In June, she is graduating from Fleming
College. In September, she is writing the national exam to become registered to
practice as a Registered Practical
Nurse in Ontario. And in October, she is getting married.
But the Practical Nursing graduate enjoys being busy. While studying at Fleming College, Alicia also worked as a Personal Support Worker at Fairhaven LTC and volunteered on Sundays at Pathway Church.
“I love people and I wanted a career that was
challenging and rewarding, while at the same time allowing me to make a
difference every day,” said the Class of 2019 graduate. “I have always wanted
to be a nurse.”
currently busy completing her 10-week nursing consolidation experience,
applying the knowledge and skills she gained from the Practical Nursing program
in a real healthcare setting.
“Even though I
feel like I have so much to learn, the content learned in the Practical Nursing
program has already proved useful in the real world,” said Alicia about her
five semester Practical Nursing diploma program, students learn concepts and
skills related to health and nursing, as well as nursing practices and
interventions in specific health situations, and more.
Physiology taught by Kim Patterson and Anatomy taught by Kathryn Jarvis most.
She explains, “They were always fun and interactive with great everyday life
examples that facilitated our learning.”
her time at Fleming as great, adding, “I loved the outdoor spaces of the Sutherland Campus and made
friendships that will last a lifetime. I also had some amazing teachers that
inspired me and taught me things you can’t find in a textbook.”
Now that Alicia
is finished classes at Fleming, she is busy preparing her Valedictorian speech
for the School of Health and Wellness and School of General Arts and Science
believe it!” said Alicia on being selected to serve as Valedictorian. “It took
a few days for the news to sink in and then I felt very humbled and honoured.”
In her speech
on Tuesday, June 11 (2 p.m.), Alicia plans to remind graduates to never give
up, don’t be afraid of failure, and to always fight for your dreams.
convocation, Alicia plans to work for three to five years and then return to
school to continue her education and further develop her skills.
“The healthcare field is
constantly evolving, and I believe that continuous learning is essential in
order to deliver the best care to patients and families,” said Alicia.
Dharav Pandya’s ideal day on campus is
arriving for his 8 a.m. lecture, treating himself to a delicious lunch made by
Fleming Culinary students, and spending quality time with friends around the
fireplace in the cafeteria.
Outside of Fleming’s Sutherland Campus,
the international student enjoys paddle-boarding in Little Lake, cycling
through the Trans-Canada Trail, and strolling through Millennium Park, among
other outdoor activities.
“Peterborough is a beautiful city in
all seasons,” said Dharav. “I had so much fun staying in Peterborough.”
Dharav moved to Canada for Fleming’s Health Information Management (HIM) program, after earning his degree in Biomedical Engineering and working as an associate in medical records review and abstraction. He wanted to study health records and chose Fleming’s HIM program because it covers a wide range of subjects, features work placements, prepares students for the National Certification Examination, and is recognized by the Canadian Health Information Management Association.
“My experience at Fleming College was
incredible. The quality of my program is excellent,” said Dharav. “Most of our
faculty are working professionals who provide us with real world scenarios and
a tried-and-tested current way of working, which has given me a good reference
for when I will start working in this profession.”
Dharav enjoyed studying at the Sutherland
Campus, describing it as easy to navigate with facilities that make the student
learning experience very comfortable, including: water refill stations, silent
study areas and group study rooms, a learning centre equipped with computers, a
Library and Bookstore, comfortable seating throughout the campus with charging
outlets, and more. There are also lots of fun activities and events organized
by the Student Administrative Council, which Dharav enjoyed participating in.
But his favourite experience at Fleming
was during his third-semester, when he found himself feeling homesick, stressed
“It was a little too much for me to
handle. I was stressed,” Dharav shared. “I am so grateful that I had services
available to me right here on the campus. I consulted the Health Services and
attended the Campus Health Workshop Series conducted by Counselling Services.
At the end, my performance in that semester turned out to be the best one
amongst all four semesters. This was remarkable!”
He added, “To have the College support
me through different services, and using that support to be able to fight back
and win is a great feeling. This experience is very motivating for me and
probably the best memory I have!”
