Sustainability meets charity as DC students pay it forward

Students from Durham College’s (DC) Construction Carpentry – Sustainable program are preparing to give back this holiday season through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity by building birdhouses as gifts for children, to help make this the most wonderful time of the year.

With the curriculum focusing on sustainable construction, students reuse surplus materials in creative ways, including building 150 birdhouses for Habitat for Humanity over the past two years. When the organization asked students to build another 50 in time for this holiday season, the response was a resounding “yes”. Children who attend workshops hosted by Habitat for Humanity will have the opportunity to assemble a birdhouse, paint it, and sometimes add bark or stones for a different effect.

“Our students are eager to give back or as the phrase goes, pay it forward,” said Don Fishley, Construction Carpentry – Sustainable professor and program co-ordinator. “The birdhouse projects started as a mini-idea to use up some of the scrap and recycled wood. When Habitat for Humanity discovered what we were doing, they asked if we could build 50 houses for their kids’ program and the project has snowballed. It has been very successful, but even more rewarding as a professor when you can see the hearts it has touched.”

Students of the two-year program study all aspects of construction with an emphasis on sustainability, thus the recycling of skids and other construction materials as they become available. In addition to the birdhouses, Fishley’s students have helped with Habitat for Humanity’s Centre Town build, which is composed of several housing units scheduled to be constructed over the next few years.

“It is a great hands-on experience for students as we co-ordinate the help that Habitat for Humanity requires with the course outcomes of our program,” said Fishley. “Currently we are studying exterior finishes, such as soffit, fascia and siding – which we installed on the Habitat project this fall.”

For more information on the Construction Carpentry – Sustainable program, please visit

DC Alumni Association sells out first-ever etiquette dinner

A sold-out crowd of current Durham College (DC) students and alumni attended the first-ever etiquette dinner hosted by the Alumni Association on November 10. Taking place at Bistro ’67, Fatima De Valentin, an etiquette consultant, walked guests through a full three-course meal with tips and dos and don’ts, for a fun-filled social learning experience.

“The etiquette dinner was a wonderful evening that mixed delicious food with an educational opportunity,” said Matisse Hamel-Nelis, a second-year Public Relations student and member of Team Experience, who attended the dinner. “It was great to learn the various etiquette protocols along with my friends as it eased the tensions whenever we did make a mistake. Having made several missteps myself throughout the evening, I appreciate the Alumni Association’s efforts and I hope they make this into a regular event, particularly for students about to graduate.”

Guests received stickers if they made an etiquette error, and the three guests with the most stickers at the end of the evening received a door prize.

Campus Holiday Food Drive provides support for students this holiday season

The annual campus Holiday Food Drive kicks off today and runs until Friday, December 19. Helping to feed many Durham College (DC) and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) student families in need over the holidays, this special campaign is a joint fundraiser between DC and UOIT in partnership with the Student Association and the Kinsmen Club of Oshawa.

Financial donations and non-perishable food items are collected during the months of November and December and several fundraising events and initiatives are held on campus. Last year, the food drive raised more than $24,000 to provide much-needed assistance for 184 DC and UOIT students and their families, including 279 children.

Students who may benefit from this initiative can visit one of the registration areas located at the Financial Aid and Awards offices at the Oshawa and Whitby campuses, as soon as possible. Assistance is based on need, regardless of tuition or bursary status. The deadline for registration is Friday, December 12.

“The Holiday Food Drive truly brings our entire community together to support our own,” said Kevin Dougherty, campus Holiday Food Drive co-chair. “This initiative receives overwhelming support not only from our internal community but our entire extended community including our unions, the Durham College Retirees’ Association and the college’s Alumni Association. It’s such a unique partnership and everyone is to be commended for its success.”

Dougherty and co-chair Pat Vale-Dougherty have volunteered with the campus Holiday Food Drive for 15 years, and began co-chairing it in 2006. Dougherty graduated from the DC Business Administration, Information Systems program in 1998 and is currently a professor with DC’s School of Business, IT & Management, while Vale-Dougherty graduated from DC’s Graphic Design program in 1976 and is currently executive assistant to the dean of UOIT’s Faculty of Education.

