Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

Why the Learning Never Stops: Debbie’s Story

For 10 years, The Chang School has been a pillar in Debbie’s pursuit of lifelong learning.

In 2009, Debbie Verduga reached a defining moment in her life: she decided to pursue her interest in geographic information systems (GIS). She began the Certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS at The Chang School of Continuing Education on a strong recommendation from a friend who had completed the program and then quickly found a job after graduation. The first introductory course Debbie took gave her a strong foundation for the program, affirming that she had made the right decision.

“Ryerson has equipped me with the knowledge and, most importantly, the relevant skills to build my career.”

Debbie Verduga

Towards the end of her studies, Debbie applied for a role as a GIS analyst with Statistics Canada. “The interview process had two components, both of which were technical. My exposure to industry software and knowledge from the GIS program was directly applied in the interview,” she notes. Debbie landed the role and noticed that some of her duties incorporated practical components taught in the certificate.

Since her role at Statistics Canada, Debbie gained GIS experience in other industries and currently works as a crime analyst for the Toronto Police Service (TPS). She has led open data projects to develop a crime app tool and was recently awarded with a Civilian Excellence Award for her involvement in a public safety data portal project.

Debbie credits her involvement with that project in creating an opportunity for her to manage open data and data visualization at TPS, which has been her primary role since last year. The project leveraged her GIS skillset as the portal maps crime stats to the closest intersection where they occurred. “The portal allows researchers, students, or anyone for that matter to download the information and use it for analysis,” she explained.

However, being involved in this project also revealed something else to Debbie.

In her time at TPS, Debbie decided that she wanted to understand the criminal justice system overall as she didn’t originally study in that field. She enrolled in the Crime Analytics Certificate and is one course away from graduation. Although plans to complete her final course are temporarily “on hold” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Debbie looks forward to receiving her certificate in the near future.

It has been 10 years since Debbie completed the GIS program, and Ryerson University continues to be a pillar in her learning. She said that Ryerson will always be her choice for relevant and innovative learning. “Learning never stops, and with such easy access to information, you really have to stay on top of your education or you’ll fall behind.”


Aakifah Luthfee holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Major: Business Technology Management from Ryerson University. Her current role is Program Coordinator of Bootcamps at the Business Career Hub in the Ted Rogers School of Management.