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Joint programs with Centennial College combine the best in university and college education

Journalism student Thandiwe Vela, Paramedicine graduate Blair Bigham and New Media graduate Wynne Leung saved time and money while earning their U of T degree and Centennial College diploma

The University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College joint programs give students the critical thinking, analytical and technical skills needed to succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy. Through specialized offerings in new media, paramedicine, journalism, applied microbiology and environmental science and technology students benefit from exceptional faculty at the forefront of their fields and real experience in cutting-edge environments. Graduates learn more while saving time and money en route to a University of Toronto degree and a Centennial College diploma or certificate. 

Check out these New Media, Paramedicine and Journalism student and alumni profiles. This could be you!

Journalism student gets to tell the story

She listens to the buzz of an all-night city on the radio, waiting for the next big story to break.

During a midnight shift at the Toronto Star, Thandiwe Vela sits at her desk in the Toronto Star’s radio room, scanning the airwaves connected to ambulance and police dispatchers. As an editorial assistant for the city’s largest newspaper, Vela knows what’s happening every minute.

“I’m right there, on the front lines of everything,” Vela said. “I’m constantly listening to the scanners for breaking news and writing stories at the same time for the Star’s online content.” She has also written several feature stories for the newspaper and hopes to become an editorial columnist one day. 

Ever since she immigrated to Toronto from Zimbabwe at the age of three speaking only her native Shona language, she has been striving to achieve her goals in both academics and athletics. 

As a fourth-year student in the joint journalism program at U of T Scarborough and Centennial College, Vela claims her academic experience has made her well rounded in the field getting the best of both worlds. 

“Not only do you get credited for having both a university and college education, you get the different teaching techniques offered by both institutions,” she said, “and they definitely complement each other.” 

“Our graduates have found placements and employment at many different media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations,” said Karen McCrindle, journalism program supervisor at UTSC. Field placements have included: Toronto Star, Toronto Sun,

OMNI TV, CBC-Radio, CTV, the National Post, The Town Crier, and media relations organizations. 

As part of Centennial’s field placement component, Vela was hired as an intern at the Toronto Star, where she submerged herself in the fast-paced environment of the staff reporters. 

Vela was recently awarded a $1,000 Centennial College Scholarship from the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ), which aims to highlight accomplishments by promising black journalists. “It was an honour to receive this award because it was an investment in me for a bright future in journalism, and it gave me more confidence,” she said. 

When she’s not in the newsroom, Vela runs track competitively for the university’s Varsity team. If she had not become interested in journalism, she says she would have pursued a career as a professional athlete.  Although her main event has been triple jump – for which she won a provincial gold medal – her new focus is on sprinting in the 60-metre dash. 

Vela plans to graduate in June 2010 from the joint program in journalism and is considering a graduate degree in African studies.  

Check out Journalism on YouTube...

New Media graduate connects the world

Designing a world of colour with technology is all in a day’s work for a new media studies graduate. 

After completing a two-week contract as a web content manager at Corus Entertainment, Wynne Leung landed a full-time job with the company, immersing herself in the Toronto media scene and putting her multimedia skills to the test at one of Canada’s most successful media entertainment companies. 

Three years later, thriving in a career she says is challenging and competitive, Leung is an interactive web designer. She works with the production team to design and manage websites for the company’s television networks, such as CMT Canada, YTV, W Network, and Teletoon – to name a few television services. 

“My job allows for a lot of creative freedom and I’m constantly learning new things,” Leung said. “I work with a talented group of designers at Corus Entertainment, people who are eager to try new ideas and new ways of doing things, especially related to the web.” 

As a graduate of the new media studies joint program with the University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College, Leung (BA Hons. 2006) says both institutions provided her with the foundation to do well in her career. 

“UTSC taught me how to think and Centennial College taught me how to work,” Leung said. “I majored in visual arts, and the creative aspects of the program taught me to think critically and outside of the box, to receive constructive criticism in an opportunistic way, as well as to problem solve and see patterns in a bigger picture.” 

While taking courses at Centennial College, Leung gained valuable experience and developed hands-on skills, learning essential tools for media designers. 

“Working in groups was a great way to learn how to be part of a team and a little friendly competition fueled additional creativity,” she said. 

Many of her school projects also helped build her portfolio, which is an important showcase for   employers who are considering your resume, she adds. 

“By attending events held by emerging interactive businesses and networking with people in the field, I really got involved and learned more about projects and trends in the industry,” Leung said. 

For now, Leung says she is happy designing web content, but she knows there is much more to learn in our constantly changing, technology-driven world. 

Check out New Media on YouTube...

Paramedicine graduate is saving lives

When he has to crawl under a flipped car on the highway at 3 o’clock in the morning, all of his previous classroom training and emergency simulations become reality for Blair Bigham. Now an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedic, he is prepared for any life or death situation. 

Eager to start his career in saving lives, Bigham graduated from the paramedicine joint-program at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College in 2006.  He is currently working as an advanced care paramedic in York Region and at the Toronto City Centre Airport on the helicopter. 

“The mix of theoretical and practical training allowed me to apply all the knowledge I gained in university to the practical clinical scenarios available at Centennial College,” Bigham said. “The hospital and field residences provided me the chance to speak to real patients and apply everything I was learning to the real-world environment.” 

Bigham also completed a Master’s of Science degree and works at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto in the Rescu program, part of the University of Toronto’s pre-hospital and resuscitation research program, which offers exciting and relevant topics in paramedicine. 

Emergency work is challenging and rewarding, but the fast pace and high stakes mean that it is not a career field for everyone, he adds. Bigham explained how the role-playing in school provided an important learning component of the paramedic courses offered at Centennial College. Instructors often run simulations where students role play scenarios to help diagnose symptoms of a heart attack, appendicitis or an overdose on drugs among many others. 

“Trying to role-play effectively makes the simulation seem real, which is really beneficial to the students acting in the role of the attending paramedics,” Bigham said. 

His decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in paramedicine through the joint program was due to the increasingly competitive nature of the job market in the emergency field, he says. The mixture of academic and applied learning gave him an edge, he explains,  and he hopes in future to be able to conduct studies in clinical care and public policy. 

“Saving lives is the best job in the whole world,” Bigham said. “Having a degree in paramedicine has helped me accomplish many goals in a short period of time.” 

The joint programs combine the best in university and college education bringing together exceptional faculty at the forefront of their fields and real experience in cutting-edge environments. Get a head start on your career. Visit


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