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Grads to Watch

Newsroom authorby Jill ScarrowJun 22, 2021

Every year, we take a look at some of the rising stars from our graduating class, and this year is no exception. The class of 2021 faced challenges, but learned some important lessons along the way. Read on to meet just a few members of this talented group, and see what some of them had to say about completing their studies in the midst of a global pandemic.



Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design

  • CJ Capital, Seth Zosky, and Matthew Novary Joseph, Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre

    This trio of new grads is already rocking the music world. In June, CJ Capital, Seth Zosky, and Matthew Novary Joseph, better known as the musical group CZN, earned four ‘yeses’ during their audition for America's Got Talent 2021 – a resounding approval from the show’s judges to enter the competition. In 2020, they won the inaugural season of Canadian Family’s Got Talent, chosen by music legend Simon Cowell. Cowell was so impressed with their talent that he extended an impromptu invitation to them to audition for America’s Got Talent. All three of the Bachelor of Music Theatre alumni thanked their professor at Sheridan, Mary-Lu Zalahan, for their success.

  • Heather Mazzonna, Honours Bachelor of Interaction Design

    As a student, Heather Mazzonna worked as a research assistant on an NSERC-funded project to support food security among isolated older adults in Halton, and she was a big factor in the project's success. Mazzona is currently working in a fintech company in Montreal as their Design Lead.

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    During my time at Sheridan, I enjoyed having the opportunity to experience a breadth of disciplines in a hands-on environment. One project that stands out to me is a usability study I ran as a school project in collaboration with Bank of Montreal. Participating in a real usability study sparked an ongoing interest in UX Research for me and led me into my role as a research assistant at the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research where I grew into a professional designer and researcher while completing my degree.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    My advice is to come open-minded and ready to learn and to seek out learning opportunities whenever possible by getting involved in your program and getting to know students in other years. Everyone has something to teach and you'll get to experiment in so many areas of your discipline. You can't always predict what will resonate with you. Learn as much as possible while you're surrounded by instructors and peers in your industry, but also keep in mind that learning doesn't end when you graduate.

    What lesson or piece of advice did you receive at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    An important lesson I learned in my final year at Sheridan is that learning is continuous and growth is uncomfortable. Especially in a discipline like design that advances and changes so rapidly, the most important skill you can have is to know how to learn and adapt. Similarly, when designing for other people, personal growth is also ongoing and necessary, and this can be uncomfortable so it's important to surround yourself with the support you need and to not back down from those challenges.

    What’s next for you?
    I am currently working as the Head of Design at Mako Fintech in Montreal and plan to continue to transform the financial industry with design.

  • Siyi Wang, Honours Bachelor of Photography

    Siyi Wang is already making a name for herself in the photography world. This year, she received the Canon Best in Show award at the GradWork exhibition, which showcased the work of the graduating Bachelor of Photography class, and CBC recently profiled her as one of their emerging artists from the class of 2021.

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    Definitely the opportunities I had working collaboratively with other artists from Sheridan, my classmates, and makeup-artist students. The best project I worked on was our big fashion shoot in third year where we dedicated a whole school day to shoot with professional models, makeup artists and stylists. It was truly so exciting to work on something big, and the fact that everyone in the team was my friend and classmate made this shoot extra special.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    Focus on what you want to create, what interests you, not what you think others would like, not what you feel would get you the highest grade. Trust the process, trust time, keep shooting but never force yourself to shoot when you don’t feel inspired. And enjoy every moment you get to in the studios and labs creating images, helping your classmates with their shoots, exchanging ideas and inspiring each other.

    What lesson or piece of advice did you receive at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    Professor Meredith White once told me failure is success, but not having ideas is failure. I almost like failing in shoots because I know I’m one step closer to the image I want to create. I’ve learned to be patient with my work.

    What’s next for you?
    I would like to start working in the creative industry, maybe somewhere I could help others with my creative ideas, art directions and visual storytelling skills. I’m also very interested in gallery-related work and teaching. Eventually, I would love to pursue a master's degree in a creative industry related program or in fine art.

 

Pilon School of Business

  • Ashley Vien, Human Resources

    Ashley Vien came to Sheridan because she saw education as a way to build a better future for herself and her daughter. After years of hard work and sacrifice, she was named the Pilon School of Business’ valedictorian, and she shared her story on CBC Radio’s The Current, where she talked about her motivation and her passion to help others find success. Read more and listen to her story.


Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Brianna Wodabek, Honours Bachelor of Creative Writing and Publishing

    Brianna Wodabek's twin passions for writing and publishing helped her find an internship at an Oakville publishing company as a first-year student. Four months later, she was hired as an editorial assistant and then became a publishing coordinator. Now, she’s the Publicity and Marketing Coordinator at Hamilton-based publisher Wolsak & Wynn. She is also a Senior Editor and Social Media Manager for the Hamilton Review of Books.

