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.”
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.”
When Winter semester moved online, program coordinator Steve Moghini acted quickly to adapt the Culinary Management program. He created the Fridge and Pantry Challenge as the final project, challenging students to use items they already had to create delicious dishes.
“Cooks need to be adaptable and flexible. You can’t
worry about what you don’t have; you work with what you have because, in this
industry, you have to deliver right away,” said Steve, explaining that cooks
are often expected to create off-menu items or adapt dishes based on dietary
For the Fridge and Pantry Challenge, Culinary
students plated incredible dishes in their homes. These include: a spicy
Shakshuka complemented by a sweet Poke; vegetable fritters and Idli Sambhar; a
beef pot pie, gingered carrot orange soup with Grand Marnier chantilly crème,
and a cranberry, walnut, goat cheese salad. For grading, students submitted
reports that featured photos of their preparation, production, presentation of
dishes, and safety and sanitation.
“There were many challenges with the Fridge and Pantry
Challenge, but what the students came up with was utterly stunning and I give
them a lot of credit,” said Steve.
Steve is now working on the syllabus for September
and preparing for remote delivery, including planning out food boxes that will
be delivered to students. These boxes will feature ingredients the students
need to complete their assignments.
“The future of the Culinary industry certainly
includes food boxes and take-out, and restaurants will rely on this,” said
Steve. “These food boxes will really add another layer of learning to the
Students will receive detailed instructions of
assignment expectations and will use ingredients from their food box to create
delicious dishes, which they will photograph or video. Dishes will be served to
roommates, family members or friends, who are asked to grade taste honestly.
“I’ve heard from parents already, from the Fridge and Pantry Challenge, that they are loving all of the cooking at home!”
Explore a Fleming Culinary Lab with this virtual tour:
Fleming College is proud to use our downtown Peterborough
MakerSpace to help in the fight against COVID-19. The College is helping create
headbands and reinforcement pieces for face shields that will be used by
frontline healthcare workers.
On April 3, 2020, Fleming College delivered
headbands to the Peterborough PPE Initiative,
a group of Peterborough makers who are creating personal protective equipment.
This group, which is led by Fleming College graduate Dylan Radcliffe
(Environmental Technician, Class of 2012), are creating face shields using PETG
sheets, plastic brackets, and elastic material. The headbands were made using
Fleming’s 3D printers in the MakerSpace, located in the Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas
in the Venture North Building.
The Peterborough PPE
Initiative then enlisted Fleming College’s help to
fabricate bottom reinforcement pieces for face shields, which the College is
happy to provide.
Fleming School of Trades & Technology faculty Fereydoon Diba, with support from Operations Manager Mary MacLeod and Computer Science Technologist Phillip Chee, set to work and created more than 500 bottom reinforcement pieces for face shields.
Fleming College delivered the donation on
April 16, 2020 and the Peterborough PPE
Initiative will assemble and sanitize the face shields, which will be used
at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
Fleming College is proud to support this initiative to help frontline workers stay safe and will continue producing pieces to create much-needed face shields.
The winter season looks a little different for Culinary Management graduate Andrew Craig. Instead of icy cold, snowy weather, the Class of 2012 alum is enjoying sunshine and a warm breeze in beautiful Hawaii.
idea of ‘aloha’ is very present and I’ve learned to embrace this. I’m truly
enjoying my time on the island,” said Andrew about his Maui lifestyle.
Andrew is the Food and Beverage Manager at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, where he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the LUANA Lounge and assists with managing the Kō Restaurant. The Fleming graduate ensures high standards are met and continuously elevates the experience. He also processes orders, staffing, scheduling, forecasting and event organization for the outlet.
love being able to create a personalized and memorable experience,” said
Andrew. “I strive to keep everyone happy in the operation so that we can all
work together to create amazing moments for other guests and colleagues.”
