Douglas 360°

HEARing their calling: how two grads found their career path, and each other, at Douglas

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

During his time at Douglas, Mike Zacharias learned early on that a bad grade could actually be a good thing. In fact, doing poorly on a quiz in one of his first classes led him to meeting Sam Costa, his girlfriend, coworker and fellow graduate of the Hearing Instrument Practitioner diploma program.

“Our meeting was purely coincidental,” says Mike. “We’d both done poorly on our first quiz. I asked her if she’d like to study together and she said yes. Eventually studying together turned into becoming a couple. So just because you don’t do well on your first test, don’t give up, kids!”

Read more: Attend an upcoming online information session to learn more about the Hearing Instrument Practitioner Diploma program.

Get involved, get experience

Not only did finding a study buddy improve their respective grades, but both Mike and Sam excelled in the HEAR program and found gigs in the industry before they even graduated. To build her resumé, Sam did testing for NexGen Hearing – a hearing health provider in B.C. – and Mike also performed hearing tests, but at an ENT practitioner’s office.

“The program prepared us really well for work in the hearing health field,” says Sam. “We learned all the components necessary to do a good job in the clinic for the clients. It was fun, interesting and made me excited to start work.”

Read more: Psych nursing student seizes early opportunity for valuable work experience

Both Sam and Mike really enjoyed the challenge of their course work during the two-year diploma program, but they agreed what really made the program stand out (other than meeting one another) was being able to meet and interact with industry professionals. Particularly at one networking event organized by members of the Faculty of Science and Technology.

“Industry day was our most memorable experience at Douglas” says Mike. “It was really great to meet with employers and manufacturers just as we’re about to graduate, and ask them our questions about working in the industry.”

Read more: How this music alum found his calling in film and television

Using transferable skills

While they ended up in the same program – and currently work as Hearing Instrument Practitioners for the same company – Mike and Sam came to the HEAR program from very different backgrounds.

Sam had worked in the health care industry as a care aide at a long term care facility. She was drawn to the HEAR program at Douglas because she wanted to further her career helping people, and it stood out as one of the only Hearing Instrument Practitioner programs with hands-on learning opportunities and face-to-face instruction. Being from Pitt Meadows, she was also happy that going to Douglas meant staying close to home.

Mike on the other hand, travelled a little farther for school and a chance at a completely new career.

“The forest industry in Prince George, where I was working, had basically collapsed. I wanted to find a new career with stability,” says Mike. “I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people and I am an avid techy. The hearing industry is great for both those things.”

Right place, right time

Toward the end of their program, Sam and Mike attended a graduation dinner sponsored by Connect Hearing, where serendipity struck once again.

“During the course of the evening we chatted with the manager of human resources and the topic of where we’d like to work once we were certified came up,” says Mike. “Connect Hearing needed two full-time Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioners on the Sunshine Coast, and three days later we were offered the positions.”

Now, Mike and Sam have started their careers as Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioners on the Sunshine Coast, where they have been living and working for a year and a half. They’re enjoying their unique work at the clinics – Mike in Gibsons and Sam in Sechelt – so much so that they recently purchased a townhouse there.

“The lifestyle here is a little slower than the Lower Mainland, which is something we both appreciate. We’ve worked really hard and have been incredibly fortunate to end up where we are.”

Have fun and build valuable skills this Fall with the Student Ambassadors

The Student Ambassadors (SAs) are a select group of student leaders who help organize and run the recruitment events put on by the Future Students’ Office. As a Student Ambassador, you’ll have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the College community while developing your interpersonal, professional and leadership skills. SAs play a key role in year-round College events, including information sessions, Counsellor’s Day and high school visits.

Hemnesh Ramwani is an international student studying International Supply Chain Management. He joined the Student Ambassador program during his second semester at Douglas, in Winter 2019.

By Hemnesh Ramwani, International Supply Chain Management

Two things drew me to becoming a Student Ambassador: Gaining leadership and communication skills; and recruiting and helping new students.

