Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Signs of success

For Jenn Wilson, graduating from the Sign Language Interpretation Program at Douglas College was more than the end of her educational career: it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and the continuation of a family tradition.

In joining the ranks of sign language interpreters in B.C, Jenn follows in the pioneering footsteps of her mother, Janice Lyons. Janice came to Douglas in 1988, where she worked with the Sign Language Interpretation program, first as a lab tech and later as a program assistant. Later, she joined the program as a student and graduated in 1998 as the first credentialed Deaf interpreter in Canada. Today, she’s the Head of Interpreting Services (Community Interpreting Services and Medical Interpreting Services) at Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

“I wanted to demonstrate the importance of having a diploma and ensuring interpretation services are facilitated as professionally as possible,” recalls Janice.

Growing up with American Sign Language (ASL) as her first language (her father is also deaf) sparked Jenn’s interest in interpreting early on.

“I’ve had a passion for interpreting ever since I was little,” says Jenn. “I’d been working with my mom at the Western Institute for about nine years and finally just decided to go for it as a career.”

The Sign Language Interpretation Program at Douglas College prepares people to facilitate communication between hearing and Deaf people in a wide variety of settings including medical, educational, legal and in community.

Once she joined the program Jenn soon learned that, despite her extensive grounding in sign language and experience translating, she still had a lot to learn about the nuances of working as a professional interpreter.

“I went in with a bit of the attitude that because I knew ASL, I didn’t need to learn any more, but the program taught me so much about the interpreting process,” she recalls. “We learned a lot about adjusting to different people’s communications needs and the important role you have facilitating communication between two parties. Deaf people have struggled for many years and so you have to be careful with how you manage that responsibility.”

Jenn finished the two-year program top of her class, much to the delight of her mother.

“I’m so proud of her. I was pleased she took the program, and her determination to do well really impressed me,” said Janice. “I hope she’ll be an example to other children of deaf parents who might be interested in taking the program.”

For the moment, Jenn is working as a freelance interpreter and plans to explore her career options in the fall.

“I love what I’m doing and so happy to be doing it,” said Jenn.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

National Aboriginal Day at Douglas

June 21 was National Aboriginal Day and, here at Douglas College, there were a wide range of activities taking place at both the New Westminster and David Lam Campuses celebrating the rich and diverse cultures of Aborginal faculty, staff and students.

Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator Dave Seaweed dishes out clam chowder as part of the free potlatch lunch for National Aboriginal Day at the New Westminster Campus.
Students Doyup Kim and Junya Nakao took part in a dreamcatcher-making workshop with fellow ESL students. Read more...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Show your colours!

by Hazel Postma

The first round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup drawing to a close and, at both Douglas campuses, soccer fans are catching the action on the big screens.

As the competition heats up, we want to see your true colours! On game days wear the jersey or colours of your favourite squad.

Then, on July 7, come down to screens at each campus (room 1322 across from the fitness centre at New Westminster and in the atrium at David Lam Campus) towards the end of the final semi-final match (around 1 p.m.) in your jersey and we will take some photos to post here on Doug. Let's see how many different national jerseys we represent! Read more...

New scholarships for university transfer

Up to 85 Ike Barber Transfer Scholarships of $5,000 each are available to university transfer students in 2010.

Click here to see the eligibility criteria, grab an applicaton form with instructions here or e-mail for more information.

The deadline for applications is September 30, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Aboriginal Gathering Place - construction update

By Leah Poulton

If you’ve spent any time at the New Westminster Campus over the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that there’s something happening on the 4th floor south – something big. After all, jack-hammering, demolition and cranes lifting giant steel beams aren’t usually part of the Douglas College experience.

Well, these are more than just your average renovations. In fact, the College is the process of constructing an entirely new structure on the 4th floor – the Aboriginal Gathering Place.

Located beside Student Services on the 4th floor south, the Gathering Place will function as a multi-purpose facility, including study spaces, student lounge seating and a central gathering area with seating for 50-60 people. The chairs will be movable, to allow for both circular seating for healing and a longhouse-style open format for ceremonies. The space will be decorated with a variety of wall displays and art pieces.

Douglas Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator Dave Seaweed emphasizes that when finished, the Gathering Place will be much more than just a dressed-up study space for students.

“It will have more of a symbolic, peaceful atmosphere, as opposed to a place to study full of carrels and computers,” he says.

