Mapping Out a Career in Cartography

Maps have guided travelers around the globe for hundreds of years. And after careers in archaeology and IT, a longtime love of maps led Julie Witmer to Fleming’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – Cartographic Specialist post-graduate program.

“I’ve always loved maps – I collect map brochures when traveling and have poster maps decorating my home,” she said.

Discovering the Fleming program and realizing she could make a career of map making, Julie now owns her own cartography business, Julie Witmer Custom Map Design. She creates custom maps for a range of clients such as local associations, publishers, authors, small business owners, non-profit organizations, and municipalities.

Fleming College graduate Julie Witmer is mapping out her own path as a business owner and Cartographer.

“I love that I get to design maps every day! I love being my own boss and choosing what projects to work on. Every day I make maps, usually working on a few client projects at a time,” she said. And, as a small business owner herself, she handles all the marketing, social media, accounts, and administrative work that comes with entrepreneurship.

“In many cases, my clients start out with little or no knowledge of the map-making process. But that’s never been an issue, because an essential part of my approach is to create an experience that is informed, easy and enjoyable from start to finish,” she said.

“While a primary function of maps is to help people get around, they aren’t just tools for navigating. They help people learn about their communities and to become more active and connected to them. Maps can guide visitors, but they can also attract them to events and points of interest,” she added.

Julie initially studied and worked in archaeology, digging in ancient sites in Israel and Jordan as well as in southern Ontario. Deciding a career in academia wasn’t for her, a second career in IT landed her to a job at RIM (BlackBerry). However, a layoff in 2011 prompted Julie to research new career opportunities.

“When I saw that I could learn how to make maps at Fleming, I jumped at the chance!” she said.

Students in both the GIS – Cartographic Specialist and GIS – Applications Specialist programs take the same foundational first semester courses before choosing one of the specializations, which Julie appreciated.

“I loved designing with MAPublisher and Illustrator so that’s why I chose the Cartographic Specialist stream.”

She added that her favourite part of the program was the geovisualization courses.

“The program gave me good exposure to GIS software programs and the opportunity to work on several projects during the courses. I like that students can choose a specialized stream after the first term and have the opportunity to work on projects for real clients in the final co-op term. It helped me develop a workflow for custom map creation, which I still use today,” she said.

Geographic Information Systems are computer systems or software that capture, store, and display all types of spatial and geographic data. Working within those systems, GIS practitioners create, analyze and manage that data. Within the Cartographic stream, students analyze and visualize data using a variety of mapping techniques.

Fleming’s GIS programs feature multiple options for post-graduate learners. Students can study full-time or part-time in the Applications Specialist and Cartographic Specialist programs. The GIS – Applications Specialist program also offers an online option for distance learning.

“If you love maps, GIS, cartography, and being creative, I recommend this program.”

Interested in a GIS career, but not sure which stream might be right for you? Visit flemingcollege.ca/discover-gis for more information.

Beginning Again, and Inspiring Others

Sara Khabbazi needed to begin again. 

The new Fleming College graduate took a leap of faith when she enrolled in the Electrical Techniques program in January 2020. Khabbazi admitted she was surprised by her interest in electronics. But she was inspired by the technicians at her former workplace. 

“I went in as a completely blank canvas,” she said. “I didn’t even know how to solder.” 

“I was like an old system of DOS,” Khabbazi, 47, joked. “And I needed to upgrade myself.”  

Two years before Khabbazi’s “upgrade,” the mother of two had spent much of her adult life working in her family’s distillery business. She had held that job since she came to Canada in her early 20s, putting aside her own dreams of a post-secondary education in her new country.  

Then things fell apart.  

Her marriage ended, and Khabbizi said that meant she was out of a job, with nothing to fall back on.  

It was a difficult time in her life. Feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn, Khabbizi thought long and hard about her next steps. She said she came up with two options.  

“I had a choice between going to therapy and going to school,” Khabbazi said, “and so I went to school.” 

Khabazzi, a Peterborough-area resident, knew Fleming College would get her where she wanted to go.  

“I needed to learn about all this new technology and this new world we are living in,” Khabbazi said. “At Fleming, I felt like I was home.” 

