Hard work, motivation pays off for Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic grad

April 24, 2017 • Written by

RRC billboard: Billie-Jo Laird, Bison Transport

As a Red River College student, Billie-Jo Laird worked hard while completing her work placement. And for both her and her employer, that hard work paid off.

In the fall of 2015, while attending RRC’s Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program, Laird was sent to Bison Transport for the first of two work placements. By the summer, Laird was a Level 1 Tractor Apprentice in Bison’s maintenance shop.

“Before the end of school I had already secured my job,” Laird says. “I got good reviews from both (work placements), and come June, when everyone was looking for work, Bison contacted one of my instructors at school to ask me to contact them about a job they wanted to offer me.

“I asked my instructor, ‘Does that usually happen?’ He said, ‘No.’”

“When students come in here and ask me, ‘Do you have any ideas for how to get a job?’ I say, ‘Just show your motivation. Don’t treat your work placement like a two-week vacation. This is your job interview. Ask as many questions as you want, just don’t slack off.’”

No one could accuse Laird of slacking off. In 2014, she earned her Mature Student High School Diploma. Prior to earning her Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic certificate from RRC, Laird was working in fast-food restaurants. Now, she’s putting in 12-hour days, from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. no less, at Bison.

On top of that, she’s a mom caring for her two sons, aged seven and eight, as well as her own mother. With her family as motivation (that, and a lot of coffee), Laird is determined to work her way up at Bison. Read More →

Creative Communications Media Awards on Friday, April 21st! Please attend!

April 19, 2017 • Written by

We invite you to join us for the 14th Annual Creative Communications Media Awards! The 2017 CCMAs will be held on Friday, April 21, 2017, at the Canad Inns – The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

This year at the CCMAs, we invite you to relax in a sophisticated 1920s speakeasy. Sip a cocktail and unleash your inner Gatsby at the peak of prohibition.

The Creative Communications Media Awards (CCMAs) is a chance for Creative Communications students to show their hard work and be recognized for their achievements. The awards night creates an opportunity for students and professionals in the communications industry to network and connect. Awards are given to students for outstanding work in a variety of categories. ︎Doors open at 6:30p.m.

Awards start at 8:00p.m. Tickets are $20. There are complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cupcakes as well as a cash bar.

To reserve tickets or for more information, contact Hailey Gajadhar and Hannah Gehman at

Let there be light: MET grad keeps region illuminated as Sylvania’s area account manager

April 17, 2017 • Written by

RRC billboard: Jeff Laurin, Sylvania

Jeffrey Laurin is serious about making light.

An account manager for the Sylvania lighting brand, Laurin is the go-to guy for all Sylvania lighting projects in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. His duties include energy audits, lighting design, and end user and distributor training – basically everything but screwing in the light bulb.

“We don’t do the install, but we have contractors that do, so I work with contractors to get the product installed, and [on] the maintenance of it as the years go on,” says Laurin, who graduated from Red River College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 1996.

“I’m the local expert for anything Sylvania. For instance, if you’re a school division and you’re looking to do something with lighting in it, you generally contact me. Basically, I do everything – from the energy calculation, recommending the right product, and following it through.

“Also, there are Sylvania distributors in Winnipeg and Manitoba and Ontario that I look after. I make sure their sales teams are up to speed on what they need to know for our products. There’s day-to-day stuff too, like, ‘What do I need to fix this problem?’ or ‘What lamp do you recommend for this application?’ or ‘What’s the best new product to replace our lighting?’”

Laurin says the MET program’s wide scope – which includes such topics as design, manufacturing methods and quality assurance – prepared him for the diverse nature of his job.

“You can get into all kinds of different fields – manufacturing, design or sales,” Laurin says. “I think the program just prepares you with enough information so you feel confident. Day One at Sylvania, my electrical wasn’t up to [that of] the guys I was talking to. But with the different courses you take at Red River, you put everything together and come up with reasonable answers.” Read More →

CreComm grad keeps TSN 1290’s drive-home show in gear

April 10, 2017 • Written by

RRC billboard: Adam Toy

Adam Toy is the off-air hustle behind the Hustler and Lawless show.

As senior producer at TSN 1290, Toy’s main task is putting together Hustler and Lawless, the station’s afternoon drive show featuring hosts Andrew Paterson (Hustler) and Gary Lawless.

