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Planting the seeds of success: Durham College students spark environmental awareness in Guatemala

Durham College’s (DC) International Education office in partnership with the service learning organization, Students Offering Support (SOS) took five students from the School of Science & Engineering Technology’s (SET) Environmental Technology and Chemical Engineering Technology programs on an international outreach trip to Chuinajtajuyup, Guatemala. DC volunteers spent 12 days working alongside SOS and the citizens of Chuinajtajuyup to help combat climate change’s affects on agriculture.

“It was uplifting to work with Durham College volunteers within the environmental field,” said Jamie Arron, executive director of SOS. “Their professors, students and staff embraced the cross-cultural exchange with the utmost respect and demonstrated a distinct hunger to learn.”

Students learned from and collaborated with local farmers on the impact of climate change in the community. Volunteers brainstormed and presented ways to combat and reverse the damage climate change had wrought on the agricultural industry. By discussing issues and creating initiatives, DC students helped local farmers make a lasting difference.

“We are very proud of our students for undertaking this opportunity to broaden their learning and gain life changing experiences,” said Michelle Hutt, executive dean, SET. “Study abroad endeavours like these truly enhance the relative connection for our students here at DC.”

While abroad, DC and SOS volunteers tackled several climate change challenges. They spent two full days planting trees to combat further soil erosion in the area–a necessary task due mass deforestation in the region. But they didn’t stop there. They also organized a fundraising event to improve the community’s access to water, giving people access to a clean, reliable source of water, a luxury that many take for granted. The rest of their trip involved installing a drip irrigation system for optimal water usage, and the expansion of a greenhouse, built for housing crops that DC and SOS selected specifically for the community’s needs.

“Durham college students, professors and staff were able to meaningfully support community-driven adaptation strategies to climate change through the combination of cross-cultural knowledge exchange, economic contributions and hands-on support to environmental projects. Our local partners called it a dream come true.” said Arron.

Within a short span of time, DC students made a positive, lasting impact on the world by building greenhouses, planting trees and improving access to water; ultimately showing that their dedication, selflessness and success, matters.

DC’s International Education office is pleased to support students who go on education abroad experiences through the International Travel Bursary program.


DC recognizes more than 200 students at Centre for Success completion ceremony

Hundreds of proud family members and friends celebrated the accomplishments of Durham College’s (DC) Centre for Success (CFS) students during their program completion ceremony at the Oshawa campus on June 20. The CFS is a part of DC’s School-College-Work Initiative (SCWI) and is funded by the Ministry of Education, allowing students to participate in post-secondary courses and apprenticeship training, earning dual credits that count towards both their high school diploma and their post-secondary diploma or apprenticeship certification.

Now in its twelfth year, the SCWI is a partnership between DC and four local school boards – Durham District School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge School District Board, Durham Catholic District School Board and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic School Board.

The program is designed to enable on-risk secondary school students to complete their high school academic requirements but in a college setting, offering them access to smaller class sizes, flexible schedules and increased one-to-one access to teachers. In addition, it provides an opportunity for students to earn at least one and potentially more college credits towards their post-secondary education or apprenticeship training at most of the 24 colleges in Ontario This year, 94 per cent of participants successfully completed the program, which exceeds the provincial average of approximately 83 per cent at other dual credit college programs in Ontario.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage and tenacity to come to a new school and leave behind what is familiar to try something different,” said Robert Wager, director, SCWI and Academic Upgrading. “A lot of our students, due to their circumstances, never had the opportunity to dream. Completing their high school classes on a college campus where they are treated like adults gives them a sense of freedom that they didn’t feel like they had before. That, paired with the opportunity to earn a college credit really motivates them to think positively about their future and what they can achieve.”

Also in attendance at the ceremony was DC vice-president, Academic, Dr. Elaine Popp, who was joined by school board representatives and Ministry of Education dignitaries to show their support for the more than 200 secondary school and adult dual-credit students.

The 2018-2019 school year is the first that the program has been run out of the new Centre for Collaborative Education, which opened its doors to students in September.


Durham College students win gold and silver at 2019 Skills Ontario Competition

Durham College (DC) is proud to share that students David Paisley and Brett Harrison have won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the Heating Systems Technician contest at the 30th annual Skills Ontario Competition held in Toronto from May 6 to 8. Both competitors are studying in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Techniques program at DC.

Paisley and Harrison earned their medals by demonstrating practical and theoretical skills in heating system fundamentals with special attention given to health and safety regulations. They also demonstrated knowledge of controls, tools, and testers used in industry, and completed a job interview related to their technical career path.

