Douglas 360°

Hitting a home run for Indigenous youth

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

For Sport Science student Sahara Tom, softball has been a part of her life since before she was born – her father has been an umpire for over 25 years – and it continues to influence her career path today.

Sahara followed her older sister Garaline to Douglas College so she could study Sport Science partly because she’d heard wonderful things about the program and the College learning environment, but also because of her passion for sports. Ultimately, her experience with treatment for sports injuries helped her decide on a career as a kinesiologist.

“Sports have been a large part of my life, and have given me countless memories and opportunities to better myself as an athlete and as a person,” she says. “Through my years of playing sports, I have also encountered countless injuries, and have gone through countless hours of various types of rehabilitation, and found kinesiology to be one of the most effective and beneficial.”

Many of us are familiar with chiropractors – Sahara’s original career goal – and even physiotherapists, but few may understand the work performed by a kinesiologist.

Sahara explains, “Kinesiologists work more with a workout base. They try to find ways to strengthen your whole body. The kinesiologist I work with makes sure that my body is able to do the basic movements before building off of everything. Whereas, I’ve been through a lot of physio where they only address the specific injury.”

 “I’ve been playing softball since I was about five, so coming up on 16 years now,” says Sahara. “I grew up in Nanaimo playing softball and when I was 14, I start playing in the All Native Nationals.”

Her passion for softball doesn’t end there: Sahara is also focused on coaching other young softball enthusiasts. She’s run a softball camp at her reserve in Burns Lake, B.C., and she plans to continue working to bring kids from different Indigenous communities together to play softball. To this end, she has even applied to coach the 2020 Teen B.C. softball team for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).

“I love the whole idea of NAIG because they bring a lot of tradition back into Indigenous sports. I think that’s really important to bring more of that into B.C.,” says Sahara. “Growing up, my sister and I also played All Native Basketball and that experience connected us with a lot of other communities.” This was especially important to her as neither of her parents are from Nanaimo.

Sahara also wants to work more closely with ISPARC, the Indigenous Sports, Physical Activity & Recreation Council, as they provide those in Indigenous communities with different sporting opportunities, and are responsible for organizing Team B.C. for NAIG.

“Last year I took some NCCP – the National Coaching Certification Program – modules for different coaching techniques and I got to know Rick Benson, the Executive Director of Softball B.C.,” says Sahara. “The Aboriginal coaching module emphasized the fact that a lot of reservations don’t have the equipment needed to continue playing after we leave, so after telling Rick about my goals, he offered to partner with me and sent some equipment for us to use for the camp.”

Now in her fourth year of study at Douglas, Sahara is close to realizing her dreams. Once she completes her Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching, she plans to register with the B.C. Association of Kinesiologists and continue coaching within the Indigenous communities. And, in her spare time? “I want to play a lot of softball. I’d also like to travel to New Zealand – they have amazing softball teams there. If I could somehow find a way to play softball in New Zealand, that would be truly amazing!

Campus events: March 11–15

Don’t miss out – here’s what’s happening around campus this week!

Monday, March 11

  • Free DCBA Tax Clinic – 10am-5pm in the DSU Building, 1st floor, New Westminster Campus. The clinic is free for all Douglas College students and the public (with income restrictions). On until April 30.
  • Art exhibition: Chapan Snares Rabbits – 10am-5pm at the Amelia Douglas Gallery, New Westminster Campus. View the latest works of Burnaby artist Michelle Sound, inspired by her indigenous heritage. Chapan is a Cree word for great-grandparents as well as your descendants. Free and open to the public.

  • Native Hoop Dance with Alex Wells – 7–8:30pm in the Movement Studio, New Westminster Campus. Three-time World Champion Hoop Dancer Alex Wells from Lil’wat Nation, Mount Currie, will share traditional values of Native Hoop Dance, which includes several elements of storytelling— legends, artwork and family design.

Tuesday, March 12

  • DSU Dog Therapy – 11am-1pm in the concourse, New Westminster Campus. Join the lovable therapy canines for some de-stressing before exams!
  • Making Your Net Work – 5-7pm in room S4650 at the New Westminster Campus. Learn from alumni that have launched successful careers because of experiences and connections gained as co-op students. Free and open to all students.

