Alyse, Amanda & Alex | Class of 2008, 2012
NSCC Radio & Television Arts (RTA) grads are flooding our local airwaves, and Alyse Hand ('08) is among them.
Alyse was working on the popular Harbour Hopper tour in Halifax when she realized she had a passion for storytelling. "I'd been to university for a year and discovered it wasn't for me. But once I enrolled in this program, I was inspired by my instructors. They have experience in, and a passion for, this industry and I knew I had found my calling."
As it turned out, Alyse's calling was Broadcast Journalism, which led her to Eastlink and now CTV Atlantic, where she is a reporter. "I got my first job because of NSCC and the instructors, who connect students with industry professionals."
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“I was inspired by my instructors.”
Amanda Debison ('12) had a yen for storytelling that drew her first to the theatre and then to RTA. Like Alyse, she also thanks her NSCC instructors for helping her land a job as a News 95.7 reporter and weekend anchor.
"One of my instructors told me about this position, so I applied. You learn essential skills through the RTA program, but the instructors go above and beyond which helps you make connections early on." Alex Haider ('12) agrees. Her lifelong goal was to be an on-air personality and NSCC made that wish come true. Viewers will recognize her as a fill-in for Jill Chappell on Global's Morning News Halifax, delivering traffic and weather updates.
"My ultimate dream is to be like Kelly Ripa," says Alex. "It will take a lot of hard work, determination, and connecting with the right people, but I am up for the challenge, and I believe NSCC has prepared me for it."
Lynn Winfield & Mike Christmas | Class of 2011
It was 2009, and the company Lynn Winfield ('11) worked for went out of business. "So much had changed in the workplace, and I needed to learn new skills."
She enrolled in the Business Administration program at NSCC's Shelburne Campus, dedicating her energy to both her studies and advocating for her school and community. Her tremendous efforts were recognized with the Alumni Spirit award.
Given annually, the $500 student award recognizes one graduate at each campus for their dedication and commitment to both NSCC spirit and community involvement. It is funded through the sale of NSCC diploma frames, which means graduates supporting future graduates. The frames are available for purchase at campus bookstores year-round.
"Receiving this award was a wonderful validation of two years of hard work," says Lynn who is now working as a Licensing Coordinator with the Department of Fisheries . Her office is located on the Shelburne campus. "Going to work each day on campus feels like home!"
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“...everyone was always willing to help each other”
Mike Christmas ('11) is another NSCC alumnus who was recognized with an Alumni Spirit award. A graduate of the Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing program at Akerley Campus, he was also the Student Association President during his final year. As President, Mike looked for opportunities to engage his campus and the community through a range of activities and events.
Currently working at Maaco Collision, Mike remains active in his community. "At NSCC, everyone was always willing to help each other. I was inspired and want to continue that."
Jeff McKenna | Class of 2003
You could say that Jeff McKenna ('03) has put himself on the map, and in a very big way.
Jeff and his Lunenburg-based company, Gateway Geomatics, were selected by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) in 2012 to participate in its World Wind project. Powered by open source software, World Wind delivers 3D spatial data to governments, nonprofits and companies around the world so they can monitor weather patterns and their impacts.
For Jeff, it was the culmination of a life-long fascination with maps, one that led this Ontario native to NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown, where he earned an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems.
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“I stay in touch with my instructors.”
"The great thing about NSCC programs like this is that they go beyond technical learning. They help you develop communications and problem-solving skills, and that makes it possible for me to transfer my knowledge and support clients like NASA."
With that kind of foundation, Jeff quickly made a name for himself after graduating, finding and adapting free software to help clients produce their own mapping products. His efforts in creating his company's MapServer for Windows – MS4W Suite, the open source software that drives the World Wind project – brought him to NASA's attention and the rest is history.
Jeff's delight to be working with NASA is matched only by the happiness of doing it from Lunenburg. "Social media is a tool and it's how I survive as a global entrepreneur. It allows me to stay in touch with an international community."
He also gets to stay connected with the students and instructors at COGS. "I've returned to the classroom to share my experiences with students, and I stay in touch with my instructors through professional associations. I hope, someday, to get more involved in preparing the next generation of geomatics professionals at NSCC."
Liza MacDonald | Class of 1995
As a leader in the financial industry, Liza MacDonald ('91 & '95) knows a thing or two about giving credit, where credit's due. In that spirit, she's quick to praise NSCC's Lunenburg Campus for helping to launch her career.
"I took the Business Administration program the first year it was offered," says Liza, a regional vice president for RBC Royal Bank. "I had previous bank experience and my instructors found a way to bridge that with my diploma to help me find a work term with RBC. I was hired full time before I finished the program, but my instructors were flexible and worked with my employer to ensure I met the program outcomes."
Grateful for NSCC's support, this Lunenburg native made it a priority to give back to the College, reaching out to its campuses to promote work terms and employment opportunities with RBC. Still, she thought she could do more, and she is now as a member of the NSCC Board of Governors.
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“Grads are well prepared for the workplace.”
"We're thrilled to have Liza's considerable industry and community experience on the Board," says NSCC president Don Bureaux. "As an alumnus, she possesses a strong passion for and understanding of the College's mission."
"The values and mission of NSCC match RBC's and mine. Being from rural Nova Scotia, I'm proud to have studied at a place that is so integral to sustaining our communities. NSCC is helping to keep great resources in our province."
So is Liza, who has hired several NSCC grads and taken on work-term students. "Being in a hiring position, I see a different level of practical experience from NSCC grads. They're well prepared for the workplace."
Though new to the Board, Liza says she is enjoying the experience and encourages her fellow alumni to follow her lead and get involved in the College. "NSCC is a major contributor to our communities. It makes education accessible to all Nova Scotians."
