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Comba and Stewart receive OC Alumni Association’s highest honours
OC and Toyota Technical College celebrate 25 years of cultural and educational exchange
Aboriginal students can gain jobsite skills through CCWAB program
Two new board members for Okanagan College
Education uncorks wine industry opportunities
10 years of opening eyes and shutters to digital camera capabilities
Okanagan College student passionate about building a lasting health and safety culture
Cloverdale Paint helps College go green
OC business students awarded prestigious international scholarships
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Comba and Stewart receive OC Alumni Association’s highest honours

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the College and its surrounding communities, two Okanagan College alumni have earned the top honours awarded by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA).

Kelowna’s Heather Stewart is this year’s recipient of the OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College. Sarah Comba, also from Kelowna, will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35.stewart news 2016

Stewart, a sought-after organizational development consultant and founder of Sage Transitions, was involved in facilitating development of the College's first strategic plan. Since then, she has remained engaged in the College’s ongoing strategic planning and has also helped to guide planning for the OC Foundation and the OCAA.

“Okanagan College has made such significant progress in the past decade, and it’s been a fabulous opportunity to be involved, in a small way, in that progress,” notes Stewart, who was a student at the Vernon campus in the early 1970s when classes were still held in the old army barracks.

After pursuing general studies at the College, Stewart went on to earn a Masters Degree in Distance Education and an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Distance Education Technology from Athabasca University. She taught in Okanagan College’s School of Business in the mid 2000s and continues to volunteer her time with the College in numerous ways. In 2013, when the College was celebrating 50 years of transforming lives and communities, Stewart was named one of the 50 People Who Made a Difference.

“I’m very honoured to be recognized,” says Stewart. “I believe strongly in supporting organizations where I can contribute to them and to our community. I feel we all need to find ways to give back to those groups and causes that are important to us.”

Stewart’s latest contribution to the College will make a difference in students’ lives for years to come. Last year, she launched a scholarship fund to assist automotive technician trades students.

comba news 2016Young Alumni Award recipient Sarah Comba, who earned her Business Administration Diploma in 2007, is another difference maker.

While in her second year of studies at the College, Comba partnered with the Alumni Association to launch the Pay it Forward campaign, which invited the College community to contribute useful items – clothing, food, toiletries – for the Kelowna Gospel Mission, Inn from the Cold, and other local organizations serving those in need in the community. More than a decade later, the campaign she founded is still going strong and Comba remains as inspired as ever by the people it brings her in touch with.
“I’ve learned that through simple, small acts of kindness we can have an impact on the lives of others,” says Comba. “That’s all there is to it. It’s such a simple idea: it’s not money, or time, it’s just a few small items, like a pair of socks, that can make all the difference in the world to someone.”

Comba admits her drive to give back pervades all elements of her life. She is also a member of the fundraising team at The City of West Kelowna Parks and Operations Department where she has worked as an Operator for six years.
“I suppose I’ve always been a nurturer in life. I always want to be taking care of people.”
Despite her already impressive track record of giving back in the community, Comba admits she was surprised to learn she’d been selected to receive the award.

“I was honestly shocked when I found out,” says Comba. “To me, this is such a simple act of kindness that I was surprised anyone would take note. But I am truly honoured and humbled by it.”

“Heather and Sarah have each focused a great deal of their time, expertise and energy into making Okanagan College and their community an even better place,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “On behalf of my fellow OCAA board members, I commend both of this year’s award recipients on their accomplishments and the high bar they have set for our future OC alumni.”

Comba and Stewart’s achievements will be celebrated at the OCAA awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on September 13, 2016. For more information about the awards and previous recipients, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni.

OC and Toyota Technical College celebrate 25 years of cultural and educational exchange

Twenty-five years ago the first students from Toyota Technical College arrived at Okanagan College to embark on a summer program of collision repair training and learning English. It planted the seed for a relationship that would blossom to span oceans, cultures, and decades.OC and Toyota 2016

This year a record 110 students from the Japanese institution are completing the program, bringing the total to more than 1,000 participants since the program began in 1992. On Friday, Toyota Technical College President Kazunori Ikeyama joined Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton in congratulating students and the passionate instructors and sanseis who have helped to grow the program.

“Today we celebrate and reflect on this great friendship and the many students it has benefited over the years,” explained Ikeyama. “It is a program and a partnership that means a great deal to both institutions.”