Fleming College graduate Sara Khabbazi and her daughter Monakha hug at the end of a convocation ceremony at Peterborough Sport and Wellness Centre on Friday June 17, 2022. Photo courtesy of Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner

She threw herself into her studies, taking advantage of every tool Fleming College offered, from research and studying tips to the counselling services available to students.  

“I used every opportunity for me at Fleming,” she said.  

For two years Khabbazi worked hard. She asked questions, studied, and grew her knowledge. Khabbazi would later transfer to Fleming’s Electrician Engineering Technician program.  

Her months of hard work paid off. On June 17, with her family and classmates looking on, Khabbazi represented the School of Trades and Technology as Valedictorian.   

“In two years, I learned what I’m made of, and what I’m capable of,” Khabbazi said. “It was a huge confidence boost.” 

That same boost has motivated Khabbazi to continue her education through Fleming College’s education pathways, with the intent on earning her Bachelors of Electrical Engineering at Technological University of the Shannon in Ireland.  

“It’s like opening the door to a big playground,” she said. “I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’m open to all the possibilities.” 

She has inspired her youngest daughter-who starts school in September-to follow in her footsteps and pursue a career in aerospace engineering.  

Khabbazi hopes her inspiration travels beyond her family. She said she wants to inspire others to go into a career in skilled trades-particularly older women who may find themselves in similar situation. 

“I wanted to do something I am proud of, and my kids are proud of,” Khabbazi said. “Now I am proud of this new life.” 

Unique Dual Diplomas Open Up Career Opportunities

Sometimes, it takes two to make a thing go right.

Fleming grad Sara Franchuk is using the knowledge and skills gained from two diplomas to help fulfil her goal of becoming a wildlife biologist.

Sara, a graduate of both the Forestry Technician and Ecosystem Management Technician programs, is currently working as an intern biologist at the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

Within that role, she is getting valuable experience in planning, developing and implementing strategies to ensure the sustainability of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This supports fisheries, wildlife and forest management planning in the province.

“I pursued a career in natural resource management – including forestry and environmental management – to learn more about our landscape’s biodiversity and how to conserve it,” she says. “The thing I enjoy the most about forestry is leading fish and wildlife value collection projects to support forest management planning and the protection of our natural resources.”

Sara was able to take advantage of some unique-to-Fleming pathways that have helped along her career path: the dual diploma option, which allowed her to complete both diplomas in just three years, as well as the opportunity to transfer seamlessly to another institution for further education.

Returning to school, Sara attended Lakehead University. With her Fleming credentials, she was able to enter directly into third year and graduate in just two years with an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management, specializing in Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Management.

“With a smaller college size and such a positive learning atmosphere it made me excited about going to class each and every day. Both my diplomas prepared me well with a good base of knowledge and technical skills that rounded out my education,” she said. “I transferred to Lakehead with a variety of hands-on experience and field work that most university students had not acquired yet.”

As a woman in the forestry sector, she says she sees both public and private sectors rapidly changing.

“I’ve noticed an increase in representation of women in forestry and there are plenty of opportunities in a wide range of jobs. There are still many challenges that women face, but every day I see more changes being made for the better.”

Most diploma programs in the School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences offer the opportunity to complete a dual diploma. Visit flemingcollege.ca/dual-diplomas to learn more about this unique option.


Questions? Contact us: askus@flemingcollege.ca

Pre-health and Paramedic Programs Set Up Students for Career Success

Brady Wills’ interest in first aid, love of helping others, and desire for a fast-paced profession has led him to a rewarding career as a Primary Care Paramedic with Durham Region Paramedic Services.

“If you know me, you’ll know I’m not the kind of person who can sit in one place for an extended period of time,” he says. “This job is perfect for me. Every day is different in terms of the places you go and the people you interact with which makes it so exciting.”

He adds that the job can be very high stress at times.

“You have people’s lives in your hands and at times you need to make split-second decisions that can mean life or death. That said, those decisions can help save and change people’s lives for the better and the job is very rewarding for that reason.” 


Brady is a graduate of Fleming’s Paramedic program (2020) and Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas program (2018). He says both programs prepared him in different ways.

“Pre-Health was a great way to get a glimpse of what college was like. The hands-on labs were great. The content is very relevant and gives you a great baseline for classes like Anatomy that you’ll take in other health programs,” he says.

