To Spring Graduates ’16

It always seems so weird to me to make a big deal with good-bye’s at the end of semester. I feel in many ways this is just the beginning, even thought it’s the end of your time here with us, your faculty over the past eight months. Someone once told me, in the early days of parenting, that the days are long but the weeks are fast. That’s how it feels with each academic year.

You have accomplished so much over such a short period of time, made new friends, acquired new skills and built new memories. But this is just the beginning. Every day forward now is a new day to learn, to master your profession and to thrive. Every day will not be the same and every day will not bring you reward. But you have what it takes to move forward and succeed, with the tools that you learned here, the passion for what you do and the ambition to make it happen. It was a pleasure to be part of your lives, to play a short-lived role in your future. When all is said and done, your faculty here are but one thin chapter in a very long book. Your book.

Congratulations for all you have achieved here at the little Story Arts Centre. Now, make us proud. Represent us well and do us proud. But most importantly, do yourself proud.

I don’t like to say good bye, because it isn’t. Stay in touch.


Forget university, CCPR is the real deal

By Chris Wai, Class of 2016

What can I say about the last 2 semesters here at Centennial College? To keep it short, simply rewarding! The Corporate Communications and Public Relations program (#CCPR) is exactly the type of experience that I wanted when I applied for this one-year post-graduate certificate.

The Story Arts Campus, where our classes take place is a small, yet tight-knit community. With mainly arts and media-type programs here, we get unique opportunities to work and interact with students and faculty throughout the campus, which is fantastic. Our professors are very approachable and well connected within the industry which is evident by the number of influential guest speakers that they bring to class. They make CCPR a legitimate place to engage with industry professionals as we develop our own skills in public relations.

We learned about the business applications of social media, writing professionally with the Canadian Press style, crafting resumes, interviewing, news releases, event management and the principles of business. From the networking opportunities, constant group work and real-world assignments, everything is done with practical experience in mind.

Two of the highlights of first semester involved preparing a business plan for PR firm, Kaiser Lachance and planning a special fundraising event with a zero dollar budget.

The thought of preparing a business plan was foreign for almost everyone in our class. But through the support of our professor, Jen McIlroy, we were able to gain valuable experience by doing a client briefing which helped prepare us for this task. From reporting on financials, marketing communications, business operations to actually presenting our findings and recommendations to a real client, it was a nerve-wracking but invaluable experience!


My favourite part of the first semester was the special event that we organized as part of our event management class. This project really showed what all of us were capable of. From contacting sponsors, communicating with our respective charities, media relations and publicity, our events brought out the best in everyone. Of course, there were challenges as well, from learning how to work with our group members effectively, to meeting deadlines and worrying about the execution of the event. But at the end of the day, each group exceeded all expectations and as a class, we managed to raise over $10, 000 for our charities and a lot of goodwill in the process! Receiving excellent feedback from our charitable partners was the icing on the cake!


From where we started, I feel I am well prepared for a career in communications whether that is with an agency or corporation. From the friendships that have been made, to the connections within the industry, I am confident to say that I will be prepared to face what the PR world will throw at me. Thank you Centennial, from my classmates to all of the faculty. #StartedFromTheBottomNowWeHere

Up All Night for mental health

Here at Centennial, we like to give our students real experience so they feel comfortable and ready when they leave our program and enter the workforce. It gets them used to dealing with real clients, real journalists, real vendors, real deadlines and real challenges.

Every year  our students partner with GTHA CivicAction and hone in on an issue that the not-for-profit is working on — an issue that is of great importance to the prosperity and well-being of the region. We take that subject matter — this year was mental health — and create a public awareness and advocacy campaign: as told by students.

Learning award

L to R: Celestine Eagle, Kendra Gadzala, Beverly Ransom, David Bradshaw, Donna Lindell, Daniel Viso, Galina Shevelova, Victoria George.

Through the co-curricular initiative called Project Fusion, this year’s student-run, student-led initiative culminated in a 12-hour event called ‘Up All Night‘. Using the resources of first-semester PRs in their Event Management class and second semester PRs who developed the Communications Strategy and Plan, in addition to graphic arts design talent, and film and broadcast creativity, students literally pulled an all nighter. Proceeds from the evening went to the not-for-profit The Friendship Bench. The evening began with a panel discussion of experts and a workshop and was peppered with live music, live dance, laughter yoga, ping pong, improv, adult colouring books and a pancake breakfast!

But the event was not enough: students also did interviews on CP24, Breakfast Television, Global TV, CBC Here and Now, CBC Metro Morning, 680News, CBC French radio. One of our students will represent the student voice on CivicAction’s Council of Champions and in September we will install a yellow Friendship Bench here at The Story Arts Centre!