Wednesday, March 13

Thursday, March 14

  • Masquerade party – 7:30-11pm in the DSU Building, New Westminster Campus. Presented by the DSU Anti Social Social Club. Masks will be provided at the door. For tickets, call 778 682 3289 / 604 721 1110. 

Friday, March 15

  • 7 Stories by Morris Panych – 7:30pm at the Douglas College Studio Theatre. Directed by Thrasso Petras and produced by the Departments of Theatre and Stagecraft & Event Technology, 7 Stories is a meta-theatrical black comedy. Shows run until March 22.  Buy tickets here.

Saturday, March 16

  • Choirs in Concert – 7:30pm at the Queens Avenue United Church, 529 Queens Ave, New Westminster. Directed by Eric Hannan and presented by the Music Department. Tickets available at the door.

Tech talk: Here’s how you can help us improve our tech services

Douglas’s IT department is working with the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) to bring better and improved technology services to all campuses – and they need your to help.

On March 20, the newly formed Student IT advisory group will meet with the AVP and CIO of Technology, Brian Mackay, to share their College technology experiences.

Slow Wi-Fi, long waits at the “Quick-Print” station, and not knowing what password to use for which accounts are just a few of the concerns the students say they are all too familiar with.

“We are the ones using these services every day, we know what works and what doesn’t work and what services we need more or less of,” says Paul Wittayaworapat, Director of Campus Life for the DSU.

Members of the Student IT advisory group say they hope these conversations will lead to a noticeable impact on campus.

“The student perspective is especially important during the planning stages of updating or introducing new technology because we bring a very specific user experience to the table and can influence changes and ideas that will serve the growing and dynamic needs of students,” said advisory group member Kyle Maddox.

Brian hopes to tackle many of these issues through technology upgrades and adopting new tools.

“It’s so important to engage with the users of our technology and have them share information and ideas with me on ways to improve our services,” said Brian. “I want to ensure every student has access to the best technology resources to support them in their academic journey.”

Join the IT conversation by sharing your tech ideas or concerns with the DSU. You can contact the DSU on the following media platforms:

  • Douglas Students’ App
  • Facebook (Douglas Students’ Union)
  • Twitter (@thedsu6)
  • Instagram (@thedsu6)

Campus events: March 4–8

Don’t miss out – here’s what’s happening around campus this week!

Monday, March 4

  • Free DCBA Tax Clinic – 10am–5pm in the DSU Building, 1st floor, New Westminster Campus. The clinic is free for all Douglas College students and public (with income restrictions). On until April 30.

  • New West Technology & Business Meetup – 6:30–9pm Anvil Office Tower (11 8th St., New Westminster), 9th floor, Room 910. Engage in discussions on Solving Social Challenges with Technology. Network with tech-entrepreneurs at this meetup as part of Innovation Week 2019.

Tuesday, March 5

  • Citation sessions – 12–3pm on March 5 and 6 at the Douglas College Library, New Westminster and Coquitlam Campuses. Need help citing your sources? Attend special sessions and learn from our librarians.
  • Artists’ talk: Chapan Snares Rabbits – 6:30pm at the Amelia Douglas Gallery, New Westminster Campus. Chapan is a Cree word for great-grandparents and also your descendants. Listen to artist Michelle Sound discuss the inspiration for her latest work, currently on display. Free & open to the public.

Wednesday, March 6

  • World of Dance – Bhangra – 4:30–5.30pm in the Movement Studio, New Westminster Campus. Stay healthy and happy by getting your feet moving to the beats of Bhangra, music and dance from Punjab in India. No registration required.

Thursday, March 7

  • Newcomer Employer Connections Event – 2–6pm in the atrium, Coquitlam Campus. Attend the Job to Career seminar, network with employers, get labour market updates and make connections at the Speed Networking session. Free event, registration is not required.
  • Quiz Night in support of community mental health – 6:45–10pm in the main cafeteria, Coquitlam Campus. Show off your Trivial Pursuit (Canadian board game) skills at Quiz Night, hosted by Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart in support of the Douglas College Psychiatric Nursing Program. Presented by the Rotary Club of Coquitlam Sunrise and the Douglas College Foundation. Call 604 777 6335 to register your team of 4–6 people. 