Hemnesh Ramwani

Since joining the program, my favourite part of being a Student Ambassador is interacting with future students during information sessions. I enjoy helping them by sharing my knowledge and experience. My second favourite aspect of being a Student Ambassador is the regular meetings with other SAs. Everyone is so supportive; we’re like a family and we always help each other no matter what the issue.

What I’ve gained through the program

Being a Student Ambassador has been immensely helpful for improving my communication and leadership skills. I can honestly see the difference from when I first started to now. In our SA meetings, we get to network with, and learn from, members of the Future Students’ Office, we play skill-building games or present on various topics to practice our public-speaking skills.

Being a Student Ambassador is something I can put on my resumé, and it will definitely help me in the future; as an International Supply Chain Management student, leadership and communication skills will be essential in my future management roles. And the networking aspect of being an SA will open doors for me in the working world.

Read more: This student grew personally and professionally as a Student Ambassador.

Adapting to COVID-19

When the pandemic started, we were worried about what would happen to our role since our work is all done in-person. Fortunately, we were able to adapt; our meetings shifted to Zoom, campus tours were conducted virtually and information sessions continued to happen through video and other digital formats.

The online delivery has been very successful and we’re continuing our work as usual. Even with the transition to online work, we continue to feel connected to our team. We even received our branded swag – I didn’t expect it because we would normally pick it up in-person, but the staff went out of their way to mail it to us directly.

Read more: Nursing and Child and Youth Care alumni share how the nature of their work has shifted in the wake of a global pandemic.

Why you should join the Student Ambassadors

If you are considering becoming a Student Ambassador, I definitely recommend it. Being an SA will improve your communication, leadership and people skills – three major skills everyone needs for a successful future career – and isn’t that why we’re in college?

Secondly, being a Student Ambassador is a lot of fun. The network of Ambassadors, staff and professionals is so supportive and encouraging. We really enjoy working together.

And lastly, as a bonus, SAs get priority registration for courses each semester. You get the courses you need at the times you want and with your first choice for instructor.

The Student Ambassador program is accepting applications for Fall 2020 until September 18. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity! Apply today.

This accounting grad serves up deadpan coffee reviews on Instagram

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations

Alfred Zagloul’s multifaceted career as an accountant, Instagram influencer and entrepreneur is surprisingly all connected by one thing – coffee. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I’ve been really fortunate that my degree has allowed me to merge my career with my passions and interests,” says Alfred.

Sippin’ on success

Out of all his professional ventures, his Instagram success is probably the most surprising. When Alfred’s Daily Hive colleagues noticed he enjoyed exploring downtown Vancouver’s coffee shops on his breaks, they suggested he start an Instagram profile. After a few months of planning, @AlfredDrinkingCoffee was born. 

“The account started out as a joke at first,” Alfred admits. “We wanted to poke fun at the stereotype that accountants are boring with no sense of humor, while delivering a deadpan coffee review.”

Turns out, the joke was on him. In less than a month the account went from two followers to 2,000. Not long after that, coffee shops and roasters – from local JJ Bean Coffee Roasters to a roaster in Australia – started to reach out to collaborate. Now, the account boasts over 11,000 followers and Alfred has reviewed over 500 types of coffee. Officially a profitable side hustle, Alfred continues to grow the account and track his income, expenses and inventory with the skills he learned during his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Douglas.

Read more: How Gen Zers can – and should – start investing their money

The grind

Even though Alfred has found his unique professional niche, it wasn’t always easy. He came to Douglas College’s accounting program for a change of pace after failing out of another post-secondary institution.

“I didn’t study and quickly went from academic probation to being kicked out by the third semester,” he says.

The change proved to be exactly what he needed. The smaller class sizes at Douglas College meant he was able to connect with his peers and interact with his instructors in meaningful ways.

After a few semesters of keeping his head down and getting his grades up, Alfred realized he was missing out on half of the college experience by solely focusing on his academics. So, he became a Student Ambassador and got involved on campus.

Read more: Gain leadership skills and build your resumé as a Student Ambassador

“You’re not going to apply all the knowledge that you’re learning in your courses into your career. But what you will apply is all the experiences you had that built you into who you are. At my core, I know that graduating from Douglas made me into who I am today,” Alfred says.