Andrew relocated to Maui recently for this opportunity with Fairmont. Prior to this role, Andrew was an Assistant Manager at the Fairmont Royal York, a Manager at the Library Bar in the Fairmont Royal York, and spent two years as a Supervisor at the Fairmont Banff Springs through the Fairmont’s Leadership Development Program (now called the Inspire Program).
learning doesn’t stop once you’ve finished your program,” said Andrew. “There
is always a new method or variation to be learned about and that’s half of the
fun in the job. I’m always taking every opportunity to expand my learning and
it’s played a big part in my career taking me to where it is now.”
graduating from Fleming College, Andrew went on to earn his Bachelor of Applied
Business – Hospitality Operations Management at Niagara College, applying some
of his Fleming College credits towards a degree. Andrew said he utilized many
of the skills he developed at Fleming to succeed in university.
gained a kitchen skillset that taught me everything from mise en place through
restaurant service execution. I even had the opportunity to create my own
business with The Corner on Sixth, which gave me the chance to work through all
the many variables associated with running a restaurant,” said Andrew about the
skills he developed at Fleming College. “It was an amazing experience that not
only showed me many classic culinary techniques and recipes through the labs
and classes, but allowed for countless opportunities for off-site events that
honed my hospitality skillset in real-world scenarios.”
said he would recommend the Culinary Management program to others, saying,
“Absolutely! It has given me the knowledge and wherewithal to confidently carry
out my hospitality career in both culinary and front-of-house managerial
Food means more than nourishment to Matthew Brohm. For the
Chef Training graduate, food is his passion.
“I love making food that makes you melt inside, I want to
make food that makes you chew just a little slower, I want it to make you think
‘wow’ and practically be speechless,” he said. “My job is not my job, my job is
my passion. Everything about it, I love.”
Growing up, Matthew dreamed of a culinary career. He would happily
tell family and friends that he would be a chef one day.
“I was always in the kitchen watching, smelling and listening
to the crackling or sizzling,” said Matthew. “Cooking was my passion before I
even knew it.”
In high school, Matthew competed in culinary competitions, volunteered
to cook and serve assorted buffets, and graduated with a Specialist High Skills
Major (SHSM) in Hospitality. After deciding that college was his next step, Matthew
participated in Student for the Day multiple times at Fleming College to see if
his local college was the right fit.
“So already I was very familiar with Fleming and knew the
instructor chefs very well,” said Matthew. “For myself, there was no better
choice than Fleming.”
Matthew enrolled in the Chef Training program, which is now called Culinary Skills, and graduated in 2016.
“My Fleming College experience couldn’t have been better,” he
said. “Having the professors actually know your name and want you to succeed is
amazing. It’s more than just a classroom, it was a community where everyone
cared and the students were not just a number.”
Through the program, Matthew said he developed the skills and
knowledge to grow his culinary career.
“The program helped me grow as a professional in so many
ways. Cooking is obvious, but what I took for granted then, I am now so
grateful I learned,” he explains.
Matthew credits being able to use Excel, place food orders,
cost out menu items, understand front of house, and supervise as a sous chef in
labs as some of the skills he developed at Fleming that have proved useful in
“There is so much you can get out of the program. It all has
fast-tracked my career in the culinary industry,” he said.
Matthew currently works as the Sous Chef at Silvertip Resort
in Canmore, Alberta. He is responsible for ensuring the kitchen runs smoothly,
helps create menu items, places food orders, ensures food quality, helps
progress and train new cooks, runs the line on busy nights, cleans and scrubs
ovens, delegates tasks and more.
most memorable career moment was as a chef de partie, when he was asked to
train a kitchen steward who didn’t have any cooking experience.
wasn’t an easy task, but within two weeks I had given him a drive. He wanted to
learn and wanted to succeed. By one month, he could hold his ground and kept up
with everyone,” said Matthew. “Now he’s in school for culinary. It was an
awesome feeling knowing I had an impact in his career choice.”
said he recommends Fleming College to others who are considering a culinary
“By the end of this program, you will have real work experience and be able to hold your ground in any kitchen,” he said. “I would recommend this program over and over again.”
Mark Melong is ending his studies at Fleming College with two major
wins: a Gold medal in Metal Fabrication at the Skills Canada – Ontario competition
and the School of Trades and Technology G.E. Outstanding Achievement Award.
But the Welding and Fabrication Technician graduate worked hard for this, both inside and outside of the classroom, and is proud to serve as Valedictorian at the School of Trades and Technology convocation ceremony.
