Kids enjoy a free day of discovery at Science Rendezvous 2016

Close to 700 aspiring young scientists and community members discovered how fun science can be during Science Rendezvous 2016, hosted May 7 at Durham College (DC) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) shared Oshawa campus.

Event highlights included:

  • A chance to wear a virtual reality headset with an attached motion sensing device to experience how we will interact with computers and the Internet in the future.
  • Cool catapult challenges.
  • Experiments – Candy Bombs, Dry Ice Rainbows, Glowing Crystals, Magic Monster Slime
  • A tour of ACE, a performance-testing facility featuring one of the largest and most sophisticated climatic wind tunnels on the planet.
  • Creating a cloud in the bottle with the help of a bicycle pump and a little bit of rubbing alcohol.

Other exciting, hands-on events included INVENTours and Science Cavalcade; Science Jeopardy; mini-workshops; the opportunity to explore LEGO Robotics and help solve the Graffiti Mystery in the Forensic Fun Zone; and milkweed planting.

This year’s activities included Mission: Monarch Migration, which highlighted the important role milkweed plants play in the transformation of the monarch caterpillar into an adult butterfly.

Participants planted 50 milkweed plants on campus to conserve the butterflies’ habitat, and they learned how to plant their own butterfly/pollinator gardens at home to attract butterflies. Science Rendezvous organizers handed out 150 milkweed plants for participants to add to their own gardens. They have also set up a Mission: Monarch Migration Facebook page, where participants can:

  • Share photos of their growing plants and the monarchs they attract.
  • View photos showing the growth progress of the milkweed plants on campus.
  • Find additional information about monarch butterflies.

The day concluded with a game of Science Jeopardy, where participants answered questions based on the knowledge they gained throughout the day by visiting the different exhibits.

Science Rendezvous is a free, all-day event that promotes science awareness for all ages. It is part of the nationwide Science Rendezvous celebration held at post-secondary institutions across Canada.

Mother Language Day Festival highlights Durham College’s diversity

“Hello.” “Bonjour.” “Ola.” “Kamusta.” “Salaam.” “Marhaban.” “Nǐ hǎo” 

These were just some of the greetings heard at the fourth annual Mother Language Day Festival, which took place on March 24 at Durham College (DC). The event, presented jointly by DC’s International office, office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) International student services department, provided a forum for 17 cultural and linguistic groups to educate students and staff about their native languages and the unique characteristics of their home countries.

Festival attendees were given passports, which were stamped as they visited various booths.  When completely filled, the passports were entered into a draw to win prizes, such as movie tickets and gift certificates. Along the way, participants were treated to a wide range of cultural displays that featured dance, food and the opportunity to learn and practice phrases in a foreign language. International students at each display were encouraged to share cultural and language-related facts about their native countries and showcase what makes their home nations unique in the global community.

“The turnout was phenomenal,” said Sarah Edwards, international student support officer, DC. “Despite the ice storm, more than 500 students stopped by to engage with festival participants, sample some of the food on display and collect the stamps on their passports. It’s a great way for the college to engage students and showcase our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”

With 580 international students representing 49 countries already a part of the DC family, the college is expanding its global presence and encourages students from all disciplines to consider learning a new language to enhance their competitiveness in the job market.

“The international students participating in this year’s festival really enjoyed meeting Canadian students, including the opportunity to share experiences and, in some cases, dispel a few myths about their home countries,” said Edwards. “In addition, the festival provides a great opportunity to help their Canadian counterparts gain a better understanding of what life is like beyond our borders.’”

All of the displays were judged on creativity and the hospitality of their international student hosts. This year, the winning displays were from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world and India.

The festival commemorates International Mother Language Day, which was established by the United Nations in 1999 as a day to “promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism,” particularly in education. This festival and other events throughout the year are all part of DC’s efforts to create a dynamic and supportive learning environment that helps students develop successful and productive careers and make a difference in the world.

Boston Marathon bombing and sexual assault survivor shares inspiring story with DC students

Jean-Paul Bédard is a tough guy. The marathon runner, who visited the Durham College (DC) Oshawa campus recently to speak to students and employees, looks every inch the elite athlete with his long, lanky frame and determined look. During last October’s Toronto Marathon, Bédard covered the entire route three times in a single day, running more than 126 kilometres to record a ’triple Toronto.’

Despite his athletic prowess, it was Bédard’s inner toughness that the students saw during his campus appearance. In his remarks, he spoke about his early life as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a terrifying ordeal that at times during his adult life, left him on the brink of suicide and led him to drug and alcohol addiction. Despite his pain, he refused to speak about his traumas to his family until only three years ago.

