Durham College Alumnus Wins Provincial Accessibility Award

Durham College (DC) is proud and excited to congratulate John Draper, on his receipt of the David C. Onley award for Leadership in Accessibility. This auspicious award was presented to Draper Thursday, May 25 by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario at Queen’s Park in Toronto, in recognition for going above and beyond to raise awareness about accessibility and nurturing a culture of inclusion across the province.

Since graduating from the Journalism program at DC in 2005 Draper has been a valued Alumni Guest Presenter and in 2007 was honoured as an Alumnus of Distinction for his efforts in promoting accessibility and inclusion for all. While a student, he wrote for The Chronicle newspaper and Reflections magazine and further honed his writing skills a student member of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

It is during his time at DC that Draper had a vision of building a socially-responsible business, that would inspire learning and champion leadership to create accessible and inclusive communities. After graduation, Draper made his vision a reality by founding Together We Rock! Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Draper uses non-verbal humour to encourage his audiences to take one step to make a difference in creating a world where everyone belongs.

“We are so pleased that John’s tireless work to promote accessibility and inclusivity is being recognized at such a high level,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “The groundwork laid during his time as a DC student has helped him achieve incredible things for the betterment of the greater community and we couldn’t be prouder.”

Together We Rock! focuses on integrity, excellence and accountability by partnering with corporations, communities, educators, colleges and universities, to achieve their vision of accessibility and inclusivity. They do this by awarding leadership scholarships, bursaries and financial contributions to students, schools, including DC, and organizations who are working towards inclusion and accessibility.

Again, congratulations!


Durham College students achieve sweet success with Pop-up Bake Shops

With their semester coming to an end, students in the Advanced Baking and Pastry graduate certificate program at Durham College (DC) were put to their final test – create a Pop-up Bake Shop in which to package, market and sell their creative concoctions. 

On April 8, teams of students took their work to market with a series of Pop-up Bake Shops featured at DC’s W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF), where they competed for the honour of top shop. After months of preparation, the students were able to see their semester-long projects come to life as they sold an array of artisan breads, confections and preserves to members of the community under their own unique brands.

“It’s awesome and really fun,” said Caitlin Lounsberry, an Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts student who had been looking forward to this day all semester. “Part of the goal is to break-even on the cost of creating our company, but it’s really not about the money – it’s about the food.”

Her team, Creative Café and Confectionary, based their theme around treats traditionally found in a coffee shop, stocking their booth with coffee-flavoured pastries, candies and chocolate baked goods. The team came up with the idea during their entrepreneurship class where students had the opportunity to develop a company and market it. 

Students drew on those entrepreneurial lessons and skills in their capstone project class, where the Pop-up Bake Shop event originated, with each team responsible for their shops’ baking, marketing, budgeting, ordering, packaging and any business decisions related to the event day. Other teams included The Butterstick, Sensible Creations and Classy Bees. 

“It’s exciting to see all of our creativity and hard work come together,” said Kasey Rogers, student and co-creator of Classy Bees, which offered trendy treats like emoji-themed sweets, including lollipops.

“We just want to make things that people will think is post-worthy and to add to social media,” said Rogers’ teammate Medora El-Haj. “We like to describe ourselves as the Saturday Night Live of bakeries. Always keeping up with trends to keep people coming back.” 

DC’s Pop-up Bake Shop event is an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience as well as showcase what they have learned in their program – from the kitchen to the computer to the counter and beyond.

“The students get to run a business for a day, which is an incredible learning experience before moving into the industry,” said Tanya Heck, pastry chef and professor at DC. “It is not only about food creation, but incorporating the business aspect that will help students succeed after graduation, whether they want to open their own business or work for an established organization.”


DC Career Week events connect students and employers

As part of its commitment to preparing students for the workforce and connecting them with employers, Durham College (DC) held its annual Career Week on campus from February 6 to 10. Co-ordinated by DC’s Career Development office, this year’s series of events provided students with opportunities to meet potential employers, network with industry experts, access helpful resources, learn from the real-world experiences of successful DC alumni and much more.

The week’s activities included:

  • Icebreaker Night, co-hosted by FastStart DC, the college’s entrepreneurial training partnership.
  • Alumni in the Pit, which saw two DC grads return to campus to share their success stories and answer questions about life after graduation.
  • The Tradesmart Career Fair where skilled trades students and alumni had the opportunity to meet with over 20 employers seeking highly qualified, enthusiastic candidates with specific trade and technical skills for full-time, part-time, summer and contract employment opportunities.
  • Campus Job Fair, which this year put its focus on the art of networking — having meaningful career conversations with recruiters – while connecting students and alumni with over 70 employees, all of whom are planning to hire within the next six months.
  • Job Fair Follow-up Friday, aimed at helping students stay on the track to employment by offering employer follow-up strategies, tips on how to target resumés and cover letters, and thoughts on thank-you letters.