“The message that I will give to my classmates is to not settle for
anything less than you feel you deserve,” said Mark. “Strive for greatness and
push your boundaries to keep bettering yourself. Don’t be afraid to take risks
in your career in order to get to where you want to be. Above all, find what
you love to do, because we spend almost half our lives working, so it might as
well be somewhere you want to be every day.”
Mark was introduced to welding in high school and enjoyed it, so he
completed his first-year apprenticeship during grade 12 through the Ontario
Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). He wanted to learn more and build his
resume, so Mark chose to earn his Welding and Fabrication Technician diploma at
“I had a ball of a time at Fleming,” said Mark. “Getting to know my
classmates and professors was the best part about it all. By the last semester
there was only about 16 students in the class and we were a very tight-knit
group. We went through a lot in the past two years, so it made us become the
best of friends.”
During his first year at Fleming College, Mark lived in Residence and
loved the experience of meeting amazing people from different Fleming programs.
Mark’s Residence Advisor (RA) inspired him to become an RA for his second year
of studies at Fleming, and Mark said it’s one of the best decisions he’s ever
“I gained so many skills that I never knew I needed,” said Mark. “The
team I worked with was full of amazing and inspiring people. This made my
second year one of the best years of my life and being able to go to the Skills
competition at the end was the cherry on top.”
Mark attended Skills Canada – Ontario, Canada’s largest skilled trade
and technology competition, during his second-year at Fleming. It was his third
time in the competition, having earned 3rd Place in grade 12 and 7th
Place during his first-year at Fleming. This time, Mark walked away with a
Bronze medal in Welding and a Gold medal in Metal Fabrication.
“I absolutely loved going to the competition. The vibe of the whole
event is that of prestige and pride in the trades. Being in a room with the
best welders in college and going head-to-head with all of them is
exhilarating,” said Mark. “Also, being able to hang out with your professors
for three days is fun too.”
For the Welding competition, Mark had six hours to follow a blueprint
to fit and weld metal pieces (that were cut to shape) using a welding machine.
In the fabrication competition, Mark had an I-beam, metal pieces (not cut to
shape) and equipment to fit and weld everything to the specifications of the
provided blueprint. Both are challenging and competitive, so Mark is honoured
to win Gold in Metal Fabrication and Bronze in Welding against competitors from
other Ontario colleges.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful feeling,” said Mark. “It was so nerve-racking
waiting for the awards. When I heard my name called and I looked over and saw [program
coordinator Darryl Madussi] with the biggest smile on my face, it made me feel
so accomplished. After three years of competing, it was nice to win Gold.”
Mark said Fleming does a good job exposing students to the variety of techniques and
accompanying theory for welding.
“The final welding project we did allowed us to touch upon many
different aspects of the trade to see what we enjoyed the most,” said Mark on
the fourth-semester Industry Showcase, where students display their pressure
vessel project. “From that, many of my classmates decided where they wanted to
apply for jobs and many of them got hired from it.”
Mark labels the Industry Showcase as his favourite Fleming College
“We got all dressed up and showed off our pressure vessel project that
took us 15 weeks to complete. We were all so proud of what we had built and all
the skills we had learned,” said Mark. “To see the few classmates that I started
with in Week 1, and how far we had come, made me proud to be working with such
Now that Mark has finished his classes at Fleming College, he is
working at Chematics Inc. in Pickering, Ont. The shop builds custom pressure
vessels for the mining and gas industries, as well as nuclear operations and
other industrial applications.
The Class of 2019 graduate plans to gain more skills at Chematics and doesn’t
want to set any long-term career plans in stone, as he’d like to keep an open
mind and consider all the different routes available to him. But what Mark does
know for sure is that he will strive for greatness, push his boundaries, keep
bettering himself, and not be afraid to take career risks.
Sophie Crowder remembers the nervous excitement she felt
entering the Toronto Congress Centre, taking in the grandeur of Canada’s
largest skilled trade and technology competition.
In Skills Canada – Ontario, skilled trade and technology
students aim to impress their educators, family, friends and prospective
employers, competing for Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals and the opportunity to
compete at the Skills Canada National Competition. From there, competitors may
go on to the WorldSkills Competition.
