24 HOURS DC/UOIT: Alumni take over The Pit

James Hammond and Melissa Farrow, the two guests who spoke to students during the Alumni in The Pit event. Photo credit: Dakota Evans

Our second-year Journalism – Mass Media students from Durham College have tackled a special project – one we are calling ’24 Hours DC/UOIT’.
On Feb. 5, 2019, the students visited particular areas of the Durham College and UOIT campuses, including north Oshawa, downtown Oshawa and Whitby.

They talked to people, snapped pictures and gathered stories from students, faculty and staff about their campus experiences. This is one in a series of 16 stories from that day.

Durham College has found a way of engaging successful graduates with current students in a personal interaction that doesn’t feel like a lecture.

It’s called Alumni in The Pit.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the event was held for the sixth straight year.

The event allows prospective students the opportunity to interact with individuals who have walked in their shoes and shared similar experiences.

Alumni in The Pit was started by Don Lovisa, President of DC, in 2014. It has featured guests such as Manjula Selvarajah, a journalism grad, who now works for CBC and ex-Oshawa General Brandon Nolan, a business administration student, who runs 3N Clothing Apparel with his father and brother.

“We wanted to find a way to do something in a more public forum for students to have access to our alumni, hear their stories, hear what it is like to be a student with that transition from school to job,” said Lovisa.

DC’s alumni office invites two graduates every year to speak in front of an inquiring group of students.

The alum are more relatable to students and can, therefore, be more engaging, according to Lisa McInerney, director, alumni engagement.

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Melissa Farrow reacting to James Hammond’s comments during Alumni in the Pit. Photo credit: Dakota Evans

More than 100 students attended this year to hear featured guests James Hammond, managing director of Cleeve Technology and Melissa Farrow, a child and youth psychiatrist, tell their stories about their placements and moving into jobs after graduation.

One of many students who attended the event asking a question about his future. Photo credit: Dakota Evans

“We research our alumni and our faculty who have a special relationship with the students recommend guest speakers,” said McInerney.

The questions students ask show just how engaging the alumni speakers are, McInerney added.

According to Hammond, entry-level jobs aren’t the most glamorous, but if you do the best you can and find a mentor who acknowledges your work, you won’t be held back.

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James Hammond answering questions from students in the crowd. Photo credit: Dakota Evans

This year the two alumni shared the steps they took to come to Durham and the journey they took to attain their current jobs.

“For a very long time, colleges didn’t engage alumni. We engaged them at a level that wasn’t personal with getting them involved inside the college,” said Lovisa.

Lovisa’s idea for Alumni in The Pit was to change that and make being DC grad a more personal achievement.