Lifelong learner enjoys diversity of courses
By day, Helen Shann cuts hair at a boutique in downtown Toronto; by night,
she takes Continuing Education courses at George Brown – about 10 so
far – to explore new interests, learn different skills and meet interesting
In 2000, Helen turned to the George Brown College for
a very specific reason: after 14 years as a hairdresser,
she was considering switching careers. Intrigued by
graphic design, she signed up for Introduction
to Desktop (now Digital) Publishing (Windows). “I
knew I wouldn’t go back to school full time; I
wanted to take different evening courses to train myself
over time,” says Helen, 37.
Over seven weeks, Helen learned the digital publishing
basics and received training in software programs such
as Photoshop, InDesign, QuarkXPress and Illustrator.
The best part of the course, she says, was learning
from an instructor who was an experienced magazine graphic
designer. “The fact that he worked in the
industry meant he knew what he was talking about,” she
says. “He was very helpful
and gave a lot of personal attention.”
The comprehensive training gave Helen a good idea of
the nature of graphic design; it was a valuable lesson
that made her realize it wasn’t for her.
Last year, Helen returned to George Brown to learn
how to better use her new digital SLR camera. Digital
Photography I was just the ticket: it covered
the different types of digital cameras, lens types and
lighting accessories, and how to use the various camera
controls to make quality images.
“The course was really hands-on,” Helen
says. “We did projects inside
and outside the class to learn the different ways to
use the camera.”
Again, Helen gained valuable industry insights from
her instructor, an established GTA wedding photographer. “He
was very knowledgeable; he would listen to see what
you thought about good photographic design and would
give you good feedback,” she says.
Digital photography has since evolved into an active
hobby for Helen, one she put to good use on a recent
trip to Japan, Bali and Hong Kong. She plans to complete
the entire eight-course Digital Photography Certificate.
“George Brown is a very practical school,
and you get to learn from people with first-hand experience,” she
says. “Taking these courses is a way for me to
meet new people, grow as a person and try new things.”