Over the three-day event, DC students competed against more than 2,300 participants from across Ontario in over 68 unique contest areas.

“We’re incredibly proud of our students’ achievements at this year’s Skills Ontario Competition,” said Dr. Rebecca Milburn, executive dean, School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology, and principal of the Whitby campus. “Competing at this level provides students with an opportunity to actualize all of the career-ready skills and knowledge they have developed in their classes. Their success is a testament to the impact of DC’s focus on experiential learning and the dedication of our students and faculty.”

As the gold-medal winner, Paisley will represent DC and Ontario in the 25th Skills Canada National Competition that will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29.

Skills Ontario is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the skilled trades and technologies as viable, first-choice career options to Ontario youth through programs and initiatives such as provincial skills competitions.


DC paramedic students learn hands-on

Students from the Paramedic program at Durham College (DC) recently had two valuable experiential learning opportunities to put theory into practice.

On April 6, the annual National Paramedic Competition was back at DC after an absence of two years. The Centre for Collaborative Education on the Oshawa campus was abuzz with paramedic students and professionals from across Ontario showcasing their medical knowledge and skills.

The competition saw 24 teams of professional and student paramedics participate in six different patient-care scenarios. These scenarios were presented with realistic and exciting visual effects to convey an accurate portrayal of the dynamic situations encountered on the job.

Over 60 volunteers from DC’s Paramedic, Emergency Services Fundamentals and Firefighter – Pre-service, Education and Training programs assisted with the competition, providing an excellent opportunity to network and learn from the professional teams in attendance. DC is very proud of our students who participated and alumni who walked away with two awards.

Another experiential learning opportunity took place on April 10, at Camp Samac adjacent to the Oshawa Campus, when the graduating Paramedic class took part in the annual year-end mass casualty incident event. Students were presented with scenarios involving mass casualty incidents, with the purpose of reviewing the principles of triage, and the management of mass casualty incidents.

On February 23 and 24, the first and second-year Paramedic students had their chance to get hands-on experience when they took part in Project Lord Ridgeback a multi-disciplinary experiential learning exercise that simulated a local disaster.


Durham College applauds Ontario budget commitment to modernize apprenticeship training

The 2019 Ontario Budget commitment to create a one-window digital portal for apprentices will produce a more highly qualified workforce, Ontario’s colleges said today.

“This will ensure more people enrol in apprenticeship training,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College (DC). “It will produce more apprentices to help Ontario close the skills gap.”

The current application system is awash in red tape. There is no clear application process and many people seeking to become apprentices find it difficult to get matched with willing employers.

The creation of a one-window portal will make the application process straightforward and easily accessible. Ontario’s colleges are eager to support the efforts to create this new portal.

“The government clearly recognizes it should be as easy for students to apply to be apprentices as it is to apply to any other college or university program,” Lovisa said. “Modernizing our apprenticeship system will help make it one of the best in the world.”

Other budget highlights to produce a stronger workforce included:

  • Establishing programs to encourage people to enter the skilled trades.
  • Launching a new micro-credentials pilot this spring to provide people with the skills employers are seeking.

DC is known for its skilled trades and welcomes new programs that encourage young people to enter technical and trade-related programs at the apprenticeship and post-secondary levels.  “Our current plans to expand the Whitby campus to provide new capacity to welcome over 700 additional students into skilled trades,” said Lovisa. This expansion will focus on high-priority industries as well as trades like electricians and millwrights, and emerging areas such as boilermakers, all of which have been identified as being in high-demand.

DC also offers micro-credentials in a number of areas and looks forward to opportunities to expand this growing trend that recognizes specific skills and knowledge necessary for success in many careers.

“College education is pivotal to Ontario’s success and to ensuring more people find rewarding careers,” said Lovisa. “We look forward to working with the government to helping more people acquire the expertise that is essential to success in this new economy.”


Paramedic students volunteer at the Durham Region 2019 Ontario Parasport Games

From February 8 to 10, Durham Region hosted the 2019 Ontario Parasport Games in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, welcoming over 500 athletes, coaches, guides, and support personnel.

As athletes competed in 11 parasports at eight different venues across the region, 18 Durham College (DC) students and alumni from the Paramedic program in the School of Justice & Emergency Services stepped up to volunteer as first aid providers during the games.   

“The paramedic student and faculty volunteers from DC were professional, friendly, and inclusive throughout the games, and were excellent ambassadors for our community,” said Don Terry, co-chair of the Games Organizing Committee.   

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to participate in experiential learning while also giving back to the community,” added Jen Walker, a faculty member in the Paramedic program at DC. “It was terrific to see our students having fun, whether they were meeting athletes, cheering them on in their sports, or collaborating with other medical professionals to provide services as needed.”

