Douglas 360°

In his element: an alum’s journey from chemistry to clippers

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations
Photos courtesy of Barber & Co.

When Jamie Stanton was earning his Chemistry diploma at Douglas College, he never thought he’d end up working in a lab at a barbershop.

“I thought I would be specializing in waste water management,” he says. “But then I realized I wanted to be in a lab and researching. I don’t think it matters if my lab is in a barber shop or if it’s in a university or if it’s in its own multi-million dollar facility. I’m still doing what I love to do,” he says.

There’ll be no mad scientist hair in this lab.

Jamie has been working at Barber & Co., an environmentally conscious barbershop in Vancouver’s Yaletown, since early this year. As the barbershop’s only chemist, Jamie is in charge of research, product development and testing.

Ultimately, he focuses on producing high quality, environmentally sustainable products – like their matte pomade and forthcoming aftershave tonic – for barbers and clients alike. “A lot of products can have toxic chemicals in them and there’s not enough consumer education on why these ingredients can be harmful. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research into natural preservation systems. We don’t use any perfume or any artificial scents or fragrances, only essential oils because they have medicinal benefits,” he says.

Building blocks for success

Jamie applied to Douglas College on the recommendation of a family friend and began his studies in 2009. He applied his academics to a co-op work term at ALS Environmental as a lab assistant, where he also conducted an independent research project.

Jamie, mixing up a batch of sustainable hair products.

He says the education, skills and experience he received at Douglas continue to benefit him. But mostly, it was about the people. “My education at Douglas was so valuable because I was able to form relationships with my instructors. The whole chemistry department was just fantastic and was super beneficial in forming the chemist I am today,” says Jamie.

Doing what he loves

After two years at Douglas, Jamie transferred his credits to Thompson Rivers University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He plans to eventually pursue his PhD. Until then, he hopes to continue to grow as a chemist at Barber & Co. “This job has taught me a lot about doing what you love and what that looks like in your own life. I’ve realized that going into the lab every day isn’t work – I get to do what I want to do. Every single day is fun.” 

Are you ready for the Big One?

By Safety, Security and Risk Management

You’re working at your desk when suddenly the room begins to sway and shake. It’s an earthquake. What do you do?

On Oct. 17, in an effort to prepare for a potential earthquake, Douglas College students, employees and visitors can take part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut – a province-wide earthquake drill – at both campuses.

“Seismic experts tell us that we can expect a major destructive earthquake in B.C.,” says Nancy Constable, Director of Safety, Security and Risk Management. “We don’t know when it might hit. This drill is about practising how to protect ourselves when it does.”

Get ready to drop, cover and hold on

On Oct. 17 at 10:17am, an announcement will inform people on campus when the drill begins. When you hear the announcement, carefully drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table, and hold on. If you are not near a desk or table, or are physically unable to drop, cover and hold on, cover your head and neck with your arms and crouch in a corner, away from any glass. The drill will last around 90 seconds. You will be advised when it is over.

This could save your life

Constable says it’s crucial people are prepared to take the correct action in an earthquake.

“This is about how to take that immediate life-saving, injury-reducing action. In a small or moderate quake you may hear objects rattling in your office or classroom, or feel a quiver under your feet. In a large quake, the ground or floor will move – possibly violently – and you may feel dizzy and unable to walk. You will probably feel shaking and rolling,” she says. “You need to drop, cover and hold on.”

Campus events: Oct. 7–11

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

Monday, Oct. 7

  • Imaginus poster sale – 9am-5pm in the New Westminster Campus concourse. The Imaginus Poster Sale is back! Shop thousands of cool posters with partial proceeds going toward supporting the Student Ambassador Awards.
  • Vote and share your ideas – 1-3pm in the Coquitlam Campus atrium. Cast your vote for the 2019 federal election. Learn more about what ID you need, share your ideas and solutions to issues you are concerned about and vote on campus!
  • Vote and share your ideas – 1-4pm outside the cafeteria at the New Westminster Campus. Learn more about what ID you need, grab a hot chocolate and find out where to vote on campus!

