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 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.” 

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:

Fleming Protection, Security and Investigation students help protect healthcare workers and patients amidst pandemic

Security, intelligence and investigation professionals work on the frontlines and behind-the-scenes to protect people, businesses, institutions and infrastructure— including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst the pandemic, more than 10 Fleming College Protection, Security and Investigation (PSI) students are putting their knowledge and skills to use at Peterborough Regional Health Centre. They are working for GardaWorld Security Services to help keep healthcare workers and patients safe.

When GardaWorld was tasked to immediately increase support at hospitals due to the pandemic, National Operations Director Justin Sharrard provided the opportunity to Fleming College students first.

“This was a sensitive situation with strict requirements, and we knew the Fleming students would have the qualifications and foundation to carry out the duties professionally and safely,” said Justin. “I have always been impressed by the professionalism and dedication of Fleming students.”

GardaWorld hired Fleming PSI applicants ranging from first-year students to graduates. Graduates took more advanced security roles, while students are working in specialized Customer Service Agent roles at access points throughout the facility. Customer Service Agents help communicate and enforce quarantine policies to further protect medical staff and patients.

PSI program coordinator Christine O’Neill-Hawthorne is proud of the Fleming College students and graduates working amidst the pandemic to help others. “I am very proud of the courage, commitment, determination and work ethic that PSI students demonstrate every day that they go to work in this environment,” said Christine.

PSI student Grace Matser

PSI student Grace Matser said working amidst the pandemic has been truly enriching, both personally and professionally. “This is an incredible experience for me, as a soon-to-be third semester student of the Protection, Security and Investigation program at Fleming College,” said Grace. “This opportunity has allowed me to help the community, as well as gain the personal experience in the healthcare industry side of security.”

PSI student Trusha Sojitra

Fellow student Trusha Sojitra is also working at PRHC. Trusha is grateful for the opportunity and said she is thankful to everyone working on the frontlines. “We are in this together,” said Trusha. “Be kind and stay safe.”

About the Protection, Security and Investigation program: The PSI sector is recognized as one of the fastest growing fields in the world. In Fleming College’s Protection, Security and Investigations diploma program, students develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities to work in a wide variety of roles. This four-semester program focuses on new concepts in technology, intelligence analytics and investigative skills. This diverse range of marketable skills are essential to your success as an industry professional. Learn more about this program here; the next intake is September 2020.

Allison Galbraith wins Fleming Business Student Award at 2020 Businesswomen of the Year Awards

Congratulations to Allison Galbraith, who is the recipient of the Fleming Business Student Award at the 2020 Businesswomen of the Year Awards!

Allison, who recently completed her final semester of Fleming’s Business Administration – Human Resources Management Advanced Diploma program, will receive the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (WBN) award via mail as the WBN Awards Gala was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This award is sponsored by Inclusive Advisory.

“Each year, we continue to be amazed by the talent, dedication and enthusiasm of our post-secondary students,” said Grace Reynolds, WBN President. “Allison is an inspiring student leader who has demonstrated academic achievement in her respective discipline, as well as professional promise. On behalf of myself, the Board of Directors and WBN, we congratulate Allison on receiving this award and wish her much success.”

Allison is proud of this achievement and recognition. “It’s rewarding, and I feel grateful for the network of connections I’ve made at Fleming,” said Allison, who is completing her full semester placement with Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) focusing on Health and Safety.

Allison has a passion for the area of Health and Safety in Human Resources and aims to work in that field after graduating from Fleming College this year. During her placement at PRHC, Allison conducted mask fit testing for all employees, worked with the Health and Safety Department on the development of a new Supervisor Competency Training Program, participated in working groups throughout the hospital, and created risk assessments.

“It was a phenomenal experience to see behind-the-scenes of many PRHC operations,” said Allison on working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “I found it particularly interesting the variety of skills and roles involved in every process. It was a hands-on, real-world experience that allowed me to try a little bit of everything while taking on significant responsibility in Health and Safety.”