“What started out as an educational partnership has become, in many ways, so much more,” noted Hamilton. “The cross-cultural exchange that takes place has enriched our campus community tremendously over the years. The more than 1,000 students and the many teachers who have come here to learn about Canadian culture have been, and will continue to be, our honoured guests, friends, learners, and teachers.”

Five years ago the two presidents celebrated the program’s 20th anniversary (and 700 students through the program) by planting a Japanese Cherry tree – or Sakura – at the Kelowna campus. The tree serves as a year-round reminder of the friendship between the two institutions.

Video from the event can be found here: https://youtu.be/l5uS0Ly1XRA.

 

Aboriginal students can gain jobsite skills through CCWAB program

With strong demand for construction trades workers across the province and a healthy residential construction market in the region, Okanagan College is offering up a second intake of a popular program designed to help Aboriginal students build jobsite skills, gain apprenticeship training and get on the fast track to employment.
 
In March 2015, the College delivered the new Red Seal Construction Craft Worker apprenticeship program. Last November, the College worked with the province to develop an intake customized specifically for those Aboriginal students who might benefit from cultural, financial and academic support alongside the apprenticeship training. Twelve First Nation and Metis students, aged 20-56, completed the program and many of them are now working full-time in construction in the Okanagan and Shuswap regions and in Fort McMurray.

Okanagan College, in partnership with BC Hydro, will offer a new intake of the program, Construction Craft Worker Aboriginal Bridging (CCWAB) from September 12 – December 16, 2016. Delivered at Westbank First Nation (WFN) and the College’s Kelowna campus, this hands-on program will cover a variety of topics, from trades math to carpentry skills to workforce training certifications. The Construction Craft Worker program is designed to benefit students with limited construction experience or those looking to refresh or enhance their skills. The program is tuition-free and includes work boots, bus passes, group study sessions, cultural activities, volunteer work experience and job search skills to remove potential barriers and support success.
 
“Working with, and learning from, the Indigenous community is one of the key directions in Okanagan College’s new strategic plan,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “This course is an example of ongoing collaboration with our local bands and First Nation communities, employers and the province to provide training that is responsive to the needs of industry and highly supportive for our indigenous learners.”
 
The B.C. 2025 Labour Market Outlook predicts there will be about 123,000 job openings in trades, transportation and related occupations in the province over the next decade.
 
Building on the success of the first in-take of the program, the College, WFN, and BC Hydro will offer a number of additional supports for students—both in the classroom and on the jobsite—to promote their success in the program. Students enrolling in the course this September will once again receive one-on-one training and support from a dedicated Aboriginal peer mentor.
 
“Mentorship is an important element of the program,” explains Hamilton. “In addition to learning from experienced instructors and employers like BC Hydro, students also get to work beside a recent graduate who can share some insight into how to put their best foot forward in the industry.”
 
“By understanding the local environment and available resources, we are able to coordinate relevant training and education with local service providers, educators, and our own project teams,” says Laurie Sterritt, BC Hydro Director of Aboriginal Employment and Business Development. “With programs like the CCWAB, together we develop solutions that ensure local Aboriginal people gain the skills and experience needed to join our workforce and/or our contractor network.”randy weatherbee
 
Randy Weatherbee, a member of the Okanagan Indian Band, was among the dozen students who completed Level 1 earlier this year. Shortly after, he landed a job as a construction craft worker with WIBCO construction, a First Nations construction company based in West Kelowna. Weatherbee is now working on the new WFN Youth Centre, only steps away from the WFN Community Centre where he and his fellow students were recognized for completing the program.
 
“I was looking to change careers and so the program gave me the opportunity to learn a lot and gain some valuable certifications in a short time,” says Weatherbee, who worked in IT for 15 years prior to enrolling. “Many of the other students had some construction experience but it was all new to me. The program is fast-paced and focused on skills that employers want to see on the resume. It helped me get a foot in the door in the industry.”
 
Jay Charleyboy graduated the program with Weatherbee and now works alongside him at the WFN project site. A member of the Ulkatcho First Nation and a single father of three, Charleyboy says the program has helped him advance his career in the construction industry.
 
“I’ve been in construction for a long time, but the program was a great way to relearn skills,” says Charleyboy, who after earning his Occupational First Aid Level 2 was hired on as the Construction Safety Officer and First Aid Attendant for the project.
 
