PR Graduates Recognized at 2016 Convocation Ceremony

The 2016 Durham College Convocation recognized DCPR graduate Melody Gaukel (Class of 1998) as an Alumni of Distinction. Check out her official Durham College video, where she discusses the important role the PR program and Durham College had in preparing her for a successful career.

Simply put, Durham College’s Public Relations program was the best career decision that I have ever made. Upon completing high school I still wasn’t completely sure what career path I wanted to take. 

Upon reviewing the curriculum of various programs throughout Canada I quickly realized that the DCPR program would help provide me with the most versatile skill set through the vast array of programs and because of the real world experience I would gain through the two placement opportunities. 

I also noticed that because the program was fast-tracked it would also allow me to gain the most amount of experience in the shortest amount of time which meant I could start my career sooner. 

While at Durham College I was very fortunate to learn a variety of skills through varied programming which included; journalism, photography, desktop publishing, graphic design, marketing, communications, event management, videography, etc. The versatile skill set I obtained through DCPR helped me get a better sense of what I wanted to strive for post graduation. 

In addition, it has been my main point of differentiation that has helped me quickly become Chief Executive Officer. I am proud to say that I was hired by my corporate placement employer immediately after graduation and have since flourished in the event management and nonprofit world. I owe a great deal of my success to the experiences I obtained through the DCPR program. 

Needless to say, I would highly recommend the DCPR program to any students wishing to obtain a versatile skill set that will allow them to find rewarding careers in corporate or nonprofit environments.

Kurtis Sisk
Class of 2000

As a recent graduate, I am proud to say that enrolling in the Public Relations program at Durham College was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career.

Over the course of five short semesters, the advanced diploma program provides students with the necessary knowledge, tools and techniques necessary to excel in a fast-paced PR
environment.

The diverse classes allow students to explore the multifaceted communications landscape of copywriting, digital media production, event planning, fundraising and much more.

This variety helps students to tailor their portfolio and resume for a career path that best suits their passions and interests.

The two field placements in the program also provide graduates with a competitive
advantage. In fact, along with many of my fellow graduates, I was offered a job directly out of my corporate placement.

In my opinion, there’s no better way for grads to launch their career than through the networking and real-world experience offered by these field
placements.

On a personal note, I am so grateful for the peers, professors and professionals I met throughout the program. Even as a grad, I know that I have a network of friends and mentors that will help me at all points of my future career.

So thank you DCPR, and thank you to all those who continue to contribute to the success of our PR graduates.

Emily Meek
Class of 2017

I’ve just landed my first big job, and I couldn’t have done it without DCPR. This program prepared me for the workforce in every way, and I even received training to help me feel more comfortable in job interviews!

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to do after high school, but choosing DCPR was the best decision I could have made. The program brought my wide variety of interests into one exciting career. I found myself growing in my current passions and developing new talents, too. Since I decided to enter the program right out of high school, I’m able to jump into my career at 20 years old!

My teachers were passionate about the field, and they made sure to share their passion with us. Instead of sitting in lectures all the time, my classmates and I were able to apply what we learned immediately. Many of my assignments involved interacting with real professionals, and the two placements allowed my classmates and I to finish the program with contacts of our own.

I never imagined graduating with as many practical skills as I have learned. Thank you, DCPR!

Micaela Bouwmeister
Class of 2017

When I chose to go to college instead of university, I heard it all: “Why select a second-class education?” or “You won’t find a job with just a college diploma.” I was never anti-university, but I sure had to fight the perceptions of others when it came to choosing a college education in 1986.

Math never quite added up for me and I had no chemistry with science. I loved English, and decided to pursue public relations. The TV show Dynasty was big back then, and Alexis Carrington was the first (fake) businessperson that I knew of who had a successful career in PR. She was a trailblazer.

Durham College was the right fit for me. I liked the size of the school and the curriculum. I wanted an education that would hone my practical skills to help me secure a job ASAP to pay off student loans.

During the two-year program, we worked on a school newsletter, organized events, and made a difference in our community by volunteering our communications skills. I enjoyed diverse courses like law, writing, psychology, and photography. We also had lots of fun between classes. My two favourite bars, Illusions and Sammy’s, are both closed now but won’t be forgotten.