Allison was nominated for the Fleming Student Business Award by program coordinator Joanne Tully for her leadership skills, engagement in class, volunteer experience, dedication and more. In addition to serving as Student Governor on Fleming’s Board of Governors, Allison maintains a 3.8 GPA, is a Peer Mentor, volunteers at Fleming’s Open House and Orientation events, is a student member of the Human Resources Professionals Association (Peterborough Chapter), volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and has taught math, English and physical education in Tanzania, Africa.

Outside of school, work and volunteer activities, Allison is a wife and mother. The Fleming student said returning to school as a mature student with a young son was intimidating at first, but the resources and supports at Fleming College helped with the transition.

“I quickly learned being a mature student is respected in the Fleming community,” she shared. “Advice I’d give to other parents is to take the leap, you will surprise yourself with how quickly you can fit Fleming into your life.”

In addition to winning the Fleming Business Student Award at the 2020 Businesswomen of the Year Awards, Allison has been recognized for her academic achievements several times during her Fleming studies. She earned the Outstanding Student Award, received a Dean’s Letter for all semesters, and was awarded the Human Resources Professional Association Award.

She is currently working towards her Canadian Registered Safety Professional Designation through the University of Fredericton and Certified Human Resources Professional Designation (CHRP), governed by the Human Resources Professionals Association. Allison is committed to lifelong learning and holds a diploma in Police Foundations and certificates in CPR/First Aid and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention and Code White – emergency response to a violent person.

Congratulations, Allison!

Practical Nursing student Erin Bourne committed to long-term care amidst COVID-19

Practical Nursing student Erin Bourne is committed to caring for residents in long-term care.

“I’ll never leave long-term care. I love that age population,” said Erin, who works as a healthcare aid at Hope Street Terrace in Port Hope, Ont. “The history the residents come with, the strength they have, it’s incredible. People may look at the elderly as frail, but the strength and what they’ve gone through is incredible. I never leave work without learning something new.”

As a healthcare aid, Erin is responsible for resident care, getting them ready, bathing, toileting, nursing restorative care, feeding and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Erin said her work routine has become more challenging.

“Staff aren’t able to work at different locations right now, so we have less help. We have to wear masks during all shifts, so residents can’t see you, and it’s hard for residents with hearing impairments to hear you through the mask,” she explains. “I’ve always worn PPE when I’ve needed to, but I didn’t realize how much damage it can do to your skin when worn for long periods of time. It hurts.”

Despite the challenges, Erin is happy to continue caring for long-term care residents. She has been working at Hope Street Terrace for years, previously working in a management position in the Scheduling Department doing scheduling and payroll for nurses. Erin also worked casually as a Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapy Assistant, as she is a graduate of Fleming’s Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant program (Class of 2005).

“I always wanted to work in healthcare and in high school I did my co-op placement at a hospital in the Rehabilitation Unit. I wasn’t ready for nursing, so I took the Physio program at Fleming instead because I wanted to help people live independently and give joy,” said Erin. “But when you work in physio in long-term care, you encounter the things that scared you about nursing anyway.”

After undergoing IVF treatments to have her daughter, Erin decided to enroll in Fleming’s Practical Nursing program to become a nurse. She explains, “After having my daughter, it really sparked an interest in nursing to help people. Although I didn’t want to work in maternity, I did want to help others as a nurse.”

Erin said she felt nervous to return to school 14 years after graduating from her first diploma program, but those fears went away as soon as she entered the classroom.

“I was really nervous going back as a mature student because I didn’t think I would relate to my classmates, but in the Practical Nursing program there is a big age range; from students fresh out of high school to second career students like myself,” said Erin. “And Fleming feels smaller than it is, and everyone is super friendly.”

Erin recently completed her fourth semester of the program and shared that she is more involved her second time studying at Fleming College. She is developing lifelong friendships with her peers, volunteers at Fleming Open House events, and has worked as a Lab Assistant on campus.

“I would recommend this program to others and I already have. Two people I spoke to are starting the program this month!” said Erin, who especially endorses the School of Health & Wellness Simulation Lab that helps develop skills through immersive simulations. The Simulation Lab provides access to a high-fidelity manikin, “Apollo,” that records video and gives students and faculty the opportunity to review their actions. For Erin, this gave her the opportunity to practice her CPR skills and feel confident if she’s ever in that situation.