“There’s a ton of hands-on training, from carpentry and joinery to pipelaying,” explains Charleyboy. “The course has helped me get into the industry again, refreshed. I’m excited to keep learning, keep building my career, and keep building a better life for myself and my family.”
 
More information about the Construction Craft Worker program is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades.

Two new board members for Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

A former Chief of the Splats’in Indian Band and a Vernon lawyer – both with established community service profiles – are joining the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

Gloria Morgan, who was Chief of the Splats’in Indian Band from 2001 to 2005, has been appointed for two years to the College’s Board, while Riminder Gakhal’s term is to Dec. 31, 2017.Riminder Gakhal Aug 2016

Gakhal is an associate at Davidson Pringle LLP in Vernon and also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Vernon and District Immigrant Services and as a director of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies, which is a province-wide association working with more than 70 member agencies who serve immigrants and work to build culturally-inclusive communities.

Gloria Morgan Aug 2016Morgan has been an RCMP officer, a criminal defence lawyer and a Crown Prosecutor. She was the President of the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce, and member of the RCMP’s E Division Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and served on the board of the Provincial Community Co-ordination for Women’s Safety. She was recently appointed to the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council and serves on the BC Patient Care and Quality Review Board. She was the recipient of the Community Leader Awards – Community Builder award 2016, North Okanagan.

Gakhal grew up in Vernon, and completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Northern British Columbia. Upon graduation from UNBC, she worked for TD Canada Trust as a loans and investment officer before attending law school at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. She was called to the British Columbia bar in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to being involved with the College,” says Gakhal.

Morgan sees the importance of education for Canada’s Aboriginal community and is eagerly anticipating working on a board that can help further build access and support success for Aboriginal students and for other students who may face obstacles. “I am so impressed with the high number of Aboriginal students enrolled at the College,” she says. (More than 1,500 Aboriginal students attended Okanagan College in 2015-16.) “I honestly believe knowledge is power – power for self-improvement.”

“I know that both Gloria and Riminder will add to the strengths of our current board,” observes Connie Denesiuk, Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. “Their experience, enthusiasm and energy will be welcome.”

 

Education uncorks wine industry opportunities
Okanagan College Media Release

Ryan Fipke is a confirmed believer in the future of the Okanagan’s wine industry, and a staunch advocate of educating yourself to take advantage of the growing opportunities.Ryan Fipke Aug 2016

As tasting room supervisor and sales co-ordinator for Tantalus Vineyards and a long-time resident of the region, Fipke has witnessed the growth of the industry, and sees more ahead, as the chance blossoms to introduce more Canadians to the wines of British Columbia.

(Recently, the B.C., Quebec and Ontario governments announced they would make interprovincial sales easier by removing trade barriers.)

“Definitely a good thing,” says Fipke. “The easier it is sell our wines to more Canadians, the better it will be for us.”

Fipke is well-poised to be among those in the industry who can benefit, and he believes education for industry professionals will continue to be a critical factor if the Okanagan is to continue growing its reputation – both across Canada and internationally – as a producer of world-class wines.

Having completed three of the wine-industry certificate programs Okanagan College offers: Wine Sales, Viticulture, and Winery Assistant, Fipke is quick to point out the advantage gained by wearing many hats in the industry. The proof of his approach is to be found in the career he has carved for himself at Tantalus. “It definitely set me up for a management role.”

His career at Tantalus is a little like a homecoming for him. While his passion for wine was ignited by his father’s interest and appreciation for wine, it was cemented when he volunteered to help with a harvest at Tantalus years ago. “That gave me a taste for the industry.”

From there, the course was set: education soon became blended with the practical experience offered by the College’s programs.

“The practicums are one of the best things about the programs,” says Fipke. “It’s where you get the hands-on experience and where you get to learn from the experts.”

“We are really focused on answering the skills needs of the industry and addressing the career aspirations of prospective students,” explains Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism. “Students like Ryan epitomize the enthusiasm and passion that make the region’s wine industry so vibrant and if we can serve them with the education, training and applicable work-integrated learning opportunities, we will.”