Still not enough: now, we’re winning awards. Yesterday the team of faculty and students picked up a Learning-Centred Award from Centennial College (pictured above). We pick up a couple more next week.

So if you’re looking for a program that is real, as in real work and real-ly rewarding, look no further. We’re as awesome as it gets!

— Donna, PR+CC program coordinator and faculty advisor, Project Fusion.

PR program offers skills, friendships

By Laura SiStory-Arts-Centre-Wordmark-Orangenclair

Before coming to Centennial College for the corporate communications and public relations program, I had no idea what to expect. I remember hearing rumours about the difficult work load, the large amount of group work and how important time management skills would be. I was scared that I would be in over my head with all of the work that I had to do on top of my long commute to Centennial everyday.

Although all of the rumours were true — the group work, the tough work load, some late nights and early mornings — the experience so far at Centennial has been rewarding, exciting and incredibly valuable. I have met so many different kinds of people that all bring different skillsets to the table. I have learned so many helpful techniques and tips from my professors that will help me grow as a PR professional and as a person. From writing news releases, to working on business and social media plans, to creating a successful event with no budget, this program has taught me a lot about the world of PR and about myself. In the past four months, I have learned not only how to capitalize on my strengths, but how to improve on my weaknesses.

The wide variety of assignments allowed me to practice and perfect my writing, presentation and teamwork skills. I was able to collaborate with other like-minded future PR professionals to create successful and rewarding projects and presentations, like my group’s event at the Gladstone Hotel.

The best part about all the work that we did was that the assignments never felt taxing, or daunting to complete. They were always interesting and I felt motivated to tackle and finish them to the best of my ability, because I knew that they would be the type of assignments and tasks that I would have to complete in the future.

The corporate communications and public relations program at Centennial College was one of the best decisions that I made after completing my university degree. Now, I have experience, an endless list of professional contacts and friendships that I never would have had had I decided not to complete the program.

This program has provided me with a feeling of accomplishment, success and purpose. The unforgettable memories, friends, and the valuable skills that I acquired made all of the time, effort, late nights and hard work put in every day worthwhile.


A crazy first semester with CCPR

By Courtney Ferguson

All I can say is wow – what a ride! I feel like I blinked and first semester is already over. The past 14 weeks of this intensive post-graduate program have been a roller coaster.

The corporate communications and public relations program at Centennial is nothing like university. Back in January when I was looking into post-grad programs, I knew it would be a lot different from university, and boy was I right. I was excited to start a program that had a more practical element to it, and that’s why I chose Centennial. Everything in the program relates back to real-world experience. Whether it’s listening to a guest speaker in business class, to hosting an event, Centennial’s CCPR program gives you the knowledge, experience and guts to make in the real world. blog1

Having just finished the first half of this intense eight-month program, I wanted to reflect on this semester and share what I think are the most important tips and things I learned:

1. Know how to work in groups (and juggle multiple schedules!)

Coming from a university background, this was probably the hardest thing for me to get used to. This program has a lot of group work; the entire project and event management class is one big group project. I was very nervous starting off this semester and knowing how much group work there is. In university, you only have to rely on yourself for assignment. Working in groups has been a challenge at times, but learning to excel in a collaborative environment is important in this industry. And there is no better feeling then seeing your group’s hard work come to fruition.

2. Get to know your instructors

Every single one of the instructors in this program have some much knowledge and experience. I highly recommend you chat with them and engage in class. They have years of real world experience, and their advice is important.

3. Network, network, network!

You never know where your next job could come from. Whether it’s joining one of the free industry associations, chatting with a guest speaker after class, or attending a speaker series lecture, there are so many opportunities to network in this program. Take advantage of them; the professors and students put on these events to benefit you.

Looking back on this semester, I truly feel a great sense of accomplishment. From organizing the program’s annual social media conference, Talk is Cheap, to participating in a client briefing, I am immensely proud of my work this semester. I think my classmates are all proud too. I’m sure we all wanted to give up at one point this semester, but we all pushed through. With every class and assignment, we all began to realize how valuable these skills are in the professional world. As this semester comes to an end, I can definitely say that I made the right choice in choosing Centennial and this program. We are all going to be going out into the world in a few short months, and I know I’ll have the skills, experience and confidence to succeed in the PR world.

Pickering Learning Site Charity Fundraiser Events – Success!

By Ayelen Barrios Ruiz Pagano

The Pickering Learning Site is small, we’re only a class of 11 people. But being a small number of people does not mean that our passion is small. The eleven of us formed three groups each passionate about our charities. Our charities of choice were, The Canadian Diabetes Association, The Durham Humane Society (HSDR), and The Denise House. Each group had a very different idea for what their event would look like an executed them in different ways.

