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Alumni Profiles

The alumni office and your Alumni Association Council are dedicated to keeping in touch with Ontario Tech alumni. We recognize the achievements and contributions of successful alumni annually through the Alumni Association Awards, but we know you are worthy of being celebrated all year round! 

The Ontario Tech Alumni Office is always looking to shine a spotlight on the accomplishments of our alumni community. Fill out our Alumni Spotlights form to share your story and we may feature you next! 

Featured profiles

  • Curtis Carmichael, '18

    Head shot of alumnus Curtis Carmichael
    Curtis Carmichael
    Faculty of Education, Class of 2018

    After a childhood living in poverty in Toronto Community Housing in Scarborough, Curtis Carmichael is committed to providing opportunities for others growing up in challenging circumstances by “empowering the next generation of global leaders from racialized, marginalized, and under-resourced communities.” 

    Carmichael, who earned his BEd at Ontario Tech and is currently working toward his MEd in urban education, felt the pain of the “systemic oppression with few opportunities, poor schooling and limited community programs” and ultimately decided to ensure others living in similar circumstances have more choices.

    “There is a rich culture of the creative arts, entrepreneurship, business, and STEM in those communities,” says Carmichael, “but I just know the odds are stacked against us.”

    Carmichael considers himself lucky to have beaten the odds, especially considering that he got involved in drug dealing during elementary and middle school to help out financially at home. A man who had been previously imprisoned for drug dealing became his mentor and steered him toward books that demonstrated that access was class-based. His influence led Carmichael to develop a love for reading business, finance, STEM, arts and mental health books, and to look toward university as an option.

    “I used football to get out of the neighbourhood,” says Carmichael, who earned a football scholarship to Queen’s University. Rather than coasting, he focused his attention on getting a good education and earned his BA in health and physical education/fitness. Carmichael was also recognized nationwide with the Russ Jackson Award from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (now U Sports) for excellence in football, academics and citizenship.

    After graduation from Queen’s, Carmichael briefly flirted with the idea of a Canadian Football League career before deciding that it wasn’t worthwhile in the wake of a severe concussion. Instead, he turned his attention to making an impact in his community. 

    “I decided I’d prefer a long-term impact as an unknown rather than a short-term impact as a CFL player,” he says.

    He started out by riding his bike cross-country to raise $100,000 for UrbanPromise, a local youth leadership organization, quite an adventure. He also enrolled in Ontario Tech’s BEd program and earned his degree in elementary and STEAM teaching (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and is currently pursuing his MEd at Ontario Tech, focusing on urban, STEAM education and social entrepreneurship, with plans to one day complete a PhD.

    In addition, he published his memoir, Butterflies in the Trenches, the story of his rise from poverty to a leader and role model that returned to work in the community from which he came. Since the book’s 2021 publication, Carmichael has been in demand as a keynote speaker and has been consistently featured as a guest on every major news network in Canada. Butterflies in the Trenches has been adopted by school boards across the country and is required reading for Ontario Tech’s BEd students where Carmichael also serves as the Faculty of Education’s equity, diversity and inclusion consultant.

    “The idea of a book grew out of my childhood,” he said. “I always wanted to read the story of someone who broke out of the cycle of poverty and returned to their community to provide people with tools to do the same and prepare for the future, but I could never find one. The late author Toni Morrison, one of my heroines, said that if you can’t find a book you want to read, you must write it, so I saw it as my responsibility.”

    Meanwhile, Carmichael is keeping his eye on his long-term goal: “to touch the future and equip the community to elevate the social and economic fabric of the places they call home.” He has also become founder and chief executive officer of Source Code Academy Canada, which he calls “Canada’s first culture-focused innovation and entrepreneurship academy preparing children and youth for the future of work.”

    Carmichael calls it a “direct response to the school to prison pipeline” that exists in many marginalized communities and seeks to give the innovative, promising young minds in those communities the opportunity to have successful futures. He wants to disrupt and dismantle the existing approach to education and imagine a new one.

    “Rather than the traditional education, our academy is a community-based and youth-led space that offers cross-disciplinary learning in STEAM education, entrepreneurship and financial literacy with a holistic focus on creative arts, mental health, literacy, fitness and nutrition, socio-emotional learning and social justice.”

    “I want to create a whole new institution and way of doing education and bring the reformers along with me in the spirit of Abolitionist teaching,” Carmichael says. 