Taking his shot

After graduation and a stint in the accounting department at Blenz Coffee’s headquarters – where he picked up his love of coffee alongside his first accounting gig – he was hired by Karm Sumal, CEO and co-founder of what was at the time Vancity Buzz to help reinvigorate the publication’s finance department.  

“I got so much experience just in that first year of basically restarting Vancity Buzz’s books from scratch. We built the policies and the structures of the department,” Alfred says.

During his first year, Vancity Buzz expanded to Toronto and Montreal and rebranded as Daily Hive. Today, the company is the largest online-only media publication in western Canada.

“I didn’t get much sleep during that time, so coffee definitely helped,” he says.    

Staying grounded

Even with his success, Alfred is far from finished.

“Nowadays people seem to want to pursue a career and it’s the be all, end all. But it’s not enough for me. I want to do all the things I’m passionate about,” Alfred explains. “But with my degree and my understanding of how money works, I know I need to build a financial foundation before I can do everything.”

In late 2019, Alfred launched Zagloul Consulting where he aims to support his clients in pursuing their dreams by helping them truly understand their business finances.

Even with yet another side hustle under his wing, he’s already applying the skills he teaches his clients to his own future. “I still have five or so years to go, but I’d love to open up a coffee shop of my own one day.”

Want to connect and network with people like Alfred in the Douglas community? Join Douglas College Café, an exclusive mentoring and networking program. Learn more on the Douglas College website.

Get in the know with NSO and other reasons to sign up for New Student Orientation

By Student Life

“Where do I get my student ID?”
“Who else is in my program?” 
“When will the Bookstore be open?”    

There’s a lot of questions that arise when you begin a new journey, especially one as monumental as starting college. That’s why we host Strong Start: New Student Orientation (NSO), so you start off on the right foot. While this is an exciting time in life, it can also be stressful. We’ve designed orientation to give you a snapshot of all the services, programs and opportunities that will assist you during your first semester and beyond. 

Read more: This rapper could be your next poli-sci instructor

What if I skip orientation?

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I don’t need to attend NSO, I’ll figure all that out when I get there.” Sure, you could wait and figure it out on your own – but imagine it’s the first day of classes. You arrive at campus early to get your books, only to realize “oh no!” the Bookstore is closed for in-person services due to the pandemic (which we talk about at NSO) that you have to order your textbooks online. 

Then, you’re looking for your class but can’t find it. You spot another student (a rare sighting, because a lot of courses are online this semester) and ask them if they know where to find your class, but they can’t help you. When you finally find your classroom, you’re late and there’s only one seat left at the back of the class and it turns out you forgot your glasses on top of not having your textbooks – tragic.  

Being online and on time

With many courses being online or having online components this Fall, knowing how to handle any technical issues that may arise is going to be crucial. NSO will introduce you to, and get you familiar with, Blackboard and other online services you will need to succeed. The time you spend now in preparation for the upcoming semester will benefit you in so many ways. 

In addition to learning how to access your online classes, you’ll learn how to maintain your health and wellness (aka managing the “freshman 15”), access tutoring and other services, and how to get involved in the College community. There are lots of opportunities at Douglas and we want to give you a 360˚  view of them all.  

Read more: This Sport Science student used her connections in the athletics department to make the most of her time at Douglas.

Did we mention the sweet prizes?

Maybe you’re still not convinced it’s worth your time. So, in addition to all the priceless knowledge you’ll acquire during New Student Orientation, you’ll be eligible to win $300 worth of tuition credits (hello free money!) and a $250 Amazon gift card just for attending. All you need to do is complete the survey at the end of the Blackboard course to be entered into the draw; it’s easy as 1, 2, 3!  

We know these are unusual times, but we want to give you a great college experience while we all sort through this new way of learning. Douglas College is here to support you as you start this next chapter in life, and we want to provide you with the tools to help you succeed.  

We look forward to meeting you during orientation!  

A summer up north: psychiatric nursing student seizes early opportunity for valuable work experience

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

When Kaarun Sangra joined the Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing program, he was eager to begin working with patients as quickly as possible. So when he got the opportunity to practise his psychiatric nursing skills in his third year, Kaarun snapped it up; he became the first-ever student psychiatric nurse to be hired through the employed student nurses program at Dawson Creek and District Hospital (DCDH), in northern B.C.