“It had become simply too difficult to keep this secret buried any longer, and I knew it was finally time to start unpacking all of the trauma and get some professional help,” said Bédard. “I entered a treatment program at the Gatehouse in Toronto, an organization that specializes in working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and I have undergone extensive therapy with a psychiatrist and a trauma therapist.”

Running, specifically endurance running, has been a way for Bédard to help combat his demons for more than two decades. He was first introduced to the sport by two individuals he met during a treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse. Since then, he’s competed in more than 130 marathons and ultra-marathons and was awarded the Golden Shoe Award for Canadian Runner of the Year in 2015. The run, however, that stands out vividly in his memory was the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he competed and achieved a personal best time, but which was tragically disrupted by a terrorist bombing attack.

“My wife and I were on the street when the bombs exploded, and it was absolute chaos and terror,” said Bédard. “All that was going through my mind was that I needed to get my wife out of harm’s way immediately.  I think we were both in shock, and were purely moving on adrenaline and instinct.”   

Bédard will be back in Boston next month for 2016 marathon, where he will run to raise awareness of the needs of victims of childhood sexual assault. As an elite athlete, he sees it as his mission to help spark a dialogue on the impact of violent sexual attacks on children, a problem that affects one in three girls in Canada, and one in six boys.

Above all, Bédard left students with a message of hope for the future. As he puts it: “Don’t give up.  You never know where your next step will take you.” 

“The world of sports is made up of equal parts of triumph and defeat,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, vice-president, Academic. “Bringing Jean-Paul’s inspiring story of loss and recovery to Durham College reflects our commitment to developing the professional and personal skills of our students and staff so they can go out and make a difference in the world.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs audition for Dragon’s Den at DC Oshawa campus

Student, employee and community entrepreneurs had the exciting opportunity to pitch their ideas and concepts to producers of the hit CBC-TV television show, Dragon’s Den at Durham College (DC) on March 2.

The show, now in its 11th season, is embarking on a nation-wide tour to find new business concepts and products that will be presented on air in front of Canada’s top business moguls. Aspiring entrepreneurs had 15 minutes or less to wow producers. If they proved successful, they will move on in the process for a chance to secure a financial investment that may help turn their dreams into reality.

“It was a pretty cool experience,” said Greg Moran, professor and faculty research co-ordinator for DC’s School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology and Centre for Food, who auditioned for the show. “Getting ready in the waiting room with the other entrepreneurs and sensing the excitement was fun. If anyone has an idea, they shouldn’t be nervous about failure, but should get out there and give it their best shot. They’ve got nothing to lose and the world to gain.”

The day also provided a hands-on learning experience for young student entrepreneur, Jennifer Whyte, who was selected to volunteer with the CBC-TV producers throughout the auditions.

“I was thrilled at the chance to see first-hand how the audition process worked, and to meet and speak with all the people who were auditioning,” said Whyte, a second-year student in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business – Business program at DC. “I learned there is no limit to your dreams and ideas, and bringing your business to fruition. As an entrepreneur, working mostly on your own, sometimes you need a break such as a chance for some exposure, like Dragon’s Den, but even if you don’t get that, you learn valuable lessons. You learn from your mistakes and from the constructive criticism, and hopefully you will move forward and keep trying.”

Whyte, owner, operator and labourer of an urban, organic farm located in north Oshawa called BareFoot Veggies, was also chosen to participate in the DC Winter Accelerator program – an initiative to help students and graduates take their innovative ideas or business ventures to market faster while utilizing the professional services from an experienced support team.

The Accelerator program is part of the FastStart initiative, an entrepreneurial training partnership aimed at university and college students. Through the partnership, DC is committed to helping students increase their entrepreneurial skills and awareness while assisting with the creation of solid business plans designed to help them take their products and services to market quickly and successfully.

“DC is a strong supporter of entrepreneurship, here on campus and within the community and this was an excellent opportunity to foster innovation in Durham Region, ”said Debbie McKee Demczyk, director, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at DC. “Through FastStart, DC was pleased to work with CBC-TV to bring Dragon’s Den to Durham Region. We welcome partnerships that strengthen entrepreneurship and generate access for students and others in the community to showcase their innovative ideas.”

DC alumni share their post-graduation success and inspire students about life after college

Two Durham College (DC) alumni wowed students with stories of their remarkable journeys from college to career at the Alumni in the Pit event on February 2. The initiative provides post-graduation insight to students as they prepare to transition from college to career.