Upon graduating in 1988, my plan worked — I immediately landed a position at a PR agency in Toronto. The managing director was a friend of my PR professor, Ev McCrimmon, who recommended me for the job. Since then, I have also held progressive positions with the Retail Council of Canada, The Dynacare Health Group, Porter Novelli — one of the world’s largest PR firms — and I also ran my own consultancy. I now hold a global marketing position with KPMG.

According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, more Canadian adults have a post-secondary education than any other country in the developed world, largely because of our robust system of community colleges.

College diplomas don’t mean less pay or fewer job opportunities. Parents should not pressure their kids to go to university if it is not their preferred style of learning. Instead, encourage the right match. My teenager is leaning toward university but only after we reviewed college options and determined that earning his degree first was the right choice for him. He may still take advantage of a college-university pathway after earning his degree. Currently, about 20 per cent of Durham College students are university graduates.

As Durham College celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017, I look forward to connecting with other graduates and hearing about their journeys after receiving a first-class education. DC’s Homecoming Weekend on Sept. 8 and 9 will be a great opportunity to do just that — I hope to see many of my fellow alumni there!

Sheila Corriveau
Class of 1988

After graduating university I had my degree in hand and was a starry-eyed graduate looking for the next step. I thought I would enter the workforce but after some contemplation I decided to return to Durham College as a PR student and it was the best move I could have made.

Prior to graduating, I was offered an amazing placement at the Royal Ontario Museum as a result of the connections previously made by the program and was able to translate that into a part-time position as a Media Relations Assistant. Following that I was offered a full-time coordinator position with a non-profit that I had also completed a DC placement with and two short years later I find myself as the Enterprise Portal Content Officer with the York Region District School Board.

The PR program at Durham College not only gives you the foundational knowledge necessary to be a successful professional, but also helps you get a foot in the door with future employers and sets you on an exciting career path! This program will not only prepare you for the workforce, it will push you to be the best in class!

Dale Brusselers
Class of 2013

In 2008, after taking leave from a university program, I knew that a career in communications was for me. It took a lot of research and thinking to decide which program was best for me, but Durham College’s program was the hands-down best choice. As an accelerated program it allowed me to graduate faster but without missing out on any key skills.

The program quickly got me where I wanted to be in my career and I was even able to work part-time while in my last year of the program doing communications for a Member of Parliament. No other program would have allowed me the chance to have the skills to do that.

I was really drawn by the fact that the program offers two placements. Both of these opportunities let me work in different industries that were of interest to me, further develop my skills and make lasting connections with other communications professionals – I recently joined a company working with my former supervisor from my second placement in the Durham PR program!

The foundations that the program provide are second to none. It helped me hone my writing skills, learn new technologies, and become an effective spokesperson. Two weeks after graduating, I was hired full-time at a public relations agency and my career hasn’t slowed down since. I give the Durham College PR program full credit for my success; without the knowledgeable faculty, the diversity of courses and opportunity to use these skills in the workforce as a placement student, I would not be where I am today. Durham’s PR program is the best choice for students looking to build their skills and have success in their career.

Joshua Terry
Class of 2010

When you have the tools to produce the highest quality of work and the drive to take it as far as you want – limitations don’t exist. The proof lives where I am in my career today after climbing the corporate ladder from shop floor to intern to coordinator to specialist to full-time communications expert at a multi-billion dollar company. I couldn’t have done it without the foundational building blocks of the Public Relations Advanced Diploma program at Durham College.

The fast-paced and advanced workload braces students for the real world of PR – from fine-tuning writing skills to learning how to host mock media conferences and organizing gala events. Outside of the classroom, students learn how to balance workloads, priorities and organization – the key ingredients to success in any venture. I would encourage anybody interested in public relations to seriously consider Durham College as their first choice – this program has been monumental in my career today.

Kaitlin Keefer
Class of 2013

The Public Relations program at Durham College is a perfect reflection of the PR world. The knowledge gained in this fast-paced, hands-on learning environment prepares students perfectly for the challenges of the workplace. Among the many opportunities available in the course, the program requires students partake in two real-world work placements, offering unparalleled preparation for their future careers. Planning events, understanding media relations, and learning the ropes of electronic publishing are just some of the topics covered throughout the program, ensuring that graduates are well-rounded and up to speed with the varied requirements of a PR professional.