Outside of her studies, Erin also keeps busy as a wife and mother, and working part-time at Hope Street Terrace.

“I love being a mom and I love being there to help other people. I thrive when I’m busy,” said Erin.

Her advice to others right now is to stay home and avoid unnecessary trips. “I also recommend having empathy and compassion. Everyone is dealing with this in different ways, so understand that some people will not deal with things like you. Have empathy and compassion for them,” she said.

Breakfast Television Toronto surprises Fleming College student with virtual convocation ceremony

Elliot Smith never imagined he would complete his final semester of the Community Integration Through Cooperative Education (CICE) program at home. He also never imagined Breakfast Television Toronto would broadcast a virtual convocation ceremony for him and his mom.

On April 16, Breakfast Television Toronto featured Elliot on their “BT Bright Spot” segment, where Elliot and his mom Debbie discussed his Fleming College education. Elliot was also treated to a surprise virtual convocation ceremony on the morning show.

“It was amazing! It was a great speech,” said Elliot, who received 500 tweets, 300 emails, and texts and phone calls congratulating him.

Elliot’s mother Debbie is so proud of Elliot’s accomplishments, including his education. “Elliot proved a lot of people wrong,” said Debbie. “There was a teacher who said he wouldn’t graduate from high school.”

Elliot has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Debbie credits the Autism Resource Team at Ajax High School for creating a success plan and providing supports. She is also grateful for the amazing gym teachers at Ajax High School for ensuring Elliot was included and able to take gym class every year, as she said many students on the spectrum are exempt from gym.

“The gym teachers encouraged me and they understand me,” said Elliot, who loves sports and plays on the Durham Region Challenger Baseball League, Archery 2 You, Pickering Football Club All Abilities, and has a black belt in material arts. Elliot also serves as the first Youth Amplifier for the Jays Care Foundation, where he attends weekly meetings to provide insight and suggestions for their Challenger Baseball programming.  

It is this strong passion for athletics that led Elliot to the CICE program at Fleming College, hoping to gain independence, confidence, and pursue his dreams of journalism and radio broadcasting in sports and entertainment.

“I wanted to take the CICE program to learn how to live on my own independently and learn life skills,” said Elliot, who moved to Peterborough from Durham Region to live in Fleming Residence. He shared a Residence suite with another CICE student, as well as students from other programs.

“It was a great experience to live independent and do my own chores. I like to keep everything tidy and clean,” said Elliot, who helped his suite win the Cleanest Suite Award in second semester.

Debbie said this was Elliot’s first experience away from home. “He had never been on his own or away from us. I was going to move to Peterborough so that he could go to college, but [CICE program coordinator] Patty Thompson told me to try this and said she will help,” said Debbie.

“Elliot lived on his own for two years and that exceeds our expectations. This is huge for him and the skills he gained from that – making meals, getting to class by himself on time, keeping to a schedule – is huge. The CICE team helped with that, they made visual schedules, helped him learn to take the bus in Peterborough, taught practical life skills,” she said. “We found at Fleming that inclusivity is a huge priority.”

Elliot said he enjoyed living in Residence, kept active at the Peterborough Sport and Wellness Centre, and made new friends at Fleming. Some of his highlights include meeting boxer Cody Crowley in the Steele Centre, having lunch with race car driver Austin Riley on campus, and going to FanExpo 2019 with friends. He also enjoyed doing his CICE program placement at the Peterborough Petes, where he took scout identification, greeted guests and collected tickets.

Through the CICE program, Elliot learned about how to be a good leader and how to live independently.

“I feel incredibly confident after taking the CICE program,” said Elliot. “It’s made a huge difference and I would recommend it to others because it will teach you to be independent and teach you life skills.”

Now that Elliot has finished his Fleming studies, he plans to continue writing as Sports and Entertainment Correspondent for Outfox Magazine, is co-writing a book with Debbie called Living My Best Life with ASD; When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary, and will start an employment program in September at Kerry’s Place Autism Services.

