year’s awards!”

DC’s nominees include:

Kristin Atwood – Culinary Management, 2016 and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts, 2017

Kristin Atwood has been combining her passion for food and filmmaking since graduating from DC’s Culinary Management and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts programs in 2016 and 2017.

She created 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. Atwood has been recognized by several prestigious awards organizations, including winning Best New Filmmaker by the Canadian Diversity Film Festival in 2021, as well as receiving a nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award and an Emmy® Award in the Outstanding Single Camera Editing category – just to name a few.

Atwood currently works for LS Productions, an agency specializing in commercials, film and TV, music videos, and fashion and sports shoots in the United Kingdom. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category.

Brandon Bird – Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate, 2012

Brandon Bird completed his Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate in 2012 in order to prepare himself for future leadership at his family’s third-generation plumbing and heating company. As a licensed Red Seal plumber, Bird worked his way up the ranks, always looking for ways to grow the business. This included overseeing the acquisition and amalgamation of John McKenzie Plumbing with Bird Mechanical Ltd. in 2014, allowing the company to offer more services and expand into new markets. In 2016, at just 28 years old, Bird became the youngest CEO in the company’s history.

Today, Bird manages a team of 200 people, including 135 tradespeople. Under his guidance, the business has doubled its annual sales revenue to $56.4 million thanks to his new approaches to service. As CEO, he oversees projects ranging from $5,000 to $20 million. Clients include Cape Breton Regional Health Centre, Queen’s University, Dalhousie University, Infrastructure Ontario and Cadillac Fairview. Bird is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Apprenticeship category.

Dr. Nicole Blackman, DNP, MN, RN – Registered Nursing, 2004

Since graduating from DC’s Registered Nursing program in 2004, Dr. Blackman has continued her academic path, attaining her Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, both with a specialization in Indigenous Health. As a proud member of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, she has dedicated her advanced practice nursing career to enhancing the health of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

After devoting more than five years to improving Indigenous health in Moose Factory and surrounding communities, Dr. Blackman returned to the Durham Region, accepting an Indigenous lead position for the Durham Region Health Department, and was hired in 2019 as the health director for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. More recently, she was hired as provincial director of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council. Dr. Blackman is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

John Draper – Journalism, 2005

Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, John Draper champions diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion through Together We Rock! Inc., the organization he founded in 2006. Supported by a team of employees, consultants and volunteer advisors, Together We Rock! realizes its vision through presentations, learning resources and leadership initiatives. Through his lived experience as a person with a physical disability who is an augmentative communication user, Draper presents a compelling case for change.

His leadership efforts have earned him provincial and international recognition, such as the 2007 Alumnus of Distinction award from DC, and the David C. Onley Award in 2017 for Leadership in Accessibility, presented by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. In 2017, he was also named Businessperson of the Year by the Whitby Chamber of Commerce. Draper is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

The entire DC community wishes our nominated alumni the best of luck. This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced on November 28, 2022.

Durham College alumnus strikes a chord at the Canadian Sync Awards

Durham College (DC) alumnus, Cody Partridge, has been recognized for his success in music management at the 2022 Canadian Sync Awards. Launched in 2019, the Canadian Sync Awards celebrate music supervision in filmed Canadian media. On June 9, Partridge took home four of the 14 awards, including:

  • Best Sync – Sports Program or Sports Promo
  • Best Sync – Soundtrack, Original Film or Episodic Series for Streaming
  • Best Sync – Scene, Feature Film or Documentary Film
  • Best Sync – Soundtrack, Episodic Series

“I am very honoured and humbled,” says Partridge. “It has been a dream of mine to become a music supervisor ever since watching The OC and wondering who gets to put music in TV. Flash forward 11 years, and now I’m being honoured with four awards for achievement in my field. I say it all the time, but I really am living the dream.”

Partridge, who graduated from DC’s Music Business program in 2011, began his professional journey as an intern with Katalyst Licensing & Promotions Inc., which he landed with the help of his professor, Tony Sutherland, during the program’s field placement course in his third year. This led to a music supervisor position with Supersonic, later renamed Supergroup, providing him with the skills and confidence to eventually launch his own company, Pear Tree Music Supervision, in 2020.

“DC was an incredible kickstart to my career. I learned a lot about different aspects of the industry, some that interested me and some that didn’t,” says Partridge. “I find a lot of the success I’ve had until now has come from networking and building relationships. Most of the opportunities I’ve had are from being connected by a colleague or professor, which led to more opportunities and relationships. Without my education, the first door to the industry wouldn’t have been open to me, nor would I have the skills I need to thrive in my field.”

When asked what advice Partridge can offer current and future music business students, he stresses the importance of hard work.

“Don’t be afraid to grind. For three years, I worked three jobs, interned for free and built my reputation. I proved my work ethic, reliability and drive,” Partridge adds. “Take people in your desired position out for coffee. Find out what they do not like to do in their role and get really good at that aspect. Embrace it, and you’ll make yourself irreplaceable.”

Congratulations to Cody on his incredible success at the Canadian Sync Awards!

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 alumni@durhamcollege.ca.

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 www.healincolour.ca.