Back to School is Not Just for Kids

There’s a hint of fall in the air that makes you think of back-to-school and new possibilities. (Okay, in Calgary sometimes hints are not very subtle.)

All the kids are planning their outfits for their first day and stuffing their new backpacks with unblemished notebooks.

But why should they have all the fun? You can get in on the back-to-school action by enrolling in fall courses. MRU Continuing Education has a lot to choose from. Learn something to keep up with your workplace skills or prepare for a new job. Or just because.


No time for classes, you say? We have some Back to School in a Day classes for busy people like you. From management seminars to social media and computers to photography, we have lots of good reasons to take a learning day.

Don’t want to be in a classroom at all? Online learning may be the way to go, whether you’re in town or across the globe. Although the programs take place online, you still interact with your instructor and fellow learners via our Blackboard learning environment.

Or we can bring the learning to you. How about back-to-school for your whole office? Our Corporate Training department has a roster of popular programs they can deliver to your staff at MRU or the location of your choice. They can also customize a training program just for your organization.

Face it — fall is coming. Make the most of it by learning on your own terms.

— by Karen McCarthy

Event Management Grad Enjoys New Challenges

Shannon Levandosky

Sometimes a career change requires a great deal of research and planning. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, why not?

That’s exactly what Shannon Levandosky did when she decided to make a move out of the oil patch into event planning.

She was considering becoming a wedding planner after working for a number of years in the petroleum industry. “I thought, why not? I found the Event Management program and gave it a try. Started the Intro course and loved it. So from there, I decided I was going to change what I was doing – change my entire career – and I really wanted to get through the program quickly. I loved every second of it. I loved meeting the people. I enjoyed interacting with the instructors.”

Shannon completed the certificate program within a year and a half, finishing in June 2013. She chose the classroom version of Mount Royal’s Event Management program, rather than the online version.

“I am a visual learner and I need to interact. I found that being in the classroom was really beneficial, to meet all the people, to meet the instructors from the industry. It opened my eyes to more than just wedding coordinating, because there’s just such a wide variety of event management out there.”

Shannon credits the MRU program with jump-starting her new career, landing a job before she even finished. “I think the program has been a key factor in my career. It gave me the confidence to go out and apply for positions, having no formal event management experience. And I think that was key – they saw that I was dedicated to finishing the program, and that those skills I was going to learn were going to help,” she notes.

In her new role, Shannon is part of a team that manages events ranging from business meetings to Christmas and Stampede parties to large-scale conferences.

Shannon values the hands-on, practical training she received. “Learning about how to put it all together, I could take everything that I learned and apply it to a real scenario.”

For anyone interested in event planning, Shannon recommends starting with the introductory course like she did. “It gave me a really good flavour for what the rest of the program was going to be like.”

Down the road, Shannon would like to move into a management role. “I really enjoy what I’m doing right now. I’m learning a lot because it’s my first role. I think I’d probably like to be leading that team one day.”

Shannon lives in Calgary with her husband and 6-year-old son. Family is front and centre during her time off. “We spend a lot of family time together. We go for bike rides, go to Fish Creek Park, that kind of stuff.”

Hear what Shannon has to say about her experiences in the Event Management program.

— by Karen McCarthy

TVP Student is Employee of the Month

TVP Student James Pickering
TVP Student James Pickering

James Pickering is a student in the Transitional Vocational Program’s (TVP) one-year Employment Preparation Program. He will graduate next month.

In October he started his first work placement at the Home Depot on Macleod Trail where he works as a lot associate.

James is now on the payroll at Home Depot and was voted Operations Associate of the month in June.

“I like working with the customers,” James says. “I like talking to them and helping them out to their cars with large products like lumber, heaters or even dishwashers. If I see carts out in the lot I bring them into the store in order to maintain a safe parking lot.”

“When James first started at Home Depot, he had to take online courses to learn the job,” says Lori Barrett, his MRU Employment Specialist. “He has to pass monthly safety quizzes as well.”

