Caroline Marchand, an Algonquin College grad and currently an associate director for the Ottawa-based CBC show Power and Politics has faced adversity in the past.
Shortly after Marchand graduated the TV broadcasting program in 2013, she found herself with multiple freelancing jobs. However, Marchand’s career came to a halt in 2015 when she got into a life-altering car accident in Toronto.
“Because of the severity, I don’t actually remember anything,” said Marchand. “The point of getting my story out to the community is to focus on my recovery and how I got back into the field.”
Marchand will tell her story on Jan. 29 during her her talk on resilience for Mental Health Awareness week, when students and staff at Algonquin College join Canadians across the country in conversations about mental health.
The purpose of Marchand’s upcoming presentation is to share her experience with students at the college grappling with mental, emotional and physical obstacles, in hopes that some of the lessons she learned can help others with their personal struggles.
In 2015, Marchand suffered an open head traumatic brain injury in her accident, which is a condition that comes with many unknown variables. For a planner like Marchand, the burden of recovery was doubled by not knowing when she would be back to thriving in her field.
“When I got to the hospital, I remember doctors saying ‘Listen, you don’t have a timeline for recovery,'” Marchand said. “That was the hardest thing to hear.”
For some, being on the receiving end of a life-threatening brain injury may feel like the end of the road, but Marchand refused to let that obstacle dictate her future.
Jeremy Atherton, program coordinator of the film and media production program at Algonquin College, can attest to Marchand’s tenacity as both a student and individual in the field. Atherton, one of Marchand’s former TV broadcasting professors, sensed her potential very early on in the program.
“She came into our program, and just flourished,” said Atherton. “She was someone we knew we were going to be proud of because she mixed excellently everywhere.”
The arduous journey to recovery was a long and uncertain process for Marchand, but she knew she would eventually get there if she took the right steps forward.
One of these steps included sitting in on broadcasting prep nights at the college for a few hours a week. This helped her to ease her way back into the field of broadcasting.
“The control room can be organized chaos,” said Atherton. “Allowing her to sit in on training was a no brainer—she is a bright light in and outside of the program, so any little thing we could do to help her out, we did.”
Of course, Marchand’s return to the Algonquin College community was mutually beneficial for students.
Having Marchand sit in on classes not only helped her through her learning curve, but “provided broadcasting students with some feedback and mentorship inside of the classroom,” according to Atherton.
The process of reintegration and mock training really was a key stepping stone to recovery for Marchand— of course, her drive and ambition helped too. After months of rehabilitation, she began taking on broadcasting jobs in a smaller capacity on her road to recovery.
Today, Marchand is fully recovered and currently works as an associate director on CBC Ottawa Power and Politics. In the past few months, she has continued to expand her broadcasting skills through training on different jobs within the company.
“I never expected to reach my career goals after all of that,” said Marchand. “The industry is hard work, so you really just have to keep on going.”