The program also provided opportunities to connect and interact with students and faculty in the Paramedic program.

“It was amazing to have a year to get a grasp on things before going into a very challenging program. It prepared me and many of my peers well. I believe I wouldn’t have survived the Paramedic program without Pre-Health.” 

Brady emphasized the added benefits of reserved seats in the Paramedic program for eligible Pre-Health grads, as well as transfer credits for courses taken in Pre-Health.

“You do a few courses in Pre-Health that contribute to your Paramedic diploma so you can lessen your workload and focus on the tougher core courses.” 

Brady says his favourite part of the Paramedic program was the whole experience. Faculty members are current or retired medics with decades of experience and stories to share.

“Clinical was also amazing – you get to go to the hospital and assess real people. You do multiple rotations on all sorts of units like the emergency room, respiratory therapy, or obstetrics, as well as many others, which gives you a wealth of knowledge that will apply directly to your career. You finish off doing your consolidation on an ambulance with a working crew and make great connections along the way. The program prepares you exceptionally well to get you on the road.”

Brady adds that the faculty made a significant impact on his Fleming experience.

“Susan Hyndman, the Pre-Health program coordinator, did a great job making labs hands on,” he says. “And a special shout-out to Paramedic program coordinator Mary Osinga. She is well known not only in the program but in the paramedic world for her wealth of knowledge and is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She worked on Ornge for decades and has all the stories to go along with any lesson she teaches. Anyone who has gone to Fleming knows how lucky we are to have learned from her.” 

Fleming’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathways to Certificates and Diplomas program provides a variety of pathways to competitive health sciences programs such as Practical Nursing, Paramedic, Pharmacy Technician and Health Information Management.

For more information:
askus@flemingcollege.ca  

From Certificate to Degree – Pre-Health Programs Provide a Pathway to Rewarding Careers

Setting a goal to obtain a nursing degree wasn’t something Emily Dickinson thought possible before taking Fleming’s preparatory health sciences program.

“My next step after completing the Pre-Health Pathways to Certificates and Diplomas program is the Practical Nursing program. I have plans from there to bridge into Trent University and attain my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree – something I never dreamed possible. I am looking forward to all of the opportunities that nursing will provide and it’s all thanks to the Pre-health program.” Initially unable to meet the academic requirements for the Practical Nursing program, Emily opted to take the two-semester Pre-health certificate, which offers a pathway into the nursing diploma. A select number of seats are reserved for graduates of Pre-health in Fleming’s Paramedic and Practical Nursing programs.

“Pre-health has exceeded my expectations. I’ve never been a math or science-brained person, but this program has given me a whole new level of confidence and understanding that I’m able to apply everything to real life. Also, the fact that there are reserved spots in our chosen programs for those with a high average gives you the extra drive to keep going when the work gets tough. The teachers want us to succeed, and they consistently show us that they will support us in any way they can.”

Emily Dickinson

While learning through the pandemic has been challenging, Emily has taken it in stride.

“I have enjoyed the consistency of the program. All of the courses are intertwined: when we learn about one subject in math, for example, we can apply those skills in chemistry and biology. The teachers are accommodating and have a knack for breaking down complicated subjects into terms that we can thoroughly understand,” she said.

“I’ve made some great friends in the course even though it’s been strictly online. Even chemistry has been straightforward from home. Our labs are adapted to be able to use accessible ingredients, but they are still fun!”

Currently working as a part-time firefighter with Selwyn Township, Emily is excited about adding nursing to her skill set and furthering her role as a first responder helping the public.

“I would recommend this program to anybody looking to enter the health sciences field – even if they already have the academic requirements. This program gives you a leg up in learning the math, chemistry, biology and bioethics knowledge and skills we will apply in our future programs and careers,” she said.

“I knew that I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could and this program has absolutely delivered!”

Fleming’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathways to Certificates and Diplomas program provides a variety of pathways to competitive health sciences programs such as Practical Nursing, Paramedic, Pharmacy Technician and Health Information Management. For more information: askus@flemingcollege.ca

A virtual field trip for Environmental Technology students

Peterborough ON – January 20, 2021

Professor Erin McGauley teaches the Applied Ecology course in the Environmental Technology program. Normally, the course begins with a field trip to a provincially significant wetland on Lake Ontario near Port Hope. But 2020 was not a normal year, so Prof. McGauley got creative.

