Douglas 360°

From quiet to confident: how the Student Ambassador Program changed my life

By Shenisse Monzon, Student Ambassador

When I started my life as a Douglas College student back in 2015, I never pictured myself getting involved on campus. I was just focused on my studies and adapting to life as a college student. But my mother had other ideas.

My mother came with me to my orientation back in May 2015 and as soon as she saw the student panel filled with Ambassadors, she whispered in my ear that she could see me doing something like that – sharing my experiences with others on how my college life balances with my personal life. I, of course denied it, but she made sure I signed up for a bunch of activities on campus and one of them included signing up to be apart of the Student Ambassador program.

Shenisse Monzon

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor did I really know if I really wanted to do this and put myself out there. So many new changes were happening in my life, but as I look back now, I am happy with the decision I made.

My very first semester with the Student Ambassador program, I didn’t really do many events – I was very timid and still getting used to the transition from high school to post secondary. But as my second semester came along, I got more involved and started getting to know both campuses a bit better and building connections with not only fellow ambassadors and staff, but also with different mentors and other services within Douglas College. Being a part of the Student Ambassador program has given me many valuable skills that not only help me in a professional setting, but in a personal setting as well.

Being a part of a leadership group provides many opportunities for professional development. We participated in resumé building workshops and mental health awareness activities hosted by Douglas faculty and other experts. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you not only gain valuable skills, but you get to connect with fellow Ambassadors in a relaxed environment where you can get to know one another.

One of the biggest ways I benefitted from the Student Ambassador program was improving my public speaking skills. Before, I used to be afraid to speak in front of people, especially in big crowds. Once I became a Student Ambassador, all I did was talk to people. It helped me gain the confidence I was lacking and I slowly became less and less nervous about speaking in front of people. Eventually I became that person who sat on the student panels answering questions and sharing my experiences. In April 2017, I was even asked to represent the Student Ambassador program by delivering a speech at the Student Leadership Awards.

Volunteering for the ambassador program has given me so much knowledge and insight about Douglas College that when someone has a question, I can answer it with confidence.

As an Ambassador, you’re required to volunteer at least 20 hours per semester. There are lots of opportunities to help you fill those 20 hours, such as information sessions and welcome week. It’s okay if you can’t attend every event, as long as you fulfill the 20 hours each semester. You can volunteer at either campus, before or after class. Once you’ve completed two semesters as a Student Ambassador, you can start to take advantage of the perks, like priority registration and other freebies.

What I love most about volunteering is that I get to meet a lot of different prospective students that I can help with their questions or worries about going to post secondary, and how at ease they feel after we’ve talked for a bit. Through volunteering, I got to enhance my communication and leadership skills.

I have now been in the Student Ambassador program for four years and it has shaped my life in numerous ways. For me, it was a great introduction to the Douglas College way of life and what our school had to offer. I formed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I also gained many skills that will help me with my future endeavors. And what is most rewarding for me is knowing that I can help prospective students with their transition from high school to Douglas College through my stories, experiences and impact.

Do you love Douglas College? Want to share your stories and help prospective students decide if Douglas is right for them? Join the Student Ambassador Program! Upcoming application deadline is May 12.

5 free tech tools all Douglas students need to know about

Nicole Chiu, CEIT

Some online applications can be expensive, especially on a student budget. Here are our top picks for tools to help you throughout your academic journey that won’t break the bank. For the ultra-low price of . . . free! you can reap the benefits of these online tools.

Lynda.com

Lynda.com is an online, subscription-based learning platform with thousands of video courses taught by industry experts on everything from software and web development, to photography and business.

This highly useful tool is available free for all Douglas College students with College Network Access (CNA) Credentials.

For log in instructions, visit the Lynda.com page of the Douglas College website.

Eduroam

Eduroam is a collaborative network of secure wireless access in educational institutes. It allows students to use their Douglas College credentials to access free Wi-Fi at other post-secondary institutions.

To connect, select the “Eduroam” network and enter the following credentials:

For a list of participating Canadian institutions, visit: www.canarie.ca/identity/institutions/

LastPass

Instead of reusing the same password or writing your passwords on a scrap of paper, try using a free password manager like LastPass. It helps you create strong passwords and stores them for you. It’s especially important to use strong passwords for all your accounts as it ensures that your information is safe from online attackers.