Seaweed says the Gathering Place, planned in partnership with the New Westminster Qayqayt First Nation, will also be used for ceremonies like smudging (a healing ceremony that involves the burning of herbs), and other cultural celebrations.

The space will also act as a venue to showcase Aboriginal culture and heritage; it will feature totem poles in each corner, as well as a variety of other Aboriginal artwork.

“We’re going to open up artist opportunities to all Nations,” says Seaweed.

“It’s going to be very collaborative.”

The College hasn’t yet fully determined if the facility will be open to just the College community or to the general public. But Seaweed hopes they’ll be able to have it open to everyone, and for longer than just normal office hours.

“We’re trying to make sure it’s welcoming to everyone involved and everyone who wants to come in,” he says.

The majority of funding for the project comes from the Aboriginal Special Project Funding initiative of the provincial government, with the remainder being supplied by the College.

Construction on the Aboriginal Gathering Place is scheduled to be completed by mid-September, with the grand opening taking place soon after.

Check out the slideshow below to see how it will look as part of the campus:

mock-ups courtesy of CJP Architects

Stay tuned to doug for more updates on its progress!

Aboriginal Student Services
CJP Architects

Monday, June 14, 2010

Medal winner shakes off first day jitters to achieve excellence

When Anna Winters made the fateful decision to return to school, she packed a lot of anxiety along with her books.

“I was terrified on the first day of classes,” Winters recalls. “I’d been out of school for more than 20 years and I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

She clearly got the hang of it; on June 3, Winters graduated from Douglas College’s Health Care Support Worker Certificate program as the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal. This prestigious medal is awarded on behalf of the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia to a student who has achieved high standing in a vocational or career program of less than two years duration, and who has contributed in a positive way to the college or community. Winters finished her program with an overall Grade Point Average of 4.23 out of a possible 4.33.

The medal caps off an eventful year for the Coquitlam resident, starting with her decision to return to school.

“I was just at the point where I was looking for something new,” she says. “Health care has always been a part of my life and I’m very passionate about caregiving, so I made an appointment with an advisor at Douglas and discovered the program.”

It wasn’t always easy, as Winters was forced to juggle the demands of school with work and raising two kids.

“I realized how much work it could be, but I struggled for the first month,” she says. “Eventually, I learned to get into a routine and stuck with it, but getting enough sleep was always challenging!”

For the moment, Winters is finishing off her practicum with a local psychiatric care facility, even as she basks in the glow of her medal win.

“Receiving the medal was one of the proudest moments of my life and I’m so glad my children were there to see it,” she says. “When I started at Douglas College, I set out to prove something to myself. And I did it!”
-photo by Blaine Winters

Long road ends with diploma and prestigious award

Marÿke Hendrikse took the long road to her Child and Youth Care diploma. But her patience and hard work have paid off; Hendrikse graduated on June 2 as the recipient of the Governor General’s Bronze Medal.

The prestigious award is granted to the Douglas College student with the highest standing in a two-year diploma program. Hendrikse achieved an overall grade point average of 4.15 out of a possible 4.33.

The Vancouver resident actually joined the program in 2005, but opted to do it on a part-time basis while she continued to work.

“I had other things happening and didn’t want to go into the field before I was ready,” she said. “I looked at a lot of different programs and the one at Douglas College fit the ideal that I had.”

However, now that she’s completed the program, Hendrikse is excited to start her new career.

“I love working with kids and feel strongly about the way they should be supported through the world,” she says. “I’m interested in eventually having my own office or an agency where I can work with a team to serve different kinds of clients, including children and families. I want to be able to be flexible and creative in what I do.”

Hendrikse says the announcement of her Bronze Medal award during her graduation ceremony came as a surprise.

“I was completely shocked when they called my name. I didn’t know what to do, if I should sit or stand up. I just sat there!” she recalls.
Shocked or not, the award is one she says she’ll take pride in.

“I worked hard and I wanted to do my best. I was happy to get the grades I did, but this is a nice cherry on top.”