    For the moment, the Source Code Academy offers programming virtually and in-person in schools and community organizations, but he hopes to see that change in the coming years when they acquire their own physical location. As he plans, Carmichael thanks Ontario Tech faculty Allyson Eamer and Anna Rodrigues for showing him the way.

    “They pressured me to think about how to make an impact and to realize that I can be a teacher without being in a classroom,” he says. “They also pushed me to criticize the institution in general.

    “It’s my responsibility to do what I’m doing, because if I don’t, who else would? I’m passionate about it.”

    Ontario Tech will be cheering him on.

  • Abbie Chaddah, '18
    Abbie ChaddahAbbie Chaddah | Class of 2018

    Faculty of Health Sciences

    When Abbie Chaddah was a little girl, she would line up all her stuffed animals on the couch alphabetically by name and teach them their numbers and songs. Today, Chaddah, who will graduate from Ontario Tech in January with her BEd, is more accustomed to giving lessons to students in Grades 7 to 12, but her passion for instruction is just as strong.

    “I’ve found my purpose,” says Chaddah. “This is what I want to do and it’s a great feeling. I like being able to create community and get to know these kids.”

    Chaddah grew up Toronto, but knew she wanted to go away to university to find out who she was as a person. She took a tour of Ontario Tech and “It spoke to me.” At first, it was hard to be living away from home, but she joined some clubs and sports teams and began to find her place. In hindsight, she appreciates the decision more than ever.

    “I’m so happy I chose Ontario Tech,” she says. “I was able to get to know the professors and students. It’s a small university and my biggest class was 200 people. The opportunities I had here – sports, for example – would have been more competitive with huge tryouts at other schools.

    “Because it is a smaller school, I wasn’t just a number.”

    Although she is heading toward a teaching career, the road to an occupation wasn’t always a smooth one for Chaddah. In high school, she became very involved in sports and decided to pursue a kinesiology degree at university with the goal of becoming a chiropractor. When she wasn’t accepted to chiropractic college, she felt unsure about what her next steps should be.

    “I wasn’t sure where to go from there, since I’d put all my eggs in one basket,” Chaddah says. “I considered other health-care fields, but I was uncertain what to do.”

    Meanwhile, however, Chaddah, got involved in coaching. She had participated in club sports during her first two years at Ontario Tech and was a member of the Ridgebacks varsity badminton and rowing teams in her last few years, so it was a natural evolution.

    “In coaching, you have opportunities to help people develop and grow,” she says. “Soon, I realized it was a lot like teaching and that was something I had wanted to do in the past, so I decided to go back to school. I applied to Ontario Tech’s teaching program and was accepted, so I guess it was a sign.”

    As Chaddah finishes her final semester, she is doing her third teaching practicum. When she graduates in January, she hopes to find a temporary position in Durham region to finish out the school year.

    “It’s a good way to get experience and get to know different principals,” she says.

    She is delighted to have reconnected with her childhood teaching dreams.

    “It’s a really rewarding career,” Chaddah says. “It’s great to know you’re helping students toward their future and seeing them learn and grow.”

    Meanwhile, she’s also honing her instruction skills as part of a start-up league for the Durham Volleyball Association, working with students from eight to 17 to perfect their skills.

    “Coaching is more chaotic and fast-paced than class, and I’m teaching them content they want to learn,” Chaddah says.

    Chaddah credits Ontario Tech for opening so many doors for her.

    “I feel so blessed to have chosen this school.”

  • Ryan Scrivens, '09 and '12
    Alumnus Ryan ScrivensRyan Scrivens | Class of 2009 and 2012

    Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

    Like a lot of teenagers, Ryan Scrivens got into trouble in high school. Unlike many of them, the Ontario Tech double graduate (BA, MSc) became curious about his rights and followed that path to a PhD in criminology and an assistant professorship at Michigan State University.

    “I noticed quickly that there were a lot of moving parts in the criminal justice system,” says Scrivens from his home office. “I saw it as a place of never-ending possibility.”

    Scrivens began his pursuit of knowledge by earning a diploma in Law and Security Administration from Durham College, which led to an opportunity to earn a BA in criminology at Ontario Tech in only two additional years.

    “I thought of going into law enforcement, but first I wanted to have a better sense of the criminal justice system,” says Scrivens, so he continued on to earn his master’s degree. Dr. Barbara Perry, a renowned expert in hate crimes, took him on as a graduate student. He explored how police officers responded to hate/bias-motivated crimes against women and became passionate about doing research.