Okanagan College offers a number of certificate and short-term courses linked to the wine industry, from a free online program intended for hospitality industry servers (but of interest to anyone who wants to know more about B.C.’s wines – wineserver.okanagan.bc.ca), to the three certificate programs Fipke took. To find out more visit okanagan.bc.ca/fwt or okanagan.bc.ca/cs

 


10 years of opening eyes and shutters to digital camera capabilities
Okanagan College Media Release

Tom Cooper August 2016A decade of teaching Okanagan shutterbugs the intricacies and nuances of their cameras, and opening their lenses to the creative capabilities of digital photography has not dimmed Tom Cooper’s enthusiasm for teaching or photography.

The professional photographer and instructor in Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department is as keen as ever on helping photography enthusiasts make the most of their tools and talents.

“Photography is a lifelong interest for me that persists,” he says. “I still have photographs from when I was in university – more than a few decades ago – that I enjoy looking at.”

“Teaching at Okanagan College for the past 10 years has helped fuel that interest, as I watch a whole variety of different people discover things about photography and their cameras.”

“I learn from students too – I end up probing the limits of my craft.”

Cooper’s Kelowna classes focus on digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera essentials, creative modes and advanced features and functions.

“Digital photography is not rocket science, but it is complex,” says Cooper, who has been balancing his time teaching at OC with duties at Red Deer College in Alberta, where he is in his sixth year of teaching the Digital Photography Certificate there, which is delivered online.

“There are five skills to be a good photographer,” explains Cooper:

  1. Camera comfort
  2. Photo editing
  3. Photographic techniques
  4. Structure (composition), and
  5. Developing a creative eye.Tom Cooper Photo Aug 2016

Providing students the technical skills and theory isn’t enough to help them become great photographers, says Cooper. “You also have to create an environment to allow them to take risks and experiment, because that’s how you learn.”

It’s not who you might expect who signs up for his courses. Most students, he notes, have had their cameras for a couple of years.

Cooper’s passion for teaching predated his first DSLR camera. He was a computer-based training course developer and instructor for the Canadian Armed Forces and a community college instructor before retiring to the Okanagan in the early part of this century.

For more information on Cooper’s classes and other courses offered by Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department, you can visit Okanagan.bc.ca/cs or watch for College’s fall brochure, being distributed by mail and available online at tiny.cc/occsfall2016.

 


Okanagan College student passionate about building a lasting health and safety culture
Okanagan College Media Release

Ron Glave Aug 2016Ron Glave initially got into construction because he needed something to do during the off-season from skiing. Twenty years later, he’s passionate about having a lasting effect on the construction industry’s health and safety culture.

Glave is the Occupational Health and Safety Manager for the Vic Van Isle Group based in Revelstoke, B.C. He’s also currently completing the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) certificate via an online course with Okanagan College, and will graduate this December.

“The first five-to-ten years I worked in construction there was still very much a culture of male bravado,” says Glave. “People were regularly taking unnecessary risks and nobody was coming around asking ‘where’s your protection?’ Now, our industry is changing and maturing. Safety leadership is more common than before. I think it’s more important to come from a genuine concern for everybody’s wellbeing rather than strictly from a compliance standpoint. Stronger cultures also develop from logic and reason rather than shall and must.”

Glave moved to Revelstoke nine years ago from Whistler, where he had just completed his first real safety gig at the 2010 Olympic Nordic Centre. His family had recently relocated to Revelstoke, and Glave, after years of industrial carpentry, followed his father’s recommendation to apply with Vic Van Isle Construction.

“I distinctly remember meeting with their safety manager, and being asked the standard interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in three to five years?’ I answered: ‘I want your job.’ And ultimately I got it.”

The company Glave began working for was rapidly expanding – going from a crew of seven to over 100 in 18 months on the Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) project alone. Nine years later, the Vic Van Isle group has had hundreds of employees, with work in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, and divisions in commercial/ industrial construction, independent Rona Building Centers, architectural millwork manufacturing, and heavy equipment rental, mechanics, and welding.

With strong work ethic and a variety of skills, Glave moved from taking care of first aid and carpentry for the first six months of the RMR project to spending 12 months as the onsite safety manager. Then in an unexpected turn of events the 2008 recession hit, and he was promoted into construction management.

“Health and safety is definitely a great field to be in,” says Glave. “It’s growing, it’s necessary, and it’s rewarding. It’s great knowing that I’m making a difference, and that over time all the little wins, and big wins, are positively changing the culture.”