Mikayla Morra
Class of 2015

The Public Relations program offered at Durham College is one that I highly recommend to students. If you are passionate about communications, social media, event planning, graphic design, and growing your networking skills, this is the program for you! 

Lynn Gough (program co-ordinator,) along with the other program professors, have truly put their best interest into their students. With the help and support of their teachings, I feel very confident moving forward in a P.R. career. 

One of our assignments was to fundraise for our class trip to Chicago! What a great experience, not only just because we got to travel, but it as well provided us with real life networking opportunities.

Jessica Tyler (Morin)
Class of 2017

The DCPR program has taught me several skills and lessons that has furthered my professional career. As a DCPR student, you will be ready and prepared for the public relations work force in half the time.

Lynn’s passion and dedication to the program is shown every day in the class room and through every lesson. I had no vision or path in what I wanted to do.

With Lynn’s guidance, I have completed an internship at TSN and have started my career with the National Hockey League as a Social Media Coordinator.

Dylan Cooper
Class of 2016

I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I wanted to be “when I grew up,” but I decided to take a chance on Durham College’s fast-tracked Public Relations program after spending a year studying at another college with no success. The program combined many of my interests – writing, photography, events and social media – so I thought it would suit my personality. I finally felt like I found my calling. I enjoyed all of the courses, the professors were great and all of my classmates were into the same things I was. The interactive classrooms and field trips made me feel like I could really see myself working in a PR career upon my graduation. I am grateful for what I learned at Durham College, and thankfully have been able to apply my new skill set in the real world. I found a job in my field almost immediately and have been successful in my current role. The fast-tracked Public Relations program was a great fit for me. It could be a great fit for you, too!

Tawnya Pappin
Class of 2014

Before I began my diploma in PR, I felt lost and overwhelmed after a disenchanting experience in university. I can happily say my experience in college was anything but disenchanting. In fact, thanks to Durham’s Advanced Diploma in Public Relations, my career has finally taken shape. The direction provided by my professors and the skills taught in my PR courses have helped me find full-time, permanent employment with a public relations firm I admire.

I will always advocate for students to attend the DCPR college program. Even I cannot believe how much I have benefited from my time there; I use the skills I learnt in my classes every day at while at work – especially writing and media relations. Because the assignments are all applicable to the real world of PR, I left college with a body of work I could put in a portfolio and showcase to potential any employers, even though I was a new grad with no job experience. Words cannot say what that alone meant to me.

Not only did the Advanced Diploma give me the skills I needed to break into the competitive, exciting world of communications, but it was also faster and less expensive than a degree, and it was a more intimate experience than university. The small classroom sizes make for better friendships with your peers (think: future colleagues!), and it allows for more one-on-one time with your profs, who provide supreme counsel and guidance.

If you’re curious at all about the program, don’t hesitate to reach out to Lynn to learn more. You won’t regret it.

Elyse Carney
Class of 2017

My time at Durham College in the Public Relations program was instrumental in setting me up for a successful career in communications. I went in with only a basic understanding of what public relations was, but quickly found myself immersed in a program designed to ensure not only did I have a fulsome understanding of marketing, PR and communications, but that I was prepared to excel in the workforce when I ultimately began working. The professors came from a variety of backgrounds in the field and brought years of valuable experience and knowledge into the classroom.

The small class sizes, hands-on assignments and real-life experience (our field placements, creating the alumni magazine Reflections and volunteer experiences) gave me something not all PR programs offer, and also gave me an edge when it came time to seek employment after college. I was working full-time in my field within five months of graduating and have been able to build a rewarding career since.

If you’re considering Durham College for the PR program, I highly recommend it!

Morgan Cadenhead
Class of 2012

Simply put, the fast-tracked Public Relations program offered at Durham College provides grads with a competitive edge. The fast-paced nature of the program helps students to develop the fundamental skills needed to manage multiple priorities while delivering impactful and measurable results.

