Alumni Engagement

News, Profiles and Events

Creative Communications grad lands ‘dream job’ working in animal welfare

April 12, 2024

It would be fair to say that Jessica Miller has her dream job.

On most days, one friendly dog or another keeps her company in her corner office at Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS).What Miller likes most about her role as CEO, though, is that she is doing something worthwhile.

“We help people. We help people just as much as we help animals,” she said.

Now in her third year on the job, she has always made her living through meaningful work.

Her career path began at Red River College Polytechnic, where she earned her diploma in the 2-year Creative Communications diploma program (commonly known as CreComm) in 2007.

“My interest has always been in having my work mean something. Whether it was for health care, or animals, or a non-profit, or volunteering,” she said. “I have always wanted to know that my time spent away from my family, and in my career, meant something. I never wanted to work corporately. It still doesn’t interest me.”

Before attending RRC Polytech, Miller modeled internationally as a teenager. As she aged, she wondered how to transition herself from the fashion runways to a more long-term career. Journalism struck her as a possibility, and RRC Polytech could teach her. “I had travelled the world. I thought being a reporter and being on camera would be a good transition from modeling,” she remembered.

She was deferred for one year after being accepted into the CreComm program. So, she went straight to The University of Winnipeg and started on the related bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Communications, which she later completed after finishing CreComm at RRC Polytech.

In her first year of CreComm, Miller quickly realized journalism wasn’t for her. Public relations, on the other hand, gave her the chance to shape and control the message, which she loved doing.

“Public relations was so ‘me’,” she said. “It was getting out there and talking to people, which I was used to doing. I loved learning how to write press releases. Creating and driving the narrative were what attracted me.”

CreComm was “intimidating”, and the coursework was “hardcore”, she remembers. The instructors often called her out on her mistakes.

“They expected the world from you, and zero mistakes. They put you to the test – in the field and in the workforce. The question was, could you execute what was asked of you?”

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Proud Digital Film and Media Alum launches filmmaking career and production company after graduation

April 10, 2024

Fawnda Neckoway had two paths in front of her in 2021: going to Vancouver Film School to study acting on a full-ride scholarship she won; or dive deeper into filmmaking and attend RRC Polytech’s Digital Film and Media Production program.

Either way, she knew she wanted to start her own production company. With her family and adapting to new changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic both top of mind, she envisioned launching her business and operating from anywhere.

Having already received a diploma from the Academy of Acting in 2008, Neckoway had worked in the film industry as both an actor and casting director. She appeared in the film We Were Children and did the casting for shows like Wolf Joe and Taken.

While in the Indigenous Women in Business program (available through SEED Winnipeg), Neckoway leaned on her experience as a casting director to help build a business plan to launch her own company. When she completed the program, she knew she needed to take things a step further, so she applied to and was accepted to both colleges. In the end, she chose RRC Polytech.

“Part of that was because of my future plans at the time. I was preparing for other life changes, and Iwanted to stay close to my family while still pursuing my professional goals,” said Neckoway. “After seeing what was available with the new Digital Film and Media Production program, I felt RRC Polytech was the right choice—up until then, we hadn’t had a film program quite like this available in Manitoba.”

Neckoway decided to stay in Winnipeg to pursue her dream and build on what she’d achieved so far in her career. She described the Digital Film and Media Production program as amazing but intense. She said she still works with people she met in the program to this day.

“It was everything I anticipated it to be—and then some,” said Neckoway. “We not only had the opportunity to gain confidence with the camera and film our own creatives, there were other areas of study that were really beneficial. It was a pretty diverse curriculum even though it was only a year.”

Neckoway said the Independent Film Project assignment was pivotal for her. Neckoway pitched her story, Kita kiskihtihtakwaw: So They Will Know. Inspired by an innocent question between a child and parent about Residential Schools, So They Will Know provides insight for parents and educators who may be having similar conversations with the children in their lives. The story resonated with her peers and was one of the five projects selected for production.

“I was fortunate enough to be one of the students selected to move forward with my film as the writer and director,” said Neckoway. “I discreetly gripped my son’s feather for comfort as I shared our story, I was nervous”. As a result, this assignment taught me the whole process of writing, pitching, and presenting ideas…it prepared me for what I’m doing now.”

Neckoway graduated in April 2022 and hit the ground running, launching her business Nikâwiy Productions the same month.