    "One of the best experiences I’ve had over the last four years was a direct result of taking a chance and not saying no to an opportunity." – Brianna Wodabek

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    I interviewed authors Paul Vermeersch and Thea Lim, who was shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. I also won the Academic Award of Excellence and the Ampersand Award, given to individuals in my program who embody strengths in both creative writing and publishing. More recently, I’ve been named as FHASS valedictorian of 2021.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    See everything as an opportunity. One of the best experiences I’ve had over the last four years was a direct result of taking a chance and not saying no to an opportunity. You never know where it might lead. I have always learned more about myself through the process, and I have connected with incredible people along the way.

    What lesson or piece of advice you received at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    I first attended Sheridan as a student of the Performing Arts certificate program in 2011-12. I will never forget a simple piece of advice a professor gave us during one of his lectures: “Do it now, so you don’t have to do it later.” As simple as it sounds, it has been my motto ever since. I returned to Sheridan as a mature student and almost 10 years later, I still have Professor Mark Melymick to thank for that simple, yet meaningful, piece of advice.

    What’s next for you?
    Following my internship, I joined Wolsak & Wynn as their Publicity and Marketing Coordinator. I am also currently a Senior Editor and Social Media Manager for the Hamilton Review of Books. I love both positions and how I am exposed to such diverse and meaningful content, authors, and people. Going forward, I aim to continue saying yes to as many opportunities as I can, so I can consistently learn and experience new things!

  • Tamara Thompson, Honours Bachelor of Creative Writing and Publishing

    In her fourth year, Tamara Thompson launched Whispering Wick Chapbook Press, a literary publishing collective designed to give new and emerging Canadian writers a platform to share their work. The entrepreneurial initiative earned Thompson national recognition from Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada as its 2020 College Work-Integrated Learning Student of the Year. She also received an honourable mention from Education at Work Ontario (EWO).

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    I worked on some cool projects like writing a screenplay, creating an interactive game, and trying my hand at poetry, but I think my favourite project was creating a long story. The people I worked with helped me make my story better, and in turn I was able to help them. It was also the last workshop I did before the pandemic, so the project holds a special place in my heart.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    Workshops are the scariest and also the most important thing one does in the program because at first, it’s hard to take edits. But workshops can be rewarding too, once you figure out how to fully communicate your ideas to your group. Starting out at Sheridan, I wish I had known about the mountain of edits I would get and that while they would mostly be very useful, I needn’t accept all of them. Not taking an edit doesn’t mean you are bad at taking criticism. Some edits just don’t fit.

    What lesson or piece of advice you received at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    “Art is never finished, it’s left.” – Paul Vermeersch. It’s okay not to have a prefect piece because we can always improve something to make it better. It will never be perfect. Being told that art is not this prefect thing lifted a weight I had put on myself. I could edit and edit a piece to an inch of its life, but was Edit Six the edit that I was happiest with? Not necessarily. My suggestion is: when it feels right, leave it and go make new art.

    What’s next for you?
    At this point, the way the world is right now, it’s hard to say or plan anything. I have some personal projects I hope to finish and edit. I’m also looking into more schooling opportunities and keeping my eyes peeled for job opportunities. I’m excited to keep working on Whispering Wick, the small chapbook press I started with my classmates.


Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies

  • Krishna Joseph, Social Service Worker – Gerontology

    Krishna Joseph started having an impact in the community even before her graduation. After seeing how seniors in long-term care struggled with isolation during the pandemic, she started a letter writing campaign, sending handwritten cards to share messages of hope and motivation. It was a natural fit for Joseph, who says one of the greatest lessons she’ll take from her time at Sheridan is the importance of nurturing mental health.

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    Some of my highlights from my time at Sheridan were meeting an amazing set of colleagues and professors. There were many projects I enjoyed and worked on, but one that really stood out for me: Krishna's Motivational Letters Against Isolation of Older Adults. I was able to put the theories I learned into practice by planning, researching, and creating this project. It was a project that came from a place of love, I was able to help others in my community be aware of the challenges older adults are facing. I love hearing how my cards are making a difference in someone's life.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    Never give up! Keep your head up high; you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Manage your time wisely, reach out to your professors, and the student center if you are having challenges. Don't stress too much, it's never a good thing. Take time for self-care, your mental health will feel so much better, and you’ll be able to stay focused on what's important. Remember you are the future, you will do great things, you will learn a lot about who you are and what you can do.

    What lesson or piece of advice did you receive at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    Always take time for self-care, because no one can focus or achieve a goal when they are burnt out. Take time for yourself, your mental health is the key to achieving and completing anything. Always seek help, there are always people who can help and support you. This is one thing I will take along with me in the workforce. I want to say thanks to each and every student and professor I met on this journey, I am so excited to see how new students coming into Sheridan will make a great impact on others.