Tuesday, Oct. 8

  • Imaginus poster sale – 9am-5pm at the New Westminster Campus concourse. The Imaginus Poster Sale is back! Shop thousands of cool posters with partial proceeds going toward supporting the Student Ambassador Awards.
  • DSU dog therapy – 11am-1pm in the Coquitlam Campus atrium. Come and relieve your stressful student life by hanging out with some cute therapy dogs! Relax and get some dog cuddles!
  • Vote and share your ideas– 11am-2pm in the Coquitlam Campus atrium. Learn more about what ID you need, share your ideas and solutions to issues you are concerned about and vote on campus!
  • Vote and share your ideas– 11am-1pm in the Anvil Office Tower. Learn more about what ID you need, share your ideas and solutions to issues you are concerned about and find out where to vote on campus!

Wednesday, Oct. 9

  • Imaginus poster sale – 9am-5pm at the New Westminster concourse. The Imaginus Poster Sale is back! Shop thousands of cool posters with partial proceeds going towards supporting the Student Ambassador Awards.
  • World of dance – 4:30-5:30pm in the New Westminster Campus Movement Studio. Join us this Wednesday for an upbeat, dynamic and diverse dance session in Nigerian Pop. Come and have fun!
  • Vote and share your ideas– 11am-4pm in the Coquitlam Campus atrium. Learn more about what ID you need, share your ideas and solutions to issues you are concerned about and vote on campus!
  • Vote and share your ideas–noon-6pm outside the cafeteria at the New Westminster Campus. Learn more about what ID you need and find out where to vote on campus!

Thursday, Oct. 10

  • Imaginus poster sale – 9am-5pm at the Coquitlam atrium. The Imaginus Poster Sale is back! Shop thousands of cool posters with partial proceeds going towards supporting the Student Ambassador Awards.
  • DSU dog therapy– 11am-1pm in the New Westminster Campus concourse. Come and relieve your stressful student life by hanging out with some cute therapy dogs! Relax and get some dog cuddles!
  • Intramurals: volleyball – 4:30–6pm in the Pinetree Community Centre near the Coquitlam Campus. Intramurals are a great way to stay active, meet new friends, build campus community and try a variety of new sports. All Coquitlam Campus intramurals are offered at the Pinetree Community Centre, next to the campus, in Gym 3. Be sure to bring your Student ID card, and proof of your current class registration.
  • The Arts at One – 1pm at the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre, New Westminster Campus. Enjoy Southwood Barrington Duo with Louise Southwood, on guitar and Barrie Barrington, on piano. Free and open to the public.
  • Women’s Rights in Health Care Workshop – 1–3pm at the New Westminster Campus in the Aboriginal Gathering Place. Presented by IMPACTS and the DSU Women’s Collective, uncover what “women’s health” means to you and how we can all effectively navigate the medical system as women. BONUS: Food and drinks available and free for students but register at Eventbrite to secure a spot.

Friday, Oct. 11

  • Imaginus poster sale – 9am-5pm in the Coquitlam Campus atrium. The Imaginus Poster Sale is back! Shop thousands of cool posters with partial proceeds going toward supporting the Student Ambassador Awards.
  • Volleyball – Royals vs Blues – 6pm at Capilano University. Cheer on the Royals as our women’s volleyball team plays against the Capilano Blues!


  • New Westminster Campus Fall fitness classes – Monday–Thursday from 8am–8pm and Fridays from 8am–6pm, at the Fitness Centre in the New Westminster Campus. View the scheduled classes, which range from Power Yoga to Zumba. Come get fit and healthy!
  • Coquitlam Campus Fall fitness classes – Monday–Sunday from 8am–10pm, at the Pinetree Community Centre. View the scheduled classes, which range from Pilates to Belly Dancing. Come get fit and healthy!

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Here are 4 ways you can be cyber smart

By Shruti Ashok, Centre for Educational and Information Technology

With evolving technology comes evolving hackers. Did you know that weak passwords is the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your personal information? Did you know that 60 percent of consumers think using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom?