This event featured, Hannah Elkington, police officer, who graduated from DC’s Police Foundations program in 2014, and Kyle Merkley, music supervisor, who graduated in 2009 from the Music Business Management program. While Elkington and Merkley hold very different careers, they offered similar advice about creating solid relationships as a foundation for success.

“I was lucky to have role models who took a chance on me and helped me get to where I wanted to go,” said Elkington, who was hired by York Regional Police immediately after graduation.

Now, a role model herself, Elkington gives back through her job in policing as well as ongoing work in her native country of South Africa. She and her family moved to Canada in 1998 during the height of Apartheid, but her parents always inspired Hannah, and her two sisters, to remember their roots and pay forward their good fortune.

“It’s about really seeing people, and inspiring them to do what they never thought possible,” said Elkington.

Merkley, who graduated top of his class, brought his ambition and drive into every opportunity he was afforded – even when stocking refreshments in the green room at different events.

“You get out what you put in,” said Merkley, who as a music supervisor is hired by film, television and video game industries to select and/or create music used in movies, shows and games.

“It’s so important to get involved with and apply yourself to all aspects of your industry even though you don’t know at the time what you might get out of it,” said Merkley. “When networking, you’re not meeting ‘single-serve’ people, you’re building lasting relationships that could benefit your career down the road.”

Merkley’s ability to be a chameleon in his industry led him to work several part-time jobs, including a gig on the set of the major motion picture Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which eventually led him to his current boss and his dream career.

“During the college years, it’s easy for students to become so focused on learning, assignments, exams, extracurriculars and field placements – which we certainly encourage – that post-graduation preparation can sometimes take a back seat,” said Elaine Popp, vice-president, Academic at DC. “Alumni in the Pit is a great initiative that inspires our students and gets them thinking about life after college from those who, just a few years ago, were standing in their shoes.”

Song and reflection mark DC’s Aboriginal Awareness Day

The fourth annual Aboriginal Awareness Day, held in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre at Durham College (DC) on January 21, drew students, employees, community members and local elementary school groups into a lively celebration of Aboriginal culture. Presented by DC’s Aboriginal Student Centre, Suswaaning Endaajig, the event also focused on education and reflection.

During his welcome remarks, DC president Don Lovisa presented Chief Kelly LaRocca of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation with a signed copy of the Indigenous Education Protocol, developed by Colleges and Institutes Canada, in recognition of DC’s commitment to Indigenous education. Chief LaRocca then shared insights into Aboriginal history, including the broad scope of the Mississaugas’ traditional territories upon which the college is situated.

Throughout the day, attendees were invited to grow the college’s Truth and Reconciliation Tree by writing what reconciliation means to them on a paper leaf and hanging it from a branch. The tree will be moved to the Aboriginal Student Centre where people can view it and add their own message.

 “We want today’s festivities to both entertain and inform,” said Julie Pigeon, Aboriginal student advisor for DC. “Aboriginal Awareness Day is an opportunity for us to invite the community to explore the rich diversity of Aboriginal culture in addition to continuing important conversations related to the history, particularly around reconciliation.”

The day’s events also included a traditional prayer and Smudging ceremony led by Elder Shirley Williams and Gerard Sagassige and performances by the All My Relations drum circle, Inuit throat singer Naulaq LeDrew, the Smoke Trail Singers and Dancers, storyteller Darrell LaFrance and drummer/singer Kim Wheatley.

The Aboriginal Student Centre strives to recognize and support students through various activities and teachings with the assistance of Elders from all backgrounds. It uses a holistic approach to education by focusing on student’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Durham College celebrates student success at 2015 spring convocation

Durham College (DC) celebrated success with more than 3,800 students graduating during Spring Convocation on Monday, June 8, Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday June 10 at the General Motors (GM) Centre in downtown Oshawa. Friends, families and college employees were on hand to honour the post-secondary accomplishments of this year’s graduating class. 

Taking place during five ceremonies over three days, graduates from DC’s Schools of Continuing Education, Health & Community Services, Interdisciplinary Studies & Employment Services, Media, Art & Design, Science & Engineering Technology, Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology, Business, IT & Management, School of Justice & Emergency Services and the Centre for Food received their diplomas and certificates. 