For your Douglas College accounts, use a minimum of 10 characters and a combination of at least three of the following:

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

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

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

myPath

Make sure you’re on track for graduation with myPath, an online tool designed to assist students in tracking their academic progress. It shows your entire academic record at Douglas College in an easy-to-read list of courses you have completed, or still need to complete, for your program of study.

Find out more about myPath at douglascollege.ca/myPath.

OneDrive

Upload your images, videos, and documents into the Cloud for easy access from any device with an internet connection*. As a Douglas College student, you have access to one terabyte of Cloud space on OneDrive, an internet-based file storage system provided by Microsoft Office 365. That’s enough space for a Word document with 85 million pages, over 300,000 pictures, and 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. Files uploaded onto your OneDrive will be private, and secure.

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. 

Committed to improving young people’s lives

By Anasuya Kesavan, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

The path to success isn’t always a straight line. No one knows this better than Gloria Shen.

When she graduated from high school, Gloria had one dream: to be a voice for vulnerable youth.

“I believed my calling was to work with young people,” says Gloria. “I wanted to serve in the community.”

To get there, she set her sights on getting a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care from Douglas College. But the admission requirements were stringent, and Gloria didn’t make the cut.  

Undeterred, she decided to take Sociology, and graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree. She applied to the Child and Youth Care program again, and this time got an offer for a seat in the Youth Justice Diploma program. She’d never heard of it, but found the offer hard to resist when she learned that she could transfer into the third year of the Child and Youth Care program with a Youth Justice Diploma.

“It was the best of both worlds, and I jumped on the opportunity.”

She hasn’t looked back.

Gloria says the Youth Justice program helped her discover the joys of helping youth in care (under the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development) overcome their personal struggles.

“Youth Justice shaped me into what I am. I truly did not know how great it would be.”

Along with classroom learning, Gloria got practical experience in the field, including working alongside an addiction counsellor.

“During one of my practicums I rode the SkyTrain looking for young people in distress,” she recalls. “I had to build a rapport with them and try to help them.”

Now a graduate of both the Youth Justice and Child and Youth Care programs, Gloria has turned her passion into a career. She’s a full-time Child and Youth Outreach & Empowerment Support Worker with a non-profit organization called Pacific Community Resources Society.

“My work is primarily to help young people help themselves,” says Gloria, who divides her time between desk and fieldwork. “I support 13–18 year olds in Ministry care in the process of self-awareness, and I help them achieve their personal goals.”

“Young people are amazing,” she adds. “They are bright, and I’ve learned a lot about resilience from them.”

How Douglas brought me la dolce vita

By Michele Provenzano, Creative Writing student

Something I know far too well is how easy it is to get stuck in your comfort zone. Student life can become monotonous. In my first year at Douglas, I was stuck in my daily routine, taking few risks, reaping few rewards and having few stories to tell. Then I saw posters advertising the Italy field school.

I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’d been yearning to travel abroad for years – I’d never even been on a plane before! The prospect of immersing myself in an unfamiliar culture excited me like nothing else. It also scared me like nothing else, but I had faith it would be worthwhile. And boy, was I right.

From staring at the great Renaissance artworks in the Uffizi Gallery, to sauntering across Ponte Vecchio and watching the sunset over the Arno River, Florence provided a whirlwind of excitement and an abundance of culture to take in.

I stepped foot in the grandest of galleries and the most glorious of churches. I strolled down cobblestone streets and, despite not speaking the language of the locals, felt strangely at home. As a Creative Writing student, I seek inspiration wherever I go. But in Italy, I barely had to look for inspiration – it found me. It found me on every street corner; each centuries-old building looked like it was ripped out of a history book. It found me at Piazza Santo Spirito, the lively square near my apartment where people would dance as music thumped into the night. It found me in the small town of Marciana Marina on the island of Elba, where the streets were lined with bright flowers and each day was a beach day.

The Italy field school was my first real travel experience. At times, it was difficult to adjust to the new surroundings and the language barrier, but that’s what made the trip so meaningful. I learned so much about myself and, most of all, about how to overcome challenges and stay resilient. The reality of pursuing writing is that I’ll have to deal with plenty of rejection. Resilience is a crucial tool for me to hold onto, one that was sharpened by my field school experience.

“Resilience is a crucial tool for me to hold onto, one that was sharpened by my field school experience.”

The Italy field school truly showed me how much joy can be found in the unexpected little moments. I never would have expected a stranger to spray me with a water gun as I walked down the street in Florence, but it became one of my fondest memories. I urge other students to participate in field school opportunities, not only for the personal growth and educational advantages they provide, but to discover the funny, weird and wonderful stories they’ll inadvertently find themselves a part of.