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and it is important for us as a community, to be informed, aware and responsible, about the simple things we can do in our power to stay cyber safe and cyber smart.

Cybersecurity matters, not just on campuses, but also homes and while accessing websites and managing personal data on public networks.

4 ways you can be cyber smart

1. Passwords

Cybersecurity starts with strong password protection. Update your passwords regularly and use unique, strong and complex passwords for every account that you maintain. Don’t reuse your passwords between sites and systems.

  • Elements that make a strong password:
    • 10-20 characters
    • Combination of uppercase and lowercase letters
    • Include numbers and symbols
    • Don’t choose obvious passwords (e.g. Password, 123456 & replacements like ‘@’ instead of ‘a’)
    • Don’t choose passwords that can be found easily in the dictionary (any language)

2. Wi-Fi

Everyone loves public Wi-Fi! Hackers do, too. Open networks leave your data at risk, so in order to stay safe, only use secure Wi-Fi networks.

You should only perform financial transactions and other sensitive transactions, i.e. those that requires sharing your passwords and personal information, when you have a secured internet connection.

3. USBs

Don’t plug and play. If you see a USB device lying around on campus, do NOT plug it into your computer to see what’s on it. Turn it in to Campus Security.

Don’t use the same USB devices for home and College computers as you could run the risk of contaminating computers. If the device is malicious, it can install malware such as backdoor Trojans (a type of malware that can enable access for a remote hacker), information stealers and more.

4. Phishing

Think before you click – phishing emails are no longer just a message with bad grammar, they’re getting more and more sophisticated. Clicking on a link or opening an attachment in an email, even when it is from someone you know, can give an attacker full control of your device and passwords. Never hit “reply” if the email seems suspicious to you in any way. If you know the sender, you should check with them to make sure the link is safe.

Do not click on links embedded in emails directly. Instead, hover your mouse over it, and take a moment to check the URL address. Sometimes the link will take you to a different page with identical design and before you know it your device is already hacked.

Take the time this October to get informed about cybersecurity and be sure to follow us on Instagram, @douglascollege to participate in the upcoming password strength contest for a chance to win $500 tuition credit!

University Transfer student follows his heart all the way to UBC and his own business

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

The path to success is not always a straight line. Just ask Searaj. When he missed being accepted to SFU by a mere one percent, he enrolled at Douglas, thinking it would be a means for a quick transfer to university. However, once at Douglas, he was shocked to discover that post-secondary was much harder than he imagined.

“My first semester at Douglas was definitely the most challenging. I failed my first Chemistry course and barely passed English. I realized that post-secondary was a demanding, fast-paced environment that requires focus and dedication,” Searaj says.

If at first you don’t succeed

Rather than giving up, he took action, working with an academic advisor and instructors to get back on track. He even switched from Science to Engineering, an agonizing decision as it meant starting again almost from scratch.

Inspired by events put on by the Douglas College Business Association, Searaj had yet again, another change of heart. He realized he wanted to pursue business so, he made the switch. After completing his first- and second-year business courses, Searaj finally transferred his credits into the Business Technology Management program at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, a Bachelor of Commerce degree specialization.

Getting down to business

Searaj Alam, contemplating his next business move.

During his time at UBC, Searaj began doing marketing work for small, local companies, offering his services for free and growing his clients’ businesses through social media. Eventually, he became so overwhelmed with clients that he had to call on a few friends to help with the workload. Nowadays, he has a social media marketing business, Social Soar Canada, which is off the ground and charging rates that won’t break the bank.

“We were shocked to learn how incredibly high the average marketing rates are in Vancouver,” says Searaj. “We’re the first – and most affordable – student-driven marketing firm in the entire city.”

The Douglas difference

Looking back on his academic career, Searaj says he’s glad he wasn’t accepted to university right off the bat. “It would have cost me a lot more to learn from my mistakes there. Douglas allowed me to get my bearings, make mistakes and work to better myself,” Searaj says. “I’ve recommended to all my friends they start at Douglas.”