But there certainly are challenges.

“It can be difficult at times. I’m not in the make money column, I’m in the save money column – and sometimes it’s hard for people to see the value right away. It also can take time, patience and persistence to turn around a very aged safety culture.”

One of the reasons Glave is taking the OH&S course at the College is to prepare for his Canadian Registered Safety Professional, which is a professional designation that will increase his value to his company and the industry. Another thing that appeals to Glave is the networking opportunities the program provides, particularly because the health and safety field is mostly lacking in available mentors.

“You can feel like you’re on an island by yourself. Unless you work with a large organization with multiple safety professionals that you can train under, you’re left sourcing a lot of important information on how to do things on your own. It’s great to be able to meet other safety professionals, connect to mentors, build a rapport, and know that we’re there to support each other. It definitely gives you the confidence and feeling of support to deal with the variety of situations coming your way.”

Glave has an insider perspective on Okanagan College. He’s worked with them previously while building the Human Resources department within Vic Van Isle, assisting with the College’s Seven Weeks of Certificates (employment skills development), and Fast Track program. He’s instructed employment and start-up skills programs at the College. He recommends his staff for professional development in office skills, project management, first aid, and he currently sits on the OC advisory committee board.

He credits his close connection to the College, especially his membership on the advisory committee, to his unique perspective as to why he thinks Okanagan College is so valuable.

“I find the College very forward-thinking, engaged, and supportive of the communities they’re in. On the advisory committee, I get to see the thinking and planning that goes into the community involvement initiatives, as well as how to Okanagan College stays competitive and relevant.”

As much as Glave is enjoying the OH&S online course, there’s definitely a drawback: staying focused during the summer takes additional discipline.

“It’s not a heavy workload, it’s just allocating the time to be consistent (studying and completing assignments) while balancing out the rest of life’s responsibilities. It also matters a lot what else you have going on in your life as in my case: working full-time, family, volunteering, relationships, friends, active playing, building a horse barn and a fourth season of beekeeping. In the end though, I know it’s all very worthwhile.”

To find out more about Okanagan College’s Occupational Health & Safety certificate, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/ohs.

 

Cloverdale Paint helps College go green

cloverdaleA unique donation from a national paint and coatings manufacturer with B.C. roots will be brightening Okanagan College campuses for years to come.

Cloverdale Paint Inc. has pledged $50,000 worth of product to assist the College in beautifying classrooms, labs, shops, and student spaces across its four campuses over the next five years.

“Cloverdale Paint is a B.C.-based, family owned business that was founded in 1933,” says Cloverdale’s VP of Branch Operations Dave Chaulk. “We are proud to support health care and education in the markets that we serve, and Okanagan College is an important facility for the community.”

The first canvas for the donated paint will be the College’s new trades facilities in Kelowna, which opened to students in April. The College is currently putting the finishing touches on the new three-storey complex, as part of the $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project in anticipation of an official grand opening this fall. Cloverdale’s donation has been directed to the $7-million Bright Horizons fundraising campaign for the building, although the product will support the College in enhancing numerous other spaces.
Colour palette aside, green is the theme the College has kept in mind throughout the renovated and expansion project, as part of its institutional commitment to sustainability.

“Sustainability is one of our core values,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “This generous gift from Cloverdale Paint supports our commitment to providing learning and work spaces that are healthy for our college community and for the environment.”
The Cloverdale credit gives the College access to ultra-low VOC (volatile organic compound) and environmentally friendly coatings that will help keep classrooms, shops, study and work spaces as healthy as they are environmentally-friendly.

The new trades building will allow the College to accommodate more than 2,700 students per year in a facility that targets LEED Platinum standards, one of the highest measures of sustainability that can be achieved by a building. In 2015, the College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence (COE) building in Penticton became the first building of its size in the region to earn the coveted certification. Earlier this year, the COE was named the Greenest Post Secondary Building in Canada in a national independent review conducted by Corporate Knights Magazine.

Boasting the second largest solar-photovoltaic array of any non-utility building in the province (the largest is on the College’s Centre of Excellence), the new trades complex is expected to reach net-zero energy—meaning it should be able to generate enough energy to meet its operational needs without drawing power from the grid. Other sustainability features include geothermal heating and cooling, and the latest in energy efficient lighting and environmental controls.