Want to learn about all of the cool international opportunities available at Douglas College? Visit the Global Engagement team at the New Westminster Campus, room S2805 or read more here.

Humans of DC: finding direction

“At the end of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do and I wasn’t really motivated to study well and get good grades and get into the bigger institutions. So I went to Douglas for General Studies and I decided to take a few courses to test them out, hopefully to get a grasp on what I wanted to do for my future.”

“After two years, I finally decided to pursue a degree in Psychology under the advice of my friends. When I was in elementary school, I went to counselling because I wasn’t really popular among a lot of kids and I used to get picked on. My counsellor helped me get through elementary and high school and I really want to pay that forward.”

“All the people I met through Douglas motivate me to stay in my studies and do well for all my courses to keep me on track. My parents always want me to do well and they support me through the whole thing even though I didn’t necessarily have a direction in the beginning. They believed that I was going to find something eventually and because of that, I really want to do my best for them.”

“I’m proud of who I have become today. I really lucked out coming to Douglas College. After Orientation, I was just like a shy kid who didn’t want to get involved with anything. I was too afraid. But my friends from high school persuaded me to join them at the E.D.G.E. I had an amazing time and met so many friends through it. From there, I became an Edge Leader and also joined First Year Fridays and the Douglas Student Volunteers. These opportunities gave me more confidence and more layers of my personality started to show. I’m really proud of how Douglas has shaped me.”

From research to reward

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

Jessica Hillman has a personal interest in the water quality of Hatzic Lake. “My mom owns a property there. It’s been her dream to have a house on a lake forever, and we finally got the foundation poured,” says the Environmental Science student. “But recently the Fraser Valley Regional District has had to ban people from swimming because the water is so bad.”

With that, Jessica’s personal interest took a scholarly turn. Along with classmate Nathan Pennykid, she took EAES 2537 at Douglas College last semester, an Environmental Science course that gave them the opportunity to do research on a topic of their choice involving a locale and associated environmental issues.

Because of the thorough studies both Jessica and Nathan conducted while taking this Environmental Science course, they were eligible for the TD Award of Distinction, which rewarded them each with a $1,000 cash prize.

Jessica Hillman

For Jessica, delving into the deteriorating water quality of Hatzic Lake was a no-brainer.

“In the past year, the lake water became eutrophic,” Jessica says. “Basically, there’s a huge excess of nutrients, which leads to excessive plant growth. The plant growth then causes a lack of oxygen, which kills the fish.” Human beings and dogs were also getting sick from the lake water.

Jessica performed a bacterial analysis of the water. She rightly assumed that with heightened nutrient levels, the lake would also be home to an abundance of bacteria. “I suspected that Hatzic Lake would have a greater biodiversity, and I was curious if the bacteria present was having a negative effect on the water.”

With the guidance of instructor Dr. Elinor Matheson, Jessica collected and compared water samples from both Hatzic Lake and Buntzen Lake, in Anmore, B.C., which they knew to be oligotrophic, with low algae production. “There’s no chemical run-off from farm land, fewer pollutants, and rules against motorized boats at Buntzen,” says Jessica. “Whereas at Hatzic, anything goes.”

Her mother was, and remains, enthusiastic about Douglas College students finding a solution to the dire state of Hatzic’s water. “We’ve offered, in future, once the house is built, to host Douglas College students who want to conduct the experiment again or do additional research,” says Jessica. “My mom would love them to come fix her lake.”

Nathan Pennykid stayed on land to conduct his research.

Nathan Pennykid

Focusing on the area of insect ecology, Nathan worked with Dr. Robert McGregor to investigate a threatened species of ground beetle, the Omus audouini, also known as the Audouin’s night-stalking tiger beetle.

His research determined that Omus audouini in Boundary Bay, B.C., is predominantly found where Douglas Aster flowers and salt grass grow, whereas none of the previous research done by COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) showed these beetles occupying Douglas Aster-dominant communities.

 “I really enjoyed that I was able to work at my own pace – within reason, of course – and that I got to study something that actually interested me,” he says.

Nathan says the real payoff of the course was learning how to conduct an in-depth scientific study from the beginning to the end. “I was especially interested in the stats I gathered on the topic of the Omus audouini, which has only ever been found a maximum of three kilometres from the coast.”