To emulate the rich learning experience from the field trip, she created a virtual field trip using Fleming’s ArcGIS license and ESRI’s StoryMap product.

The resulting StoryMap (https://arcg.is/0Oqe4e) allowed her to:

  • showcase wildlife observations
  • compile air photos for comparison
  • embed a video about wetland boundary delineation
  • incorporate historical information, and
  • include a call to action re wetland conservation

StoryMaps lend themselves to general-interest review, and as a result, she was able to share the link beyond the Fleming community. The result:

  • The StoryMap provided a platform for outreach to the numerous private landowners with whom she has built relationships, and who permit Fleming students and faculty to tromp through their backyards each year.
  • By sharing the StoryMap, she was able to initiate conversations with landowners. She learned about childhood horse-drawn sleigh rides and shinny games on frozen wetland ice, the strong connections between protecting this wetland and the formation of the local Willow Beach Field Naturalist group, and the neighbourly relationships at work in the stewardship of this provincially important habitat. She was also able to share what Fleming students study during their wetland field trip.
  • The StoryMap allowed her to reach out to colleagues at the Municipality of Clarington, one of whom holds the position of GIS Technologist (a Fleming grad). Through her network, she was able to obtain fine-detail elevation mapping and a fly-over elevation video of the Port Britain wetland to enhance the Story Map for next year.

This StoryMap will continue to enrich student experiences as a reference resource, even in years where ET students have had their boots in the wetland muck. It also provides an alternative learning opportunity in instances where students might miss the field trip or can’t attend because of physical accessibility challenges.

Prof. McGauley says that is the best part of this push to pivot to online delivery – it’s not a one-off effort, but work that faculty and students can continue to reap benefits from into the future.

Take a look for yourself! You can access the StoryMap here.

School of Business and IT seeking applied projects and field placements for CSI students

Peterborough ON – December 8, 2020

Applied projects and field placements are a key component of students’ learning in the Computer Security and Investigations program at Fleming. The School of Business and Information Technology is seeking partner sponsors to provide students with this important practical experience.

Field Placement: Student(s) work under direct supervision of the sponsor or their staff, performing job functions and responsibilities relevant to the course of studies. Field placement opportunities sought:

  • Security Operations Centres (SOCs), and financial and forensic firms
  • Corporate security and information security service providers
  • Cybersecurity with government agencies
  • Security and penetration testing engagements with industry organizations
  • Forensic analysis and creation of standards for a security corporation
  • Development and deployment of a computer network intrusion detection system

Applied Projects: A group of 3 to 4 students work as an autonomous project team to develop a product or technical solution that meets specific requirements of their sponsor. Past projects have included:

  • Secure servers for a health network
  • Secure cloud environment in support of distributed analysis
  • Network intrusion detection and alerting system

For more information, please contact Haider Al-Saidi, Academic Chair, at haider.al-saidi@flemingcollege.ca or Debbie McEachern, Applied Projects and Field Liaison, with the School of Business and Information Technology at debbie.mceachern@flemingcollege.ca.

Dean of Fleming’s School of Trades and Technology to moderate event for young women

Peterborough ON – (November 30)

The Dean of the School of Trades and Technology Pam Stoneham will moderate a career discovery virtual event “Build a Dream” for young women on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.

“Build a Dream” encourages and empowers young women in grades 7-12 and their parents to explore exciting career opportunities in skilled trades, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), emergency response, and entrepreneurship. At the event, young women will be able to explore careers with their parents, hear from professional women in industry, and network with employers.

Other Fleming representatives on the panel include Susan Brown, faculty member with the Carpentry and Renovation Techniques program, and electrical pre-apprentice Cassandra Caveen. Lt.-Col. Janaya Hansen with the Canadian Armed Forces and Anna Hargreaves, McGill University professor in ecology, evolution and conservation biology, are the other panelists.

The event is in partnership with the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board and the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.

Visit here to register for this free virtual event.

Use hashtags #WeBuildADream and @FlemingCollege on social media to share with your network.