With a strong emphasis on writing, digital media, event planning and media relations grads leave the program highly skilled and job ready. The not for profit and corporate placements are invaluable to gaining real-world experience, allowing grads to transfer these skills effectively to the private, public or not for profit sectors. Since graduating in 2007, I have progressed through a variety of communications roles, and now hold a senior communications position within a municipality. I continue to support the program through the advisory committee and placement program, and I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to get started in the public relations industry.

Rachel Wraith
Class of 2007

Coming into the Durham College (DC) Public Relations program, all I knew for sure was that I loved writing. I did not know what I wanted to do in terms of a final career at first, but the extensive variety of classes offered in the program started to open many doors for me and got me thinking. During this program, I learned a lot about myself and my passions. The wide range of skills I learned from this program were applied in my two real-world placements and enabled me to gain various networking connections. The experienced, supportive and well-connected faculty in DC’s Public Relations program are the best mentors I could imagine for this field. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had the chance to participate in at DC and in the PR program specifically.

Tiffany Nobes
Class of 2016

In the spring of 2013, I was faced with the choice between several PR programs. Having studied the course content of each, and researched the opinions of past graduates, I opted for Durham College.

Fast-forward to 2016, and I find myself in full-time employment at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as a Corporate Communications Specialist at the national office. Without the guidance, experience and dedication of the incredible faculty within DC’s public relations program, I would not be where I am today. In those two years, I was given the tools to become a confident, knowledgeable and highly effective public relations practitioner.

I have never once doubted that I made the right decision when choosing Durham College over the other options made available to me. Based on my experience, in the working environment, I am confident in saying that no other PR program in Ontario is capable of preparing students for the real world in as effective a manner as DC.

Matisse Hamel-Nelis
Class of 2015

After getting accepted to three programs at Durham College (DC), I attended the college’s Spring Open House in 2013 to help me make an informed decision. I remember walking in to the Public Relations (PR) lab, Room L208, for the first time like it was yesterday. Little did I know, the experiences in that classroom would change my life forever.

In addition to growing as a person, my time in DC’s PR program provided me with a wide range of skills, making me a confident and well-rounded PR practitioner. While media relations and refining students’ writing skills were a large focus of the program, we also had the opportunity to study photography, corporate management, electronic publishing, marketing as well as social media and web principles.

From the first semester of the program, we were working with real-world clients, helping us establish our network far before we crossed the stage at convocation. After finding employment directly after graduation, I am grateful to the knowledgeable and passionate professors who helped shape my passion for communications into a career.

Heather Bulman
Class of 2015

I always had a niche for event planning and when it came time to gain more classroom experience, enrolling in the Public Relations program at Durham College was the best career decision I have ever made. With a few years of a career background in event planning and a passion for media relations, graphic design, social media and communications I was never quite sure how I would be able to combine these skills together. 

This program opened up my career possibilities opened up more opportunities in the world place based on the vast variety of classes and curriculum content it posses. I quickly found the hands-on content was easy to follow and engaging. Every class was different and the amazing program instructors were happy to share their knowledge, professional experience and contacts.

The skills, tools and real world experience I gained in the program were exciting and getting to implement them in my event management job was thrilling for not only myself but my superiors at work. I was able to bring what I learned in the classroom and directly apply it in my every day work life. 

If you are interested in Public Relations this is the best program and will make you feel confident in the work force at any level in your career. It will undoubtedly set you up to impress current or future employers.

Alyssa Condello
Class of 2017

Even after two years in university, it wasn’t until my first day in the Durham College Public Relations program where I truly felt like there were career opportunities for me after school. Being able to study in a smaller classroom setting with a group of people who have the same interests and goals as I do and teachers who are genuinely passionate about the subject matter, led to the best educational experiences I’ve ever had.

With a wide variety of skills being taught such as strategic communications planning, event planning, graphic design and copywriting, this program creates a solid foundation for students and allows them to be successful no matter where their career takes them after graduation. All the assignments in the program are reflections of what a public relations professional would do in the workplace, allowing students to gain real-world experience that puts them ahead of the competition. The skills learned in the classroom prepare students for their two field placements, one in a non-profit organization and one in a corporate, giving students real-world experience before even graduating.

