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.”