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Polytechnic Proud – and all about people for Magellan Aerospace General Manager

April 5, 2024

Technology, innovation, and global connectivity all drive success in the aerospace industry.

Ron Drepaul, Business Administration graduate and General Manager of Magellan Aerospace Winnipeg, cites an additional factor.

“Relationships are the bedrock of our business,” said Drepaul, 58. “We spend a lot of time fostering strong relationships with our customers and our suppliers. And really engaging with the people in our building.”

With a current complement of 700 employees in Winnipeg, Magellan engineers, manufactures, and services components for aerospace markets all over the world. This includes advanced products for defense and space markets, as well as complementary specialty products. Winnipeg is the largest operation for Mississauga-based Magellan, which in 2022 generated $764.6 million in revenue.

Drepaul joined the company in 1988, “pretty much right out of Red River,” taking a job on the shop floor. After a few months, he took on responsibilities in production control and material planning.

Then, a big change: Drepaul became a contract administrator. Now he was preparing long-term pricing proposals, negotiating pricing, reviewing existing contracts, explaining terms to stakeholders, analyzing risks, and maintaining contract records.

“That job was in line with my education. I was in the role for eight years. It helped me understand the business.”

Drepaul’s ascent continued. He became responsible for Magellan’s relationship with one of its major customers, General Electric Aviation.

Next, with a move into purchasing, he went from dealing with the customer to dealing with suppliers.

“It’s really a natural extension when you think about it – the supplier is another kind of customer.”

Drepaul rose in this area to become Magellan’s Director of Corporate Procurement. He became involved with strategic sourcing, agreements, and standardizing processes across a globally expanding organization.

Among his accomplishments, he led a team that established and implemented a proprietary system to build consistency in manufacturing across Magellan’s divisions.

The job took him all over the world.

“I was getting involved with our emerging market strategy. I was dealing with our own company, key suppliers, and joint ventures.”

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Polytechnic education sparks creative fire for luxury candle brand

April 4, 2024

When you think of Winnipeg-based luxury candle brand Coal and Canary you likely think of great scented candles with cheeky names and beautiful branding. What you might not know is that founder and CEO, Amanda Buhse, is still the one designing the packaging of each product.  

“Nowadays, my job and primary role is more the visionary and the leader to an amazing team that works so hard,” said Amanda. “But I do still do the graphic design work for Coal and Canary,” she said with a chuckle.

“It’s really fun because I save a lot of my money by not hiring someone else to do it and save time, but it’s also my passion and what I love doing, so to be able to do it for my own company is pretty special and very cool,” she added.

As a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Advanced Graphic Design program (now, Communication Design) in 2006, Amanda knows her way around Adobe Illustrator and has had numerous roles in the industry.

“RRC Polytech definitely provided me with an environment where ideas weren’t just encouraged, they were also celebrated. It was a safe space that encouraged technical mastery, but also the ability to navigate through those uncharted territories of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Amanda

Right out of college Amanda found herself employed at a print house as a production designer, where she learned the basic skills you need to succeed as a graphic designer in the industry. She went on to work for an ad agency and as a freelancer until she worked for national fashion agency as their lead designer and eventual art director.

“I had a career I was really happy with and really loved and I was never thinking about opening up my own company that hires people – that was never on the radar for me,” said Amanda.

In 2014, Amanda and her best friend, who was in nursing school at the time, were looking for a distraction and got into making candles as a hobby. They began posting their passion project on Instagram as a way to connect over creating something as friends. It wasn’t long before stores began to reach out asking to sell their products in stores.

“We had no idea what a wholesale catalog was, but luckily Google was a thing, so we googled it and being a graphic designer, I could fake it till I made it. I stayed up all night making this beautiful wholesale catalog and made it look like we were this really established, well-known company that knew what they were doing. But we had no idea, you know, so having a graphic design background really helped in those moments,” said Amanda.

Amanda wasn’t always considering a career in graphic design; she had looked into going into performing arts schools or school for interior design. It was through Vincent Massey’s high school guidance counselor that Amanda found herself enrolling at RRC Polytech.

“I couldn’t really decide, I’ve always been very artistic and he asked if I had ever thought about graphic design and I didn’t really know what graphic design was, because it wasn’t talked about a lot back then.  After he explained what a graphic designer does, I thought, oh my gosh, that’s perfect,” said Amanda

“I say it all the time that my experience at RRC Polytech really was a catalyst for my success today in so many ways. It was honestly one of the best times of my life – both fun and challenging and prepared me for where I am today.”