Friday, March 8

  • Cinderella Waltz by Don Nigro – 7:30-9:30pm in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Part Monty Python, part Brothers Grimm, Don Nigro’s Cinderella Waltz, directed by Claire Fogal, is a twisted and hilarious retelling of the world’s most popular fairy tale, with dashes of Beauty and the Beast and Snow White thrown in. Buy tickets here.

Fine-tuning his passion into a profession

Anasuya Kesavan, Marketing and Communication

Photo by David Denofreo

As a high school graduate, singer, songwriter and guitarist, Antonio Larosa had never considered a career as a musician. He studied acting and even tried accounting and architecture. Eventually, he turned to music and completed the Basic Musicianship Program at Douglas College to tune his passion into a career.

The Burnaby musician is currently in the process of recording a six-song EP while performing across the Lower Mainland. “I loved to play music, however, I never thought of it as a feasible career,” says Antonio. “I took some time to figure out that if you love something, and you are passionate about it, you can make it work.”

Antonio worked on getting a strong foundation in reading and writing music, and learned the core basics of how everything fits together. “Douglas laid the foundation of my career as a musician,” says Antonio. “Theory, scales, practice techniques and practice regiment are skills that I believe every musician needs in his toolbox. The program teaches you how to take that knowledge to the next level. It’s a traditional way of learning, which I think is the best way of learning the fundamentals of music.”

“Whether it’s teaching music or giving a live performance, you need to know the basics. I believe the Basic Musicianship program at Douglas can open up careers in teaching, studio recording, live performance, composition and music therapy. This is the best program to be in when you have little to no music knowledge to get you on your feet for the future.”

At Douglas, Antonio also sang in the community choir and networking with musicians by going to live, weekly performances by experienced musicians. “It’s very inspiring,” says Antonio who recommends local open mic nights to get a taste of performing live. “Learning to sing with others and performing with others is a very key piece to working as a musician.”  

Antonio Larosa with Marc Devigne (centre) and Michael Daniel Murphy (right) at Bailamos 2016.

These experiences helped Antonio perform with 11 other musicians in a show called “Bailamos!” which took place at the Empire Theatre in Belleville, Ontario, and aired on PBS in North America.

Working as a musician is challenging – expressing emotion in a song takes years of practice. There is also a marketing and entrepreneurial side to the profession that a musician has to learn to manage. “Social media is cool if you learn to harness it and use it to your advantage. It can be daunting to expose yourself so much, but it has definitely become a necessary part of this industry. 

“I’m striving to get to the point where I can just play or sing what I am thinking, musically. If you are doing your best, that’s all you can do!” says the up-and-coming musician who believes in enjoying his musical journey and staying focused on his career.  

Campus events: Feb 25-Mar 2

Don’t miss out – here’s what’s happening around campus this week!

Monday, Feb. 25

  • Flow Jam – 7-10pm in the Movement Studio, New Westminster Campus room N1313. Come dance, practice your routine, meet new people, shop and network! Bring your LED props! This is a glow party organized by the DSU Hoop Club.

Tuesday, Feb. 26

  • Citation sessions – 12-3pm on Feb. 26 and 27 at the Douglas College Library, New Westminster and Coquitlam Campuses. Need help citing your sources? Attend special sessions and learn from our librarians.
  • Black History Month event – 12:30-3pm in room N4233, New Westminster Campus. Celebrate Black History Month with guest speaker, Roger B. Jones, also known as ‘The Ability Guy’ who is an authority on disability culture and an active member of the African Canadian community.

  • Balancing the scales: The role of fair dealing in Canada – 1-4:15pm in room 1400-1410, SFU Harbour Centre. Presentations and discussion aimed at demonstrating the value of fair dealing in a modern Canadian context, while highlighting the perspectives of diverse copyright stakeholders. Jointly presented with SFU, UBC, Langara, KPU, VCC and JIBC.

