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 Jennifer.Clark@durhamcollege.ca.

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 jennifer.clark@durhamcollege.ca.

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 www.co-awards.org.

Durham College recognizes student achievement at 2019 Spring Convocation

On June 10, 11 and 12, more than 3,000 Durham College (DC) students received their credentials during this year’s Spring Convocation. Friends, family, the college community and special guests celebrated students’ success and inspired them to keep reaching for their goals.

Held at the Tribute Communities Centre in downtown Oshawa, graduates from the schools of Hospitality & Horticultural Science; Business, IT & Management; Professional and Part-time Learning, Health & Community Services; Interdisciplinary Studies; Justice & Emergency Services; Media, Art & Design; Science & Engineering Technology and Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology received their diplomas and certificates.

Guest speakers at each ceremony were:

  • Adam Hare: Petley-Hare Insurance Brokers president, entrepreneur and business leader. Member of the Insurance Brokers Association of Durham Region board of directors, executive advisor to Lakeridge Health’s Launchpad committee, Young Broker of the Year in 2016 named by Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, former professor in the School of Media, Art & Design, and 2006 graduate of Multimedia and Design program (now known as Interactive Media Design) both at DC.
  • Melissa Farrow: Hospital for Sick Children program co-ordinator, field practicum advisor and professor, member of a number of community child and youth agencies, 2009 graduate of Social Service Worker program and 2011 graduate of Child and Youth Worker program (now known as Child and Youth Care) both from DC.
  • Brandon Bird: Bird Mechanical chief executive officer, member of the Education committee for the Mechanical Contractors Association of Toronto, chair of the DC’s Mechanical Techniques program advisory committee, and 2012 graduate of DC’s Level 3 Plumber Apprentice program.

Over the course of the event, the college also awarded three Alumni of Distinction awards. Nominated based on their extraordinary contributions to society while achieving career success, the following alumni received the award

  • Bev Woods: A 1986 graduate of the Dental Hygiene program and a 1984 graduate of the Dental Assisting program.
  • Brandon Bird: A 2012 graduate of the Level 3 Plumber Apprentice program (now Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing).
  • Cailey Jones: A 2010 graduate of the Early Childhood Education program.

For more information about Spring Convocation, including links to videos of each ceremony, visit www.durhamcollege.ca/convocation. To learn more about this year’s Alumni of Distinction winners visit www.durhamcollege.ca/alumniofdistinction.


Graduate Fair showcases DC’s specialized graduate certificate programs

Recent graduates and those hoping to further their post-secondary education got a closer look at some of Durham College’s (DC) specialized graduate certificate program offerings at the Graduate Fair on May 29 at the Centre for Collaborative Education on the Oshawa campus.

The interactive event provided attendees with an opportunity to tour DC’s signature learning spaces, attend a graduate certificate panel with DC alumni and have their questions answered by knowledgeable faculty and staff at the networking and program booths.

Among the event’s highlighted programs was the new Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design and Implementation graduate certificate, which prepares students to meet the demand for AI-literate practitioners.

For those who missed the Graduate Fair or who want to learn more about the DC student experience, please visit www.durhamcollege.ca/grad or connect with the Recruitment Office at recruitment@durhamcollege.ca or 905.721.3126.

Durham College announces four 2019 inductees for DC Sports Hall of Fame

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce the induction of four new individuals into the Durham College Sports Hall of Fame this fall. Entering the prestigious ranks will be Sandy Abram, Durham Lords volleyball alumna; Stacey Fertile, softball alumna; Gail Reid, Lords women’s soccer head coach; and Jim Anderson, women’s softball assistant coach.

The DC Sports Hall of Fame officially opened in the spring of 1997 to recognize significant achievements and accomplishments of student-athletes, coaches and builders during their time at the college.

Sandy Abram – women’s volleyball (1992-1994)
Graduated from DC in 1994, Sandy Abram was an all-star member of the Lords women’s volleyball program, helping lead the team to two provincial medals.

Abram helped the Lords jumping up from fourth to second place in Division I. At the 1993-1994 provincial championship the Lords won silver, their second provincial medal in years, and was also the first year for recorded statistics in women’s volleyball.

During her collegiate career at DC, she was recognized as an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Championship All-Stars and a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Canadians. Abram was named the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and one of the top female volleyball players in the country.

