DC’s first Alumni of Distinction returns to host Global Class

Barbara Cassel's (now Anderson) plaque on the Wall of Distinction at Durham College. Photo credit: Fiona Campbell

Walking past Durham College’s (DC) bookstore there is a familiar sight, the Wall of Distinction for alumni who have had “success in their careers and made a significant commitment to their communities.”

The first person you see on the wall is Barbara Anderson.

Anderson is a 1977 grad of the Registered Nursing Program and was the first alumni to receive the Alumnus of Distinction Award when it was created in 1990.

She recently returned to her roots to experience the Global Class at Durham. Anderson is president of Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors (CNCA) which hosted a virtual education event in the Global Class Nov. 8.

DC’s Global Class opened in September, 2018 and is “an interactive, high-definition, livestreamed class”. The classroom has a wall of three big, high definition screens along with couches and smaller television monitors at the back.

The CNCA event had three guest speakers, advanced practice nurse Melissa Northwood, clinical nurse specialist Grace Neustaeder and clinical nurse specialist Marcia Carr, who all attended via video chat from Hamilton, Alberta and Vancouver.

A number of nurses and doctors attended the event in the Global Class and DC Practical Nursing students watched the livestream of the event.

Last year, Anderson was invited to tour the new Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE) building where the new Global Class is housed. She was impressed and knew it was something she wanted to experience.

“I was amazed and started preparations to host an event right away,” said Anderson.

The CFCE is a special place for Anderson who spent her college days earning her diploma in the old Simcoe building, the site upon which the CFCE is built.

Anderson went on to work at Saint Elizabeth Health Care, Whitby Mental Health Centre, Whitby Jail and even drove a regulation change at the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs regarding crib safety issues.

These were the efforts which led her to receive DC’s first Alumnus of Distinction Award and earn her place on the Wall of Distinction when it was unveiled in 2007.

Deborah Morrison, who attended the CNCA event briefly, is a registered nurse and professor in DC’s Practical Nursing program. She has been at DC for more than 22 years and a nurse for more than 32.

“I say I grew up here because I really did,” said Morrison.

She thinks events like this are beneficial to the school and her students.

Each speaker gave a 45-minute presentation on individual research they have conducted.

The CNCA had not had a virtual education conference in 10 years because of technology trouble.

“We’ve had struggles with technology,” said Dr. Jennifer Skelly, who founded the CNCA.

“We were very satisfied with our event,” said Anderson.

Cassandra Whyte, Global Class coordinator, says the classroom is continually getting booked.

“I’ve had three professors do their first Global Class in the last three weeks,” said Whyte.

More outside companies and organizations are requesting to host events in the specialized classroom, said Whyte.