Success matters at Durham College, just ask Heather Brown

Heather Brown is in the Social Service Worker program at Durham College. Photo credit: Brandan Ramphal

(Liam Fox is a Grade 11 student at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby and is doing a co-op placement with Durham College’s Journalism – Mass Media program.)

There was a time when Heather Brown was in high school and anxiety kept her from leaving her house in Whitby.

Now the 27-year-old is in her second year at Durham College looking to “make an impact.”

For 20 years Brown had a tough time with mental illnesses.

She says she had a very bad case of agoraphobia while at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby. She had a fear of leaving her house to go places where she felt uncomfortable or scared.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere,” says Brown.

The tide started to turn for Brown when she met a student success coach in Durham College’s Reach, Include, Support, Elevate (RISE) program.

Shauna Moore is the RISE coach who spoke with Brown a year ago at an orientation.

“I saw someone who was looking for opportunities and to improve her way of life,” says Moore.

Brown is now a second-year Social Service Worker student and an entrepreneurial assistant at FastStart, a free entrepreneurship program provided by DC.

Moore also says she has seen Brown improve immensely since first meeting her, saying “she has really grown.”

Brown decided to attend to Durham College because she feels it has an excellent social service program and is close to home.

In the near future, Brown wants to create specialized programs to help people overcome mental illness.

“I really just want to make an impact,” says Brown, adding she wants to help people the way she was helped.

She says some of her characteristics she is most proud of include her creativity, determination, confidence and overall positive attitude.

“Once I pick a goal, it’s really hard for me not to achieve,” she says.

Brown wishes more students knew about RISE.

“I think that there are students that could use the program, that just aren’t aware of its existence,” she says.

As a kid Brown says she enjoyed arts and had a passion for biodiversity, inspired by her grandfather.

In addition to her school activities, Brown enjoys painting, sketching, playing video games and watching anime.