A graduate of Red River College’s Creative Communications program, Toy starts his day by scouring the sports news for show topics. At 9 a.m., he participates in a conference call with the show’s hosts, where the trio puts together a first draft of that afternoon’s show.

After that call, Toy begins booking guests, putting together audio clips and compiling information for the show. Simultaneously, he’s checking in with the station’s program director and promotions department to see if there’s anywhere else he needs to direct his attention.

Toy’s job really heats up when the Winnipeg Jets play at home. On game day, he attends the morning skate at MTS Centre, gathering audio and checking in with visiting sports writers. Then he shoots a Facebook Live video with Brian Munz and Paul Edmonds, TSN 1290’s Jets broadcast team. Next, it’s back to the station to cut up audio, print notes and finalize the show.

And on game days, Hustler and Lawless broadcast live from Boston Pizza cityplace, so Toy heads back downtown for the show, after which he heads over to the rink for the game. During the game, Toy handles social media for the station; post-game, he’s in the dressing room, interviewing the players and personnel.

“There’s this thing called the NHL grind, the grind of the season. It’s a real grind,” Toy says. “There are times when that high pace and those long hours can get to a person, and it has got to me before, but I’ve adopted some practices to help me get through that. I try to take care of my body. I’m in the gym three times a week and I try to eat well. I’m also trying to improve my practice of meditation, so I can attack the day with a refreshed mind.” Read More →

Strictly business: Teacher Education grad takes hands-on approach at Tec-Voc

April 3, 2017 • Written by

RRC Billboard: Kathleen Mira

Kathleen Mira is taking care of business.

A graduate of Red River College’s Business/Technology Teacher Education program, Mira has taught at Technical Vocational High School in Winnipeg’s West End since 1999.

Mira has taught it all at Tec-Voc, from computer and software applications to accounting principles and systems to retailing, promotions and entrepreneurship, and everything in between. She says her time at RRC prepared her well for the multi-faceted and ever-changing world of business.

“You have to be versatile in this position. You have to be able to adapt to change,” Mira says. “We offer at Tec-Voc the full gamut of the business curriculum. Working here, I’ve had to be very versatile. I have to be able to turn my brain on for accounting, shut if off, then turn it on for marketing, shut if off, and then turn it on for entrepreneurship. You have to be able to change on a dime.”

Speaking of dimes (and nickels, quarters and loonies), Mira also operates Tec-Voc’s school store, Stingers, where students get real-life experience in a retail setting.

“It gives students hands-on experience that they normally wouldn’t get because of their age,” Mira says of the store, the name of which is a nod to Tec-Voc’s athletics teams, the Hornets.

“We have a point of sale system. [Students] scan items, they cash out, they cash in, they do inventory, they stock shelves, all those fun things. It’s like any other retail environment.”

The practical applications of Tec-Voc’s business programs don’t stop there.

“Being the accounting nerd that I am, I really wanted to start a credit union here at the school,” Mira says.

“We are in a partnership with Assiniboine Credit Union. We started that in December 2014, and it’s an awesome program where my accounting students can operate as member service representatives — or as many people know them, tellers. They get some hands-on experience developing those skills, so accounting is not just boring stuff every single day, they’re actually doing something.” Read More →

Pizza my heart: Business Administration grad builds legacy out of ‘saucy little number’

April 3, 2017 • Written by

Gennaro (Jerry) Cianflone is a big cheese in the restaurant business today, but the CEO of Pizza Hotline and his wife Theresa (nee Maione) weren’t exactly rolling in dough when they started out 30 years ago.

The couple met as students in RRC’s Business Administration program, and they were fresh out of college in 1986 when they bought their first eatery, a full-service restaurant called Colombo’s Pizza on St. Anne’s Road.

“Theresa’s family was in the restaurant business and her father said at one point in time … he was interested in selling the business,” Cianflone recalls. “So I said, ‘Well, if you’re interested in selling, I might be interested in buying,’ and Theresa and I ended up buying that business and that was where we started.”

“The first year, of course, was very tough — the first couple of years where Theresa and I were working seven days a week around the clock. It was hard, it was very hard in the beginning but we did it. We persevered and we stuck through it and just kept going.”