New for 2017 was the connection between Career Week and DC’s new backpack2Briefcase program (b2B). Students and alumni who attended select b2B events during Career Week earned points towards DC’s Co-curricular Recognition program and had the chance to win $100-door prizes. b2B events will continue throughout the academic year.

The Career Development office offers coaches who assist, guide and encourage DC students and graduates to learn about their chosen career path; discover what employers are looking for in new recruits; translate their academic experiences into resumes and professional letters; and prepare for success at the interview and on the job. In addition, the Career Development office hosts the DC Hired site, which allows students to view job postings and employer links, sign up for events, and book coaching appointments.

For more information, please visit the Career Development website.


DC grads wow audience with their success stories during Alumni in the Pit

On February 7, Durham College (DC) alumni captivated their audience with stories of hover engines and the Canadian Football League (CFL) during the college’s Alumni in the Pit event.

The event, which can be viewed here, saw John Hotts, associate creative director at OneMethod design shop, and Brent Lessard, technical co-ordinator at International Leak Detection (ILD) and co-founder of rLoop, return to campus to share their experiences following graduation. The DC grads also answered questions and provided guidance to students about to embark on their own career paths.

“When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” said Lessard, who graduated from DC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2014.

“Failure is okay,” added Hotts, a 2008 graduate of DC’s Advertising and Marketing Communications program. “You will make mistakes, but it’s important to learn from them.”

Although Lessard had already completed some post-secondary education before he began his DC journey, he said it was the applied learning experiences offered at the college that made a difference and kept him engaged in innovation and technology.

It was that engagement that also helped prepare Lessard for his biggest opportunity. When SpaceX, a company that manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft, announced a Hyperloop pod competition, Lessard put his DC training to work and co-founded rLoop, a team of more than 140 people worldwide, to develop a prototype — one that ultimately won the competition’s non-student category.

“It’s like a plane without wings,” said Lessard of the travel pod. “It’s propelled by active magnetic levitation or ‘hover engines’, and moves through a tube at hyper speed.” He added that if implemented in Canada, the pod could transport people from Toronto to Montreal in 22 minutes. “You could live in Montreal, work in Toronto and go to Ottawa for dinner.”

Now recognized as one of Canada’s top creatives under 30 years old, Hotts also had past experience in his field before attending DC. He shared with students that it was the field placement opportunity through his advertising program that helped him break into the industry.

“You have to plan and put together a resumé and a portfolio you are proud of,” said Hotts of the experience. He added that one of his professors helped him and a classmate secure the interviews for their placements – a connection he remembers and is grateful for to this day.

It was at this placement that Hotts learned two career rules he still carries with him to any job: first, check your ego at the door, and second, ask all the dumb questions. Following these two rules combined with his unbridled creativity and talent have landed Hotts projects with big-name brands such as Sweet Jesus, Delissio, World Wildlife Fund, Kit Kat Canada and Coors Light. However, it’s his redesign of the CFL’s logo that stands out among the rest. “It has longevity and has been engrained into Canadian culture,” said Hotts fondly.

Alumni in the Pit 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.


FastStart Star Story: Ohh Products

Imagine having to choose between having what everyone else is eating and drinking and facing the health consequences, or having nothing at all to choose from. This is a common reality for people with dietary restrictions who are limited in the treats, beverages and food options available to them.

Brittany Charlton, Paralegal student and graduate of the Law Clerk Advanced program at Durham College, grew up dealing with the restrictions of being lactose intolerant. Now as an adult, she has channeled her inner entrepreneur and placed her focus on providing healthy products for those with dietary restrictions. Charlton’s company, Ohh Products, creates food that tastes great and is made with 100 per cent natural, lactose free ingredients.

In October 2016, she launched her first line of flavoured cocoas. With only 25 calories per 6 oz. mug, three natural ingredients, no added sugar, dairy or gluten, Ohh Products Cocoa is a healthy treat that can be personalized to your pallet.  

Brittany credits the FastStart DC team with helping her throughout the business journey.