Dharav is now graduating as
Valedictorian for the School of Health and Wellness. He said he feels honoured
to be chosen and is proud to be the first person in his family to serve as
In his Valedictorian speech, Dharav will
stress the importance of education and how knowledge empowers us to do good
things in the world and make a positive impact.
“I want to remind us that, through
education, we get an opportunity to serve as well, and we shouldn’t miss out on
that! Even at our jobs where we get paid, if we work with the intentions of
serving the community, or merely helping people around us, that will make our
next phase of life rewarding and sweet,” said Dharav.
After graduation, Dharav plans to take
the National Certification Examination of the Canadian College of Health
Information Management. He would like to work in a healthcare setting and
eventually work in clinical documentation, data quality and data analysis.
In their home country of Vietnam, May Nguyen and Ryan
Ly said they are “supposed” to get married and settle down at their age, but
the couple didn’t conform to societal expectations.
Instead of following the traditional path, May and Ryan flew to Canada to take the Pharmacy Technician program at Fleming College together.
“Ryan had to convince his family members to let
him study abroad and I was lucky to have my family fully support me with my
future plans,” said May, whose father is a licensed pharmacist and successful pharmacy
owner in Vietnam. “I have matured into the field of pharmacy throughout my life
and find it one of the most rewarding careers available to driven individuals.”
Ryan, who is excited to have a career helping
“Being a Pharmacy Technician and giving a helping
hand to people who need it the most is a very respectful and honourable
mission,” said Ryan. “I know that although it requires a lot of responsibilities,
it pays off with people’s gratitude.”
The couple experience “cold weather, warm people” in Canada
The couple were excited to move to Canada for
their studies, despite never having visited the country before. One activity
they particularly enjoy in Canada is walking the beautiful trails at Sutherland
Campus in Peterborough, where they look for foxes, birds, snakes and bunnies.
“[Canada is] huge landscapes, beautiful nature,
nice people, hockey, maple syrup, meatballs, and… it’s really cold! Brrr!” said
May. “But we have experienced ‘cold weather, warm people’ here, as all of the
people we have met are friendly and kind.”
They describe their classmates as friendly and
helpful, and their faculty as professional, knowledgeable and caring.
Fleming’s applied learning prepares May and Ryan for the real
The applied learning offered in the Pharmacy
Technician program at Fleming College, including a pharmacy lab environment as
their classroom, is a huge asset to the couple. They explain that students have
the opportunity to practise everything from filling and checking prescriptions
to non-sterile and sterile compounding, with faculty support through each step.
“This program has really prepared students with
the knowledge that they learned in class and lab to go out into the real world.
We are already very confident in our skills and techniques that we learned,”
May and Ryan applied their knowledge and skills in
the real world during their field placement, which they completed at Timmins
and District Hospital (TADH). At TADH, they:
packed unit dose and distributed floor stock
checked IV medications and reordered when necessary
audited narcotic and controlled drugs
assisted nurses with tracking medications
maintained complete, accurate and secure patient records
managed medication incidents or discrepancies
helped in the dispensary
contributed to pharmacy inventory management process.
non-sterile compounding, collaborated with Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist in product label verification, participated in independent double-check process and more.
“As an intern, I enjoyed the real-life application
of what I was learning in school,” said Ryan. “The best part was talking to
patients and preparing their medications. Also, working 40 hours a week allowed
me to become close to the team at TADH. They all treated me with respect and
helped me grow in my knowledge of the hospital pharmacy setting. I finally felt
like I was a healthcare professional and someone on the way to becoming an
expert in my field of practice.”
May said this experience gave her the opportunity
to network and develop her teamwork skills.
“Everyone jumps in, they just do what’s necessary
to achieve excellent patient care,” said May. “Also, this placement provided networking
opportunities. We have always been taught that pharmacy is a small world, and I
may be working with these people again in the future.”
Field placement leads May and Ryan to employment at Timmins and
May and Ryan were both offered positions at TADH
after their field placement, on the condition that they pursue licensing after
graduation. They are currently In-Patient Pharmacy Assistants and will later
become Registered Pharmacy Technicians.
