Inspired by support from donors in the community, a group of mature students from the Salmon Arm campus is showing they mean business.
These four students were among the 47 honoured with scholarships and bursaries last week at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm Campus awards ceremony. Here are their stories:
Laureen Shannon, who is currently pursuing a Business Administration Diploma, received one of five Al Neale Bursaries valued at $1,500. A single mother to three children, Shannon says the bursary helps in more ways than one.
Shannon is originally from Ottawa, ON, and moved to Okanagan 10 years ago.
“Receiving this bursary will help me complete my program,” says Shannon. “But the impact of the support goes beyond alleviating financial stress. I feel incredibly inspired by the fact that someone in our community recognizes my hard work and wants to help me in my education.”
After completing her current diploma in 2016, Shannon hopes to go on to pursue a Bachelor of Business Degree in Human Resources Management at the College. She points out that her children are a huge inspiration; recently, one of her sons placed an ad in the newspaper recognizing her for her dedication to her studies, while managing the challenges of single-motherhood.
Despite her busy schedule, Shannon finds time to volunteer with her sons at a number of community organizations and projects.
“I feel very proud to be able to set an example for my sons,” says Shannon. “I am showing them the importance of lifelong learning, and I’m very grateful to the donors and to the College for helping me bring my dreams within reach.”
Sean Rossouw received two awards, including the Salmon Arm College Scholarship for top student in Business. According to Rossouw, the generosity of his professors echoes the generosity of donors in the community.
“Having top-level professors who are so incredibly generous with their time as well as their knowledge has been life changing for me,” says Rossouw. “I have been touched by their generosity as well as by the generosity of the surrounding community that is so involved in supporting students.”
Born in South Africa, Rossouw immigrated to Canada at age 7 and his lived in the Okanagan for most of his life. He has been very active in campus life at Okanagan College, working with the Okanagan College Students’ Union and supporting a number of volunteer causes and projects.
Roussouw previously completed his Associate of Arts Degree at the College and hopes to parlay his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree (Accounting) into a career that allows him to give back.
“People have invested in my future and I want to do the same,” says Rossouw. “It would be wonderful to be able to use my business skills to help others kickstart their ideas. It would be a way of paying forward the investment that has been made in my education.”
Roussouw notes that his Arts education at the College has given him a well-rounded perspective that has augmented his Business training and helped him to be successful.
Health Care Assistant student Yvette L'Hommecourt says attending Okanagan College is helping to bring in reach her long-time goal of working in the health-care industry.
Originally from Fort McMurray, L'Hommecourt has been a Salmon Arm resident for more than 15 years and looks forward to working as a care aid in the community.
“With an older population in the valley, there is a lot of opportunity for care aids here,” says L'Hommecourt. “I am excited to start this new care helping people right here in Salmon Arm.”
L'Hommecourt, who received the Vicki Hitchen Memorial Award, will finish her program in September and says she’s incredibly grateful for the bursary.
“This award helps so much,” she says. “It will help see me through to the end of my program and gives me an incentive to work even harder and finish strong. It’s a wonderful motivator.”
As it is for many, the prospect of returning to school was a little daunting for Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) student Joe Froese. However, he says that the College’s welcoming atmosphere and the opportunities to meet people who shared his passions for learning and for business have been fantastic experiences.
“Learning new things, meeting people, making friends—this whole experience has helped me with organization, goal setting, discipline, etc.” says Froese. “It’s helped to build confidence for my career absolutely, but it’s also had a positive impact in general in my life.”
Froese, who has called Salmon Arm home for more than a decade, received one of three Salmar Community Association Scholarships.
“This scholarship means so much to me,” says Froese. “It means that when I graduate I have a bit of a buffer behind me, so that I don’t have to take any job but can take the right job—the career opportunity that I’ve been waiting for. Having that support behind me is incredibly motivating and it definitely relieves stress.”
Froese hopes to one day open his own business. During his time at Okanagan College, he has been very active in volunteering for local causes, community centres, and organizations. He is also a member of Enactus.
Salmon Arm Awards Ceremony Highlights
Jim Barmby, Regional Dean for Okanagan College’s Shuswap-Revelstoke region spoke about the role that donors play in supporting the interactive educational experience offered by the College.
"The learning environment provided by Okanagan College is conducive to a high level of student-teacher interaction, which is something we are very proud of and feel greatly benefits the students,” says Barmby. “It is all the more special that the people of our region play such an active role in supporting our students.
“Congratulations to all our 2015 award recipients. We eagerly look forward to hearing about your successes both at the College and as you move on to future endevours.”
At the ceremony, numerous students credited small class sizes and the quality of instruction they received as contributing factors for their success the College.
This year, more than $75,000 will be awarded to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.
See the full photo gallery here.