This was Sophie’s first experience at Skills Canada – Ontario, having just completed her first semester of Fleming’s Culinary Management program. Sophie was joined at the competition by faculty mentor Steve Benns and fourth-semester student Kayla Daluz, who was competing for her second time.
“Having this opportunity in my second semester is a
privilege,” said Sophie. “I felt as prepared as I could be. I trained five days
per week two weeks prior to the competition, working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on
Each year, Fleming Culinary enters two students in the
culinary arts competition at Skills Canada – Ontario. The first-year student is
expected to try their best and take in the competition so they feel fully
prepared next time, and the second-year student is expected to enter as a
strong competitor ready for the challenge.
In the culinary arts category, students complete two
modules. For Module 1,
Mushroom Gougère: Shitake and shimeji mushrooms,
bacon, green onions and brie stuffed in parmesan choux pastries
Cured Trout Appetizer: Quick cured trout on
crispy brioche rounds topped with grainy mustard and chive cream cheese and a
candied fennel chutney
Roasted Beet Tart: Slow-roasted beets, red onion
marmalade, thyme, goat cheese and pistachios served in a savoury tart
Shimeji Mushroom Gougère: Pan-seared shimeji
mushrooms, bacon, roasted red pepper and brie stuffed between parmesan and
gruyere choux pastries topped with a lemon, white wine, chive and chili jelly
Cured Trout Open-Faced Sandwich: Quick cured
trout on crispy challah points topped with chive cream cheese, pickled
shallots, and a candied fennel and mango chutney
Waldorf “Style” Tart: Celery root, royal gala
apples, mint, goat cheese and pistachios served in a savoury tart
and for Module 2,
Lobster Cannelloni: Fresh egg pasta stuffed with
lobster, shallots and tarragon, finished with lobster glaze, tomato confit,
chive white wine butter sauce and microgreens
Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie: Lemon curd
white chocolate mousse, tuile cannoli, Italian meringue and citrus gelée finished
with blueberry sauce, a sugar spiral, and assorted fruit
Lobster Cappelletti: Pasta stuffed with lobster,
fennel and shallots, finished with tomato confit, lobster glaze, citrus
vinaigrette and microgreens
Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie: Lemon curd,
tuile cookie and Italian meringue finished with raspberry sauce, a sugar stick,
and assorted fruit
Although Sophie and Kayla were separate competitors, Sophie
was pleased her work station was beside her Culinary Management peer. It gave Sophie
the opportunity to not only work on her dishes, but observe a seasoned pro.
“She was calmer than I was. She carried herself well and
followed her plan step-by-step. The way she carried through her work impacted
me and I’ll remember it for next year,” said Sophie.
Kayla said she did feel calmer her second time at the
“I was super nervous my first year and I didn’t know where
anything was. It was way easier the second time around, I knew how things were
laid out, I knew where the ingredients were, I knew what to expect,” she said. “I
felt prepared. We trained a lot; every opportunity I had in between classes I
was training. And then straight everything for two weeks leading up to the
competition. I got to the point where I could measure by eye.”
It was worth the hard work and effort, as Sophie earned 5th
Place and Kayla took home a Bronze Medal.
“Sophie, I am blown away. She is crazy talented just going
into the program, and getting 5th on her first time? She will go
somewhere,” said Kayla, who added that she placed 7th her first time
competing. “And I love Chef Benns. I spend a lot of time with him training and
I am so grateful to be training under him. He is super talented.”
For Sophie, the competition was spectacular, and she is
excited to compete again next year.
“Ontario Skills was just spectacular, and it didn’t feel
real until the closing ceremony. It took a long time to get here and I was so
proud!” said Sophie. “I was taking photos of Kayla at the podium all teary eyed
like a proud mom. Everything happens for a reason and I’m doing what I get to do
and what I’m meant to do. I am so grateful.”
A Culinary Career Path
For both Kayla and Sophie, the path to Culinary Management
was not easy.
When Kayla got pregnant in high school, she waited until her
son was older to pursue her education. She went to PACE, which offers students
the opportunity to earn college credits, and Kayla signed up for a dual credit
in Fleming’s Culinary program.