Get involved

Whether you want to volunteer your time; donate a non-perishable food item; or write a cheque, there are numerous ways you can contribute to this worthy and amazing cause. Please visit for more information.

Follow @DCUOITFoodDrive on Twitter along with the #needhelp #givehelp hashtags for updates and to spread awareness.

David Milgaard, advocate for the wrongly convicted, shared his story at Durham College

Durham College’s (DC) School of Interdisciplinary Studies & Employment Services welcomed more than 500 students, faculty and staff to a presentation by David Milgaard, advocate for the wrongly convicted, at the college’s Oshawa campus on November 5. His visit is an example of the college’s ongoing efforts to bring speakers to campus related directly to program curriculum.

Milgaard, who was arrested at age 16 and sentenced to life in prison for murder at age 17, discussed his experience with the Canadian justice system, touching on wrongful conviction processes; compensation for the wrongly convicted; the release of the wrongly convicted from prison, and more. He also answered questions from audience members, about his healing process following his release; his dreams for the future at age 16; and what he most looked forward to upon his release from prison, among many others.

For those who were unable to attend in person, a recording of Milgaard’s presentation is available to members of the DC community at and will be online for two weeks. A username and password are required to view the video and can be accessed by contacting

Music and art collide in the Pit

Many of Durham College’s (DC) students, faculty and staff have heard its beautiful music and seen its incredible artwork, but who knows where the piano in the Pit came from and who had the fun task of making it so unique?

DC’s own Debbie White from the Human Resources department, and her family, graciously donated the new musical gem while Kevin Cormier, a third-year Fine Arts – Advanced student, was selected to create the design that now appears.

“I thought it would be an interesting task to take on knowing how important the piano is to Durham College students,” said Cormier. “I wanted it to be fun and flowing in its design, as to physically represent what the space where the piano is means to me. The abstract design was also meant to complement the original piano, which has been transformed into a gaming station. It allows for everyone to interpret it in different ways whenever they pass by it.”

This great portfolio piece wouldn’t have come his way had it not been Sean McQuay, program co-ordinator for the Fine Arts – Advanced program, asking him to help with the school’s plans for the piano donation.

So what’s next for DC’s budding artist?

“My plan is to graduate from Durham and continue my studies in fine arts at a university level. Hopefully I’ll be able to pursue a job in a creative field and continue working on my personal art.”

This piano will remain in the Pit, while the original piano will be moved into its new home in the Marketplace cafeteria once completed.

Justin Trudeau visits DC Whitby campus for student Q-and-A session

With Durham College welcoming visits from politicians at all levels of government to provide students with the opportunity to engage in the issues that matter to them, the college hosted Justin Trudeau, member of Parliament (MP) and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, at the Whitby campus on September 25 where he held a Q-and-A session with students.

“I think it’s awesome he came here,” said Ainsley Smith, a second-year Advertising and Marketing Communications student who attended the Q-and-A. “There are so many students who don’t follow politics and this is a great way to get them involved.”

Trudeau, who has been touring colleges and universities across Ontario, also  joined DC President Don Lovisa for a tour of the facilities on campus, including the shop area for programs focused on green building trades and technology; Bistro ’67, a green-certified, teaching-inspired restaurant; and the Centre for Food, which is supported by ambassador and celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy and can accommodate approximately 900 students studying in programs based on the field-to-fork concept.  

Help make DC green – join the Green Team

Durham College’s (DC) Sustainability Committee, which formed in 2011, has a mandate to promote awareness, understanding and the practice of environmental, social and economic stability at DC. As part of this initiative, the newly formed Green Team is providing students with the opportunity to contribute towards the development of creative ideas and solutions aimed at advancing the campus’ sustainability initiatives.

“The Living Green Initiative at Durham College highlights the campus’ diverse sustainability practices and serves as a model for environmental stewardship,” said Tanya Roberts, the college’s sustainability co-ordinator. “The Green Team was created to enable students to connect directly to this initiative, enhancing their college experience through access to greater awareness and meaningful projects and events where they’ll have the chance to play a direct role in influencing the sustainable future of Durham College.”