Find your own career path at Douglas. Book a free information session today.

Why vote this October: Discover 10 reasons why you should be more politically aware

By Darin Nesbitt, Instructor, Department of Political Science

Canada has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among the world’s electoral democracies. Canadians pride themselves on their devotion to democracy, diversity and choice, so it is surprising – and disappointing – that so many eligible voters do not exercise this most basic and essential democratic right.

Don’t forget to vote this October! Visit our website for more information on how you can vote on campus. The time to discuss why voting matters is particularly relevant in light of the upcoming federal election on Oct. 21. With advance voting opportunities readily available at the College starting Oct. 5, I asked students in some of my political science classes to come up with reasons why citizens should cast their ballot. There are many such reasons (too many to list in a short blog post!), but here are some to consider:

  1. Apathy leads to the kind of government that apathy deserves.
  2. Positive change requires effort by voters to make it happen.
  3. Citizens need to vote because governments provide essential public goods such as security, water and education.
  4. The outcomes of elections will affect our future, both in the short- and long-term.
  5. If people do not vote, government decision makers will not accurately represent the diverse interests and needs of the community.
  6. If citizens are content with things as they are, they should vote to ensure things remain that way.
  7. Citizens have a duty to vote similar to other civic duties such as obeying laws, paying taxes or performing jury duty.
  8. If you don’t exercise your right to vote, chances are you may forfeit it. Use it or lose it!
  9. Those who do not vote are not entitled to complain about how the country is governed.
  10. The right to vote is a fundamental right that women, Aboriginal peoples and other historically marginalized peoples bravely struggled to be recognized.

To vote is to participate in a vital public ritual that nourishes and sustains our democratic culture and institutions. The decision to vote is unlike deciding whether to order a pumpkin-spiced latte or a mocha cappuccino. The act of voting does not typically produce such immediate and palpable satisfaction. The broader societal effects of voting (or not voting) are somewhat opaque and seemingly remote, but the governments formed as a result of elections directly impact citizens and the community.

In the absence of regular and fair elections, the only recourse for citizens to register their dissatisfaction with governments is civil unrest, as millions in the Middle East demonstrated during the Arab Spring movement. Those who insist their votes mean little would do well to reflect on the words of former U.S. president John Quincy Adams, who wrote that citizens should “always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is not lost.”

Meet Manpreet and Nakul, your new student tech support partners

Getting up to speed with technology can be a challenge, especially at the beginning of a new semester. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.  

The Centre for Educational and Information Technology (CEIT) has two student assistants ready to help with any tech questions for the Fall 2019 Semester as part of the Students Helping Students (SHS) program.

Meet Manpreet Kaur and Nakul Garg. Both Manpreet and Nakul are enrolled in the Computing Science and Information Systems Diploma program at Douglas College.

Manpreet, ready to assist her fellow students in New West.

Manpreet and Nakul will be on campus outfitted in red vests to assist you with logins, computer functionality, printing, wireless and connectivity.

You can reach out to Manpreet at the New West Campus. Manpreet says she has always been excited about meeting new people and learning new skills. “This is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to helping other students with their technology queries.”

You can reach out to Nakul at the Coquitlam Campus. Nakul says he enjoys helping and supporting people. His suggestion to students, “We always think that technology is challenging and are afraid to fix issues ourselves. I would like to encourage students to go ahead and explore the self-service technology options that are available to all of us at Douglas College. And for any immediate assistance I am always ready to help.”

Since its inception, the Students Helping Students service has helped hundreds of students each semester.

Nakul has you covered at the Coquitlam Campus!

If you need technical assistance this semester, look for the red vests or contact our student assistants by phone or email.

Manpreet Kaur is available to help you in New Westminster.*

Location: S2665A inside Library Computer Lab (S2660)
Call or text: 604-396-4475
Hours: 10am-6pm

Nakul Garg is available to help you in Coquitlam.*

Location: CEIT Office, (adjacent to the Library), Coquitlam Campus
Call or text: 604-306-4777
Hours: Mon – Fri, 9am-5pm

*In November, Manpreet and Nakul will swap campuses.