“My chef instructor pulled me aside and recommended I
continue this because he said I’m good at it,” said Kayla. “That meant a lot to
me. I’m here now and the chefs are all proud of me, so I know I’m doing good
Kayla’s advice to students at PACE is to find a career they
“If you love it, it comes,” she said. “When I walk in that
kitchen, I feel a wave of happiness. If you love it, it’s there, it’s worth it.
Seeing people’s reactions to my food, saying ‘I couldn’t do this! It’s crazy,
it’s like art!’—that makes it worth it.”
She admits that training for the culinary industry and for competitions
can be “hard, tiring and frustrating” with a four-year-old, but is grateful for
her support system.
“My support system is great, especially my mom. She wants me
in ‘Top Chef,’ she thinks I can go far,” said Kayla. “And my son is proud of it
now. I showed him my medal to explain all that I’ve worked for, and he was
excited and he’s proud.”
For Sophie, a culinary career didn’t seem possible for her
due to health concerns.
When Sophie was 15, she slipped on wrapping paper and fell.
Although she felt sore, Sophie wasn’t concerned until days later when her thigh
was severely swollen. She visited her family doctor, who wrote Sophie a note
for the hospital saying he suspected she had a blood clot.
Unfortunately, Sophie had to wait nine hours at the hospital
as the clots spread. Once she was able to see a doctor, she had some blood
tests done, followed by an ultrasound. When Sophie was wheeled out of the
ultrasound, that’s when she realized something was wrong.
The accident had crushed Sophie’s collateral veins. The
doctor injected Sophie with blood thinners and sent her to Sick Kids Hospital,
who told Sophie if she had sat for another hour in the hospital her leg
would’ve been amputated. She had ongoing healthcare treatments, including blood
thinners, and was told culinary required too much standing for her to pursue.
Instead of culinary school, Sophie moved to Peterborough
from Mississauga to study anthropological archaeology at Trent University.
While she enjoyed finding connections between archeology and her passion (such
as food vessel artifacts from Pompeii) and loved living in the city of
Peterborough, Sophie still dreamed of a culinary career.
When her health improved and her doctor gave Sophie the all
clear to study Culinary Management, she dropped out of archaeology and signed
up for Culinary Management at Fleming College.
“I have a riser on my cutting board, I wear a back brace
sometimes while cooking, and I wear compression socks,” said Sophie. “But this
is the dream. I am so grateful I get to do it.”
Sophie, who began Culinary Management this January, will
start training for the next Skills Canada – Ontario competition in September.
She hopes to create a fine-tuned action plan, get her timing down, and come in
feeling more prepared.
“It’s such a cool experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade
it for the world.”
Kayla, who graduates from Fleming College this June, has
been hired at Rolling Grape Vineyard as the Executive Chef. She will create a
food program from scratch, which includes building a wood-burning oven for
pizzas and growing fresh herbs.
“A huge bonus for me is that I can stay included at Fleming
College because of the Culinary program’s collaboration with Rolling Grape,”
said Kayla. “I’ve asked the chefs here what it takes to teach. They have given
me so much, so I’d like to give back.”
The construction industry is a consumer of resources and raw materials and a contributor to solid waste, but Fleming Construction Engineering Technician graduate Tyler Fenton is hoping to improve the environmental impact of construction with sustainability.
“Sustainability is not the silver bullet, but
it’s a powerful tool to drive change for the better,” said Tyler. “Through
pursuing higher levels of sustainability, we can lower the waste produced by
construction activities, make the buildings we build healthier for occupants,
reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the energy required to run these
buildings and create more affordable living for people moving into urban
As a Sustainable Buildings Solutions
Coordinator, LEED Green Associate at EllisDon Corporation, Tyler is responsible
for ensuring that projects achieve different levels of sustainability
certification: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
certification, Toronto Green Standard certification, or both. Tyler’s
department services EllisDon projects across Canada, including hospitals,
commercial towers, schools, train stations and institutional buildings.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of such a wide
variety of projects that serve many different functions in their communities,
but that are all striving for excellence in design, construction and operation,”
Fleming education and
network leads Tyler to success
Tyler worked on-campus at the Office of
Sustainability while attending Fleming College and one of his responsibilities was
to book guest speakers to talk to Trades students about sustainability in the
One of his speaking events featured the
Director and Program Manager from the Sustainable Building Solutions department
at EllisDon and, through this experience, Tyler started growing a network at his
dream place of employment.