Kaarun was hired to work on the inpatient psychiatric unit, which had previously only hired employed student nurses from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“I felt that being the first ever psychiatric nursing student to get hired for their psychiatric unit was a great achievement, not only for myself, but also for our discipline as we continue to develop and build new bridges,” Kaarun says.

Despite being only a third year, Kaarun felt sufficiently prepared for the work experience; he’d already learned a broad range of skills in the Psychiatric Nursing program, from clinical to therapeutic, and how to take a patient’s living situation and cultural background into account when developing treatment plans.

“I had to navigate difficult conversations, utilize de-escalation techniques and assess a patient’s mental status, while also empowering and working with them to tailor their care to their goals and preferences. My ability to do this work and to thrive within this environment was a direct result of the knowledge and skills I learned at Douglas.”

Read more: Psychiatric Nursing students find a cure for toxic work environments

A rural challenge

DCDH is a rural hospital, a 13-plus hour drive from Vancouver and about an hour’s drive from Fort St. John, the closest city. The unit has two nurses per shift to care for up to 15 patients; this high patient-to-nurse ratio, combined with the limited resources of a rural hospital and the unique needs of psychiatric patients, made for a busy patient load for staff – and a valuable learning opportunity for Kaarun.

“Nurses in rural communities take on significantly more responsibilities in regards to patient care than those in more urban settings due to the limited staffing. So working in this environment seemed like a real adventure to me, and I was excited for the challenge because I knew it would push me to be a better nurse,” says Kaarun.

Caring for Indigenous patients

Kaarun also worked with many Indigenous patients at the hospital. He says the Psychiatric Nursing program prepared him well for that, too.

“We learned in depth about the cruelties and hardships Indigenous populations have faced in Canada. There is a strong focus on  delivering patient-centered care by improving our understanding of how Indigenous populations view health care, their beliefs regarding mental health and medications, as well as how to integrate cultural practices.

“Caring for Indigenous patients in a manner that was sensitive to their culture and beliefs was an important experience that really helped take my practice to the next level,” he says.

Read more: This nursing grad wants to close the gaps in health care services in northern Indigenous communities.

Past and future goals

Kaarun is no stranger to the values and beliefs of different cultures when it comes to mental health. While growing up, he got a firsthand view – and didn’t agree with what he saw.

“My parents are Punjabi, and I grew up in a culture where there is a lack of understanding about mental illness – sufferers are typically shunned and viewed as weak. Seeing how this affected family and friends, I wanted to do something about it,” says Kaarun.

Kaarun graduated earlier this year, and now works as a registered psychiatric nurse on the Acute Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital. His long-term goal is to work in the emergency department of a hospital because he enjoys the challenging, fast-paced environment where critical thinking is essential. But before then, he’s going to make the most of his current role, and maybe return to work in a rural community.

“I enjoyed my experience working up north and still consider returning there to work one day. My current position is allowing me to really consolidate the skills I gained through my work experience with the education I gained at Douglas. This way, when I pursue other positions, I’ll be able to deliver an even higher quality of care.”

Beyond the face: Meet Adelia

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals – just like you.

As a member of Kitimat’s Haisla Nation, Adelia Paul is all too aware of the gaps in health care services in northern Indigenous communities. As a registered nurse, she wants to do something about it.

“I really want to make an impact in nursing, for my own people at the very least. Indigenous health is an issue that gives me energy,” says Adelia, a graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Read more: This Environmental Studies student wants to design green buildings for a more eco-friendly future.

But she’s not stopping at health care. Adelia wants to join forces with Indigenous women in other fields, including social services, who are also looking to make a difference.

“Ideally, we will work together to close the gaps in services that are present right now for our people.”

It’s an ambitious project, but Adelia is up for the challenge. She has always fought to achieve her goals – and knows first-hand the power of persistence.

When she first decided to attend Douglas, she was aiming for a spot on the Royals basketball team. She drove down from Kitimat hoping to try out, only to be turned away because the players had already been chosen. She had to wait a whole year to try again, but she was determined to get on the team.