Wednesday, Feb. 27

  • Pink Shirt Day group photo – 11:30am in the Concourse, New Westminster Campus and the AB atrium, Coquitlam Campus. Take a stand against bullying and show your support by wearing pink for the annual Pink Shirt Day. Get a fun picture taken at the Pink Shirt Day photo booth organized by Student Life at both campuses. Tag your photo on social media with #pinkitforward and #studentlife for a chance to win a hoodie.

  • Douglas College Career Fair – 10am-3pm on Feb 27 and 28 in the Concourse, New Westminster Campus. Find your future at the 29th annual Douglas College Career Fair. Meet recruiters hiring for part- and full-time positions.

Thursday, Feb. 28

  • Chapan Snares Rabbits – 4:30pm-7:30pm at the Amelia Douglas Gallery, New Westminster Campus. Opening reception for the exhibition of new works by Michelle Sound. Light refreshments provided, cash bar available. Free & open to the public.

Friday, Mar. 1

  • Counsellors’ Day – 8:30am-2pm in room A1470 and the Main Cafeteria at the Coquitlam Campus. An opportunity for high school counsellors, students and parents to gain information on the academic programs on offer at Douglas College. Register for the event here.

Saturday, Mar 2

  • PechaKucha New West Vol.22 – 8pm-10pm in Anvil Centre Theatre, New Westminster. Ten presenters from a range of fields share their interesting projects, inspirations and passions. There’s only one catch – presenters get 20 images, 20 seconds each, making for a 6 minute and 40 second shot of ideas and inspiration. Buy tickets for the event here.


Tips to get the most out of the Douglas College Career Fair

At the upcoming Career Fair, Feb. 27 & 28 in the New Westminster Campus concourse, you can meet and network with over 25 regional and national employers, as well as professional organizations, who specifically want to meet (and hire!) Douglas students and alumni.

Put your best foot forward with tips and advice from some of the employers you’ll find at this year’s fair.

1. Have a great cover letter and resumé on hand. Also, do your research!

“Resumés, business cards, etc. are nice to have. Employers will usually ask for an online application at some point during the process. Most importantly, bring a great personality, good questions and a genuine interest in the employers.”
– Cindy Huang, Talent Acquisition Specialist, O2E Brands

2. Dress for success.

“For the career fair, we think that students should wear what they would normally wear to a career fair or a job interview. Wearing anything with inappropriate images or profanity is not advisable.”
– Marcy Dabiri, HR Generalist, Transport Canada / Government of Canada

“It’s best to wear business attire if you can, but smart business casual is also usually OK for students attending a daytime event.”
– Marra N., Student Recruitment with Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

3. Ask questions, be polite and follow up.

“Create a good vibe by showing initiative when speaking with our leaders. They want to see that you are a go-getter who can take control of the conversation and are able to build relationships. To break the ice, introduce yourself right away and talk about the excitement you have for the role.”
– Michael Leung, BBA, HR Specialist – Recruitment, Shaw Communications

“Students should thank the individual for their time and say it was nice to meet them before walking away from the table. They should get a business card if they are interested in working with that employer. Within a day or two, students should email the individual they spoke with and also connect with them on Linkedin.”
– Marra N., Student Recruitment with Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. 

4. Remember that Douglas College sets you apart from the crowd.

“Be enthusiastic, professional and proactive. Douglas College provides future-employees with a good understanding of their field for real life application.”
-Cindy Huang, Talent Acquisition Specialist, O2E Brands

“I’m always impressed that Douglas College has a supportive Career Centre to help students navigate their career, active student clubs and an engaged alumni network. All of these things help students prepare for their careers.”
– Marra N., Student Recruitment with Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. 

Need some help getting ready? Contact the Career Centre at 604 527 5889 or email

The Career Fair runs Feb. 27 and 28, from 10am-3pm in the New Westminster Campus concourse.