-photo by Ian Szufnara

Friday, June 11, 2010

Conference a learning experience for Douglas tutors

by Rob Loxtercamp

Douglas students and faculty at the Pacific Northwest Writing Centre Association Conference in Monmouth, Oregon (l to r)Back: Cathy Tremblay, Gen Cabana, Julia Robinson, Kari Kuboniwa; Front: David Guedes, Rob Loxterkamp, Deborah Weins

Back in April 2010, I was honoured with the opportunity of presenting research I'd done with David Guedes, a third-year psychology student, for the Douglas College Learning Centre at the Pacific Northwest Writing Centre Association Conference in Monmouth, Oregon. Along with several of my fellow tutors from the Learning Centre and faculty, I met writing tutors from throughout the United States and Canada. Our hosts at Western Oregon University were incredibly gracious, to the point throwing us a welcome barbeque at the President’s house. The food was fantastic, but discussing learning styles and school services with contemporaries from across North America - now that was a real treat.

Presenting my research and leading a discussion group in front of dozens of other professional writers - in another country, no less - could well be the highlight of my academic career. However, if there's one thing my time in the Learning Centre has taught me, it's that we can always strive to do something more. This experience has inspired me to take my education to the next level and pursue a career as a writing teacher. I couldn't ask for anything more from something that started as a part-time student job!

For more on Rob and Dave’s’s research project, read the article in the Other Press. Read more...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Douglas grad's research project makes international splash

Community Social Service Worker Kara Dooley with participants in a 2009 project that brought Ugandan traditional healer stogether with representatives from the medical community to find ways of working together to better serve patients with mental illness.

When Kara Dooley joined the Community Social Service Worker (CSSW) Program, she never expected that her journey would take her from Uganda to Australia and now to a major international conference in Hong Kong.

This week, Dooley is presenting the findings of a research project she conducted during the 10 weeks she spent in Uganda in 2009 as part of the CSSW program’s Uganda Project in front of an audience of professionals, academics, practitioners, social planners, policy makers and advocates at the at the 2010 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development.

CSSW instructor John Fox, who will co-present with Dooley, says it is rare for a diploma graduate to be accepted to present at a conference of this scale, which is attended by top researchers from around the world.

“At first I didn’t completely realize how big a deal it was, but the more I’ve spoken to people about it, the more I’ve seen what a fantastic opportunity this is for me,” said Dooley from her current home in Perth, Australia, where she is working as a case worker for a residential care program. “I’ve never done a presentation like this before, so I’m kind of jumping in with both feet.”

While in Uganda, Dooley worked with the national mental health program to explore ways of linking traditional healers who provide health care for people in villages and rural areas with the formal medical system.

A Ugandan traditional healer in his shop.

Dooley hopes her presentation will raise awareness of the clash between traditional and western medicine in Uganda and Africa as a whole, particularly when it comes to mental health issues. More than 80 per cent of Ugandans live in villages and small towns where few formal mental health or medical services are available and depend on local traditional healers for health care services.

“Traditional healers in Uganda are extensively involved with treating mental illness, and most people will see a traditional healer before they see a doctor,” said Dooley. “The relationship between traditional healers and mental health workers needs to be worked on from both sides. Once trust is built then collaboration can begin and more importantly be sustained.”

As for this week’s conference, Dooley says she has the jitters under control.

“I’m not terribly nervous. My voice might be a little shaky, but I know what I’m talking about and I’m passionate about it,” she said. “I think it’s really important to tell this story.”

Photos supplied by Kara Dooley

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Douglas College could join U-Pass program

Douglas College students may soon vote on joining a Metro-Vancouver U-PASS transit program, allowing students to enjoy reduced transit fares and potentially saving hundreds of dollars per year.

Today’s announcement by the provincial government establishing a universal U-Pass for all students at public B.C. colleges and universities is most welcome says Blaine Jensen, Vice President, Educational Services.

“Transportation is a big expense,” Jensen says. “Douglas College students have been encouraging TransLink and the government to expand U-Pass for some time, so this is a real win for them.”

“We’re also pleased that TransLink is moving forward with the Evergreen Skytrain Line to Douglas College’s David Lam campus. Together, these initiatives will make getting to class cheaper, quicker and more convenient for thousands of students.”

Once the U-Pass is implemented, Douglas College students will pay $30 for a single system-wide transit pass, a significant savings from the $81 they would pay for an individual monthly pass. This fall, the Douglas College Student Society will meet with TransLink to finalize details. Students will then have the opportunity to vote in a referendum on joining the program.

Douglas College Student’s Union External Relations Co-ordinator Anna Schachner says Douglas College students have been fighting for access to U-Pass as part of the OnePassNow Coalition, which also represents students at Vancouver Community College and Emily Carr University.

