Katie Durnford '19

Written by Emma '22
Katie Durnford first decided to come to Neuchâtel Junior College because she was seeking change in her life and wanted to take a risk. She had been at the same school for 13 years and wanted to try something new, and that she did.
After graduating NJC in 2019, Katie headed off to Kingston, Ontario to study commerce at Queen’s University. While there, she has been extremely involved in the school and has taken part in several extracurriculars, like Queen’s Conference on International Business (QCIB), Queen’s Commerce Service Initiative (QCSI), and Queen’s Commerce Corporate Competition (Q3C). Katie has held roles as a speakers’ coordinator, logistics director, and is now the co-chair for the Queen’s Conference on International Business. QCIB is a four day conference in downtown Toronto where delegates (within Queen’s and beyond) have the opportunity to hear from international speakers, network with company reps, and participate in a case competition and case simulation. Katie’s mission as co-chair is to develop recruiting resources and networking opportunities for students, like herself, who hope to pursue a career abroad post graduation.

She says that NJC is what encouraged her to join this club as she became very interested in international
business during her year abroad. She got to travel to many different locations and experience many
different cultures throughout the year, which left a very positive impact on her and is what really made it
clear that she wants to work internationally.

She joined the Queen’s Commerce Service Initiative in her second year of university as an international
outreach coordinator and then got promoted to the role of international trip director in her third year.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they were unable to go on any trips this year. Katie, however, still did
all the necessary planning up until the point they had to decide whether the trip was feasible under the
circumstances of the pandemic. Fortunately, she was still able to volunteer locally at St. Vincent de Paul, a
center that provides practical assistance and support to individuals and families residing in the Kingston
community. Katie says that she developed much of her planning skills during her time traveling at NJC. If
she wanted to go on independent trips on the weekends, she had to learn to plan them herself. Katie also
said that NJC is what encouraged her to join this club as she developed a love for giving back after
attending the school’s service trip in Kenya over the Christmas break.

This ended up being her favourite school trip because it was very different from anything she had ever experienced before; she felt that it was really great to give back to the children in Kenya who do not get the opportunity to attend school. Katie joined the Queen’s Commerce Corporate Competition during her third year as a speaker’s coordinator and now acts as the finance director. She joined this club because her ultimate goal is to have a career in consulting internationally. Through this club, she gained a lot more exposure to the industry and will be working in technology risk consulting this summer as a result. Her job is to create a strategy to mitigate risks for the company's internal systems.

She believes that NJC prepared her very well for her time at Queen's University and gave her the
independence and time-management skills she needed in order to thrive while being there. She said that,
for most students, university is their first experience away from home and it takes time for them to adjust.
However, for Katie, she had already been away from home for a year, making the experience a breeze.
Katie just finished an exchange program in Barcelona, a program she actually went on with a few other
NJC ‘19 students. She said that this was another experience where she felt more comfortable and
experienced than the other students, due to her time at NJC.

Some of Katies fondest memories of NJC include spending time with her madame, relaxing during her
morning walks and bike rides to the train station, and going to the pier after school with all the students.
These day-to-day experiences in Neuchatel left a lasting impression on her.
Katie loved her experience at NJC and says the only thing she wishes she could have changed about it was
that it was longer.
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap