10 years after high school, Jessica Polley took the “huge, scary step” to attend college

jessica-polleyJessica Polley was very nervous to attend college as a mature student. Among concerns like tuition, being older than her peers and whether she chose the right program for her, Jessica was concerned about her ability to learn something new 10 years after graduating high school.

“Choosing to attend college 10 years after graduating high school was a huge, scary step. It is a big risk to take when you have a family at home to worry about,” said Jessica. “At the time it was terrifying, but now looking back it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Jessica chose Fleming College because of the dual diploma option. She decided to take the Paralegal and Law Clerk programs at the same time.

“The amazing faculty made learning something new a lot less scary. They truly want to see you succeed and are happy to help when you have questions,” said Jessica, who finished her courses in 2017. She graduated from the Paralegal program in 2017 and officially graduates from the Law Clerk program this year.

Before graduating from Fleming College, Jessica was hired at MacDonald, Charette & Associates in Cobourg, Ont. They worked around her school schedule so that she was able to finish classes and in September 2017 hired her full-time as Paralegal and Legal Assistant.

“I was able to find and obtain a position in my chosen field of study before I had completed both of my programs and I would not have been able to do that without the education I received,” said  Jessica, who now has her Paralegal License and credits her dual diplomas for having a wider range of employment opportunity.

“The field placement preparation course really helps you know how to handle difficult questions in interviews. During my interview I was asked ‘why would you apply for a position that required three to five years’ experience?’ I learned in class to answer this in a positive way, by saying that I considered my in-class learning some of my experience, my field placement gave me further experience, and that I would like to gain the remainder of my experience at this firm.”

Jessica’s responsibilities at the firm include interacting with clients and opposing legal representation, conducting client intake meetings, drafting pleadings and other materials, draft correspondence, and attending to court filings, among other tasks. She currently works as a legal assistant to the family law and litigation lawyer, and assists the firm’s small claims court clients as a paralegal working under the direction of two lawyers.

Jessica said that the skills she developed at Fleming are applicable to her job. “We drafted the majority of the documents and materials that I draft on a daily basis. We also would have to file our completed documents with the ‘Court Clerk’ as part of our assignments,” she explained.

Her advice to prospective mature students is to be social and speak with your peers and faculty.

“When I started school, I had a negative attitude about meeting new people. I felt I was not there to meet friends and that I had no time to have new friends. I was there to learn, not to have fun,” she shared. “I very quickly learned that meeting new friends was a great part of school and I honestly don’t know if I could have made it through the stresses of school without their encouragement and support! If you find the right people, you can still learn while having fun.”

Make a difference through Community and Justice Services

Community and Justice Services is one of six programs Law and Justice students may enter after Common First Semester, but while the other five programs – Customs Border Services, Law Clerk, Paralegal, Police Foundations, and Protection, Security and Investigation – bring a certain uniform or job duty to mind, Community and Justice Services (CJS) may seem more vague.

cjs-studentsWhat is CJS?

“The CJS program prepares graduates to work in the community and institutional settings with individuals who are involved – or at risk of becoming involved – with the criminal justice system,” said program coordinator Cindy Gervais. “This career path is extremely rewarding and challenging, because graduates are helping individuals to address risk and promote resiliency.”

Applied learning

One component of this Law and Justice program is the 15-week field placement, where students earn 520 hours in the field networking and gaining real world experience.

Jennifer Guerin, Correctional Manager at Warkworth Institution and member of the CJS Program Advisory Committee, welcomes CJS students on placement to Warkworth Institution, where they observe operations and interventions. She credits the CJS program with preparing students for the field.

“The program teaches the student what is important to bring into a federal institution, such as the stresses on dynamic security and the art of communication. The five week on-site interaction with a group and inmate interviews gives them a hands-on experience prior to placement,” said Jennifer, referencing the Field Observation course students take in their second semester. “All of the students are well-versed on professional boundaries and dynamic security practices.”

Graduate success

Nicole Soanes
Nicole Soanes, Youth Justice Committee Coordinator at John Howard Society of Peterborough

Nicole Soanes took Fleming’s CJS program because she wanted a career that would make a positive impact on the community. After graduating in 2017, Nicole hit the ground running at the John Howard Society of Peterborough as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator.

“I graduated feeling extremely competent and prepared to enter the workforce, and continue to learn and grow. Fleming College and the CJS program made it possible for me to find my passion and find myself,” said Nicole.

As Youth Justice Committee Coordinator, Nicole works with youth ages 12 to 17 who have come in contact with the justice system. She conducts intakes with youth, and coordinates restorative justice conferences between her clients and those they have harmed. Nicole also coordinates volunteers who are trained to facilitate restorative justice conferences.

Her most memorable career experience thus far is attending the National Restorative Justice Symposium in Ottawa as a field professional. “I was able to learn more about Indigenous traditions and Sacred Circles and one of the origins of restorative justice, which are the Maori tribes from New Zealand. When I first started to research and learn about restorative practices, I thought it was a small niche, and I have since learned of the massive – and growing – impact that restorative work is having around the world.”

Nicole’s passion for restorative justice was ignited after taking an Aboriginal Justice course during her first semester at Fleming College. Following the course, Nicole launched an initiative in her hometown to implement restorative justice practices for youth before they enter into the justice system, and during her final semester at Fleming College she applied for her current job.

Her advice to current students is to try to grow and improve each day, go outside of your comfort zone, talk to your peers and reach out for help when needed. “Most of all, find your passion. I can tell you that it is amazing to completely love what you do every day.”

SSW student Rebekah Rego raises awareness through Strengthening Indigenous Allies Club

Rebekah Rego smiles for a photo by the Tipi at Sutherland Campus.

Rebekah Rego, co-president of the Strengthening Indigenous Allies Club, is currently busy hanging red dresses around Sutherland Campus. From March 19 to 23, red dresses will be on display to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, encouraging the Fleming community to remember the women lost.

“If they don’t know about it, I hope they look into it; hopefully it makes them curious and question why this injustice is happening to our communities and to our women. If they do know about it, then I hope they feel supported,” said Rebekah on what she hopes people take away from the display. “Because of the posters, it’s already starting conversations and getting people thinking. It’s great.”

The Social Service Worker (SSW) student credits Métis multi-disciplinary artist Jaime Black for inspiring her display. The Winnipeg-based artist created The REDress Project, an installation art project that uses red dresses as a visual reminder of the crimes against Aboriginal women.

On Tuesday, March 20, Rebekah is organizing a march and candlelight vigil from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Sutherland Campus main lobby. “I thought it would be great to have a night to remember and honour our women,” said Rebekah.

Rebekah reactivated Fleming’s Strengthening Indigenous Allies club with the support of her BISHKAA mentor, Tish, who previously led the group and is now co-president with Rebekah. But taking a leadership role is nothing new for Rebekah, who has been a passionate social activist since childhood, travelling with her mother (SSW program coordinator Cristine Rego) since she was 10 years old to attend conferences and movements on Indigenous issues.

In grade 10, Rebekah worked with Indigenous mentors to secure funding for a focus group to develop an Indigenous approach to respond to bullying in the Sudbury Catholic School Board. In grade 11, Rebekah participated in the Mkwa Ride-along Program with Sudbury Regional Police. And in grade 12, Rebekah was one of 20 Indigenous students chosen to attend Osgoode Hall Law School for one week to study Indigenous justice and be introduced to law school. She also co-published an article with her mother entitled Ensuring a Culturally Safe Practice in Working with Aboriginal Women.

“I’m a huge activist within the community,” said Rebekah, who said her social activist goals are awareness and reconciliation.

Since her goals are to make a difference, Rebekah said that Fleming’s SSW program seemed like the perfect fit for her. “My mom is a social worker, so I grew up and realized this is something I wanted to do—be a helping hand in the community,” she said.

Once she graduates from Fleming, Rebekah’s goal is to join the RCMP and work in northern communities.

She describes her Fleming experience as wonderful and appreciates the welcoming, positive environment. “I love the multicultural atmosphere here. It is a very inclusive environment where we’re free to do what we want,” she said. “I’ve really been supported here by my professors and peers, by Aboriginal Student Services, as well as by the Student Administrative Council.”

Fleming is a family experience for PSI student Crystal Dudgeon

Fleming faculty member and ASIS Toronto Education Committee member Brine Hamilton (left) presents Crystal Dudgeon with the ASIS Friends and Family Scholarship
Fleming faculty member and ASIS Toronto Education Committee member Brine Hamilton (left) presents Crystal Dudgeon with the ASIS Friends and Family Scholarship.

Congratulations to Protection, Security and Investigation student Crystal Dudgeon, who won the ASIS Friends and Family Scholarship! ASIS International, a leading organization for security professionals, awarded Crystal with the scholarship based on a letter she wrote about her career aspirations, an essay related to security, a faculty recommendation and her transcript.

The name of the award, ASIS Friends and Family Scholarship, is fitting for Crystal. Unlike many college students, Crystal’s return to school meant spending more time with her family.

Crystal’s daughter Emily is a Customs Border Services student who recommended Fleming’s Law and Justice programs to her mother, who was living in the Netherlands and looking for a new direction in life. Crystal enrolled in the Community and Justice Services program and Emily was happy to give her mother a campus tour and introduce her to some faculty members when Crystal returned to Canada.

“When my mom said that she was coming to the college to take a Law and Justice program, I was really happy,” said Emily. “I think my mom is very smart, she had a lot of knowledge to share. Plus she’s a fun person, having her at the college is great!”

In addition to her daughter’s support, Crystal said she felt very welcomed by the Fleming community. “The students and faculty, particularly in the Law and Justice programs, are vibrant, fun and an engaging part of my experience,” she said. “I have learned a great deal from my fellow students and they have been very accepting of me.”

She decided to switch to the Protection, Security and Investigation program after faculty member Norm Killian presented on the topic in the Strategies for Success class.

“I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” she said. “I have a background in frontline security and the presentation really invoked my interest to return to the roots of my career.”

One of her favourite – albeit most nerve-wracking – program experiences is doing live surveillance exercises, where she follows former CSIS agents downtown Peterborough pretending she is not following them.

Not long after Crystal started Fleming College, her youngest daughter Jamie also decided to enrol.

Crystal (centre) with her daughters Emily (left) and Jamie (right).
Crystal (centre) with her daughters Emily (left) and Jamie (right).

“I was really proud and inspired when my mom was accepted into Fleming. It made me want to move forward with my own education and see us all be successful together as a family,” said Jamie, who is now in her second semester of the Police Foundations program. “She’s going to graduate with honours, which is something I am trying to do as well. She always told us that education is really important and now she is showing us how it’s done.”

Crystal shared that in the beginning she was concerned about navigating her daughters’ boundaries, wondering whether she could sit with them when they were with friends, talk about them to her peers, or tell faculty that she was their mother.

“It turns out that I was over-thinking the entire situation,” said Crystal. “Attending college with my daughters has been a dream come true for me. We get to experience the same challenges and excitements together as a family. Exam weeks can be a tense time in the Dudgeon household but at the end of the week, we also get to unwind and appreciate the support we’ve received from one another. Perhaps the best part, as a parent, I am always on hand for them– now academically as well as emotionally. And hey, what college kid doesn’t want to have mom’s cooking every night?”

Crystal, who is now in her fourth semester, plans to continue her studies at Fleming and earn her Emergency Management graduate certificate, hoping to find a career that allows her to interact with the public in a positive way. Her long-term career goal is to study and possibly teach the history of espionage and spy networks during historical conflicts.

Nicole Soanes aims to make positive impact as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator at John Howard Society of Peterborough

nicole-soanesNicole Soanes wanted a career that would make a positive impact on the community. After graduating from the Community and Justice Services program at Fleming College in 2017, she hit the ground running at the John Howard Society of Peterborough as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator.

“What I love the most about my job is getting the chance to work with youth who are often at a critical moment where they can take one of two pathways,” said Nicole. “I hope to assist clients in making positive choices in order to get on a productive and healthy path in their life.”

Nicole works with youth ages 12 to 17 who have come in contact with the justice system. She conducts intakes with youth, and coordinates restorative justice conferences between her clients and those they have harmed. Nicole also coordinates volunteers who are trained to facilitate restorative justice conferences.

“I love being able to connect a person who has caused harm with the person who has been harmed, and help to promote understanding and healing for everyone involved in a situation,” she said.

Many of the skills Nicole developed at Fleming College are applicable to her job, including the social skills and confidence she gained in the Community and Justice Services program.

“In particular, the Interviewing and Counselling course in Community and Justice Services made me feel extremely prepared to take on my current role,” explained Nicole. “That class was incredibly uncomfortable– sitting in front of all your peers and doing role-plays was a nightmare for me! However, I pushed through and it was so worth it. Interviewing and Counselling gave me the skills that I use every day in my role at the John Howard Society when working with clients.”

Nicole decided to enrol in the Community and Justice Services program after spending two years in university. “I approached the end of my second year and began to question where my degree was going to take me and what my future was going to look like,” she shared. Nicole wanted to make a change and when a friend recommended Fleming’s Community and Justice Services program, Nicole knew it was the right fit for her.

“My experience at Fleming College was absolutely amazing! I am a very introverted person and I often find it’s difficult for me to come out of my shell, to socialize, and to participate in class discussions and activities. At Fleming, that all changed,” said Nicole. “I made wonderful friends, and the faculty in the Community and Justice Services program is indescribable. The support that I found down the Justice hallway was just incredible.”

The Fleming College graduate said her education gave her the knowledge and skills to implement her passions, including the Aboriginal Justice course which ignited her passion for Restorative Justice.

“I honestly recommend the Community and Justice Services program to someone at least on a weekly basis. The two years that I spent in the program have been the best two years of my life,” said Nicole. “I graduated feeling extremely competent and prepared to enter the workforce, and continue to learn and grow. Fleming College and the CJS program made it possible for me to find my passion and find myself.”

Social Service Worker program is the ‘whole package’ for Valedictorian Darla Cuthbertson

darla-cuthbertsonDarla Cuthbertson wanted the whole package when she decided to attend post-secondary school as a mature student.

“I really wanted my college dollars to go as far as possible in the purchase of an education,” she said. “Through life experience, I have learned to see the whole package offering. The Social Service Worker program offers a well-rounded base of skills in which to use heading out into the community; everything from computer skills, human growth philosophy, to counselling and community development.”

In addition to learning theoretical approaches, Darla appreciates the application practice she gained through group work. “This was a great period of learning for myself, as I have often depended only on the efforts and works of myself,” Darla explained. “Sharing, creating and developing space with others played a huge role in developing my sense of self and community.”

Her most memorable experiences at Fleming were the kick-off, signing the Indigenous Education Protocol, and getting Anishinaabemowin accepted as a General Elective Language Course.

“My life has been enriched through my experience at Fleming, and friendships made here – both with my peers and my professors – will continue,” said Darla. “The faculty and staff are amazing and create a real family environment. Across campus and down each corridor I was met with a friendly and helpful welcome. The diversity of students is a gift in itself and brought a cultural experience unexpected in this little, off-the-beaten-path town of Ontario.”

Darla has been selected as Valedictorian for Community Development Programs at convocation, which she feels humbled by.

“There are so many students, ones I know personally, who are smarter and more talented than I,” said Darla. “After sitting with that feeling for a few days, I allowed myself to feel honoured and to accept the good feelings that come with such a title. I am proud to be a Fleming Knight and to accept this honour to represent such an important school of learning, alongside so many students dedicated to the helping professions.”

She added, “I hope my fellow graduates leave with pride in their achievements, knowledge of their belonging, and aware of the important responsibility they now owe to their communities.”

Being a mature student ‘wasn’t easy, but definitely worth it’ for Valedictorian Samantha Delahaye

samanthaSamantha Delahaye felt nervous when she entered Fleming College as a mature student, but is graduating as Valedictorian with peers and professors she calls friends.

“I worked extremely hard to achieve what I did while at Fleming College. Coming back to school as a ‘mature student’ certainly wasn’t easy, but definitely worth it,” said Samantha, who is graduating from the Protection, Security and Investigation program.

Samantha will deliver her Valedictorian speech at the Justice Programs convocation on Wednesday, June 7 at 10 a.m.

“I know that within the School of Law and Justice, there were a lot of contenders; and for me to be singled out and chosen from such a vast variety of students, it feels incredible,” she said. “My hope is that I am able, at the very least, to keep their attention. It would be nice if they could pick up from my speech that I really want the best in the future for all the fellow graduates. And I hope to deliver some laughs as well.”

Reflecting on her most memorable experiences in the School of Justice and Community Development, Samantha said she spontaneously waltzed with a professor to prove a theory, fell in a creek during surveillance, and had many memorable conversations with faculty.

“Fleming is an incredibly welcoming place to attend school, it holds an accepting and diverse community,” she said. “I came here two years ago as a mature student and worried that, because of the age gap, I wouldn’t mesh well. I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

One of Samantha’s favourite memories at Fleming College was her hour-long chats with faculty member Alana Hermiston, who sadly passed away last year. “She left an ever-lasting impression on hundreds of students during her time at Fleming College and she is missed tremendously,” said Samantha.

Through the Protection, Security and Investigation program, Samantha developed teamwork skills, especially in regards to communication. She also learned surveillance/intelligence, interviewing/questioning techniques, and crime scene investigation. “It made me much more aware of the environment around me, I feel as though I pay more attention to detail now,” she said.

Samantha recommends this program to others because the courses are intriguing and hands-on, the professors are wonderful, and the skills are transferable to many different opportunities.

Customs Border Services student Mkons Stone-Debassige makes Aboriginal Team Ontario’s U19 Men’s Basketball team

mkons1-2Congratulations to Customs Border Services student Mkons Stone-Debassige! Mkons, who is Anishinaabe from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, has been accepted to play for Aboriginal Team Ontario’s U19 Men’s Basketball team for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG)!

“My teammates come from all over Ontario and my competitors from as far away as Texas. Although we are all competing for the gold medals, what we come away with is new friendships, proud to be Indigenous, and experiences of a lifetime,” said Mkons, who is on Aboriginal Team Ontario, which has 400 athletes, 80 coaches and 20 mission staff. The Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) is the Provincial Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body overseeing the team.

The NAIG is the largest continental sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous people. It is a multi-sport, multi-disciplinary event for Indigenous youth across North America between 13 and 19 years of age. There are 14 sport competitions, and a showcase of Indigenous cultural artists and performers. Mkons is one of 5, 000 athletes who will attend the event this July in Toronto.

This is not Mkons’ first time attending the NAIG, as he played on the U16 team three years ago. “It was an awesome experience, for so many Indigenous youth to be gathered from all over North American for the Indigenous Games is just amazing. We all marched into the Roughriders Stadium in our territorial gear and I felt so proud to be Indigenous and to be a part of such a huge event,” said Mkons.

The Fleming College student was involved in a variety of sports growing up but started watching Fleming Knights home games and practices in grade 10, and decided to focus solely on basketball during his senior year at Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute. His knowledge of the Fleming Knights and friendships with people in the Fleming community made his decision to attend post-secondary school at Fleming College easy.

mkons-2“Everyone was friendly and encouraged me to be a better player from the beginning,” said Mkons, who played on the Fleming Knights Basketball team this past school year. “I am far younger than all the other players and know that any spot on any varsity team is not to be taken for granted, so I try my best in classes and on the court and am thankful for all that I am blessed to be a part of.”

One of the friendships Mkons made before attending Fleming College was with Kylie Fox, Fleming’s Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator. Kylie said she is excited for the upcoming NAIG and will be cheering for Mkons.

“The theme this year is ‘Past, Present, Future. All One,’ as the North American Indigenous Games unites us through sport to celebrate our past, present and future,” she said. “I am so proud of Mkons, I can’t wait to cheer him on!”

Early Childhood Education students make nature their classroom

Dean Carol Kelsey (left), ECE students who took the Eco-Mentorship Certificate program, and Mary Lou Lummiss (right)

Today’s child spends more than seven hours in front of a glowing screen and less than 30 minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, but Fleming’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) students hope to change that.

On Friday, April 21, Dean Carol Kelsey presented a group of ECE students with their Eco-Mentorship Certificate during the Quality Childcare Displays event in the Sutherland Campus Galleria. The optional certificate program is an innovative collaboration between Camp Kawartha and Fleming College.

“When I heard about the certificate I thought it was an exciting opportunity, something to put on my resume, and good skills to learn that I can use on the job,” said ECE student Amanda Clement, who has since been hired as a Registered ECE at Compass Early Learning and Care at St. Teresa Catholic Elementary School. “I grew up in Haliburton and I enjoy being outside, and being outside was a part of my childhood.”

To earn her Eco-Mentorship Certificate, Amanda had to complete four interactive workshops: Building Children’s Understanding of the World through Environmental Exploration, The Power of Play – Establishing a Personal Connection to Nature, Fostering and Nurturing Stewardship, and Experiencing Being a Part of Nature from an Indigenous Perspective. Through the workshops, students learn to integrate outdoor and nature-based activities, connect children to the natural world, integrate Indigenous ways of knowing and learning, and help foster a generation committed to the stewardship of the planet.

Amanda Clement
Amanda Clement with her Quality Childcare Display

“It was fun learning what’s available in our ‘neighbour-wood’ through this certificate,” said Amanda, who created a bicycle outline on the grass using found objects. “You don’t need to purchase materials and, as a college student, that is excellent.”

Her favourite moment was finding a sit spot to find wellness and peace. “When you go out with kids, they notice something new. It’s such a heartwarming moment,” said Amanda.

ECE professor Mary Lou Lummiss helped redesign this certificate program for Fleming College during her professional sabbatical. She worked with Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha; attended environmental camps, training opportunities, conducted research, and read several books on mentoring children in the outdoors.

“The ECE program at Fleming shares a widely held belief that being connected to nature is something that is slowly eroding from children’s lives. Research on the benefits of nature connections for children offers insight on the important role parents and educators play in this work,” said Mary Lou.

“ECE faculty wanted to set our program apart by offering a certificate that focuses on the role of the educator, seeing nature through an Indigenous lens, and provide strategies the educator can use with all age groups. We also have been focusing on sustainability within almost all of our courses, so it was a natural fit for us,” she explained.

Mary Lou recommends ECE students take this certificate to gain valuable insight into the affordances of nature, build on children’s natural curiosity to engage them more fully in outdoor learning, and identify barriers in the workplace and seek solutions.

“One student mentioned that she sees the outside and her time with children outdoors much differently now,” said Mary Lou. “Another student let us know that she was recently hired and that her new employer was very interested in her certificate and her passion for the outdoors. She feels it was a key reason why she was chosen for the job.”

Fleming College’s ECE program has an extremely high rate of related employment for graduates. This program prepares students to help young children develop their physical, social and intellectual skills, and their self-confidence and imagination. All courses are based on a philosophy that encourages inclusive practice and partnerships with families.

Child and Youth Care coordinator brings the real world to her classroom

cyc-coordinatorChild and Youth Care program coordinator Heather Sago brings the real world to her classroom. With more than 20 years of experience across Canada (Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Lethbridge, and Peterborough), Heather brings a national perspective on practice with children, youth and families.

Child and Youth Care (CYC) workers are an integral part of a treatment team and are involved in all facets of care. Fleming’s CYC program features leading-edge curriculum, including certification in the Therapeutic Use of Daily Life Events and over 1200 hours of field practicum experience.

“CYC to me is not just a job, but part of who I am,” said Heather, who has a BA in criminology from the University of Manitoba, a BSW from the University of Calgary, and an MSW with a child and youth care specialization from McGill University. “I hope to help students discover where their passions lie and how to integrate this into their personhood.”

Heather currently sits on the At Risk Youth Justice Committee & Judge’s Roundtable, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies Research Evaluation Advisory Committee, the Development & Implementation Committee for the Child and Youth Care Educational Accreditation Board of Canada, and international working groups.

“While I may have lots to share, I also can’t wait to see what the students will teach me. Everyone has something to bring to the table and every moment is a teachable one!” said Heather.

She is excited to bring the Indigenous Perspectives Designation to the table this year. This designation is optional for CYC students, and those who choose to access it will have a strong foundational basis in Indigenous Studies, which is marketable in the employment sector.

If you would like to provide opportunities for change in the lives of children and youth, Fleming is currently accepting applications for the January 2017 intake of the CYC program.