Joel Flewelling | Class of 1997
"There's a consistency in the quality and skills that NSCC graduates possess," says Joel. "They are very knowledgeable in their craft."
You could say the same of Joel, and not just because he graduated from that program in 1997. With his partner, hairstylist Fred Connors, Joel transformed a former north-end Halifax bank building into a unique and successful business that combines their passions: food and beauty. It was an audacious idea, but one that has prospered, thanks in part to the former waiter's extensive industry experience and the training he received at NSCC.
“I'm very proud to be an NSCC alumnus.”
I really enjoyed the program. Seeing everything that goes into operating a kitchen was eye opening. The costs, the health and safety issues – these were things I didn't know about."
Launched in 2004, Fred has grown over the years from a dynamic new business into a community cornerstone by hosting events for nonprofits and offering space for local artists to showcase their work. Joel is a strong supporter of organizations such as Family SOS and Learning Disabilities of Nova Scotia, and they have adopted a range of sustainable business practices. For example, they use coffee grounds and cardboard from Fred as compost in their home garden, which provides ingredients for their menu.
Joel's commitment to the community also extends to his alma mater. Last year, he participated in an College event to talk to students interested in becoming entrepreneurs. "I'm very proud to be an NSCC alumnus. I encourage every student to consider the college because you'll have a skill and more than likely have a job."
And if you're really lucky, it will be a job with Joel.
Matt Balsor | Class of 2009
Matt Balsor has several fond memories of NSCC's Kingstec Campus. The Business Administration program graduate sat on multiple committees and served as Vice President Finance of the student association at that campus.
"That was a great experience. I got to manage a budget in excess of $100,000, I was responsible for financial reports, and I designed and implemented a training program for students filling the VP position. It really opened a lot of doors for me."
Now, it's Matt who is opening doors with the Kingstec Rising Star Bursary. The musician and financial services representative with the Valley Credit Union in New Minas created the award in 2009 through the NSCC Foundation. It offers assistance to Kingstec students in financial need who have also demonstrated their commitment to their studies and the campus community.
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“It really opened a lot of doors for me.”
"I received five awards when I graduated from Kingstec," says Balsor, who went on to earn his Bachelor in Business Administration with Honours from Acadia in 2011.
"This bursary is my way of helping students pursue their dreams while showing appreciation for what the college has done for me."
Balsor was inspired in part by the broad range of students he met at Kingstec, in particular students struggling to make ends meet as they strive to better themselves by obtaining a post-secondary education. "I thought that if I could make a difference in a student's life and help ease the financial burden of earning a diploma, why not assist them?"
It is Balsor's intent to support the bursary as long as he can because he believes there will always be a need for it. He also hopes he can serve as an example for others to do the same.
"If this encourages other graduates to look at ways they can give back, financially or otherwise, that's what matters."
To follow Matt's example and find out how you can make a difference in the life of a student, contact the NSCC Foundation at 491-2181 or by email at: .
Tim Brownlow | Class of 1989
As Director of Government Affairs, and Business Development with Irving Shipbuilding, Tim Brownlow ('89) played a key role in the Ships Start Here campaign. This campaign was one of many highlights in his offshore oil and gas career spanning more than 30 years. During that time, Tim progressed from a drilling rig to the executive positions suite by drawing on the skills he learned through the Sales & Marketing program at NSCC's predecessor, Dartmouth Regional Vocational School.
Tim is a great example of the extraordinary contributions NSCC alumni are making in Nova Scotia communities. From his involvement in the NSCC Foundation Board, to his role with the successful Ships Start Here campaign, Tim has actively promoted the value of skills training and the important role that NSCC grads will have in helping Nova Scotia realize the full economic potential of the ships contract.
Recently recognized with an Energy Pioneer Award from the Maritimes Energy Association, Tim continues to share the spotlight and talk about his enduring ties with NSCC and NSCC's role in winning the ships contract.
“I also learned the art of marketing myself.”
"NSCC continues to step up to the plate. They were a key player on the Ships Start Here bid committee. As an alumnus of NSCC, that makes me proud. It's my honour to help the College build a legacy that will reach all Nova Scotians."
As work begins on the ship contract, Irving Shipbuilding expects to hire many of the Metal Fabrication students. Last year they made a donation to the development of a new state-of-the-art Metal Fabrication Lab, located at the Akerley Campus. "This expanded facility will be beneficial for students who are studying for careers in the metal fabrication industry," says Tim.
Cathy Langille | Class of 1964
"NSCC is core to the needs of Nova Scotia. And together, as alumni, we can help do something good for our school and our province."
Cathy Langille ('64) wasn't a cheerleader when she attended the Halifax County Vocational High School (HCVHS) at the Bell Road Campus in the 1960s. But 45 years later, this once quiet and dedicated Commercial (Business Administration) student has become one of NSCC's most spirited cheerleaders.
Together with NSCC Advancement Relations Office staff, Cathy is the lead volunteer for a campaign to raise $6,500 for the 2012 Alumni Spirit Awards. 13 Spirit Awards are presented each year (1 student at each of NSCC's 13 campuses), and the awards recognize graduates who best exemplify alumni pride, connectivity, and community impact.
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“We can help do something good for students.”
In 2010, Cathy completed a web design course at the Lunenburg Campus. It was an experience that rekindled fond memories of her days at HCVHS, but it also opened Cathy's eyes to the fact that it is harder for students today to balance a job with home life and studies so they can afford a quality education.
Realizing that she could make a difference, Cathy made a $1,000 donation to NSCC and hopes her gift will help inspire other HCVHS alumni to give back. "It seems to be a very appropriate legacy for alumni to support today's students."