Alongside experiences like this one, students in the Paramedic program are exposed to ongoing clinical and field placement opportunities during their time at DC, helping them become highly skilled first responders and compassionate caregivers who meet community members’ emergent and non-emergent health needs.

For more about the Durham Region 2019 Ontario Parasport Games, please visit their website or watch their 2019 celebration video.


Students’ strength and program pride shine at DC Justice Games VII

Students from the School of Justice & Emergency Services (JES) put their strength, speed and teamwork on display at the seventh annual Durham College (DC) Justice Games. Held at the Oshawa campus on March 13, the friendly competition brought together contenders from 10 JES programs, including alumni, to represent in seven events.

Beyond bragging rights, the Justice Games gives students the opportunity to showcase their training and network with professionals from Durham Regional Police Service, York Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, Town of Whitby Fire and Emergency Services and regional paramedics.

The event also brought the JES community together to remember and commemorate former Firefighter – Pre-service, Education and Training students Adam Brunt and Tasha Nickelchock. Most valuable player awards in each of their names were awarded to the students identified as demonstrating the highest levels of performance, leadership and sportsmanship over the course of the event.

This year’s MVP winners were Joel Campbell and Melanie Hope.

Students also took home prizes for first and second-place finishes in each event.

The winner of the Justice Cup, which is awarded based on the number of first and second-place finishes by competitors from the same program, was Police Foundations.

Students from following DC programs took part in this year’s event:


DC students recognized by Chemical Institute of Canada

On January 24, Durham College (DC) students from the School of Science, Engineering & Technology (SET) were recognized for their academic achievements by the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC).

The following students received Silver Medals from the CIC’s Canadian Society for Chemical Technology, which are awarded to the top students at each Canadian college and university entering their final year of chemistry, biochemistry or a related program:

The following students received the CIC Book Prize, which recognizes students who have demonstrated significant academic improvement:

Congratulations to all of the DC recipients!


DC horticulture students bring classmate’s design to life at Landscape Ontario Congress

A team of Durham College (DC) Horticulture Technician students took their classmate’s vision of a tranquil outdoor garden room from design to reality for the 2019 Landscape Ontario Congress (Congress), an annual trade show and conference for Canada’s horticultural and landscape professionals.

Featured within the Congress’s Canada Blooms Campus: Student Feature Gardens exhibit, the DC installation was designed by second-year student Amanda Steinberg and featured extensive woodwork, including a wooden accent wall, and a secret waterfall.

Steinberg’s design and the students’ participation in the Congress were all part of an assignment in their second-semester course, Sustainable Garden Concepts and Design. With only two days to construct their installation, the hands-on experience challenged the students to apply their skills in a real-work situation with finite project timelines.

Held from January 8 to 10 in Toronto, the Congress also provided DC’s students the opportunity to network with industry professionals and their peers from other colleges.


Durham College receives $1 million donation from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to support farming operations

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share that The W. Garfield Weston Foundation (the Foundation) has donated $1 million to fund the expansion of farming operations at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) to support experiential learning opportunities for DC students.

The success of the Horticulture Technician and Horticulture – Food and Farming programs over the last two years has resulted in a doubling of enrolment and a greater demand for fresh foods from the field. This donation will support the construction of a post-harvest and storage facility, greenhouse expansion and the implementation of container farming, all of which will increase and better process the CFF’s food production, allow for experimentation of newer agriculture practices, and provide students with new experiential learning opportunities.

“The Foundation is pleased to support Durham College and its students once again as they continue to pave the way for a new-generation approach to local food and sustainability,” said Eliza Mitchell, director, the Foundation. “This grant will allow for more food production, new opportunities to teach non-traditional farming and, most importantly, more chances for students to gain critical skills that will put them in demand upon graduation.”

The first half of the Foundation’s donation will go towards building the post-harvest conditioning and storage facility in the spring of 2019. This will improve the CFF’s process operations and farm work flows and provide for long-term storage of produce, while also minimizing food waste. Once completed, the grant will further support greenhouse expansion to increase space and allow for more students, plants and projects, and introduce innovative container farming to allow for small-scale agriculture and year-round growing. The additions will also increase the supply of fresh food coming directly to the CFF’s culinary programs and its business operations, Bistro ’67, Pantry and special events.

“On behalf of Durham College and the CFF, we are tremendously grateful for the generosity and the ongoing support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation through this thoughtful donation,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “These projects will continue to enhance all of the CFF’s post-secondary programming and provide significant experiential learning benefits to our current students while further positioning us as best in class with our unique field-to-fork model of education and service delivery.”