When he graduated, Tyler emailed the CEO of
EllisDon seeking a job opportunity (scroll to “Proud Fleming College graduate”
for how they met). Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as Tyler had hoped…
“Because I did not have industry experience, they
couldn’t justify hiring me at the time,” he said. “They told me to go get some
experience and re-apply in the future.”
So, he did.
Tyler worked as a Construction Coordinator at
Dufferin Construction for one year to get the experience he needed. And when he
re-applied to EllisDon, he got the dream job this time.
Confidence in the KUBE
is why Tyler chose Fleming
Tyler didn’t always dream of working in
construction. With a resume ranging from wildland firefighter to tree planter, bartender
to labourer, and even a gig in the jewelry industry, Tyler took his time finding
the right career fit.
When he decided on construction and engineering,
Tyler chose Fleming because the program introduces students to various trades
to give them an understanding of the different disciplines they’ll encounter on
“I was very impressed with the D-Wing in particular,” he said. “In no other educational facility I’d visited had I seen anything like the KUBE. This made me confident that I would be in a good learning environment.”
Adding, “I would absolutely recommend that
prospective students go and visit the campus, go to the Open House, because it
will give you a perspective on where you’ll be learning and if it’s what you’re
Proud Fleming College
“I’m very happy with my Fleming experience and
I’m proud to tell people that’s where I went to college,” he said. “Overall,
you’ve got a beautiful, newly renovated, top-of-the-line building to learn in,
instructors who are passionate and have real world experience, and as many
opportunities to learn or get involved as you can handle.”
Now that Tyler has graduated from Fleming, his
advice to students is to get involved.
“The more you get involved, the more
opportunity you’re going to have when you graduate,” said the Class of 2018
The permeable pavement project led Tyler to
representing Fleming College, the Office of Sustainability and FastStart at the
2017 OCE Discovery event, where he met EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith (who Tyler emailed
for an interview when he graduated).
“In my experience, the connections I made
through my student worker position in the Office of Sustainability opened the
door to my dream job,” he said. “And the skills and knowledge I gained from the
program and from the instructors I got to know allowed me to land the job. It
wouldn’t have happened that way if I hadn’t gotten involved in the things that
In Canada, only one third of graduates in science, technology, engineering and math – also known as STEM – are women. By increasing women in STEM subjects, we can fuel change that will impact our future, which is why the theme for International Women’s Day this year is #InnovateForChange (source: Status of Women Canada).
Manveen Kour is part of that change. Having studied electronics and communications at the University of Jammu, Manveen is adding a graduate certificate to her resume by taking Fleming College’s Wireless Information Networking program. She plans to grow her career in IT after graduating this spring.
“When I go to clients and look around their businesses, all I see are men. In an entire company, there is only a couple women!” said Manveen, who provides IT services through her Fleming applied project.
“I read online something like 20 to 30 percent of technology professionals are women, but I know companies want to hire women because equality is good. It’s not that the opportunity isn’t there, the women just have to go for it!”
One reason women are underrepresented in STEM subjects and careers, Manveen suspects, is because the interest isn’t nurtured from a young age.
“Where I’m from, India, there is inequality; boys are encouraged to take technology and women are not,” said the Wireless Information Networking student. “You have to encourage an interest in technology from the beginning, from your childhood.”
Manveen says she is fortunate her interest was nurtured from a young age the same way it was for her brother. She credits her father for this and feels very grateful for him.
“My brother would open up the computer and explore it because he was curious, and a lot of girls don’t do that because they’re not encouraged to,” she said. “The family plays a role in this and my father, right from the beginning, told me this is a great career and encouraged me. And I still call him when I have a question or dilemma, and he’s there.”
