Weekly class inspires career change for Michelle Ménard

When Michelle Ménard was in high school, she felt lost about what to do next.

“I was not aware of all of the opportunities,” said Michelle.

She decided to take the Bachelor of Arts – Honours program at the University of Guelph followed by an Event Management graduate certificate at Humber College. After graduating from Humber College in 2014, Michelle moved to Edmonton, Alberta and worked in the hospitality and event industry for five years.

What changed Michelle’s path was a community silversmith class that she had signed up for as a fun activity to do once per week for four months.

“There’s nothing quite like the feeling of completing a piece from one of your own designs,” said Michelle, who fell in love with jewellery creation through the class.

Michelle realized this career would combine her artistic passion with the business skills she had gained from work and post-secondary school. She wanted to pursue the idea further and discovered the Jewellery Essentials program at the Haliburton School of Art + Design (HSAD).

“I had looked at a few different schools but noticed that their curriculum had a lot of electives that, as a mature student, I had no interest in,” Michelle explains. “The certificate program was appealing to me because I had already attended post-secondary school and I discovered that HSAD offered an intensive, 15-week program that would have me learning straight away. I visited the campus and the decision felt right.”

Fleming’s Haliburton Campus is nestled in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands, overlooking Head Lake in the town of Haliburton. The community is welcoming and known for amazing scenery and an eclectic community of resident artists.

At the Haliburton Campus, Michelle enjoyed the Great Hall, the Maker Space, and the surrounding forest for fresh air and inspiration. She said the quiet town offers lots of great activities to do and features beautiful scenery, including Skyline Park for a stunning view of the town and Head Lake.

“The community is friendly and the campus atmosphere with small classes offers the perfect place for students to connect,” said Michelle. “I was not expecting to make friends in just four months but, to my pleasant surprise, I ended up building connections with classmates that truly meant the world to me and that I will always remember.”

In addition to making friends, Michelle said the benefit of intimate class sizes is the in-depth personal training students receive from faculty. Faculty know students by name and can answer questions and provide help and guidance when needed.

“I fell in love with the atmosphere,” said Michelle. “Most of my time was spent making memories and creating in the jewellery studio. It’s a room fully equipped with possibilities and is where I felt most happy on campus.”

She adds, “After my program, all of my initial uncertainties about going into jewellery vanished. I learned that jewellery making is the career I want to pursue.”

Michelle graduated from the Haliburton School of Art + Design this June and will stay connected to the college by working as a Fleming Grad Recruiter this fall. As part of Fleming’s Student Recruitment team, Michelle is travelling across Ontario sharing information about Fleming with prospective students.

“I became a Grad Recruiter because I want to mentor young students and assist them in the overwhelming process of deciding their educational future,” she said. “I recall being in high school and feeling lost in terms of what I wanted to do next. I was not aware of all of the opportunities and I want to help as many students understand the exciting options to prepare them for careers.”

Michelle is most looking forward to promoting the arts and answering questions from students.