Watch Elliot on Breakfast Television Toronto:

Vanessa Raaymakers balances Fleming College studies with PSW work amidst COVID-19

Although the start of her workday has changed, Vanessa Raaymakers is continuing to work as a PSW amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s definitely challenged PSWs a lot more,” said Vanessa, who works at Extendicare Lakefield while studying Practical Nursing at Fleming College. “Unfortunately, there is a PSW shortage – even before the pandemic – and now we’re on overdrive to keep ourselves healthy to ensure we keep our residents healthy as well. It’s scary because we can’t physically distance in our jobs.”

To enter the building, Vanessa said she first visits a vestibule to answer a series of questions. She then enters the building and sanitizes her hands, takes her temperature, answers a series of questions in writing and adds her signature.

Vanessa has worked as a PSW for five years, spending the past three years at Extendicare Lakefield. She works day shifts and helps 12 to 13 residents get ready in the morning, which includes dressing, toileting, brushing, feeding, communicating with them and lying them down.

“This isn’t a Monday to Friday job; you talk to people all day, you’re in their personal space and you become like family. They are counting on you,” said Vanessa.

“I love my residents. You go in everyday and you’re there for them, you hear their stories about where they’ve been and about their kids. When you see them happy and you hear about their life, it brings so much happiness to this job,” she explains.

One of Vanessa’s favourite moments working in long-term care was discovering that her house was previously owned by a resident.

“Her daughter had pictures of her room and I showed her what it looks like now, and she just lit up,” said Vanessa. “They told me all that they did to the house and it made her so happy.”

While continuing her PSW career, Vanessa is studying Practical Nursing at Fleming College to gain more critical thinking and hands-on skills. She is currently in her second semester and, despite the disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Vanessa said her experience at Fleming has been good overall.

“Being out of school for a long time and coming back as a mature student, it was difficult,” said Vanessa, who is 25 years old. “But there’s really good support and I was able to ask lots of questions, and there’s lots of help.”

Vanessa said she is already applying skills gained at Fleming College to her PSW role. After learning more thorough and specific terminology in the Anatomy & Physiology course, Vanessa is now able to relay more detailed information to the nurses who create care plans for residents.

The Fleming College student said she has always lived her life according to plan; she has been with her partner for eight years, bought a house at 20 years old, works hard and has a strict schedule. But one thing Vanessa is looking forward to when she graduates is being open to adventure.

“Now that I’m in school, it’s giving me a different perspective and, as I’m getting older, maybe my plan doesn’t need to be so strict,” she said.

Vanessa is currently brainstorming possibilities for the future, including moving north. “My family is from Alderville First Nation and I’d like to see what it’s like in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and work as a nurse on a reserve,” she said.

But she isn’t setting any plans beyond dreaming of possibilities. Vanessa is not worried because she knows that, with her PSW experience and a Fleming Practical Nursing diploma, there are so many opportunities to make a difference.

Ecosystem Management is an international adventure for Celeste Thompson

Celeste Thompson’s Fleming College experience has been an international adventure. From field work in Lindsay, Ont., to conservation initiatives in Costa Rica and a conference in Washington, D.C., Celeste is busy building her resume while making memories to last a lifetime.

“My experience at Fleming so far has been more than I could have dreamed,” said Celeste, who was born and raised in Orangeville, Ont. “The Ecosystem Management professors have made a world of difference in making the three years the best school experience of my life.”

Celeste chose the Ecosystem Management program because she loves being in the natural environment and wanted an environmental career. “The Ecosystem Management programs tie in all ends from wildlife to trees and soil and protocols. It allows for graduates to branch off to many different career paths,” she explains.

After accepting her offer to Fleming College, Celeste attended the Fleming College Open House to explore the Frost Campus before starting classes. She said it helped prepare her for college and recommends the event to future students.

“This gave me a perspective on what I was going to be getting into. I feel attending the Open House motivated me and got me more excited to attend college,” she said. “I recommend these events to students thinking about coming to Fleming.”

Celeste is happy with her program choice and loves the close-knit Frost Campus community, which she describes as supportive and feels like family. Her favourite place at Frost Campus is the back forty, the main location for class field work, which Celeste credits as the perfect space for environmental students. 

