The Time of her Life
As a teenager living in Niagara Falls in the mid-60s, Christine Whyte had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. "It was a different time and a young woman's options were limited," she says. "I only knew I didn't want to be a secretary."
It was while working as a tour guide at the recently opened Skylon Tower that Christine heard about the field of public relations.
"One the management employees thought I had the right personality for public relations and encouraged me to pursue a career in that area," she says.
Christine could hardly believe her eyes when saw an ad in the local paper for a new college opening that
fall in Toronto – one that offered a two-year course in communications and public relations.
"It sounded perfect for me," she says. "I applied right away!"
That fall, Christine moved to Scarborough and became one of Centennial College's first students. She found herself attending classes on the second floor of what had once been a munitions factory
"It was something to behold," she says. "Walls were still going up around us and no one really knew what to expect. But there was such a sense of excitement and anticipation."
Despite no extra curricula activities, no student council, no events and few amenities, Christine remembers everyone having a wonderful time.
"There were only about 500 students and between classes everyone seemed to gather in this small, smoky cafeteria – everyone seemed to smoke in those days," she says. "There weren't that many students in my course so we became a very, very close knit group. And I met students from other programs."
Christine remembers that students also got to know their instructors very well.
"Classes were small and we learned from people who were working in our field of study," she says. "Both faculty and staff were very accessible, which was good because the courses weren't easy! I think quite a few students were surprised at how difficult the curriculum was."
After graduation, Christine became a tour guide at Queen's Park, a job she loved. She married and decided to be a full-time parent when her daughter, Alana, was born in 1974. Christine returned to the workforce in the early 80s, working in a variety of jobs before becoming Manager of Volunteers and Community Relations with an inner city social agency. There she dramatically increased the number of corporate volunteers and initiated a Presidents Week whereby company presidents delivered meals on wheels to thank their employees for participating and expand their company's philanthropic profile.
In 1995, Christine moved back to Niagara Falls where she pursued a career as a tourism councillor for the next 11 years until returning to Toronto.
"My daughter and her family were in Toronto and I wanted to be closer to them," she says.
During her career, Christine obtained two more diplomas at two other community colleges, but she considers herself first and foremost a Centennial grad.
"The faculty were incredible, the staff helpful and the students so enthusiastic," she says. "It was such a warm, friendly atmosphere. I now realize how fortunate I was. In 1966, I just knew I was having the time of my life."