TVP James Pickering 2
James and Lori

Home Depot supervisor Mary Logan says that James “has an exceptional work ethic, genuinely cares about others and provides exceptional customer service.”

TVP James Pickering 3

The TVP Employment Preparation Program has helped adults with developmental disabilities gain life skills and enter the workforce for over 30 years. Often, the students become valued long-term employees or volunteers at the organizations that provide them with work placement experience.

Another TVP student, Andrew Tran, was named Employee of the Month at Westhills Cineplex Odeon in June, where he works as a Floor Player.

Congratulation to James, Andrew and all of the TVP students making an impact in their workplace.

— by Karen McCarthy

Massage Therapy Student Has New Career at Her Fingertips

Massage Therapy student Pranavi Thampi
Massage Therapy student Pranavi Thampi

“Over the past two to three years, my journey has been pretty exciting,” says Massage Therapy Diploma student Pranavi Thampi. She came to Canada from India in 2011 and studied esthetics and medical spa treatments in Edmonton, where she was named student of the year.

Pranavi won a scholarship to an advanced skin therapy program in Toronto and worked in a medical spa, where many of her clients suggested she become a registered massage therapist.

“So here I am today, studying massage therapy” she says, “thanks to my wonderful clients and the spa owner, who motivated me and encouraged me to follow my passion.”

Pranavi has always been drawn to the massage therapy discipline, knowing that it benefits the body, mind and soul. Her earliest massage subjects were her family and friends. “But one day I realized I might not be doing something right, as I started getting body aches and literally got a blood clot on my palm area and my wrist become sore. That’s when I realized I need to learn to protect myself first and provide my clients with the same amount of relaxation and relief from pain and stress,” she noted when applying to MRU. She chose the Mount Royal program due to its excellent reputation and job prospects for graduates.

“My goal is to make people addicted to massages!” she says. Pranavi’s dreams for the future include opening her own medical spa and a wellness centre for the geriatric population.

Hear Pranavi talk about her experiences with the Massage Therapy program.

— by Karen McCarthy

Journalist Turns Page on Career by Learning Web Design

Mark Nonkes in Laos
Mark Nonkes in Laos

If Mark Nonkes thought his career in journalism made life exciting, he was in for a big surprise.

Working full-time at a community newspaper in rural Ontario, Mark was enjoying a creative career alongside a dynamic team of writers, editors, photographers and graphic designers. But continual cuts in the newspaper industry meant increased workloads and mounting pressure to hit ever tougher deadlines.

By 2006, digital trends were clearly taking over the news industry, and Mark started to read the writing on the wall. He needed to adapt his working skills to a quickly shifting industry. Mark decided to enhance his skills by studying web design at Mount Royal University’s Continuing Education.

“For me, the choice to study web design wasn’t easy,” said Mark. “I researched widely before choosing Mount Royal and decided to move to Calgary because of the course’s jam-packed, three-month duration that offered an in-depth way to grow professionally. At Mount Royal, I learned a lot about design, grabbed a basic understanding of programming and started to think creatively — through a digital lens.”

After graduating from the program, Mark applied his new-found knowledge in roles within the non-profit communication realm. And he’s never looked back. Mark secured an exciting job working for a non-governmental relief and advocacy organization in Laos.

“I’ve been fortunate to work in Toronto, southern Africa and, now, southeast Asia,” said Mark. “The course gave my career a huge boost.”

His advice for others looking to branch out from their careers is to embrace change, and learn to adapt. “Never stop learning. Continue to challenge yourself. Observe the way your industry is moving in relation to technology. Get the skills you need to stay relevant in your field. Adapt, adapt, adapt.”

To keep up with changing industries, Mount Royal University’s Continuing Education offers a solid lineup of courses to empower workers looking to expand employable skill sets.

This fall, Continuing Education is offering both Web Designer and Digital Graphic Design programs to set workers up for success.

— by Sherri Zickefoose