“With full confidence I would recommend the Ecosystem Management program to others. This program has made me the person I am today, and I am positive all students will leave with a special place in their hearts for EM,” said Celeste. “I am convinced the work I have done in this program will ensure my success in future endeavours as we cover a wide variety of topics to a professional and high standard.”

One of Celeste’s favourite Fleming experiences is the two-week field placement in Parismina, Costa Rica during her second year. Students who participate in this organized placement experience are selected based on a rigorous screening process. 

“That experience is something that I will always be appreciative of and drives me to follow my goals,” said Celeste, who volunteered to support Leatherback sea turtle conservation initiatives.

The Ecosystem Management adventures continued in 2020, kicking off the new year with a trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Council for Science and the Environment Conference.

This conference is organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment and features presentations on new research, innovation, and shows the power of collaboration. It engages more than 800 leaders from the sciences, education, government, policy, business and civil society to foster dialogue on environmental policy.

This experience was a nice way to start our final semester in this program,” said the third-year Ecosystem Management Technology student. “We gained lots of experience communicating with experts in the environmental field. It allowed us to grow into young professionals who are confident in our work and background.”

In addition to the conference experience, Celeste also enjoyed site-seeing in Washington. She and her peers visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and the Lincoln Memorial.

Celeste plans to graduate from the Ecosystem Management Technology program in June 2020. After graduation, she would love to travel and do contract work in her field. Since Celeste believes in lifelong learning, she may return to Fleming College to continue her education journey and earn other diplomas in relevant fields.

Business Administration graduate continues education journey in Ireland

It was a code red weather warning that made Claire Campbell think of home during her student exchange in Ireland. Specifically, Canadian winters.

“It snowed about 12 centimetres,” said Claire, who was attending LIT in Limerick, Ireland for her student exchange at the time. “It was funny because in Canada we see snow all the time but in Ireland it was almost a crisis.”

Schools were closed for days, people stocked up on food, and shops struggled to keep bread and milk supplied, said Claire. But the Fleming Business Administration student, who had experienced many harsh Canadian winters, was unfazed and enjoyed her time.

“I had visited my friend for the weekend and we all stayed at home eating food and playing in the snow,” she said. “We were using sacks of coal as toboggans and every house you drove by had a snowman in the front yard. It was fun to see the Irish experience snow, but also it gave me a little taste of home.”

Claire decided to travel to Ireland for the student exchange at LIT because she wanted to broaden her cultural experience and challenge herself in a different educational environment.

“It’s important to take every opportunity that comes your way and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t,” explains Claire. “I am extremely thankful for Fleming College and all of the amazing opportunities I’ve had.”

Claire recommends the exchange because it introduces a new world of education, culture, perspectives, people and experiences. She describes it as the biggest and best decision she has ever made.

“The most valuable thing I’ve gained from my experience abroad is my self-perception and independence. It takes a lot to move to a new country completely on your own,” said Claire, a self-described homebody. “I thrive challenge and this whole experience has motivated me to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.” 

Claire moved back home after her six-month student exchange and graduated from Fleming’s Business Administration program in 2019. She was employed as a Project Assistant at BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada, but dreamed of returning to Ireland to continue her education journey.

“It was a very tough decision for me to quit my job, sell my car and move to the other side of the world, but I don’t regret it at all,” said Claire, who is now earning her Level 8 Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Cork Institute of Technology. “I believe it’s extremely important to invest in your personal and professional growth, and the experience itself is priceless.”

Claire describes Ireland as a beautiful country with so much to see and do, and an amazing transportation system to help you explore it. “The people are friendly, the teachers are dedicated, and the culture is one-of-a-kind,” she adds.

Claire plans to graduate from the Cork Institute of Technology this May and believes her educational experience in Canada and Ireland will benefit her career.

“I have learned an abundance of new skills and I enjoy the applied style of learning, which helped push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Claire of her Fleming College experience. “Educational experience in both a Canadian college and an Irish institution has given me a versatile professional background.”