Rewriting her story and making a difference

Telka Pesklevits

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

Photo by David Denofreo

For Creative Writing student Telka Pesklevits, Douglas College changed from a stepping stone in her post-secondary plan to the setting for her entire educational journey. While she initially planned to transfer her credits into media studies at UBC, Telka stayed on at Douglas and took advantage of all the great opportunities offered at a smaller post-secondary institution.

“My time with the Creative Writing Department has been such a great experience,” says Telka. “Getting one-on-one feedback in a workshop format really pushed me to pursue creative writing. And, the feedback model has also helped me with my academic writing skills.”

So what does the future hold after graduation? “My plan is two-tiered. I want to write. Poetry with social meaning is my passion and this is a golden age for modern poetry, it would be great to be involved in that,” says Telka. “I would also love to work in a non-profit doing communications. I think working in the non-profit sector would be so inspiring. One of my fellow directors at the student union is currently doing communications for CUPE, something like that would be my ideal.”

Telka is passionate about pursuing a career that combines her creative thinking and writing skills with the contextual social foundation she’s gained during her education. “I want to do something that I know will help change and improve the lives of others,” she says. “Whether on a big scale or a small one, I want to help people.”

There are many groups that she hopes to positively affect over the course of her career, including women, people with disabilities – especially invisible disabilities – and the LGBTQ community. “I’m also Métis,” she adds. “That’s part of why I work for the Aboriginal Student Services centre. Reconciliation is very important to me. Whether or not that’s exactly the work I’m doing, it will be a guiding practice.”

During her time at Douglas, Telka has studied a number of subjects to bolster her skill set, including business, anthropology and more. In addition to her classes, she’s also rounded out her resumé working for numerous departments within the College and as Services Coordinator for the BC Federation of Students. She is currently the Director of College Relations for the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU), a student representative on the Douglas College Board of Directors, has worked for Aboriginal Student Services and was a Student Ambassador – a fairly robust c.v. for a college student.

By being involved in so many areas of Douglas College, Telka has had the opportunity to strengthen her connection with the faculty in a way that isn’t possible with classroom interactions alone. Working for the DSU, as well as her other opportunities to work side-by-side with faculty and staff have been invaluable.

“Being a part of the conversation, offering my perspective as a student and seeing how decisions are made,” Telka says, “helped shape my own decision making process.”

And, when she isn’t advocating for students, you’ll most likely find Telka hunting for hidden gems. “My main hobby is thrifting,” she admits. “The only thing not thrifted in the photo is my jeans!”

4 ways to declutter your digital life

By Nicole Chiu, Communications Officer, CEIT

We all know what it’s like to clean a messy room or organize clutter around the home. But have you ever thought of decluttering your digital life? Organizing your life online keeps your digital mess at bay and can even protect you from cyber-crime.

So, what can you do to declutter?

1. Leave it in the Cloud

Upload your computer and mobile files onto the Cloud and use folders to organize your documents, images, videos, and more. As a Douglas College student you have access to 1 terabyte of Cloud space on OneDrive, an internet-based file storage provided by Microsoft Office 365. That’s enough space for:

  • A Word document with 85 million pages
  • Over 300,000 pictures
  • 41 days of video footage

Additionally, you have access to a collection of services from Office 365. This service allows you online access to applications like Word and PowerPoint. Best of all, your files save automatically to your OneDrive storage while you’re working, freeing you from worrying about losing your work because you forgot to hit ‘save,’ or your computer crashed. Files uploaded onto your OneDrive will be private, secure, and accessible from any device from any place with an internet connection*.

For more information on how to use Office 365, visit the Office 365 page on the Douglas College website.
*When you leave Douglas College as a graduate or otherwise, you will lose your access to OneDrive and your files will be deleted. If you know you will soon be leaving Douglas, move your files onto your computer or upload them onto another Cloud storage service, like a personal version of Microsoft OneDrive. 

2. Keep your inbox clean

Check and clean your inbox often. Also, remember to empty out the junk mail. Move unwanted emails to your junk folder and create folders for important emails. Want to access all your email in one place? Simply forward your College email to your personal email account.

To learn how to forward emails sent to your College email address, visit the College email in Office 365 page.

