Durham College alumni recount their roads to success

Two Durham College (DC) alumni wowed students with stories of their remarkable journeys from college to career at this year’s Alumni in the Pit on April 7. The annual event welcomes back former DC students to share their experiences since graduation and provide guidance to those who are about to embark on their own career paths.

This year’s event featured, Amanda de Souza, designer and professor, and Mike Arsenault, broadcaster and author, who both graduated from DC in 2008. Though they received very different educations, they had the same advice to share – work hard, volunteer, learn as much as you can (even in that “meaningless” job) and be passionate about everything you do.

“I used to spend my weekends doing a self-defence show for Rogers TV Durham,” said Arsenault, who graduated from the Sport Business Management – Graduate Certificate program. “They were 12-hour days, but if you enjoy what you do, it’s not work. So 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.”

Mike eventually transitioned into sports writing and broadcasting, and even published a book, 60’6″: Balls, Strikes, and Baseball Mortality, in 2012. He currently works as a field reporter for The Weather Network and CBC.

De Souza graduated from the Advertising program at DC. She moved to New York City (NYC) where she landed a job as senior designer for W Magazine and found success as an artist. In fact, one of her pieces, a decorated piano, was featured in NYC’s Central Park as part of a city-wide art exhibit.

“Be passionate about what you’re studying,” de Souza said. “Focus on your passion, then use the skills you develop here at DC to pursue what you enjoy. I didn’t even realize how many skills I learned in my program until I started applying for jobs, and said, ‘I can do this, and this, and this.’”

Both grads attended DC after completing a university degree to develop more hands-on skills that carried them through a range of exciting opportunities, including de Souza’s time as social media manager for Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, Southern Hospitality, in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, and Arsenault’s gig as editor for two newspapers.

“It’s exciting to reconnect with these amazing young people who once stood where our students stand now,” said DC President, Don Lovisa. “They have both accomplished great things, and I hope our students were inspired by their tenacity, enthusiasm and drive to follow their dreams. We offer outstanding programs here at DC, and we’re proud to have played a role in the success of these two, and so many more, alumni.”