Why volunteer? It’s good for your mind, body and soul – and your career

The great philosopher Aristotle once said: “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”

Don’t believe Aristotle? Recent studies show that dedicating your time to serving others is good for your soul – and your career:

Douglas College student Aastha Joshi knows first hand how good it feels to volunteer.
  • You will be able to connect with others. Meeting new people will give you new perspectives, and it will help you get comfortable with networking, which will be useful when you are looking for a job.
  • You will improve your mental health. A person that volunteers is usually giving back to the community and helping others. This brings joy, increases your self-confidence and helps relieve stress.
  • You will develop workplace skills. Volunteering gives you the chance to practise important skills used in the workplace, such as problem-solving, communication, teamwork and organization.
  • You will advance your career. Once you become a volunteer, you will be someone who gives back, has experience, is able to learn new things and communicate. Those skills look great on a resumé.

Living proof

Aastha Joshi volunteers her time to help find homes for street dogs from India.

Aastha Joshi was a Marketing student at Douglas who graduated in September. Her first volunteering experience was teaching personality development and English to young offenders in rehab. But ever since she was a little girl, she has loved animals. So, when she discovered an organization called “Delhi the Street Dog Foundation,” Aastha began offering her time to help find homes for street dogs from India. She says she recommends volunteering as a great way to expand your horizons and prepare for employment.

“Volunteering gives you a lot of scope, the room to make mistakes, and opportunities to amend those mistakes at the same time – something you won’t usually get from a paid job!”

Want to start volunteering? Check out the Volunteer Fair Sept. 24 (Coquitlam) and 26 (New West).

Compassion and serendipity led this future social worker to his true calling

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

Josh Rasalan could not decide on a career. He wanted something that would allow him to do what he loves: help others help themselves.

“I want to empower individuals and help them realize they have the capacity to develop their skills and abilities to overcome their challenges,” says Josh.

It’s no surprise he eventually chose to become a social worker. But the decision took some time.

It was definitely meant to be

Enrolled in General Studies at Douglas College, Josh wanted to pin down his major. He paid a visit to his high school and talked to a former teacher he trusted.

“She saw how passionate I was about supporting and empowering my teammates when I was part of the leadership program she ran. She suggested I might enjoy social work,” says Josh.

The next step was finding a bachelor of social work program. But the only options were offered at universities, and Josh wanted to stay at Douglas, where he was getting lots of one-on-one time with his instructors.

“And then, as if like magic – literally the next week – I saw Douglas College’s blog post about the new Bachelor of Social Work program,” Josh recalls. “It was definitely meant to be.”

Douglas College Bachelor of Social Work student Josh Rasalan
“I became aware of my privileges as a Canadian-born Filipino.”

Soul-searching pays off

After taking some of the prerequisite courses for the Bachelor of Social Work, he started having doubts. Wondering if social work was really the right fit – or if he even wanted to continue his studies – he knew it was time to do some soul-searching.

Though born in Canada, Josh felt homesick and disconnected from his roots. His parents agreed to take him to the Philippines, where he visited their respective birthplaces.

That’s when he had an epiphany.

“I became aware of my privileges as a Canadian-born Filipino. I saw how many people were facing challenges like poverty and human rights violations, challenges that I may never face. I felt the need to help.”

After his trip, Josh also became more aware of the sacrifices his parents made to give him the advantages he enjoys as a Canadian. With the newfound desire to help his kabayan, a gender-neutral Tagalog word equivalent to “countrymen,” both in the Philippines and Canada, Josh returned to Douglas with a renewed focus.

Giving back to his community

Josh is now completing his Bachelor of Social Work. Once he graduates, he wants to work with immigrants who struggle with mental health challenges.

“Specifically, I want to work with Filipinx youth and their families,” says Josh. “With my family having lived the experience of immigration and the resulting mental health issues, I know this is a pressing issue in our community, and I want to help.”