Conestoga news

August 24, 2007 10:01 AM

Teachers get on board for students

Conestoga College has been voted the number 1 college in Ontario for the eighth straight year in the Key Performance Indicator survey and it’s no wonder why. Conestoga’s program co-ordinators and professors are really in tune to students’ needs and do all they can to make sure students graduate and find jobs.

James Phillips, co-ordinator of law and security administration, and Carolyn Harrison, co-ordinator of police foundations, attended a recruiting mission aboard the HMCS Fredericton, a multi-role patrol frigate in the Canadian Navy.

The Fredericton weighs 4,750 tonnes and is nearly 450 feet long. It can reach speeds of more than 30 knots, which is around 55 km/h. It contains accommodations for 239 personnel, is host to a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and carries torpedoes, missiles and guns.

The focus of their trip was to gather useful information for the students in their programs.

Phillips and Harrison attended a reception on Sept. 14 on the Fredericton in Hamilton Harbour where they had a chance to speak to a wide variety of the crew, from the captain to ordinary seamen. Phillips said Harrison and himself made it a point to ask each member which school they went to, what program they took, how long they had been in the navy and how long they expected to stay.

"We found a very wide range of education ranging from just high school to college, law and security administration, police foundations and electrical engineering, to university degrees in criminology and political science,” said Phillips. "Overall, the members were very happy to be aboard this ship.”

The next day, Sept. 15, at 7 a.m. Phillips and Harrison boarded the ship again, this time to take part in a voyage across Lake Ontario to Toronto Harbour. Leaving the docks was very exciting said Phillips.

"The ship pushed off from the dock and then turned to salute the Haida, a tribal class destroyer, which is a historical attraction in Hamilton Harbour,” said Phillips. "The Fredericton gave a two-gun blast and then we were off.”

On the way, the Fredericton went through some manoeuvers, showing Phillips and Harrison high speed turns and a rescue demonstration of a man-overboard drill. After the showboating, Phillips and Harrison were treated to a full access tour of the frigate. They got to witness the crew in action on the bridge and in control rooms, all the while asking questions about their job and life.

Many members are married and told Phillips and Harrison that technology has allowed them to stay in constant contact with their partner. The ship is equipped with e-mail access and the Canadian Navy provides each member with phone cards to call home on a regular basis said Phillips.

One thing the captain of the ship told Phillips and Harrison was that they were taking part in a recruiting mission because of the fact that it is very difficult for people in Ontario to have a perspective of the Canadian Navy when residents have very little contact with ships or personnel, unlike major port provinces like Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

"We did learn that the Canadian Forces in general are very concerned with their members’ quality of life and have instituted a number of programs and policy changes to ensure a standard of living and working,” said Phillips. "One of the greatest examples of the new quality of life is the increase in pay.”

In the Canadian Navy, a full pension can be achieved after only 20 years he said.

"I was impressed with how candid the crew was with us and really appreciated the opportunity to ask the real questions our students would be interested in.”

One example Phillips relayed was, where else could a graduate find a job for life the day after graduation and in just a few years be making over $50, 000 a year?
Originally published in The Spoke, 2006/09/25