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  

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.”

Ecosystem Management graduate stands up against plastic pollution

Rochelle Byrne, Fleming Ecosystem Management Technology graduate (Class of 2012), is proud to stand up for what she believes in. To raise awareness of plastic pollution, Rochelle stand-up paddleboarded 430km across Lake Ontario.

“I wanted to do this stand-up paddle to raise awareness of plastic pollution because, after doing hundreds of litter clean-ups along the shores of Lake Ontario, I found that plastic was the most common thing being found,” said Rochelle. “Some of it is coming from unexpected sources and a lot of it is completely preventable.”

Rochelle is the founder of A Greener Future, a non-profit organization that promotes environmental preservation through organized litter cleanups, educational programs and events. This includes the Love Your Lake series, comprising 100 organized litter cleanups along Lake Ontario. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, A Greener Future was not able to host this event series in 2020.

Still committed to raising awareness about pollution in Lake Ontario, Rochelle decided to use her stand-up paddleboard and document her journey on social media to help educate others.

“I saw raw sewage in the lake, there were some smelly areas and dead fish,” said Rochelle, who spent 92 hours stand-up paddleboarding. “I’ll be sharing the full paddling journey through my personal Instagram (@rochellebyrneagf) over the coming months.”

While Rochelle always cared about nature and animals, it wasn’t until her experience at Fleming’s School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences that she developed a passion for the environment.

“I took Fleming’s Ecosystem Management program and that’s where I became aware of the impact I have on the environment. Before attending classes at Frost (Fleming’s Lindsay campus), I really didn’t know the impact I had,” Rochelle explains. “That was really a starting point for me on protecting the environment. It also gave me the opportunity to network and meet like-minded people.”

Rochelle is a proud Fleming College graduate and welcomes any like-minded people to volunteer at A Greener Future. To apply to volunteer, please visit A Greener Future’s website.

Frequently Asked Questions at Fleming College

Do you have questions about your timetable, myCampus, OSAP and more? Graiden VanderVeen, Administrative Assistant to the Registrar, is here to help! Below, Graiden answers frequently asked questions sent to Fleming College’s Registrar’s Office.

How do I register for classes and get my timetable?

Timetables will be available starting the week of August 24, 2020 (timetables for some programs will be available later in the week, so please be patient as we release them). To view your timetable, you will need to access myCampus. After you login to myCampus, you will use the “My Student Centre” link from the menu on the left side of your screen.

Is Fleming College’s myCampus web portal important?

It’s a really good idea to get logged into myCampus as soon as possible and explore all of the tools available to you inside this portal. The myCampus portal links to other important services such as “My Mail” for your student email, “My Courses (D2L)” for access to course resources, and “My Files(H:)” for accessing your files stored on the Fleming network. All of your most important student information is stored within “My Student Centre”; this is where you will go to find your full timetable, financial information (such as balance due), final grades, contact information, etc.

What if I can’t see my timetable?

Timetables will be available for full-time students who have paid fees or have been approved through other financial arrangements, such as OSAP. New students with outstanding admissions requirements and returning students with academic holds will not see their timetables. Timetables will be available starting the week of August 24, but it may take a few days for your timetable to be loaded to your Student Centre. If you have met all the requirements, including paying your full fees or making financial arrangements, and your timetable isn’t available by August 28, please reach out to us:

New students: please email admissions@flemingcollege.ca

Returning students: please email records@flemingcollege.ca

How do I know my OSAP was approved?

To see whether your OSAP was approved, please log in to your OSAP portal and login or register. Fleming’s Financial Aid office can also assist you by providing you with other financial options.

What if I want to defer my start to January 2021, May 2021, or September 2021?

To defer your admission to a later start, please take the following steps:

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.

Get a jump start on September with Fleming College Welcome Days

New and prospective Fleming College students can get a jump start on September with Fleming College Welcome Days! This virtual event is July 13, 2020 for Sutherland Campus students and July 17, 2020 for Frost Campus students, from 8:30 a.m. to noon online.

At Welcome Days, students and prospective students can learn about their online learning space, carry out practical and administrative tasks, hear from student leaders, make social connections, speak directly with Financial Aid staff, and more.

This virtual event features interactive hosted sessions for students and parents, opportunities to connect with Fleming College staff and student leaders, and an ‘Ask Me Anything’ room to help navigate this online experience.

Below are the virtual sessions and specialization rooms offered at Welcome Days:

Virtual Sessions:

  • Ask Me Anything Virtual Reception: Available to help guide students around this virtual event and answer Welcome Days questions.
  • Welcome Session: Discover what Welcome Days has to offer.
  • Parent Session: This session for parents and guardians covers the resources available to support a successful transition to Fleming College.
  • Student Panel: Meet student leaders and staff at Fleming College, learn about student life, and how to get involved and stay connected.
  • Online Learning: This session covers tips, tricks and tools to help students succeed in the online learning space.
  • Indigenous Student Support and Opportunities: Learn about services, supports, resources and opportunities available to Indigenous students at Fleming College.
  • Canadian Culture: This session is an introduction to culture and Canadian norms for students who are new to Canada.

Specialization Rooms:

Drop into these sessions to chat and get questions answered.

  • International Student Services
  • Health and Well Being
  • Inclusion and Your Rights
  • Learning Success
  • Social Connections
  • Academics
  • Prepare and Get Ready

For more information, including details on the virtual sessions and specialization rooms, please visit the Fleming College Welcome Days website. We hope you can join us online!

Learning Online at Fleming College launched to support student success

Fleming College Student Experience is excited to launch Learning Online at Fleming College, an online module to help students connect with academic supports, discover useful resources, and develop skills and strategies to become a successful online learner.

Fleming College students have access to a wide range of digital tools and technology, and Learning Online at Fleming College aims to help students navigate these platforms and understand the academic skills and strategies that go along with learning online.

“I hope that students, as well as faculty, benefit from this site and that it helps them thrive in online and blended learning environments,” said David Luinstra, Manager, Library and Tutoring & Academic Skills.

“This site provides students with a comprehensive guide to both the technical skills required to use platforms like our learning management system and videoconferencing solutions; but also advice that isn’t always associated with online learning, like how to effectively set up your study space, deliver a virtual presentation, and maintain your physical and mental health while working primarily in an online environment,” said David.

Learning Online at Fleming College features modules on Skills & StrategiesTechnologyAcademic Support, and Resources to help students succeed in the online learning environment.

The Skills & Strategies module provides helpful tips and effective learning strategies, the Technology module covers a variety of online platforms and digital tools that support learning online; and the Academic Support module includes key resources, how to access academic supports, and important information about the skills needed to succeed in coursework. For convenience, all links and resources from each module are available in the Resources module.

Explore all modules by visiting Learning Online at Fleming College and take advantage of this helpful resource.