“No other profession will provide the opportunity
to make a difference in someone’s life the way a job in healthcare can,” said
May on what she loves about this career. “Your work will impact individuals,
families, and sometimes communities because you will be assisting healthcare
practitioners with treating diseases and ailments, and play an important part
in the patient’s well-being.”
The couple are graduating from Fleming College
this June and are excited to grow their careers. May’s advice to current
students is to never stop learning, even after you graduate.
“The world of pharmacy is changing and is driven
mainly by the interests of the patients as they become more aware of their
health, especially with easier access to healthcare,” said May. “Be aware of
current events and how they might impact the healthcare field. Keep adapting
and preparing for whatever changes lie ahead.”
Sarah Mandarano never considered college. As an
academically strong student in high school with an interest in medicine, Sarah
only ever considered university.
“My parents told me ‘you’re going to university.’ That
was my path,” she explained. “I honestly never even looked at colleges because
it was always university. There was no point in looking.”
Sarah left her hometown of Peterborough, Ont., after high
school to study Bio-Medical Science at the University of Guelph. Sarah chose this
major because she wanted a career in the biomedical field and Biology was her
strongest high school subject.
Feeling homesick, Sarah decided to move back to Peterborough
after first year and transferred into Trent University’s Biology program. She
loved her experience at Trent, including the smaller class sizes and faculty.
“In high school I thought I’d be a doctor and then in
university I considered being a physiotherapist, but around my third year of
university I looked into the HIM program at Fleming and realized I would really
love that,” said Sarah.
HIM, or Health Information Management, is a two-year diploma program where students learn to use technology to capture and analyze data, and create health information for healthcare delivery use, and financial and management planning.
Sarah was introduced to the program by her boyfriend’s
stepsister and cousin, who both work at Peterborough Regional Health Centre
(PRHC) and are Fleming HIM graduates.
“I didn’t want to be hands-on, I didn’t want direct
patient contact, but I wanted to use my expertise,” Sarah explained. “In this,
you get to use a computer all day – and I’m from the generation who grew up on
computers, so I’m good with that – and you get to use medical information.”
She finished her Honours degree at Trent University and
then enrolled at Fleming College, using some of her university credits towards
“I think my university experience helps,” said Sarah. “I
was always studying at Trent and I had a high course-load, so I know how to
prioritize time, and I think it helps having a degree long-term for my career. But
I wasn’t getting a job I loved through my degree; and there’s lots of
university graduates, but not a lot of jobs. I wanted my resume to stand out
and I want a job I love. My program size at Fleming is small, it’s a
specialized skill, and I know I will get employed from it.”
Sarah said she loves the HIM program at Fleming,
especially the faculty.
“It is so interesting and the teachers explain things
really well. We have our own lab with the two big screens and it feels really
comfortable, and it feels like they’re preparing you for what your workday will
be like,” said Sarah.
“I want to work at PRHC and it’s nice that our teachers
also work there! One works in the Health Records Department, so we have
connections and it’s nice to know we’re meeting people who can help us in our
career,” she said.
Sarah is in her fourth semester at Fleming and has been recommending
the program to her university friends.
“They don’t know what to do, so I tell them about this
program and how it complements my university degree really well,” she said.
Donna Walmsley started her day on February 4, 2019 just like any other Monday, volunteering at Community Care Ennismore and running errands around town. She didn’t feel any different that morning than any other morning, but February 4th is the day Donna had a stroke.
“I was fine,” said Donna. “I went to Giant Tiger and started driving to No Frills, and then I felt like I couldn’t see.”
Donna missed her first turn into the plaza and then remembered there is a second entrance, which she managed to pull into and park. Realizing no one would notice her inside the vehicle, Donna willed herself to move.
“I opened my car door and I didn’t know if I could walk, I didn’t know if I could make it across the parking lot, but I needed to get to a public space,” said Donna, who describes the feeling as extreme dizziness. Donna made it inside the No Frills and held onto the vegetable shelves to prevent herself from falling.