While Jessica is planning to pursue a career in environmental science that will incorporate her love of fieldwork, Nathan is starting a new job as an environmental technologist before transferring his credits to SFU to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science.

“The plan is to become an environmental scientist,” he says. “But I’m open to other careers in my field. It all depends on what I end up finding most interesting.”

Campus events: April 8–12

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

Monday, April 8

  • 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 10.
  • 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. On show until April 20.

Tuesday, April 9

  • Douglas College Research Day – 9:30am–12:30pm in the AB atrium at the Coquitlam Campus. Check out the interactive booths that display some awesome student research projects. Come and support innovation.

Thursday, April 11

  • PCP/CPM Information Sessions – 4–5:30pm in room N2217 at the New Westminster Campus. This event is for payroll practitioners looking for information on Payroll Compliance Practitioners (PCP) and Certified Payroll Managers (CPM) certification through the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA).

Winter 2019: a semester in photos

We made some noise for mental health, took home gold at the CCAA National Championships, put on two fantastic theatre productions and so much more. Here’s a look back at pictures from the Winter semester.

How to avoid scams this tax season

By Nicole Chiu, CEIT

Tax season is upon us and scammers are hard at work looking for potential targets. Everyone, students included, should be extra cautious during this time of year when receiving calls, text messages and emails from people claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These online attackers will impersonate the CRA to try to trick you into revealing personal or financial information. 

Whether it’s a phishing email saying you’ve received a financial aid refund from student loans, or a text message with an e-transfer saying it’s from the CRA, falling prey to these scams could result in identity theft and leave you at a financial loss.

Here’s what you need to know when you receive a call, text message, or an email from someone claiming to be from the CRA.

Things the CRA will never do when contacting you:

  • Contact you by text message – the CRA never uses text messages to communicate with taxpayers
  • Ask for information about your passport, Care Card or driver’s license
  • Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit card or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon or others
  • Use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or police action
  • Leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information
  • Give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
  • Email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • Send you an email with a link to your refund
  • Set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment

Things the CRA might do when contacting you:

  • Ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location
  • Ask you to pay an amount you owe through any of the CRA’s payment options
  • Take legal action to recover the money you owe if you refuse to pay your debt
  • Notify you by email when a new message or a document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view through a secure CRA portal
  • Email you a link to a CRA webpage, form or publication that you ask for during a telephone call or a meeting with an agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links)

If you think you’ve received a fraudulent email or text message do not respond to the message. Do not click on any links or open any attachments. Delete these messages. If you receive a suspicious phone call, do not give out any personal information and end the call. If you think you’ve been tricked into providing your personal or financial information, contact your local police.

To learn more about protecting yourself from scams and frauds, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

To learn more about IT Security and tips to be safe online, visit the Douglas College IT Security page

Campus events: April 1–5

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

Monday, April 1

  • 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 10.
  • 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. On show until April 20.
  • Infinity tricks ‘n tricks ‘n tricks …!!! 7–8:30pm in the Movement Studio, New Westminster Campus. Presented by the DSU Hoop Club. In this upbeat workshop, learn tricks to move on both sides in one fluid motion and create infinity moves.
  • Zappostrophe!  – 7:30pm in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Part of the Spring 2019 Concert Series, the evening features the music of Frank Zappa. Directed by Blair Fisher. General admission $10, seniors $5, students free. Tickets at the door.

Tuesday, April 2

  • National Biomechanics Day – 10:30am–1:30pm in the Movement Analysis Lab, room N2223 at the New Westminster Campus. Check out some awesome activities to find out more about your personal biomechanics. Activities are open to everyone and space is unlimited!
  • An evening of Jazz – 7:30–9pm in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Part of Spring 2019 Concert Series, the event features the Douglas College Dues Band, directed by Jill Townsend, with special guests Impressions Big Band. Presented by the Music Department. General admission $10, seniors $5, students free. Tickets at the door.

Thursday, April 4

  • Student Showcase Concert – 1pm in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Presented by Arts at One, the afternoon features Long & McQuade Student Recognition Awards.
  • Prideful Easter – 4:30–6:30pm in room 110, Douglas Students’ Union Building at the New Westminster Campus. Join DSU Pride Collective’s event for games, food and some good vibes.
  • Current Soundwaves VIII – 7:30–9pm  in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Presented by the Music Department, the event features outstanding projects by Music Technology Diploma grads and performances by the Douglas College Fusion Bands. Directed by Robert Caldwell. Free admission.