Stacey Fertile – women’s softball (1994-1996)
Stacey Fertile had an outstanding two-year career with the DC women’s softball team, helping the Lords complete back-to-back perfect regular seasons.

During her rookie campaign, she set two new OCAA records with the most hits in a season and in a single game and helped the Lords claim gold at the 1994-1995 championship, and silver the following year. Fertile was named an OCAA All-Stars in two consecutive years and the OCAA Championship MVP, as well.

Her outstanding hitting and exceptional defence eventually led to an invite to be part of Team Canada with the women’s national fastball program. She was named to the OCAA women’s fastball all-millennium team and was inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame in 2009.

Gail Reid – women’s soccer head coach (1990-1996)
The first-ever coach of DC women’s soccer, Gail Reid, joined the program for its inaugural season in 1990-1991. She helped lead the Lords to three consecutive OCAA division championships.

Durham would go on to win the OCAA silver medal in 1992-1993 and OCAA bronze in 1993-1994, while outscoring opponents by an overall margin of 77-22 over three seasons. Reid was twice named the central division coach of the year and was named OCAA coach of the year. She was also selected as coach for the OCAA All-Stars game.

Throughout six seasons with the Lords, Reid amassed a conference record and overall record, achieving a .746 winning percentage. Reid established a foundation for both the Lords’ soccer program and women’s sports at DC.

Jim Anderson – women’s softball assistant coach (1981-1988)
Jim Anderson began as an assistant coach with the Lords women’s softball team as part of the programs inaugural staff, alongside head coach and fellow DC Sports Hall of Fame inductee Richard Snowden.

Assisting the program through its first eight years, the team amassed an impressive 55-19 conference record and 82-29 overall record, winning three provincial banners – one silver and three bronze –. During his time as an assistant, the DC women’s fastball team never saw a losing record.

In addition to his service as an assistant coach, Anderson was also a long time faculty member at DC, helping mentor student-athletes and support their success both inside and outside the classroom.

The quartet of inductees will be honoured at this year’s DC Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony scheduled for Friday, November 15 at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Centre.

Durham College celebrates Centre for Collaborative Education grand opening

On October 2, Durham College (DC) hosted more than 200 guests for the grand opening of the Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE). Located at the college’s Oshawa campus, the multi-level, 75,000-square-foot facility is home to signature learning spaces, including the 360insights Entrepreneurship Centre, Global Classroom, First Peoples Indigenous Centre and Durham College Spa, which is open to the public.

“The Centre for Collaborative Education prioritizes the student experience in all aspects of its design and function,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “When students told us they wanted more collaborative learning and social spaces, we listened. There are very few offices in the CFCE. Instead, it holds industry-grade, cutting-edge labs, entrepreneurial and maker spaces, touchdown spaces and inclusive learning environments all focused on ensuring the student experience comes first.”

The milestone grand opening event featured demonstrations and tours of the new building; a traditional Indigenous ceremony performed by Troy White of the Mi’kmaq First Nation; official ribbon cutting; unveiling of the donor wall and installation of a time capsule that is intended to be opened in 2067, DC’s 100th year.

“This incredible building is the result of tremendous support from many areas – provincial, federal and local governments – as well as many donors who came together to support our Building Something Amazing campaign,” said Linda Flynn, associate vice-president, Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, DC, and president, Durham College Foundation. “The grand opening event is an opportunity for DC to celebrate our success while thanking everyone who helped us achieve it.”

DC launched the Building Something Amazing capital campaign in September 2017 to raise $5 million towards the CFCE’s total build cost of $40 million. With 95% of the goal achieved, you can still be part of this college milestone. The additional $35 million in funding is comprised of $22 million from the Ontario government and $13 million from the federal government, which when combined mark the largest single-project investment by government in the college’s history.

The CFCE is legacy project tied to the college’s 50th anniversary in 2017 and replaces the aging Simcoe building, which was originally built as a temporary structure and opened in 1969. In addition to addressing student needs, the CFCE is designed to reflect DC’s commitment to working with local business and community partners by creating a new facility where students, employees and the broader community can work together in ways that transcend the traditional concepts of education.

“It is no coincidence that DC includes collaboration among our core values,” added Lovisa. “It is only by working together, listening to each other and seeking to better understand one another that we will achieve the breakthroughs – professional, technological, social or otherwise – that will propel us forward locally and globally. This is what we seek to inspire and support with the CFCE.”