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Polytechnic Proud: RRC Polytech alumni Highlighted in New Campaign

April 4, 2024

Last fall, we reached out to our alumni community, industry partners, and the public to nominate RRC Polytech graduates that work with and for them to be part of a co-operative advertising opportunity: the Polytechnic Proud campaign.

Now, 40 RRC Polytech grads are being highlighted in billboards across the province. Over the next two months, you will see dozens of proud RRC Polytech alumni featured in billboards in Winnipeg, Portage La Prairie, and Selkirk, and in print and online versions across Manitoba. We look forward to share their success stories with you in the coming weeks and months.

The campaign aims to represent diversity across programs, industries, and generations. From recent to seasoned graduates, the alumni featured are CEOs, directors, entrepreneurs, engineers, account managers, nurses, horticulturists, teachers, chefs, and many more from a variety of industries.

“The partnerships we have with industry are so valuable to the work we do here at RRC Polytech, and we are thrilled that so many nominated their talented employees – our proud alumni – for this campaign,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. “The diversity represented in Polytechnic Proud is a testament to the quality of work that our grads are doing and the wide variety of career paths that a polytechnic education prepares them for.” 

The first feature story being released as part of the campaign is Amanda Buhse of Coal and Canary Candle Company, who started her business in 2014 and has since had products sold across the world and featured at The Oscars and The Grammys. 

“RRC Polytech provided me with an environment where ideas weren’t just encouraged, they were also celebrated,” says Amanda Buhse, Founder of Coal and Canary Candle Company and a 2006 graduate of RRC Polytech’s Advanced Graphic Design Program (now the Communication Design program). “My experience at RRC Polytech really was a catalyst for my success today in so many ways. It was honestly one of the best times of my life – both fun and challenging and prepared me for where I am today.”  

Profiles for more than half of these grads, including Amanda, will also be published on our Alumni News page and shared with the wider RRC Polytech community throughout the year – including the more than 80,000 RRC Polytech graduates in Manitoba and around the world. Subscribe to our blog to follow along with these incredible stories.

Join RRC Polytech for CreativeMornings Winnipeg’s free March event

March 21, 2024

On Friday, March 22, RRC Polytech graduate Joseph Pilapil will be the guest speaker at CreativeMornings Winnipeg’s free event taking place at Launch Co-working Space. All RRC Polytech alumni and community members are warmly invited to attend.

More than a decade ago, CreativeMornings was launched out of a desire for ongoing, accessible events for creative communities to connect. Today, these communities gather in 223 cities across 67 countries — including right here in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg chapter of CreativeMornings not only celebrates our city’s creative talent, but also promotes an open space to connect with like-minded individuals. From marketing legends to hometown heroes, speakers are selected by each chapter based on a global theme. This month’s theme is PERSPECTIVE: what you see — and how you see it — shapes your beliefs. And seeing someone else’s point of view is uniquely human. Considering another perspective fosters empathy. And we all desperately need more empathy. Join CreativeMornings Winnipeg to change your perspective – and change your world.

Joseph Pilapil (photo by Luke Tokaryk)

Guest speaker Joseph Pilapil is a sign painter, designer, and artist. He’s a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Digital Multimedia Technology (now Digital Media Design) program. Owner of The Travelling Sign Painters, he creates hand painted signs for all situations in Winnipeg. He is part-owner of an artist collective and small shop called Bear Face General Store and is also a part-owner of a dance company called River City Swing. Joseph aims to make a living of all aspects of his creative life.

This Friday, Pilapil will share his unique perspective as an artist and creative, and help you change your perspective, too!

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Enter to win tickets to the Winnipeg Women’s Conference!

February 26, 2024

An exclusive offer for RRC Polytech alumni — enter now for your chance to win a ticket to this year’s sold-out Winnipeg Women’s Conference!

Taking place in-person at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Monday, March 11, the Winnipeg Women’s Conference promises a full day of networking and learning opportunities, including keynotes from inspiring leaders and breakout sessions with powerhouse women from Manitoba and beyond.

Whether you want to connect with like-minded business owners, grow your network, or take your career to the next level, you will find the resources and community you’re looking for – and get a chance to connect with fellow RRC Polytech grads while you’re there.

Enter now for your chance to win a ticket to this incredible full-day conference in downtown Winnipeg. We’re giving away three tickets to lucky RRC Polytech alumni.