    “From there, I knew I wanted to carry on with academia, focusing on research that had long-term, pragmatic implications and impact,” he says. “Ontario Tech taught me the critical thinking skills to navigate complex social issues – something that goes a long way in developing a research project.”

    Scrivens entered a criminology PhD program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia with an initial interest in how police officers responded to hate crimes. During this time, he also delved into right-wing extremism in Canada as part of a project Perry was heading. He later examined how right-wing extremists used the Internet for his dissertation and has since become a respected expert in the field. He employs a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, using computer science and big data techniques to understand online behaviours to determine the most appropriate ways of responding to and combatting violent extremism.

    “I still collaborate with Barb Perry, and I owe Ontario Tech a lot,” he says. “I was part of the first cohort in the university’s master’s program in criminology. The professors gave us experiences that I didn’t have again until later in my PhD. Equally important, the professors at Ontario Tech gave us a lot of their time, and they were very open and honest with us about the challenges of working in an academic setting. They didn’t sugar-coat things, and I appreciated that.

    “The department built a culture of inclusivity that was inspiring. They were also open about their struggles in the field, and as I result, I am willing to share my own vulnerabilities with my students.”

    He also lauds the bridging program and its adjunct faculty, people who work in the crime prevention field.

    “It gave me a pragmatic and nuanced understanding of the challenges they face,” Scrivens says.

    Interestingly, the students in his cyberterrorism courses fit the same profile: local and national law enforcement and intelligence officials, military men and women and many others – people who have day-to-day experience with the subject. Scrivens’ life has come full circle and he’s enjoying the ride.

  • Andrew Seto, '10
    Andrew SetoAndrew Seto | Class of 2010

    Faculty of Business and Information Technology

    Andrew Seto (BComm, 2010) is keeping a lot of balls in the air all at once.

    The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) was recently named a partner at Impact CPAs LLP accounting firm in Richmond Hill, where he specializes in tax accounting. He also teaches tax accounting and other accounting courses at Centennial College and is the father of a two-month-old son.

    “I’m very tired, but I need to keep going to support him,” says Seto, who is upbeat and quick to laugh.

    Of course, being busy is nothing new for Seto. During his student days at Ontario Tech, he worked toward his accounting degree and CPA designation while serving on the executive of both the Accounting Association and the Chinese Student Association. He helped to organize events, did paperwork and assisted in obtaining funding for Chinese holiday celebrations.

    “I wanted to improve campus life and connect with other students,” Seto says. “I met wonderful people at the same time.”

    Seto chose to attend Ontario Tech because it was a new university. He enjoyed the full range of university experiences, living in residence for the first two years, in an off-campus apartment in his third year and back at home as a commuter student during his final year.

    “I encourage people to try residence life,” Seto says. “You’re taken care of and can focus on meeting people and classes, rather than what to eat for dinner.”

    While at Ontario Tech, Seto formed lasting friendships with fellow students from his residence – they try to meet in person at least once a year – and friends from his business courses, with whom he mixes business and pleasure, making and receiving referrals.

    “It’s great because we all went to school together and can help each other out, too – it all works.”

    In fact, Seto broadened his Ontario Tech circle after graduation, joining the alumni association and contributing generously to the Student Success Fund.

    “I try to teach my students about working on forming a business network,” he says. “You never know who will end up where.”

    Seto fell into accounting when, as a teen, he decided to learn to do his own taxes to see if he could save money. He got to know the ins and outs of filing taxes and began helping others file their returns.

    “I thought, ‘Why not make this a career?’” Seto says. “I can help others and make money at the same time.”

    Although he has a knack for math, he considers tax accounting to be more about applying rules and logic to the numbers. He enjoys what he calls the “back-end” work, and also appreciates connecting with clients face-to-face. However, he does find many of his clients and students have misconceptions about tax rules and preparation.

    “I wanted to teach people to do taxes properly from the beginning,” Seto says. “It would make life easier for all accountants. Teaching is the place to spread the message.”

    Seto would eventually like to make the switch to full-time teaching, depending upon when a position opens up.

    “[Ontario Tech] Professors Jane Bowen and Ferdinand Jones are inspirations in my life and about what a CPA can do, especially from the teaching side,” he says. “I like helping students think about what an accounting job entails and giving them practical advice. I want them to see the big picture.”

  • More Profiles
    For all of our Alumni profiles, please visit the Succeed section of our Alumni Magazine, Connected.