During my placements at the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Variety Village, I was able to take what I learned in the classroom and help plan multiple fundraising events, work with media and create communications and marketing materials. After my placement with Variety Village, I was offered a full-time position as a Communications and Fundraising Events Assistant. I tell everybody that joining the Durham College Public Relations program was the best decision I ever made. I am thankful to have studied with such amazing peers and such passionate professors.

Issa Ocampo
Class of 2017

As a Durham College Alumni, I highly recommend the Advanced Public Relations program for students who are enthusiastic about creating and fostering great relationships, enjoy writing and want to work in a creative field. This is a program that can expand on these interests and develop your talents allowing you to reach your highest potential.

The professors are highly educated, experienced and connected – which in this field is crucial. This course changed my life by finding my true strengths and truly set me up for success. I can honestly say, the courses I learned such as Copywriting I and II are being implemented in my everyday job responsibilities.

This course absolutely led me to my current position as Marketing Communications Coordinator for Mercedes-Benz Canada Head Office and taught me that I am responsible for my future. Enrolling in this program was one the best decisions I have ever made in my life and I would recommend it to those looking to specialize in event planning, media relations and marketing communications.

Kristen Carey
Class of 2011

With such uncertainty out in the workforce nowadays you have to be confident that your time and effort at school will be well worth it. The Public Relations program surpassed my expectations of not only priming me for a job in my field but also setting me up for success for years to come. You knew your teachers wanted you to succeed once you walked out those doors; they prepared you for what was to come and were always willing to go the extra mile.

My first placement was at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters where I was able to work closely with the Communications Manager to assist with writing projects and several adobe digital pieces to complete my communications plan. During my final year I had the opportunity to work at Peterborough Public Health as a Communications Assistant supporting their social media accounts, drafting news releases and planning various events.

Both placements created paths to my current position as a Marketing Communications Officer within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. I couldn’t have asked for more of a relatable, challenging and rewarding program. Thank you to for helping me shape who I am today!

Tricia Brown
Class of 2013

From the moment I walked into the classroom, I knew I was right at home. The Public Relations Advanced Diploma at Durham College was more than just a college program to me; it changed my life.

I had always liked writing and enjoyed having a creative outlet, but I wasn’t sure how I could turn it into a career. Now, I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience and the opportunities this program has given me, both personally and professionally.

With small class sizes, the classroom quickly became a tight-knit community, from which I have gained life long friends. The courses specializing in Photoshop & InDesign, media relations and event planning helped to expand my skill set and created a foundation for my career. And the industry–professional teachers continue to offer support to their students well after graduation.

Now, working as a communications professional at the Cobourg Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), the abilities I developed during my time in the program are utilized every day.

No other program of its kind better prepares their students for a future in PR, and I am so thankful to have had a chance to learn from the best in such a professional, encouraging environment.

Maggie Darling
Class of 2012

Durham College’s fast-track Public Relations program prepared me for the workforce. The program provided me with relevant public relations skills such as writing, social media, event planning, and marketing while offering me the opportunity to grow as an individual. The program’s two field placements gave me real world experience before graduation making me marketable to future employers! I am extremely grateful for the opportunities available both inside and outside of the classroom that offered me the chance to connect with industry professionals and feel prepared for my future!

Kirsti McNabney
Class of 2015

After being hired directly from my corporate placement in my final semester, I knew that the Public Relations program at Durham College had fully prepared me to confidently enter the field. Not only was I equipped with a diverse range of skills and hands-on experience – I also graduated from the program with a professional network, leading industry knowledge, and a portfolio that highlighted my skills.

The variety of courses offered, such as media relations, event planning and photography, allows students to broaden their set of skills while gaining the experience needed for a job in the public relations field. The projects are based on real-world examples and are key pieces that can be used in building a portfolio, making you very marketable to employers.

The faculty continue to play a key role in my success by continuously offering their experience, advice and networks – even after graduation. Their industry insights allow them to continually ensure that students are always up-to-date on the latest trends in the field.

Taking the Public Relations program at Durham College was a great investment in my education and career, and I highly recommend the program to anyone wanting to break into the world of communications and PR.

Courtney Pope
Class of 2015

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