  • Seden Yesildag, Child and Youth Care

    Seden Yesildag came from Istanbul, Turkey to study in the Child and Youth Worker program, and fully immersed herself in student life at Sheridan. She served as a peer mentor, and on the Student Pandemic Advisory Committee. In 2021, she was recognized for her contributions inside and outside the classroom as Sheridan’s recipient of the Ontario Remembrance Scholarship, created to honour the memory of those killed in the 2020 Ukraine International Airlines crash. She also won the Sheridan International Student Leadership Award in 2020 and the Outstanding Achievement in Academics and Community Involvement Award in 2020 and 2021.

    "I have learned that, at the end of the day, (success) is truly a matter of building positive connections with others." – Seden Yesildag

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    I realize that there is a lot I should be grateful for and proud of. One of the great projects that I was fortunate to take part in was serving on several student panels to share my experiences and ideas about improving supports and resources for students. It was a highlight because it led to meaningful and tangible changes.

    What’s your advice for first year students?
    My best advice for the first-year students is: be curious about everything, get involved in extracurricular activities, find an on-campus job, and start building social and academic networks as much as possible. Making new friends will eventually eliminate feeling disconnected and increase your sense of belonging. I would strongly suggest that students don’t hesitate to ask for help. Always remember that you do not have to do things alone; we all achieve greatness with the help of others.

    What lesson or piece of advice did you receive at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think it also takes a village to build the foundations of a strong sense of belonging to the community. I have learned that, at the end of the day, (success) is truly a matter of building positive connections with others and understanding what that connection means to us. Knowing who we are allows us to reach deep to the bottom of our hearts to find the principles, and values that define our personal philosophy and guide us on the many paths of our lives. Now, as an international student and an alumna, it is my duty to guide and facilitate positive change in young people while focusing on diversity and inclusion.

    What’s next for you?
    My dream job is to continue to work for the well-being of young people. I don’t know what life is going to throw at me, but I’m so optimistic and passionate that I would love to be using my rich life and academic experiences on international platforms. Working for Unicef or with the United Nations for children is my career goal.


Faculty of Applied Science and Technology

  • Renz Edejer, Electrical Engineering Technician

    Renz Edejer has made important contributions inside and outside the classroom during his time at Sheridan. A two-time recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Academics & Community Involvement, International Student, award he encourages everyone to get involved in campus life.

    What are some of the highlights from your time at Sheridan?
    Getting the Outstanding Achievement in Academics & Community Involvement, International Student, award for two academic years and organizing the electrical trivia night were definite highlights. Receiving the outstanding achievement awards was humbling and motivating. I wouldn’t have won these awards without the support of my professors who generously wrote reference letters for my application, and I would like to thank them for their time and support.

    As for the electrical trivia event, it was challenging to organize a virtual event when you have to deal with several restrictions and stick to email as your main mode of communication. Thanks to connections and support from our faculty, the Sheridan Electrical Club secured prize sponsorship from Milwaukee Tools. All in all, the event was a success, and we got positive response from the participants who are looking forward to another event like it.

    "Share your ideas, because you will never know if it might be the solution" – Renz Edejer

    What’s your advice for first-year students?
    My advice for first-year students would be to try to be involved and be connected. With the pandemic, it was a challenge to stay updated with campus events and opportunities. I regularly browsed Sheridan’s CCR directory and emailed the contact person about my interest in getting involved. I sent a lot of emails for every posting that interested me. If I hadn’t done this, wouldn’t have become a member of the Sheridan Electrical Club and be hired as an Electrical Student Lab Assistant.I wish I had known where to grab a hot coffee from Tim’s. And since my first term was in Winter 2020, I would say to make sure to check the “feels like” temperature before going out! On a serious note, since the pandemic shifted learning to online, I wish I had known the many sources online that will help me adapt to the new normal, especially to socialize and learn.

    What lesson or piece of advice did you receive at Sheridan that you’ve been able to incorporate into your career?
    It would be asking questions, expressing ideas, and taking down notes. As someone from skilled trades, I know technology keeps evolving, so keep being curious and open to new ideas to keep up. Share your ideas, because you will never know if it might be the solution or if someone is listening and will support you in developing it. Taking down notes sounds old school, but nothing beats the memory of a pen and paper, as my professor would say.

    What’s next for you?
    With help from Sheridan Community Employment Services, I am glad to share that I have started my electrical apprenticeship with Macro Engineering & Technology Inc. I hope to obtain my 309A and 442A trades certification in the next five years. In addition, I am planning to achieve the engineering technologist certification with the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists.


Compiled by Vitusha Oberoi and Jill Scarrow

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