“From developing the logo, to choosing brand colours, designing packaging, and figuring out the correct market for my product, the FastStart DC team provided insight and guidance every step of the way,” said Charlton.

Brittany stands by three sayings that have inspired her over the years: it’s not about hard work, it’s about working hard; talk is cheap, execution is what sets you apart; and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is the only way to know if you can do it, is to get out there and do it.  Network with people, watch success stories and do something you are passionate about. It will keep you going, especially when it gets difficult.  

Charlton’s products are currently being sold at health food stores across Canada, and she was recently featured in two subscription box packages, ElleBox and the Foodie Pages TastingBox.

Congratulations, Brittany!


Chemical Institute of Canada award winners credit DC training for their success

Durham College’s four winners of the 2016 Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) say they were well prepared by their college professors.

The CIC winners are: Chemical Laboratory Technician program students Da Eun Chung, who won the silver medal, and Brittney Richards, who won the book prize; Chemical Engineering Technology program students Natasha Beattie, who won the silver medal, and Kelsey Henderson, who won the book prize. Silver medals are presented to the top students completing their final year at each Canadian college in chemical technology or related programs. Book prizes are presented to the student at each Canadian college completing her or his final year while demonstrating the greatest improvement overall.

Brittney said Durham College (DC) professors really motivated her to improve. “The profs teach us to really think outside of the box. They tell us to think “why” you’re doing something beyond the assignment that we are working on.”

Kelsey agreed saying, “Professors push and encourage us to achieve. They make you want to work harder.”

Da Eun said, “The attention to detail required in my lab courses came in especially handy while I was sifting through records and filling out spreadsheets in my work-study job in the president’s office.”

Natasha added that DC’s environment is very positive for students and its programs are well known. “I love Chemistry – so I came here.”

Each year the Chemical Institute of Canada administers awards and competitions to recognize the outstanding contributions by students at Canadian universities and colleges. The CIC is a national not-for-profit organization committed to advancing chemical sciences and engineering through its constituent societies in chemistry, chemical engineering, and chemical technology.


Durham Men of Harmony make donation to Communicative Disorders Assistant program

Durham College’s (DC) Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) graduate certificate program has once again received a generous $2,500 donation from The Durham Men of Harmony, on behalf of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Harmonize for Speech fund.

“This donation has and continues to help in providing our students with additional learning opportunities and materials,” said Sherry Hinman, professor and interim program coordinator of the CDA program. “The items we are able to purchase using the donation allow current, as well as future students the opportunity to excel during their time at the college and succeed in the field following graduation.”

Items purchased using the annual donation include The Baby Signing Book, authored by former CDA professor Sara Bingham and received by all students in the program; two iPads which students practice on as the device is used by patients with difficulty communicating verbally; and a one-day workshop for students led by world-renowned speaker, Debra Goshulak from The Speech and Stuttering Institute to speak about motor speech disorders and therapy in preschool children.

The CDA program is a one-year, three-semester graduate certificate program that prepares students for work, under the guidance of qualified speech-language pathologists and/or audiologists, providing speech and language therapy to children and adults.

The Harmonize for Speech fund was established nearly 40 years ago as a fundraising project of the Barbershop Harmony Society and continues to provide support for various organizations and projects.


DC helps make it a ‘Merry Little Christmas’ for a local woman hoping to attend college

On December 15, Durham College (DC) helped make the holidays a little merrier for a local high school student with dreams of attending DC to study nursing. The college welcomed Samantha Garrow to its Oshawa campus where a smiling crew, including DC President Don Lovisa, was waiting to take her on a tour, offer guidance on planning for her post-secondary studies, and present her with a tuition certificate to the college.

Earlier in the month, Garrow was nominated and selected to receive some extra help this holiday season as part of Toronto-based 99.9 Virgin Radio’s annual Merry Little Christmas campaign. Garrow’s incredible story of pursuing her education while also caring for her young daughter on her own included a wish to someday study nursing at DC. Ross Carnwith, manager of Ancillary Services with the college, was listening that morning. He was so inspired by what he heard that he took quick action to bring Garrow’s story to the attention of his DC colleagues.

“When Ross shared Samantha’s story and wish to study at Durham College, we were moved to reach out to her,” said Lovisa. “She is working incredibly hard to earn her high school diploma and realize her educational goals so that she can make a better life for her daughter and herself. As a college, we are committed to giving back to the community, particularly during this season of giving, and are proud to be able to offer her some assistance.”