Adelia was accepted for the point-guard position. During her 5-year career with the Royals, she consistently ranked in the top three assist leaders of the PACWEST, and in her final year was the All-Time Assist Leader for the PACWEST. She helped her team win the 2016-17 PACWEST Championship Gold Medal, the first gold medal win for the Royals Women’s Basketball team in over two decades.

Adelia in her Royals uniform

Joining the Royals was Adelia’s first hurdle. She also struggled to adjust to the college environment, and her grades reflected that. With her position on the team at risk if she didn’t improve her grades, Adelia sought help from the Athletic department and took advantage of student resources.

 “Even just small changes, like sitting at the front in class or visiting instructors’ office hours, made a big difference,” says Adelia.

Read more: This Sport Science student got support from the athletics department to make the most of her time at Douglas.

The pro shot you’ve seen around town
Adelia IRL

And then came her biggest challenge: getting into the Nursing program. The program has so many applicants that Adelia had to apply three times before she finally got in. But she never thought of giving up, and the skills she acquired with the Royals helped her succeed in nursing.

“My coaches always told me to give the same to school as what I gave in basketball. This meant showing up on time, being prepared, asking questions, surrounding myself with people who would encourage me, and always pushing myself to do better.  Doing that is what got me to where I am today.”

Now a registered nurse, Adelia is working in the Medicine Stroke Unit at Royal Columbian Hospital, attending to the needs of recovering stroke patients.

Beyond the face: Meet Chandan

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals – just like you.

Sometimes the first program you choose just isn’t the right fit. Just ask Chandan Jaraith, aka CJ, an international student who came to Douglas to continue his education in computer science, but after a brief stint taking business classes, ended up in loving Financial Analysis.

CJ completed his Bachelor’s of Engineering in Computer Science back home in India, where he worked as a network engineer, and wanted to further his education abroad.

The pro shot you’ve seen around town.
CJ IRL and in full colour!

He was drawn to Douglas for its wide range of programs, hands-on learning and glowing recommendations from his friends who had already graduated and loved the experience.

“When I decided to study in Canada, I chose Douglas for its reputation and because it offered several computer courses but I decided instead to challenge myself with business classes. Unfortunately, found the subject kind of boring. While trying to decide on a different program, I took a financial analysis course on a whim. It turned out I loved analytics! Now I’m enrolled in the Post-Degree Diploma in Financial Analysis, which I really like.”

Read more: Follow the money: Finance manager turns criminal investigator

What CJ enjoys most about studying at Douglas is the combination of classroom instruction and applied learning, which was quite different from his previous schooling experience.

“When I was studying in India, everything was theoretical. As a result, when I got to Douglas, I was nervous about getting up in front of my class and giving a presentation, because I’d never had to do that before. But the more I practise, the more I appreciate the practical focus of my classes at Douglas. Having to express myself in front of a group of people has helped me build confidence in myself,” says CJ.

Ultimately, CJ wants to become a financial analyst, making business recommendations to an organization based on market trends, the company’s financial status and other factors. To get a head start, CJ is working part-time job as a sales rep at a local cell phone retailer, where his manager is mentoring him on the ins and outs of running a business.

Read more: The Career Boost program helped this Finance student turn his education into a job

“My job is helping me understand how a business works and my manager has been kind enough to show me how the financing of the store is done, how things are purchased, everything! Day by day, I’m learning a bit about finance and the cost to run a business, while applying the skills I’m learning at Douglas and building my resumé.”

English Language Learning program gave this student the confidence to pursue her dreams in Canada

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

As a newcomer to Canada and permanent resident, Tina Tso was no stranger to the free English-language classes offered around the Lower Mainland. In fact, she has taken just about every one of them. But she never felt confident in her English skills – until she met ELLA.

Tina Tso
Tina exploring Granville Island

The English Language Learning and Acquisition program (or ELLA for short) is a tuition-free program offered at Douglas College for Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents and refugees, and to international students at international student fee rates. ELLA helps students improve their English language skills so they can meet the English-language requirements for a post-secondary program or job opportunity in Canada.