3. Manage your passwords

If you have a number of different passwords to remember, try using a free password manager like LastPass. It helps you create strong passwords and remembers them for you. It’s especially important to make strong passwords for all your accounts. It will ensure that your information is safe from online attackers.

For your Douglas College accounts, use a minimum of 15 characters and a combination of at least three of the following:

  • Lower case letters
  • Upper case (capitol) letters
  • Numbers
  • Special characters, i.e. !@#$%^&*()_+=~`.

Take the password test to validate the strength of your password. Aim for a password that will take over three million years to crack.

For more information on accounts and passwords, visit the Logins & Passwords page.

4. Clean your computer once a year

The second Monday in February is National Clean Out Your Computer Day. Sure, you can give your PC or Mac a good dusting and wipe-down, but the real magic happens when you update and get rid of old files. You’ll be amazed at how much faster your computer works by following these tips:

  • Update all your software and ensure you have the latest operating system
  • Uninstall old applications and delete old files you no longer use
  • Back up important files onto your OneDrive storage

Challenge yourself and tackle all four ways to declutter your digital life. Or, ease yourself into it one-by-one. Whatever you decide, you’ll feel digitally refreshed and organized.

UK journalist launches writing career at Douglas

By Maansi Pandya, Professional Communication grad 

It was 2016, and I had just completed my undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia. While UBC had been an excellent challenge and a great first step in my education, I still felt like I had a lot more to learn. Like many young people early on in their careers, I was overwhelmed by my options and unsure of what my next step should be. I’ve always been a creative person and have loved writing since childhood, but I didn’t know how to translate my love of writing into a career. I decided the obvious next step was to continue my education. Then came the tough part, deciding where to study next!

I knew I wanted a career where I could be creative, tell stories and hone my craft as a writer. After some lengthy research into several post-graduate programs with a creative focus, I eventually discovered Douglas College’s Professional Communication Post-Degree Diploma. Joining the program turned out to be the best decision I’ve made and eventually helped me find a career I love: journalism.

At Douglas, I took courses in public relations, magazine writing, editing, copywriting and more. I came away from each course feeling fulfilled, inspired and excited about what I had learned.

The smaller class sizes meant each student was given undivided attention and constant feedback, which proved to be invaluable in my growth as a writer. I also had the best instructors I could have asked for, each incredibly knowledgeable and supportive of my growth.

One of the many high points of the program was taking Roberta Staley’s journalism course, where I had my first foray into the exciting world of reporting. My first assignment was to report on Vancouver’s chapter of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington for the Vancouver Observer. Interviewing marchers and hearing their stories was a thrilling experience.

Next, as part of the program’s work placement, I interned at Vancouver and Western Living magazine. The internship turned out to be a key turning point for me. It gave me the opportunity to be published in a well-known magazine and further improve my writing skills. Getting feedback from professional editors was incredibly rewarding. I also made lifelong friends in the process.

My internship eventually led me to become a freelance writer for Canada Wide Media’s BC Living magazine. Freelancing was a fun, completely different world. It involved lots of invoices, emails and follow-ups, but also gave me the chance to create my own schedule and be in charge of what I wrote. For anyone interested in freelancing, the best advice I could give is to find a way to organize all your upcoming projects that works best for you. Personally, I found bullet-journaling to be a very practical, less restrictive way to keep track of all my deadlines. Freelancing can be unpredictable. I sometimes went from having three articles due a week to one a month.

Since graduating from Douglas, I moved to London, England, to pursue my journalism career. I’m extremely excited for what’s to come and am very grateful to my instructors at Douglas for all their wisdom, guidance and for helping me find my passion.

Information sessions for the Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication are on now at the New Westminster Campus. Register now!

Maansi Pandya is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver. After graduating with BA in Sociology from UBC, she earned a Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication at Douglas College in 2018. Maansi has written for BCLiving, Western Living, Vancouver Magazine and the Vancouver Observer. She now lives and works in London, England.

Featured image: Visual of Maansi’s report on
2017 Women’s March on Washington for the Vancouver Observer.