“Convocation is very special celebration of our graduates, their hard work, and success,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “It allows the entire college community, our alumni, parents and families to celebrate our newest graduates. Every year I am so impressed with the quality of our graduates and often reflect that our future is in good hands. We are all so proud of what our students achieve in their studies and accomplish in their lives.  It is also another reminder that the student experience does comes first at DC.”

Students weren’t the only ones honoured during the ceremonies. DC also awarded its fifth honorary credential, an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration – Leadership and Management to Diana Lovell Kirk during Monday evening’s ceremony. Lovell Kirk is vice-president and partner of Lovell Drugs and oversees the operations of another family-owned business, The Gift House in Oshawa, Ontario. Diana was also the featured guest speaker that evening.

To address the graduates on Tuesday, DC welcomed back alumna Amanda de Souza, a 2008 graduate from the Advertising program and current part-time instructor in the School of Media, Art & Design.

Amanda encouraged the graduates to “remember how powerful opportunity feels because from here on out, your mistakes are now your accomplishments. Do not be afraid of this inevitability. From these mistakes you will learn everything not only about your chosen career, but about yourself. How you recover from these failures and what you learn is what will define you, not what life throws at you. Life doesn’t happen TO you. It happens FOR you.”

Mike Arsenault, a 2008 graduate from the Sport Business Management program and current on-camera presenter and field reporter at The Weather Network, CBC (the weekend edition of The National), CBC News Network, and CBC Toronto, addressed the graduates during Wednesday’s ceremonies.

For anyone entering into the world of work Mike’s advice was, “Get your foot in the door. Even if it’s not what you want to do it can still give you answers, it’s still valuable experience and it gives you a lot of networking opportunities.”

Summer Shorts returns for another year of creative development

Do you know a creative teen looking for something fun to do this summer? The School of Media, Art & Design presents Summer Shorts! Creative workshops for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. 

Throughout the month of July, several unique, week-long workshops will be available, simulating full-time college programs and will give teenagers the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art studios with the latest software. 

Through these workshops, there will be opportunities to learn how to use Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, gain working knowledge of digital SLR cameras and accessories and, with Riot Radio, learn radio broadcasting through the development of a live newscast. Teenagers will also have the opportunity to learn about other areas of media, art and design, including Digital Video, Game Development and Animation. By the end of each session, students will have great pieces to add to their portfolios.

Each workshop is $295 plus HST and each workshop category has four sessions to choose from. Teens may take as many different courses as they desire, in any order. Multi-registration and sibling rates are available if registering for more than one course or registering more than one child in the available workshops.

Summer Shorts runs Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at DC’s Oshawa campus.

For more information about the available workshops or discount rates, visit the Summer Shorts website.

MAD Zumba Raises $2,000 for Nova’s Ark

On May 30, Durham College (DC) employees, students and friends shimmied, shook and danced through a variety of weather types during the MAD Climatic Zumba Fundraiser. The event was hosted by Jenzone Fitness and the School of Media, Art & Design’s (MAD) MAD – Make a Difference team.

The sold-out event was held in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s ACE Wind Tunnel where participants had a taste of three weather types in only two short hours. Participants danced in the cold winds of snow, the unrelenting heat of the sun and finally a roaring tropical storm.

The event raised $2,000 for Nova’s Ark, a registered charity dedicated to providing social and communications opportunities for all ages and abilities through various programs and the use of therapy animals in Brooklin, Ont.

This the first event for MAD – Make a Difference, which aims to support a variety of projects throughout the community while having fun.

DC celebrating 29 years of summer sports camps; register now

Did you know participating in team sports can not only increase a child’s health but also boost their confidence?

This year, Durham College’s (DC’s) Campus Recreation & Wellness Centre (CRWC) is celebrating 29 years of sports camps. These programs allow children to unleash their inner Lebron James or Serena Williams while making new friends and keeping active during the summer months.

Our main goal is for children to have fun, which is why the CRWC has offered camps in a wide selection of activities designed to appeal to every athletic passion, including basketball, baseball, badminton, volleyball and soccer. If a child cannot decide, DC offers a multi-sport camp, where campers will spend the week participating in a variety of individual and organized team sports.

Camps will run Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Monday, July 6 until Friday, August 14. Registration costs $160 per week, with holiday, four-day weeks costing $128, and can be paid in person or via mail (with the accompanying form) or online.

Tennis camp and hockey development camp are offered through the Campus Tennis Centre (CTC) and Campus Ice Centre (CIC), respectively. Registration info. for these camps can be found on each respective website.

For more information, including registration, visit the CRWC website or call Michael Duggan at 905.721.2000 ext. 2255.