“Our students have worked very hard to make their voices heard through the OnePassNow campaign to ensure the government keeps its promise to give students increased access to U-Pass,” says Schachner. “We’re extremely excited that students here will soon be able enjoy the benefits of the U-Pass soon.”

Blaine Jensen adds expanding student transit options also has a number of side benefits.

“Fewer students choosing to drive means reduced parking congestion on campus, reduced demand for new parking facilities, less road congestion and improved air quality in our communities,” says Jensen.

TransLink U-Pass FAQ

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From dropout to doctorate: Douglas distinguished alumnus looks back

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Dr. John Bertram is living proof of how Douglas College can ignite a student’s potential.

“That’s exactly what happened to me,” says Bertram. “I couldn’t have done any of the things I’ve accomplished without the opportunity Douglas College gave me.”

Today, Bertram is a Professor at the University of Calgary, where he serves as Director of the Gross Anatomy Lab and the university’s Body Donation Program in addition to teaching in various programs including biology, anatomy, health sciences and engineering.

But in 1976, he was a high school dropout working his way through a series of odd jobs, from paper mills to thoroughbred stables.

“In high school I didn’t see the point of my studies. I just wanted to get out and start working, but once I was out there, I didn’t find it gratifying,” Bertram recalls. “My life wasn’t really going anywhere; I was just drifting around trying to find myself.”

After hearing radio ads for the then-fledgling college, Bertram decided to register and began filling in the gaps in his high school course work at Douglas College.

“I was totally naïve about what college was all about,” says Bertram. “I had no idea if I could handle it and was scared to death of failing.”

However, with the guidance of Douglas faculty, Bertram found the educational experience he has been missing.

“Douglas College was trying to establish itself and faculty worked hard to take a personal interest in each student and give us a good education,” says Bertram. “There was an interesting array of faculty there who helped open my eyes to an entirely new world of academics that I was totally unaware of before.”

At the time, Douglas College was a very different place than it is today. The campuses in New Westminster and Surrey consisted of portables and Bertram recalls driving back and forth between the two for classes, as well as some of the creative ways faculty worked to bring out the best in students.

“I remember we were given cassette tapes of lectures to listen to on our own time and I’d listen and make notes while eating my lunch in the classroom and fending off the fruit flies that had escaped from the genetics lab.”

Despite the somewhat hodgepodge facilities and sometimes unorthodox teaching methods, Bertram gained an appreciation for education, particularly the subject of biology.

“It was a broad-based education, but it left me with a solid foundation in biology that has stood me well ever since.”

In 1979, Bertram transferred to the Zoology program at UBC where he earned his Bachelor of Science in 1981. In 1984, he completed a Masters Degree of Science specializing in biomechanics and he was accepted to the PhD program at the University of Chicago. There, he received the prestigious William Rainey Harper Pre-doctoral fellowship and graduated with his PhD in 1988. After completing his post-doctoral training at Dalhousie University and at Harvard, Bertram went on to hold faculty positions at Ithaca College, Florida State University and Cornell. But he says it was Douglas where it all began.

“I came to Douglas College at a time of major transition in my life,” says Bertram. “And it showed me what I was capable of.”

Click here to watch a video of Dr. John Bertram's Distinguished Alumni Award acceptance speech from June 3, 2010.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Women’s Softball Royals to compete in NWAAC for 2010-11

The Douglas College Women’s Softball team is no longer in a league of its own.

Starting this season, the squad will step up from the club sport level to become part of the Royals Varsity Program, where it will compete in the NorthDivision of the North West Athletics Association of Community Colleges (NWAAC).

The team will be coached by Gord Collings who has been with the program since it started two years ago.

“British Columbia is a hotbed for softball talent and this is a great opportunity for student‐athletes to combine their post secondary education with softball while they stay at home,” said Collings.

“Gord is true educator, he recently retired from 34 years as teacher and administrator in the B.C. High School system. He also has a huge softball background as he has coached the Delta Heat for 17 years and is the Head Coach for Team BC for the 2011 Western Canada Games. He truly believes in enhancing the total student experience.” stated Dean Howie, Director of Athletics and Campus Life.

The coaching staff is presently hard at work recruiting players and finalizing the roster for the fall exhibition season. Based upon the results of the team this year and quality of players the Douglas Royals believe they can be a competitive team from the start. For more information, please consult

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grind for Uganda

Looking for a tough workout? Ask just about anybody in Gore-tex-clad Metro Vancouver: there’s few better ways to feel the burn than by doing the Grouse Grind.