To start, there was the HSDR group that worked with the Oshawa Generals to host a stadium wide “fill-the-truck” event, in which they filled the truck with physical pet food donations. They also had a private suite where VIP guests could participate in a raffle and silent auction. Their event joined the love of animals with Canadian’s love of hockey. It included a tennis ball toss where game attendees could purchase a tennis ball and try to land the ball in the centre of the rink to win a signed Don Cherry book and a pair of Leafs Tickets.


Next, was Rush Comedy Night with proceeds going to The Canadian Diabetes Association.  With budding talent from Humber College, who volunteered their time, they were able to have a successful night full of jokes and laughter. They hosted their event at La Saucisserie a new bar in the downtown Ossington area .  They also offered a fun raffle for guests.

Finally, my group and I hosted a Pottery Painting Party for children with all proceeds being donated to The Denise House, an emergency shelter for women and children in the Oshawa area. Guests were welcome to come in and paint a pottery figurine. While the figurine dried they were welcome to join in on a raffle, a silent auction, and a bingo and colouring station.

Each group was able to donate a large sum to their respective charity. HSDR was able to donate $3,015 to the Durham Humane Society and a truckload of dog and cat food. Rush Comedy donated $1,271 to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Pottery Painting Party donated $1,201 and 260 household items to The Denise House. Between 11 students, PLS was able to donate $5,488 as well as over 400 physical donations.

Together we cried, laughed and learned from each other as our events crashed, burned, and finally, after a lot of hard work, came together. I was lucky enough to attend all of the PLS events, and I am so proud of what we all have managed to do given our limited resources.


A Pickering Learning Site Semester in Review

HSDR 1By Ayelen Barrios Ruiz Pagano

I personally came to Public Relations and Corporate Communications program after a long soul searching journey. I knew I needed to find a career that would pay my bills, but I also knew I needed to find something that I enjoyed doing. I did not want to sit behind a cubicle and feel my creativity die day by day.

I am a creative soul. I grew up loving the arts. I majored in English and in Hispanic Studies in university. I love story-telling. I love how an author can manipulate words to make you feel every emotion all in a series of pages.  I couldn’t lose that, without losing myself. But as I started to really hone down on my potential job interests (and what I was qualified for) I was disappointed in my options.

I found myself looking at public relations and corporate communication positions, but I was missing something. I was missing this program. So here I am.

I started this program with 10 strangers. I now have 10 best friends. I have 10 people who I can lean on when the program gets tough, 10 people who can lean on me if they don’t understand an assignment or a concept. I have 10 contacts when I go out in the real world. 10 people who believe in all the work I have accomplished so far. 10 people who believe in me.

This program has taught me a lot about public relations, it has taught me a lot about teamwork, it has taught me a lot about working in a group (which I didn’t realize was different from teamwork until this program), it has taught me a lot about the role of a communicator.

This past semester has taught me that this is an exciting field that treasures creativity. It allows a mind like mine to flourish. Any artist will tell you that being creative isn’t easy, it takes discipline and hard work. Public Relations and Corporate Communications is no different. It isn’t an easy job, in many ways it takes over your life. It requires you to be on top of everything. But if you’re like me. If you strive on being creative, if you enjoy to write, if you enjoy coming up with different strategies and planning events, then at least you’ll be doing something you enjoy.

And at the end of the day I would rather be stressed about something I love, over being bored out of my mind any day of the week.



Centennial College students sweep CPRS public relations industry awards… again!


CCPR Students Sweep Industry Awards last night.

More Than Just A Brew crew

The More Than Just a Brew crew take Bronze!

Student of the Year Jessica

Jessica Grace Chong is the CPRS Student of The Year

Talk is Cheap 7.0

Talk Is Cheap 7.0 take home Gold!

Wilki Night Out

The Wilki Night Out team score the Silver!

The Art Haus team take home the Bronze in Special Events category!

The Art Haus team take home the Bronze in Special Events category!

Students of Centennial College’s post-graduate Public Relations and Communications certificate program once again took top honours at the Canadian Public Relations Society Ace Awards held last night in Toronto, winning six awards in various categories.

Jessica Grace Chong took home the CPRS Student of the Year award. A Centennial student has earned this honour for the third consecutive year, and in four out of the past five years. Four awards – one gold, one silver and two bronzes – recognized the success of student-organized public relations events that supported various charities in Toronto.

Barry Waite, chair of the School of Communications, Media and Design at Centennial’s Story Arts Centre, was honoured with the prestigious Lois Marsh Award for outstanding leadership, support and involvement in the profession. In his acceptance speech, Barry called his ability to work and impact future PR professionals “life changing.” Waite is also acting program coordinator for the college’s new Bachelor of Public Relations Administration four-year program, and the former coordinator and professor for the certificate program.

Barry Award

Barry Waite honoured with Lois Marsh Award!