Luckily for Donna, Fleming College Paramedic student Davis Sheridan was grocery shopping that day.
“I told the employees to call the Paramedics because they weren’t sure what to do. I comforted her until the ambulance came and I did a stroke assessment on her, checked her pulse, and calmed her breathing,” explained Davis, who is in his final semester at Fleming. “She felt dizzy and she couldn’t stand up, she was worried about her dog being at home and no one being there, and she also mentioned her daughter Shannon.”
When Paramedics arrived, Davis reported all of this to them.
“We are going through ride-outs right now in the Paramedic program,” said Davis, referring to the fourth-semester Paramedic Consolidation course, where students work regular shifts in an ambulance with a paramedic crew. “I am doing mine with Northumberland Paramedics right now, which is working with real patients, so this situation felt natural to me and I was comfortable. I felt very prepared through school and experience.”
Donna and her daughter Shannon are very grateful to Davis. On Monday, March 4, they visited the Paramedic Lab at Fleming’s Sutherland Campus to thank Davis in person.
“You’re going into this career and I think it’s nice to go into it having a happy story to hang on to,” said Shannon, who teased her mom when she met Davis.
“My mom loves red hair,” said Shannon.
Donna added, “Shannon said to me, ‘leave it to you to find a redhead!”
Keary Dean believes you get out of life what you put into it, which is why the Fleming College graduate chose a program that speaks to his values and could help him begin a career and education journey that’s meaningful to him.
“It seemed like a great place to start when you were, like me, unsure of what exactly to do career-wise. Because the job opportunities are so varied, it gave me room to be flexible and figure things out along the way,” said Keary of Fleming’s Recreation and Leisure Services program. “This program valued the elements of good-natured fun, leadership development and healthy living—this stuff really appealed to me. Lastly, I was sold on the potential of having an adventurous placement experience.”
In the Recreation and Leisure Services program, students learn:
how to manage and develop recreation programs
marketing and human resources
event management and facilities operations
leisure and lifestyle enhancement, and more.
In this program, students also develop leadership skills and gain new skills through field trips such as rock climbing, high/low rope, canoeing, kayaking, theatre, golf, swimming, caving and hiking. At the end of the program, students apply their skills in a four-month placement.
“My experience at Fleming is best described as a period of exponential personal growth, facilitated by my teachers, the courses and especially my fellow classmates,” said Keary, who graduated in 2018. “There were so many opportunities presented while at Fleming and I really made it my goal to try as many new things as I could—the old adage you get out of life what you put into it comes to mind.”
One of those opportunities was the program placement, and Keary knew just the place he wanted to spend four months…
“Because I had visited B.C. the summer prior to my final semester – and the trip made such a positive impact on me – I knew I had to go back,” he said. “If you want to have meaningful experiences, you first need to be in touch with what is meaningful to you.”
Keary said he worked hard preparing for the move and planned out all the little details before heading to B.C.
“If you have family or friends that live outside of your hometown, or you have travelled in the past, use those connections. Use your networking skills to your advantage and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone,” said Keary on what advice he would offer current students. “Investing in travel is worthwhile and enriches your life in many ways!”
Keary spent his placement at Whistler Olympic Park and was later hired as Guest Service Representative, where he fit guests with cross-country and snowshoeing gear, provided equipment orientation and trail recommendations, and covered the entry booth to the Park.
“The coolest experience on the job was learning how to cross-country ski and then actually racing in a 15km event called the ‘Payak Loppet.’ I grew up snowboarding, but never skiing, and I found it thrilling learning a new sport,” he said. “Generally speaking, being way out in the wilderness, surrounded by mountains, is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It is a different lifestyle out here, people really love where they live. There is a level of enthusiasm that is undeniable.”
Keary credits Fleming College with developing his time management skills, accountability and professionalism, which are all skills he used on the job.
“Having deadlines for course work, having a weekly structure, being accountable to your classmates… these are practical skills to hone and are crucial for success in the working world,” he said.