Teachers also play an important role in development, Manveen explains. She hopes teachers encourage girls and boys equally in developing STEM interests and pursuing careers in this field.
Manveen did feel encouraged by her family and teachers to study electronics and communications at the University of Jammu. During her university internship, she learned cloud computing and wireless networking, and really enjoyed it. She decided to enhance this skillset after graduating and moved to Canada for Fleming’s Wireless Information Networking program.
“Canada is very welcoming, I didn’t expect it to be so sweet! I love Canada!” said Manveen, adding that everyone she has met at Fleming College has been very helpful.
Faculty members Darren Gethons, Alwyn Appiah and Mamdouh Mina, in particular, are three instructors Manveen credits for their support and motivation. Manveen recommends any students who are struggling to speak with their professors for their help and guidance.
This semester, the Fleming College student has a very busy schedule. In addition to classes and a part-time campus job at the Contact Centre, Manveen is working at Interface Technologies on Wednesdays and Fridays for her program applied project. As her applied project, Manveen is helping provide IT services to clients across the city for Interface Technologies.
“When I was interviewed for my applied project position, I was against three boys. I was the only girl in the interview and I got it!” said Manveen. “I was scared being interviewed against them, but my dad told me he had this vision and I will get it and don’t worry—and I did!”
Manveen recommends this career path to anyone interested in it and to find someone to cheer you on.
“For me, that’s my father. He keeps me going,” she said. “Aim big and don’t settle. Never settle, know you deserve more. Like my father always says, ‘the sky is the limit!’”
When you walk into the multi-story KUBE structure in the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing students Amanda Hancock, Amy French and Kayla Wilford do not stand out amongst the group of students welding pipes, finding parts, and polishing finished projects.
And that’s just the way they like it.
“I don’t feel any different,” said Amanda on being a woman in trades. “They help when needed and I love it here.”
Amanda’s classmate Amy agrees, adding, “We all help each other out.”
It wasn’t too long ago when there weren’t many female students in trades programs at Fleming College. Since 2014, when the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre opened at the Sutherland Campus, enrolment of female students grew from 3 per cent to 12 per cent.
Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing program coordinator Neil Maika said that while trades may still be a male-dominated industry, women employed in trades careers is on the rise.
“There is an immense opportunity here. Multiple employment paths are becoming available,” said Neil. “Also, all of my students are great. They respect each other, they help each other, and they are all very professional. All students are treated equally by both faculty and their peers, whether female or male.”
First-semester student Amanda said she did have some concerns before she enrolled.
After hearing amazing things about Fleming College from her brother, who took the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning program, Amanda decided to give trades a try three years after graduating from high school. Amanda chose the plumbing program based on the recommendation of her friend’s stepfather, who is a plumber and loves his profession.
“I was worried about it myself, but they’re all nice. It’s no different being a girl here,” said Amanda. “We’re no different if we can do the job. And all the guys here are very friendly, kind and supportive.”
Her classmate Kayla, on the other hand, had no hesitation enrolling in the Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing program right after high school.
“I spent the last two summers working in trades with a friend. I helped with renovations, basic labour, installing showerheads, things like that,” said Kayla, who graduated from Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School last year. “I was torn between going straight into an apprenticeship or taking this program. I decided to take this program to help figure out if plumbing is the trade I want to do, instead of going straight into a specific apprenticeship.”
In the Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing program, students learn a variety of trade-specific skills. They are also introduced to installing, maintaining and repairing piping systems in residential, commercial and industrial settings to enhance employment opportunities.
Amy French, a mature student who started college after having children, said she chose the program based on job prospects.
“I’m told women in trades are wanted and needed, and specifically asked for, so here I am,” said Amy. “I chose plumbing because plumbing was the most expensive construction cost, and I want to build my own house one day. I feel like it’s the right career path.”
Amy said she feels being a mature student gives her an advantage. She feels more mature now than she did right after high school, she doesn’t party, and she is very focused on finishing school.
Her advice to current students is don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Amanda added that there are many resources available for help, such as asking faculty when you have questions, signing up for tutoring, and taking advantage of D2L.
Kayla reminds students to stay focused on school. “Pay attention, get your homework done, get your projects done—focus,” she said.