Working hand-in-hand with DC’s Sustainability Committee members, the Green Team will develop goals, raise awareness and participate in various sustainability events and projects. Those who wish to be Green Team leaders will also receive specialized training and have the opportunity to train other students on campus to become future sustainability leaders.

Students looking for more information on the Green Team can contact Roberts at

DC welcomes more than 200 new international students

At Durham College (DC), the student experience comes first, something 200 new international students from 22 countries learned first-hand during the college’s international orientation sessions on Thursday, August 28 and Friday, August 29. Don Lovisa, president, and Nevzat Gurmen, vice-president, Corporate Services and chief financial officer, welcomed the diverse group as they began their journey at the college’s Oshawa campus.

New international students received a crash course in how to settle in at DC; a campus tour; workshops on acculturation and academic integrity; assistance with finding housing; information about working in Canada; the new Career Development certificate program; and the new Co-Pilots program, which pairs an international student with a Canadian student to learn from each other. Orientation activities also included Amazing Race DC and DC Bingo, which gave students the opportunity to get to know other international students, as well as staff from the International office. Additional students from abroad are expected to arrive as the 2014-2015 academic year gets underway.

“International students have chosen Durham College as the next step in their personal and professional development, and the college is here to support them by addressing their specific needs,” said Larissa Strong, manager, International Student Support. “International students bring so much to the campus and classroom but need a little extra support with the challenges they face that are different than their Canadian counterparts. Orientation is the first step in providing that information and getting the students moving in a successful direction.”

DC prides itself on offering international students the highest-quality Canadian education, preparing them to find rewarding employment in Canada or in their home countries; a safe and vibrant campus environment; and a fun and rewarding student life, with everything from clubs, to cultural activities, to sports, to balance studies with challenges and fun outside the classroom. For details on how international students can apply to DC, please visit

Orientation events prepare students for success

The end of summer is just around the corner and for new college students, embracing fall’s arrival can mean embracing a whole new world come September. In an effort to help ease the transition from summer relaxation to school concentration for its thousands of new first-year students, Durham College (DC) offers a variety of different orientation programs, including an online orientation section of its website at

DC’s annual orientation program features events including Get Prepared for Success, Program Orientation, the DC first-year Fun Fair; the annual CampusFest Concert and much, much more.

“There are many advantages to attending orientation activities! Our programming helps first-year students to find their way around campus, meet new friends, learn about the many campus services, and feel prepared for their first day of classes.” said Krista Watson, student development co-ordinator.

First-year students can visit the orientation website mentioned above to learn more about the many exciting activities going on around campus during orientation. Students can enjoy a movie night under the stars; come out and support the Durham Lords men’s and women’s soccer teams in the annual Campus Cup soccer match against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; or bring their resumé and speak to employers who are recruiting students at the Part-time Job Fair.

Let your children’s creativity soar — DC’s Continuing Education summer camps return!

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and school is almost done. That could only mean one thing — it’s time for Durham College’s (DC) Summer Camps to get underway.

Offered through the School of Continuing Education, these week-long programs provide a fun, innovative and stimulating environment where children aged 7 to 14 can learn new skills while creating lifelong memories. All of the programs are offered at a beginner’s level to help expose campers to new and creative ways of expressing themselves.

For campers with an artistic flair, the art, drama, sewing, movie making and photography camps are a perfect fit as imagination and creativity are on display. Children will have the opportunity to learn new skills while making new friends and building their confidence.

If your camper’s creativity lies in the kitchen, then the new cooking camp, held at the Whitby campus’ new Centre for Food, will be a big hit. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from a professional chef while creating their own delicious midday meals and sweet treats that they can take home.

Finally, the various Lego® camps, which were created in partnership with Bricks 4 Kidz™, offer an ideal combination of learning and fun. Campers will learn about engineering, simple machines, architecture, mechanics and science in a hands-on, interactive environment completing weekly builds with a partner.

For children who have already experienced these camps, more advanced techniques and helpful tips are provided to further develop their skills. All camps run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with extended care and healthy meal plans available.

For more information on the individual camps and registration, please visit the summer camps website.