Fleming Forestry Technician graduate receives Skills Award for Indigenous Youth

Congratulations to Forestry Technician graduate Hunter Corbiere, who received a Skills Award for Indigenous Youth from the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) in partnership with the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM).

This award recognizes individuals with a strong academic standing who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable forest management and forest products sector and the opportunities that it provides for Indigenous communities.

“I feel very grateful to be one of the few talented youth who were chosen for this award. FPAC (Forest Products Association of Canada) has provided many opportunities for other Indigenous youth in the past, and I am so grateful that my work has gotten recognized,” said Hunter, who is of the M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. “From this award, I have made more connections with other talented people in the industry. I am so thankful for this opportunity, in such unprecedented times!”

Hunter decided to pursue a career in forestry because she wanted to work outdoors while making a positive difference with forests. She also wanted to learn how forests are managed for wildlife and how Indigenous values could be impacted.

To explore the industry and gain knowledge and hands-on experience, Hunter decided to attend Fleming’s Forestry Technician program. “I knew someone who went to Fleming a few years before I attended and said that the hands-on skills you are taught are what make Fleming such a great place to learn,” Hunter explains.

The graduate describes her Fleming College experience as amazing thanks to incredible faculty, new friendships, and hands-on experience to prepare for her career.

“The professors are passionate about what they are teaching, which makes learning exciting. I was excited to go to class every day!” said Hunter. “I loved the fact that I was learning hands-on skills I will be using for the rest of my life, such as forest navigation, and I got to be outside while doing so. Where else and what other programs do you get to say you had your exam or test outside in the middle of the forest?”

Now that Hunter has completed her Fleming College studies, she plans to earn her Bachelor of Science in Forestry, specializing in Forest Management, at Lakehead University. Her ultimate career goal is to be a Registered Professional Forester/Indigenous Forest Liaison.

“Becoming an Indigenous Liaison in the forest industry is very important to me. As Indigenous peoples, we were once the guardians of these forests and it’s important that we continue to do so and continue to teach,” explains Hunter. “I have always had the interest and passion to teach others, and one day I hope to teach those about Indigenous Values within forestry and other environmental aspects.”

Rachel Thompson pursues Human Resources to make positive change

When Rachel Thompson was in high school, she worked part-time as a grocery store cashier and brainstormed creative ways she could improve business operations and increase employee engagement. Rachel dreamed of having a career where she could make a positive difference at a company and decided to pursue a path in human resources.

“I’ve always wanted to be an employee who makes a difference, who makes changes that make it better, and human resources aligns with those beliefs,” said Rachel. “I love the whole aspect of being involved in a company, making it grow financially and bettering it for employees.”

She enrolled in Fleming College’s Business – Human Resources program after graduating from high school and started her studies in the January intake.

“I liked that the courses in this program are very people-based and focused on personal relationships. As someone who wants to be involved in a company, that really appealed to me,” said Rachel of the two-year Fleming program.

Rachel developed her leadership and communication skills through applied learning activities, assignments and group work at Fleming College. She also gained the practical training she needed to hit the ground running in all aspects of human resources.

“I’m very happy with my Fleming experience. All of the professors are dedicated to providing the best learning experience possible and incorporate their real world, workplace experiences into classroom learning,” explains Rachel. “I felt comfortable at graduation because I knew that I had received an extraordinary amount of experience and valuable knowledge from a team of professors who want to help and see you exceed.”

Shortly after graduating from Fleming College this year, Rachel was hired at Scarboro Garage Doors as an Office Administrator. She is responsible for recruitment, scheduling, invoicing, inventory and placing orders, and implementing Health and Safety, among other duties.

“Coming out of college, it was easy to adapt to a workplace environment because the program ensured we had the practical experience that would allow us to excel. I definitely felt prepared,” said Rachel.

Rachel enjoys working at Scarboro Garage Doors and is excited for her future. “I’m starting out in this field and I want to grow, and my employer is helping me do that. I love the experience I am getting here,” said Rachel.

Her advice to current and prospective students is to put your energy and effort into your Fleming program to succeed in your field after graduating. “And listen to your profs because they want to see you grow,” she said. “At Fleming, you’re not just a number. Your professors want to help you succeed.”