“We couldn’t be more proud of our students and of Barry,” said Nate Horowitz, Dean of the School of Communications, Media and Design. “These awards are a reflection not only of the quality of students we attract and produce, but also of the extraordinary commitment our faculty has to superior experiential learning. Our entire faculty has a depth and breadth of industry experience that benefits all of our students.”

The four Ace Awards received last night include:

  • Special Events (non-student category): Bronze for Art Haus
  • Student Public Relations Campaign of the Year:

Gold: Talk is Cheap 7.0

Silver: Wilki Night Out

Bronze: More Than Just A Brew

Good luck to Graduating Class of 2015

Eight months, 70 students, one event, two placemats, one business plan, five Vines, a few videos, and countless other assignments and it all concludes tomorrow. Classes that is. It’s not the end, but just the beginning. A new chapter as a public relations professional with great promise and opportunity for only an upward trajectory of success. If. If you remember the lessons we taught you and remain open for constant and continuous learning along the way. Your future is in your hands now, but so is your failure. You choose. Only you.

On those days when you’re not sure which way is up, here’s a short little primer on the stuff you can be proud of from your days at Centennial College:

1. You made it. Moreover, you proved yourself a worthy and supportive teammate when group projects needed you.

2. You know the difference between a business goal and a communications objective.

3. You pulled off an event on zero budget and made a financial donation to a local charity.

4. You can now write to inform and to persuade. And you know how to avoid a fatal error.

5. You know what gets capped vs. not. Among other CP style peculiarities.

6. Your LinkedIn profile rocks.

7. You can design your own business card when you are ready and you could develop your own business plan at the same time.

8. You can pitch media 18 ways to Sunday. Really, you can.

9. You can develop a social media plan that will generate results.

10. You can present in front of a client after real practice in front of the communications team at the Pan Am Games.

And so much more. You’re ready. Now make us proud!

Donna & Chris

Talk Is Cheap 7.0: The return of our social media conference

Posted by Camille Wallace, student, class of Spring 2015

Only two short months after beginning Centennial’s corporate communications and public relations program, myself and five talented students came together to host Talk is Cheap.


Talk is Cheap 7.0 team (L to R): Lynda Jess, Alison Gavan, Anna Muir, Nikita Patel, Nancy Cho and Camille Wallace


We were extremely excited (and a bit nervous) to coordinate the seventh incarnation of Talk is Cheap. Hosting a keynote event for Centennial College came with high expectations, but we were up for the challenge.

Each year Talk is Cheap relates a subject to social media. Based on the widespread use of social media platforms, we chose to discuss the importance of branding on social media. The night began with a panel discussion moderated by Martin Waxman and included panelists: Mark Munroe, Richard Marginson and Monika Rola. We encouraged guests and Tweeters to join the conversation using the hashtag #TALK7. We had participation from not only our guests, but from interested Twitter users from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Panel discussion moderator, Martin Waxman and panelists: Mark Munroe, Monika Rola and Richard Marginson

Panel discussion moderator, Martin Waxman and panelists: Mark Munroe, Monika Rola and Richard Marginson

Talk is Cheap also featured 12 workshops hosted by top industry professionals on topics including crisis management, digital media, selfie culture and media relations. Workshop hosts in attendance included Brad Ross, executive director of corporate communications and lead media spokesperson ‎for the TTC and Heather MacGregor, corporate communications and media relations coordinator at LCBO.

Heather MacGregor, LCBO

Heather MacGregor, LCBO

Brad Ross, TTC

Brad Ross, TTC

Although Talk is Cheap is not a charity event, we wanted to help support Leave Out Violence Ontario (LOVE), an organization committed to helping youth affected by violence. We contacted a variety of sponsors who generously donated towards our raffle. Thanks to our sponsors and guests we raised a grand total of $600 for LOVE’s media arts program.

Guests donating in support of LOVE

Guests donating in support of LOVE

At the end of the day we had an amazing experience coordinating Talk is Cheap 7.0 and we’re sad it’s over. We learned a lot from planning our first PR event and want to share a few event-planning tips:

  1. Be flexible – Things don’t always go according to plan, but this isn’t the end of the world, stay calm and remember everything will be okay.
  1. Have a backup plan – Sometimes plan A doesn’t work out, so make sure you have a plan B and even C just in case.
  1. Talk to your guests – It’s important to keep your guests happy. Talking to them is the best way to ensure they’re having a great time.
  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself – Things won’t always be perfect, so don’t stress the small things.
  1. Everyone loves food – Having several food sponsors donate not only helped minimized costs, but also kept our guests very happy.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, volunteers and guests for making Talk is Cheap 7.0 a success. A very special thank you to Barry Waite for your support, we couldn’t have done it without you.