Two people stand beneath a sign that reads Stiller Blackburn Multi-Organ Transplant Unit.

When Maddie Zavarise was looking for a post-secondary program, what Humber offered through its Bachelor of Digital Communications program stood out to her.

A self-professed hands-on learner, Zavarise was intrigued with Humber’s program. After checking it out and going on a few tours at other post-secondary institutions, she came to check out Lakeshore Campus. She left knowing it’s where she wanted to be.

Zavarise is set to graduate from the program and is attending Spring 2024 Convocation happening June 18 to June 21 at the Toronto Congress Centre.

A head-and-shoulders photo of a person wearing a graduation cap and a Humber scarf.

What Zavarise enjoyed about the program is that it covered many different aspects of media from photography to social media, video editing to analytics, writing and more.

“It gave me a chance to explore and find out what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about,” said Zavarise.  

It turns out her passion is for video editing. It allows her to indulge in her creative side and she thoroughly enjoys the process of taking all the footage and turning it into a cohesive piece.

The program also equipped her with valuable skills that will serve her well in her future career. Zavarise said, while her interest is editing, she can inform potential employers that she’s also adept at social media, knows how to write a blog post and even learned website design, among other skills.

“The program gave me a wide range of knowledge and the tools and skills I need to succeed in my career,” said Zavarise.  

The program also showed her the power of storytelling. Last year, Zavarise’s mother Kathleen received a life-saving liver and kidney transplant. It was an enormous relief for the family to know that Kathleen would receive the multi-organ transplant thanks to donation.

As Zavarise says, organ donation saves lives.  

“Donation is truly the gift of life because my mom wouldn’t be with us today if she hadn’t received those transplants.”

Inspired by her mother’s journey and all the people she met along the way – doctors, donors, recipients and their families – Zavarise created the Hope Transplanted docuseries as her capstone project. It explores the importance and benefits of organ donation and transplant through personal stories. Throughout the series, viewers will hear from organ transplant recipients, family members of deceased organ donors and people who are waiting for a transplant.  

The docuseries has been received warmly but Zavarise was blown away by the reaction from her peers, faculty and those who attended her two-hour capstone event as part of the program’s graduate showcase. Her classmates were highly engaged, asking about the project and the process of becoming a donor.  By the end of the event, multiple people had signed up through to become organ donors.

“The response I received was a huge compliment and it tells me that I’m on the right track with my goal of sharing these stories to inspire others to become a donor,” said Zavarise. “Even outside of Humber the response has been tremendous.”

While her Humber journey is drawing to a close, Zavarise is thankful for the experience.

“I’m so grateful for my time here, everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve met,” said Zavarise, who will pursue her Master of Digital Media from Toronto Metropolitan University this fall.  

Find out more about convocation, including how to watch the ceremonies if you’re unable to attend in person, at the Spring 2024 Convocation website