From one small slice of the market, the business has grown to include Café 22 and 25 Pizza Hotline locations in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Winkler, Steinbach, Portage la Prairie and Brandon, all easy to reach by calling one “saucy little number”: 222-2222. These days, the notion that you can punch any number seven times and get a pizza is a running gag, but in the early 1990s, it was a new concept in Manitoba.

“Honestly I think we might have been the first company to have a call centre in Winnipeg because that’s how we did that. We had a centralized number and all the telephone calls would come in to one location and at that time it was in the basement of one of our locations,” Cianflone says.

Read More →

Inventing hope: Distinguished alum’s breakthrough helps doctors target brain tumours

March 3, 2017 • Written by

Dr. Mark Torchia

Thirty years ago, Dr. Mark Torchia started tinkering with an idea that had life-saving potential — a tool that could destroy inoperable brain tumours.

The seed was planted during a conversation with neurosurgeon Dr. Michael West at St. Boniface Hospital. A short time earlier, West had used a minimally invasive procedure to access a brain tumour and collect a sample for biopsy. To Torchia, it seemed logical to expand on that idea to deliver a killing blow to the target tissue.

“Taking the idea and turning it into something viable is where the challenge arises,” he explains. “It was one of those situations where the idea was there, but the core technology that was going to be required to really bring the idea to fruition didn’t exist.”

A 1995 recipient of Red River College’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Torchia and engineer Richard Tyc eventually met the challenge, developing the NeuroBlate System at the St-Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre and in 1999, founding Monteris Medical Inc. to take it to market.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a visual guide, the complex system lets neurosurgeons insert a laser probe into the brain and destroy tumours without damaging surrounding tissue.

Approved for use in the U.S. in 2009, the system was first used in Canada in 2015. It’s now available in some 45 hospitals in the U.S. and in three Canadian hospitals — in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Torchia says it’s only a matter of time before it’s available in Winnipeg.

The invention earned Torchia and Tyc a $100,000 Principal Award from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation in 2015, and one of six inaugural Governor General’s Innovation Awards in 2016. Read More →

2017 Valentine’s Day Contest Winner

February 23, 2017 • Written by

Thanks to everyone who entered the Something’s in the Water contest at Red River College.

All of the submissions were amazing and the Alumni program looks forward to running the contest again in 2018.

The winner of the prize package walked away with sweet treats provided by the Professional Baking program and other assorted gifts thrown in from Alumni and the Culinary program at Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.

Jordan and his wife Leslie are both graduates of the Medical Radiologic program at RRC and first met in 2008. After a clinical rotation at St. Boniface General Hospital, the two were officially a couple. Immediately following the rotation, Leslie enrolled in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and in 2011 Jordan accepted a position as an Educational Assistant in the MRT program. Jordan also completed his Certificate in Adult Education in 2016.

In 2014 they were married, and in 2016 they welcomed the best gift of all, a beautiful daughter.

In Jordan’s submission he revealed “Without RRC, my life would truly have been different. Now with our new addition, it is whole. Thank you RRC.”


Finding the words: Language training helps RRC grad begin medical career in Canada

February 17, 2017 • Written by

Dina KoreenBecoming a doctor is a long and daunting process – especially when you don’t speak the same language as your future patients.

Dina Koreen knows the feeling. In 2013, she completed her studies to become a general practitioner in Alexandria, Egypt, but after years of maintaining a long-distance relationship with her husband, she opted to join him in Winnipeg, instead.

While her husband — who was also from Egypt, but moved to Canada for work in 2007 — had already established himself as an accountant, Koreen, who only spoke Arabic, had a long way to go before she could pick up her career again. After six months of basic English language training, she turned to Red River College.

“It was perfect,” Koreen says of the Language Training Centre’s Communication for Health Professions program. At five months, the program was shorter than Koreen expected – but also more intensive than she ever could have imagined.

“It was very hard,” she says. “I didn’t know it was going to be hard like this. It was nine-to-four every day from Monday to Friday, with three or four hours of homework at night.”

As many RRC grads can attest, that level of hard work often paves the way for opportunity. For Koreen, it led to a volunteering gig with CancerCare Manitoba. From there, she was able to obtain the experience she needed to complete the program in 2014 and pass her clinical assessment. When it came time to interview for her current job with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in early 2015, she had both the language skills and the confidence she needed. Read More →