Read more: ELLA student to lead staff at new Vancouver restaurant

At first, Tina, who moved to Canada from Chengdu, China in 2011, had no plans to pursue higher education.

“The only thing I wanted was to keep learning English, because that was the only way I felt connected to the world around me,” says Tina.

But once her writing, speaking and listening skills began to improve, she decided to apply to the Youth Justice Diploma program at Douglas. Now, not only is she on her way to completing her diploma, she feels ready to take her education further and complete a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care.

She says she couldn’t have done it without ELLA.

“I really appreciated how supportive the teachers were. Also, ELLA provided holistic and practical training in listening, speaking and writing skills, which helped me build a good foundation for further study. It gave me the confidence to continue my education and pursue a bachelor’s degree.”

Read more: How one Child and Youth Care alum is changing the face of education

With the English language skills and confidence she has gained, Tina – now a Canadian citizen – is now on her way to completing a bachelor’s degree and is one step closer to her dream job as a support worker for children with autism.

Not only is Tina happy with the skills and confidence she gained in ELLA, she frequently recommends the program to other newcomers.

“Usually, English is the biggest barrier to Chinese immigrants. I always encourage my Chinese friends to continue learning English, especially through the ELLA program. I want to see more newcomers like me achieve their academic goals in Canada, and ELLA can help them get on their way.”

This rapper could be your next poli-sci instructor

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

Political Science Instructor Jovian Radheshwar grew up straddling economic, racial and cultural divides; his struggles with his ambiguous identity led him to find solace in art — in poetry and eventually rap.

Jovian, aka MC Bitter Buffalo, is now a member of a rap group called Endangered Species. But this too has come with its own challenges, as the people around him struggle to reconcile the image of him as a scholar and professor with his pastime as a rapper.

Jovian Radheshwar

Where does your interest in rap music stem from?

I grew up on the border of Upper East Side Manhattan and East Harlem. One block north you have upper-middle-class, old-money New York, and in the other direction there’s a wall of public housing projects that are notorious for street-level drug use, drug dealing and violence. Rap and hip hop – and Black music more generally – is the music of my neighbourhood and the stories of the people I grew up with. I relate to those stories, to the experience of being a sort of exile, a person who’s a bit out of place. As a racialized person of privilege growing up in NYC with well-educated Indian immigrant parents, I didn’t really fit into any one group of people.

How did the creation of your rap group, Endangered Species, come about?

I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry as a form of self-therapy, so rap was perhaps a natural extension of that. When I was 21 years old, I wrote part of a rap song called “Revolution.” Several years later, when I was in grad school, I was hanging out one night with the lead singer of a reggae group and I shared the lyrics with him. He loved them. We turned it into a full length song and I ended up performing it with his group at local house parties. That was my first introduction to performing. Years later, I met Bobby Musgrave, aka MC Pensive Blue Polar Bear, and we really hit it off. We started doing music together. We recorded our first song, “Heaven and Hell,” and that’s how Endangered Species started.

Why the name Endangered Species?

Each of our group members is named after an endangered animal. I’m Bitter Buffalo, Bobby is Pensive Blue Polar Bear, and our third member, Ed Keenan, is DJ California Condor. The group’s name, and our names, is a critique on the role of technology in the modern world, because we’re in a world where our attitude towards nature is destroying our planet. By putting our planet at risk, we’re also endangering ourselves, the human species. Bobby, Ed and I have the kind of friendship that is open and expressive. We share vulnerable moments, are authentic and hold each other accountable. Expressing friendship in that way, especially as men, is something that we also think is endangered. So we’re also making a comment on how the human connection is endangered, too.

What is Endangered Species’s message?

We want to show that hip hop is accessible to everyone. It’s a beautiful art form for many reasons, but one of the most important is that it’s a great form of self-care. If you can rhyme, you can create a rap song. Beyond that, there is the fact that hip hop demonstrates the positives of globalization. The book Black Noise by Tricia Rose completely changed my understanding of hip hop and made me realize how it’s connected to West African art forms. This connection to traditions outside of America is what makes hip hop so transformative and powerful. Humans are not as sedentary as nationalists would like us to believe. Global connections, globalization, are good things we should preserve and make environmentally sustainable.

Read more: Chemistry instructor turns coffee waste into biofuel

How does your rap relate to your political science career?

Black studies, hiphopography in postcolonial studies, queer studies, feminist studies – all of these different fields of study emphasize mapping reality from the perspective of the other, of identifying with those who are oppressed or in a position of suffering. The field of political science is about seeing the world from the perspective of the state of the elites and thinking about issues in terms of policy, social order or security. Rap music gives me a way to consider issues from an alternative perspective to the state perspective of political science. And I try to bring that into the classroom. Although I don’t usually tell my students about my own rap music, when I use multimedia in class, I will use rap videos. They are particularly on point to illustrate certain issues that minority groups face, such as police brutality.

Why are you cautious of telling people you are a rapper?

I’m cautious because inevitably there’s a reaction that follows. They assume I want to talk about objectifying women or being violent. People who know me well say it doesn’t make sense that I’m a rapper, because they believe rappers are all criminals and drug dealers.

As a post-secondary instructor, I’m expected to present myself a certain way. But I’m a very expressive person: I move my arms a lot and can get pretty loud. I’m a New Yorker after all, and that’s how we talk. I also curse a lot, and of course, cursing is very typical in rap music. So hip hop is a tool that lets me be loud and expressive without restraint.

Read more: English instructor takes ‘punk rock’ approach to tell true stories about dementia care

What do you wish people knew about rap?

The truth is, hip hop is just a group of people with really tough experiences, sharing those experiences. And sometimes it sounds like they’re glamorizing them, but they’re also paid money to do that. There’s a line between fantasy and reality, of course, and without good hip hop literacy, it can be hard to figure out who’s legit versus who’s just out there to make money.

So I want to dispel these myths about rap. We all have something to say and there’s nothing to be ashamed of about that. We should express ourselves; it’s mentally healthy. And that doesn’t have to be through beats in a rhyme, but beats in a rhyme is a very accessible thing.

Beyond the face: Meet Jessie

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals – just like you.

By the time Jessie Weststrate was six, her passion for softball was already taking shape. When it came to deciding which post-secondary to attend after high school, Jessie chose Douglas for its renowned athletics program – including an active women’s softball team – and the chance to study Sport Science in a friendly, close-knit environment.

Read more: Royals soccer star and Sport Science student charts dual career path

As for making friends as a first-year, Jessie found that being a part of the women’s softball team, as well as attending on-campus events, made it easy to meet other students. However, she did struggle somewhat with the adjustment to the academic expectations of college.

To get a handle on her study strategies, Jessie turned to the Royals’ Athletic Support Strategist, who advised her to join a study group specifically for student athletes. Not only was she able to learn how to write an academic essay, but she connected with other students just like her.

“As a freshman, getting myself out there and participating in the social events and academic support opportunities available at Douglas really made a difference. Now I’m more confident in my school work and I have a great group of friends that I’ll know for years to come,” says Jesse.

The glam shot you’ve seen around town.
Jessie IRL sporting her Royals’ uniform.

Once Jessie finishes her Sport Science Diploma, she wants to become a registered massage therapist (RMT). As a student athlete, she’s experienced the benefits of massage therapy firsthand, including regular visits from local massage therapy school students who offer free treatment to Douglas student athletes to earn their practicum hours.

“One day, while getting a massage, I started chatting with one of the interns and learning more about becoming an RMT,” says Jessie. “My dad also went to massage therapy school, so I’d heard a bit about his experiences, too. I think massage therapy will be a great fit for the skill set I hope to gain during my time at Douglas, and I look forward to helping other athletes feel healthy and strong.”

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When asked what advice Jessie has for other first-year college students, she says it’s important to get involved, whether or not you’re an extrovert.

“No matter what personality you have, you have to do more than just attend classes and study. Joining a club, group or a sports team will definitely help with your adjustment to college life. You can make friends, form study groups and share information about all the support and resources available through the College, all of which will help you make the most of your education. And most importantly: it’s fun!”