After the summer work season ended, Keary headed to Vancouver to study nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. He plans to utilize his Fleming education and nutrition knowledge in a career as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a specialization in sports nutrition.
His advice to all students is to make self-care the number one priority. “Eat well, exercise and find creative outlets,” he said. “Take time to feel good about your daily accomplishments.”
Snow, ice and chilly weather may deter you from taking a dip in the Trent River this winter, but for a group of Paramedic students, it is an invitation to challenge themselves.
Demi Asselin, Brady Wills, Christian Bell and Kaitlin Glab are braving the cold this Saturday at Campbellford Lions Club Park for a good cause. They will be testing the waters at the 27th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Campbellford Memorial Hospital organized by the Auxiliary to the Campbellford Memorial Hospital. Money raised will go towards purchasing equipment.
“I’m scared but excited!” said Demi. “I’ve jumped out of a hot tub and into the snow before, but never a lake.”
Kaitlin, who organized the team, encouraged her friend and said it will be fun.
“I used to go to school in B.C. and I did it in October with some friends,” explained Kaitlin. “We heard about a person named Wim Hoff, who calls himself The Iceman, and submerges himself in water—so we tested it out because it’s supposed to boost the immune system. We lasted 15 minutes.”
Brady said that while he has never taken a dip during the winter, he does have wonderful memories of jumping in the lake first thing in the morning at summer camp. Brady said that the water is very cold in the early morning, even in the summer, so he’s hoping that experience will give him a competitive edge.
An article featuring past Paramedic students inspired the students to do the Polar Bear Plunge.
“There’s an article on the bulletin board (in our classroom) of Paramedic students doing it, so we want to carry on the tradition,” said Brady. “And we want to do it. It’s for a good cause.”
Christian agrees. As a former pediatric cancer patient at Kingston General Hospital, the cause is an important motivator for him. Christian is an active fundraiser, mainly for pediatrics, and recently fundraised for Make-A-Wish. Christian knows the positive impact fundraising has on hospitals and is happy to challenge himself to help Campbellford Memorial Hospital.
For those who would like to support the group at the Polar Bear Plunge, please email Kaitlin at email@example.com.
Ashley Brzozowicz Dykstra’s career criteria is that it is flexible, self-driven, and helps others. She decided that massage therapy met her requirements and, considering Fleming College is close to home and offers this program in a compressed two-year format, Ashley enrolled in Massage Therapy at Sutherland Campus.
Fleming’s five-semester, challenging and rewarding Massage Therapy program provides students with an excellent academic foundation and strong applied skills. Every week, students put their skills into practice at The Spa + Clinic at Fleming College, the onsite clinic supervised by a Registered Massage Therapist. The program has earned a great reputation, with a consistently high (over 90%) overall graduate employment rate.
“Working in the student clinic was by far my favourite experience of the program. It was awesome to get hands-on time working with real clients,” said Ashley. “Seeing how the practical application of everything we learned in class can make a difference to a client was very rewarding and put things into perspective for me.”
Ashley describes this Fleming College program as challenging and engaging. She also said the instructors and support staff are dedicated to ensuring students can succeed while having a good experience in the process.
“I already had experience with studying, but Fleming helped me develop my practical, hands-on skills,” she said. “There is a big difference between understanding something in a textbook or lecture and being able to apply that knowledge in a practical setting.”
After winning the top school award, School of Health & Wellness Academic Achievement Award, Ashley will be Valedictorian at the School of Health & Wellness convocation on Thursday, June 7 at 10 a.m.
“I hope people appreciate the importance of teamwork and can continue to work together after graduation,” said Ashley, on what she hopes people take away from her convocation speech.
Teamwork was a big part of Ashley’s Fleming College experience and made it a positive one for the Massage Therapy graduate.
“In my program, the students spend a lot of time together and became a dynamic team by the time we made it to the end of the program,” she said. “The instructors are also very engaged and ensure you feel like you are an important part of the program.”
After convocation, Ashley will be writing two provincial exams and completing her registration with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. She plans on working at the 360 Wellness Clinic in downtown Peterborough.