With the help of Virgin Radio’s morning show, Tucker in the Morning, DC was able to connect with Garrow. While visiting the college’s campus, she was given a glimpse into what a future studying at DC could look like as well as information on the admissions requirements and process related to DC’s Practical Nursing program.

“I am overwhelmed with everything that’s been going on,” said Garrow. “I can’t even express how grateful I am.”


A year of accomplishment for DC student musician Cale Crowe

As his last live performance of the year quickly approaches, Durham College (DC) student Cale Crowe feels confident about setting new goals for 2017.

On Friday, December 30, the third-year Music Business Management (MBM) student will play his 112th show of the year at Oshawa’s The Moustache Club, greatly surpassing his goal of doing 100 shows in 2016.

In addition to besting his goal, Crowe also landed a plum MBM work placement position at Warner Music Canada as a digital marketing intern.

“I wouldn’t have been able to land this internship if it wasn’t for my program at DC,” said the modern folk-rock troubadour, who has several videos on YouTube. “The MBM program has taught me how to be a better speaker and listener. The classes also provide safe learning spaces where it’s acceptable to make mistakes and to learn from them. The professors are there to not only share their knowledge, but to make sure students understand it, and that’s because they care about both the students and the future of the music industry.”

Crowe’s placement has allowed him to connect with people in different departments at Warner Music Canada and gain diverse experience. “A lot of my job involves collecting raw data and helping my superiors and supervisors analyze and interpret it. I’ve also done some work with the A&R [Artists & Repertoire] department.”  

His studies and training at DC have provided him with a foundation for a career and a life in music that he has always wanted, said Crowe, who was born and raised in Alderville, near Cobourg, and performs regularly in Kingston, Peterborough and Oshawa.

While 2016 has been a very good year for him, 2015 wasn’t bad either as Crowe released his debut album, Stars and Promises, which is available on iTunes. Looking ahead, as he prepares to graduate in 2017, Crowe feels positive about his life in music. “I crave the atmosphere that surrounds the music industry – be it live performance or administrative work, or something in between, as long as I’m contributing to music I will be satisfied.”

Crowe says he may even set a goal of 200 live shows in the New Year.

Photo credit: Lana Missen


DC grad awarded by gallery for her creative photography

Durham College (DC) graduate Stephanie Foden has been recognized for finding art from behind the camera.

The 2011 graduate of Media Art and Design’s (MAD) Print and Broadcast Journalism program, has won the Emerging Photographer Award at this year’s Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) Exposed photography exhibition and auction on November 12. The award prize is a solo exhibition at the Oshawa gallery during the Contact Photography Festival in May. She also won the Community Choice Award as voted on by attendees of RMG Exposed.   

Foden said the college’s programs, resources and staff enabled her to explore many facets of media work. “I had some wonderful profs in my first and second years, such as Brian Legree (Journalism) and Gerry Rose (retired, Journalism professor and program coordinator).” She especially credits her third-year broadcast professor, Anna Rodrigues, for inspiring her to progress as a professional. “She’s a very innovative teacher and is always looking for new media and different forms of storytelling,” said Foden.

“With an open mind, I explored each field of journalism. I easily took to photography more than anything else. The ability to rent equipment and explore this possible career option helped my decision.”

In her third year, she focused on photojournalism learning valuable skills such as blogging, social media and how to integrate different forms of media into her storytelling. “I also learned more about being a documentarian and long-form storytelling, which I enjoy more than anything,” explained Foden, adding that she also enjoyed her college field placement at Canadian Geographic in Ottawa. “They had me working on incredible stories for both the magazine and multimedia for their website. After the internship they sent me on assignment and it was an amazing way to start my career off.”

Following graduation, she was hired as the managing editor of Downtown Oshawa News (DON). DON was developed by Rodrigues with funding from DC’s research and innovation funds as a project-based learning experience for journalism students.

Foden is currently planning her solo exhibition for the RMG in the spring, and is working on a personal project in Brazil. “I hope to continue to progress as a photojournalist, both working on personal work and assignments.”

Her RMG awards are an example of the valuable community relationship the gallery and the college have. “As a former associate dean of MAD and this year’s Chair of RMG Exposed, I was particularly pleased with Stephanie’s award-winning work,” said Charlotte Hale.

DC has been a sponsor of the RMG Exposed event for seven years. Students in the Fine Arts – Advanced program in the School of Media, Art & Design are given memberships and use the gallery for research and exhibitions throughout the year. Students also connect with local young artists, writers, photographers and musicians at RMG Fridays, in which live music, interactive art and social networking occur each month.