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Enter to win tickets to see icon Bill Nye the Science Guy on March 3

February 23, 2024

An exclusive opportunity for RRC Polytech alumni: enter for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see 90s cultural icon Bill Nye the Science Guy live in Winnipeg!

The countdown is on to save the world from catastrophic climate disaster, but is it too late? Bill Nye doesn’t think so! An icon who made science accessible and “cool” for kids in the ‘90’s, Bill Nye is back, and this time with a new mission: to help rescue Earth’s inhabitants from climate change…with science!

Taking place at the Centennial Concert Hall on Sunday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m., The End is Nye: An Evening with Bill Nye the Science Guy will take the audience back through Bill’s history as “the Science Guy” and jump forward to today, showcasing the latest climate-related scientific advancements he’s passionate about, and tell us how we, as individuals, can do a small part to make a huge difference. Because after all this time, science still rules.

Engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, audiences revere this good-natured Renaissance man’s infectious blend of humor, intellectual curiosity, and devotion to solving some of the world’s most complex challenges through science. Best known for his 18-time Emmy-winning run as “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” he brings his love of science and flair for comedy to every appearance – deftly translating complex issues to help inspire audiences of all ages to engage with and improve our world.

Enter now for your chance to win a pair of tickets to this incredible evening in downtown Winnipeg. We’re giving away two tickets to one lucky RRC Polytech alumni member.

Alumni can use code BN10 for a very special 10% discount off ticket prices (excludes VIP). You can purchase tickets here.

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Mental Wellbeing Strategies for Career Success: Free Virtual Event

November 24, 2023

You’re invited! In partnership with Ten Thousand Coffees, we’re excited to offer a special panel discussion with experts from across the country to RRC Polytech alumni and current students. This free virtual event will take place on Tuesday, November 28th at 4:00 p.m. CT.

It’s a busy time of year where exams and work deadlines dominate our daily lives – not to mention all the festivities taking place over the next month – meaning many of us may be feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, or significantly stressed. This webinar is tailored to provide you with valuable strategies for prioritizing your mental wellbeing while shaping your career path, whether you’re a student, a new graduate just starting out, or a working professional.

Why you should join:

  • Practical insights: Discover actionable strategies to prioritize mental wellbeing, while paving the way for a successful career.
  • Expert panel: Learn from experts at and Kids Help Phone, who will share their experiences and insights.
  • Free resources: Gain access to free mental wellbeing resources, courtesy of RBC FutureLaunch.

Win coffee on 10KC!

Ten Thousand Coffees has an exciting offer for you! Every Office Hour registrant has a chance to win one of seven $20 coffee gift cards. These cards can support your networking coffee chats, making your experience even more enjoyable. They’ll randomly select the winners and notify them via email within two business days of the event. Don’t let this fantastic opportunity pass you by!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to grow your network and learn essential skills – click here to register for this free webinar on Tuesday, November 28th at 4 p.m. CT.

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Creative Communications grad returns to CentrePort Canada, this time at the helm

September 5, 2023

Get to know Carly Edmundson and you will soon see that she is a natural-born leader. She just gets things done.

Having finished her coffee and a business meeting, Edmundson leans over her table in the Hargrave St. Market food hall to tell you about herself.

“I grew up in the community of Pierson, in the southwestern corner of Manitoba. The population there is about 175,” she explains. “I came from a place where, if you wanted something done, you had to act. I wasn’t going to have other people do something for me. That wasn’t a button I could press. It made me self-sufficient.”

Edmundson has taken herself from humble beginnings to become one of Manitoba’s most dynamic business leaders. As President and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc. since May of 2023, she oversees North America’s largest trimodal inland port and Foreign Trade Zone.

The path to her corner office went through Red River College Polytechnic, where she earned her diploma in Creative Communications (commonly known as CreComm) in 2006, specializing in Advertising.

Established in 2008, CentrePort is a hub for transportation and distribution businesses. It covers 20,000 acres located west of Brookside Boulevard in Winnipeg and the municipality of Rosser. “That’s an area larger than Manhattan (14,600 acres),” Edmundson points out. Currently, more than 2,300 acres are in active development at CentrePort.

She worked at CentrePort for six years, climbing to Executive Director of Marketing and Communications by the time she left in 2019. After that, Edmundson was Senior Vice-President for four years at Cushman & Wakefield Stevenson, a real estate firm with dealings at CentrePort, before returning to the inland port corporation last spring.

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RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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