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Valedictorian Emily Stonehouse returns home to Haliburton for her dream career



Emily Stonehouse was at a bit of a crossroads when she first came to the Haliburton School of Art + Design, but now she is graduating from the Digital Image Design program as Valedictorian.

“The school really changed me and the people are all so amazing, it will be awesome to share my experiences and reflect on the past few months with some amazing and talented grads,” said Emily, who will be delivering her speech at the convocation ceremony on Friday, May 26. “I hope they realize how unique and talented they all are, and that their contribution to the arts world (and the real world) is so important.”

Emily returned to her hometown of Haliburton to regroup and figure out her next steps in life. She had previously attended the University of Ottawa, earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Communications; worked and travelled; and did academic upgrading, with a focus on Indigenous Women’s Studies, at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was looking for the opportunity to express my creativity, so I found out about this program and it looked like a perfect combination between creativity and application,” said Emily.

The small class sizes meant more one-on-one attention and skill development. “The focus in my program was primarily digital. We spent a lot of time learning about Photoshop, which I look back on now and remember being terrified to learn about, but I am beyond comfortable with the program now,” said Emily. “We also dabbled in photography, videography, narratives, and traditional arts.”

She recommends this program to others, describing it as “very current and allows you to keep up in this ever-changing technological world.”

Emily also appreciates the supportive, inclusive, and creative campus community at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. Her most memorable experience was facing her fear and participating in an open mic, playing guitar and singing a song she wrote. “I was terrified but the school environment is so supportive, it was exactly what I needed to finally do it,” she said.

After completing her program at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus, Emily was hired as the new Business Manager/Experience Facilitator at Yours Outdoors, a local tourism organization.

“I get to take the skills I learned about the digital world and start to use them to develop a broader clientele,” said Emily, who also facilitates local experiences with artists and adventurers. “I spend my days in arts studios or climbing trees, or hiking or in a canoe—it’s a dream!”

In her spare time, Emily writes for the local newspaper, adding, “I am just trying to become as involved in the community as possible, and combine everything I’ve learned and loved into a lifestyle and career.”