Scaling the (in)famous, 2.9 kilometre long trail up the slope of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver is something of a rite of passage for residents of the Vancouver region. Now the staff and students of the Community Social Service Worker (CSSW) Program are inviting you to lace up your hiking boots, pack your trail mix and take on the Grind to help raise funds for the Douglas College Uganda Project.

“Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us to help send Douglas students to Uganda to complete their social service training,” says CSSW instructor Lawrence Becker. “We’re also raising funds to support an endowment fund for education, social service and health programs, including one that helps send teenage girls to school in the region.”

The Grouse Grind for Uganda is slated for Saturday, June 19, 2010, from 11am to 2pm. For pledge forms or more information, contact Lawrence Becker at Read more...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mind Over Mountain: BPEC students take on MOMAR

By Leah Poulton

While many of us were barbequing, camping or sleeping in this May long weekend, Nick Hammerschmidt and Megan Fretter were celebrating the holiday in a much less conventional manner – with a 50-kilometre, 8-hour adventure race across Squamish.

photo by Cathy Hammerschmidt

On May 22, the two Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching students took part in the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (MOMAR), a grueling annual event that sees participants running, mountain biking, climbing, rappelling and orienteering over 50km of varied terrain in and around Squamish – all in a matter of hours.

Megan, a long-distance runner for the Douglas track and field team, has no reservations about admitting just how tough the event really is.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, mentally and physically,” says the 21-year-old.

Megan first found out about the race from classmate Nick. He works for outdoor sporting goods retailer Atmosphere, who sponsors a team for MOMAR each year.

“He knew I was ‘Mrs. Adventure’ so he asked me… and of course I said yes,” says Megan.

photo by Orange & Blue Photography

So Megan and Nick, along with two others, formed Team Atmosphere. Nick says he’s glad he found the team-members he did because, in MOMAR, teamwork is key. Unlike some other multi-disciplinary races, MOMAR is not completed in a relay format; rather, all team members complete the entire race together. They are required to keep each other in eyesight at all times to avoid a costly time penalty.

“It helped us to really focus on keeping the team together,” says Nick, 20, who also plays on the Douglas rugby team.

“There was no point when we weren’t together.”

photo by Orange & Blue Photography

So, on the morning of May 22, Team Atmosphere joined dozens of others on the starting line in Squamish.

The race began with a 600-metre run around Quest University. Next, participants hopped on their bikes and headed into the hills for cross-country and downhill mountain biking. They then got a bit of a break with an Orienteering section, but not for long - next was a steep hike part-way up the famous Chief, followed by rappelling straight back down. Finally, they jumped back on their bikes and headed towards town, where they dropped the bikes and ran as a team across the finish line.

“The toughest part was definitely running up the Chief,” says Nick.

“At that point, you’re about 30 kilometres into the race. All of our legs were really tired by then, so it took us a long time.”

photo by Nick Sopczak

photo by Nick Sopczak

For Megan, a mountain biking rookie, the hardest part of the race was the downhill biking portion.

“The trails were really technical. I was screaming the whole time,” she says.

At one point, she gave the rest of the team a scare when she gathered too much speed and bailed – hard.

“I went right over my handlebars and ate it into the dirt,” she says.

But despite cut-up knees and a coating of mud, she was determined not to slow down her team. Nick says he and the rest of the team were impressed by her drive to continue.

“First Aid wanted her to stop but she just wanted to keep going,” he says.

photo by Orange & Blue photography

The team finished in seven hours, 57 minutes and 56 seconds, just quick enough for the qualification cut-off time of eight hours. But since they got every checkpoint along the way, while several other teams skipped checkpoints to get a better time, they ended up finishing fourth in their category.

“For our first MOMAR, we’re all pretty happy with the result,” says Nick.

“Three out of four of us, it was our first time ever doing this. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!” adds Fretter.

“But it was totally worth it.”

photo by Orange & Blue Photography

Despite cuts, bruises and a recovery time of “at least three or four days”, both Megan and Nick say they plan to conquer the MOMAR again. But they also say they probably wouldn’t attempt a challenge of this magnitude without the support of a team.

“The team really adds a level of support. It’s a really mental game to do a race like this, and having the team there to cheer you on really helps,” says Nick.

Megan agrees: “We all have strengths in different areas, but we really supported each other and pulled through as a team.”

For more photos of the MOMAR event, see the MOMAR photo gallery.

Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching
Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race