“It is pretty amazing to be a part of a healthcare profession where people enjoy and really look forward to their appointments,” said Ashley.
Valedictorian Sarah Bongelli came to Fleming College looking for a sense of direction.
After graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sarah wanted to gain hands-on, real world experience through a program placement to strengthen her resume and begin a career where she could apply her love of science every day. She discovered the Biotechnology – Advanced program at Fleming College and decided it was the perfect fit.
“I am glad I went back to college, as it was challenging and provided me with more real world experience that I needed,” Sarah explained, citing mock real world exercises such as crime scene processing, court interviews, and presentations.
The Class of 2018 graduate credits the Fleming College program for helping her develop a wide range of skills that she uses every day.
“I found myself really drawing comparisons between college and university, and found that college was – in some ways – much harder than university. The hands-on experience was very valuable and that’s something that you don’t get in university,” she said.
Sarah describes her Fleming faculty as “extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful,” adding that the Sutherland Campus always has a good vibe.
“I would recommend the program, but only if you like science!” she said. “There are a lot of different avenues that you can explore after graduating and the placement is an amazing way to get your foot in the door somewhere.”
Sarah will serve as Valedictorian for the School of Health and Wellness on Thursday, June 7 at 2 p.m., as she earned the School of Health and Wellness Academic Achievement Award. This award is presented to a graduate for academic achievement and significant contribution to the Fleming College community.
“I hope that my speech inspires people to do what they love and to not be afraid of change or boundaries,” said Sarah. “Life can be tough but if you use the tools that you are given, and that you possess yourself, really anything is possible.”
Olivia Anderson was 13 years old when she decided she wanted to be a nurse. After being diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, Olivia underwent an 11 hour surgery to have her spine fused with titanium rods. She was bedridden in the hospital for days, unable to shower due to the incision, so when a thoughtful nurse took the time to wash Olivia’s hair, it made Olivia feel especially grateful.
“It made me feel 100 times better to have clean hair. It was such a simple thing, but it made a profound difference in how I felt during my initial recovery. I wanted to make people feel like that too,” she said.
“I loved my time at Fleming and I felt I really made the most of it. I was quite engaged as a student, which is a testament to the environment on campus,” said Olivia. “The community there is something special to be a part of, and it made me want to get involved and give back.”
Olivia was elected three times to Fleming Student Administrative Council, which she credits for boosting her confidence, developing her leadership abilities, and strengthening her ability to advocate for the people around her. “As a nurse, you are an advocate for your patients because you are the one who is providing the hands-on care and really get to see the whole picture,” said Olivia, explaining why this skill is applicable to her career path.
While awaiting the results of her Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination, Olivia applied to work on contract as a Fleming College Grad Recruiter for fall 2017. “I wanted to talk to future students about what a great place Fleming is and what a great nursing program they have,” said Olivia, who was hired by the College to travel across Ontario speaking to a variety of audiences about Fleming programs, services and facilities.
“A skill I really developed during my time as a Grad Recruiter for Fleming was time management. Coordinating my day around appointments, distances between them, knowing how much time I would need to set up/tear down, as well as time to complete any paper work or prepare for future events. This really taught me to see the big picture of the day and not to focus solely on the small stuff,” she said. “As a nurse, there is so much to keep on your radar throughout the day when it comes to coordinating one person’s care, but on a regular day shift you can have four to five patients all requiring a lot of your attention.”
At the end of her Grad Recruiter contract, Olivia was hired by Peterborough Regional Health Centre as a Registered Practical Nurse. She is responsible for the hands-on care of medical and surgical patients, including: medications, wound care, assistance with activities of daily living, administering treatments, performing assessments, providing education and support to patients and families during someone’s hospital stay, raising concerns about a patient to the multi-disciplinary team, and more.
“The best thing about it is that you are always engaged,” said Olivia. “There is never a moment at work where I am bored. I am always on my toes, always thinking about who needs what and when, and constantly reorganizing my day around any changes to the patient’s care plan.”
Her advice to current students is to ask lots of questions, take every opportunity to gain hands-on experience, and learn from those around you and their experience.