To learn more about Okanagan College’s new trades facilities and the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the project, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.  

OC business students awarded prestigious international scholarships
Okanagan College Media Release

Two Okanagan College students will soon have the chance to continue their education abroad after receiving coveted awards from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society.Lum Klingel Jones Aug 2016

Madeline Kempf and Cassandra Lum of Okanagan College’s School of Business are two of only six college students in the province to receive the Premier’s International Scholarships this year. The awards, valued at between $6,000 and $10,000 each, assist students studying a wide variety of subjects ranging from fine arts to nursing to political studies at colleges and universities around the world.

“It’s great to see students gaining international experience through support from the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.

“Ike really believed in the transformative power of education. His support of students throughout the province has created a legacy that grows each year. It benefits students across such a diverse array of programs, backgrounds, interests, and institutions.”

For Penticton’s Cassandra Lum, receiving the scholarship was the ticket to fulfilling a long-standing dream of studying in France. Okanagan School of Business students currently have the opportunity to study abroad at institutions in 16 different countries.

“I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity,” says Lum, who will graduate next June with a Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Accounting. “I think it’s extremely beneficial to have a worldly view when it comes to business, but beyond that I firmly believe travel is just such an important part of how we learn and grow outside of the classroom.

Lum will depart for EDHEC Business School in Nice at the end of August.

“Studying abroad is a wonderful option the school provides,” says Lum. “I’d certainly encourage students to consider it when planning their studies.”

The scholarship win caps off a busy and rewarding year for Lum, who also served as President of Enactus Okanagan College, a community of young entrepreneurial leaders committed to advancing social issues through business. At the Enactus National Exposition in Toronto in May, Lum and fellow BBA student Abbey Jones were two of only 10 students from all across Canada to take home national Founders Bursaries.

The Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society has awarded more than $3.1 million in international scholarships since the program’s inception in 2008. The Premier’s Scholarships are awarded once annually, while the Society’s One World International Scholarships are disbursed to students throughout the year.

Along with international scholarships, the society provides transfer scholarships and financial awards and scholarships for Aboriginal students at the undergraduate level through to those enrolled in Doctoral studies.

This year, Okanagan College students hoping to study overseas can apply online to tap into $35,000 available in One World Scholarships from the Society. More information about these and other awards for study abroad applicable to OC students is available at http://ow.ly/WDmr302TSDv

 

COF funds financial literacy program for elementary

A $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF) is helping Enactus students from Okanagan College continue their efforts to support financial literacy among elementary school children.

The grant from the COF is supporting the College students as they develop a new teacher resource page for the CAN$ave program, thanks to a large grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation.  CAN$ave is an innovative award-winning financial literacy program aimed at Grade 1 and Grade 3 students, developed by Enactus students. Can$ave 2016

The elementary school participants learn the importance of buying for need over want, the differences between good and bad debt, and how to save for their future while putting money aside to help those in need.  The program is taught using a simulated economy, allowing students to earn pay for things like good behaviour and for completing their CAN$ave workbooks.  Students are also charged desk rent and are met with unforeseen expenses like the teacher’s SmartBoard breaking.  Students are enticed by toys from a "store", which may cause the students to incur debt, which can be as frustrating for a six-year-old as it is for an adult.

“We see this as a valuable investment that will benefit grade school students, as well as support the work of socially-conscious College students doing good things in our community,” says Cheryl Miller, Central Okanagan Foundation, Director, Grants & Community Initiatives.

The Enactus team partnered with Valley First Credit Union, a division of First West Credit Union, which donated $25 to the charity of a class’s choice for each student who successfully completed the program.  A Valley First representative also helped facilitate a lesson that teaches students how to open a savings account and how banking works.  In the spring, over 200 students successfully completed CAN$ave, resulting in almost $5,000 donated to local charities.

This fall, the Enactus CAN$ave team hopes to significantly increase the number of students exposed to financial literacy.  The creation of a teacher resource page means educators from across the province will be able to access CAN$ave curriculum and lesson plans free of charge. 

 “The grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation validates all of the hard work my team and our teacher partners have put into CAN$ave,” explains Abbey Jones, CAN$ave project manager. “We can't wait to see how much more impact we will have with these extra resources at our disposal.”

Jones, her team and area teachers will also be presenting CAN$ave to primary teachers from across the Central Okanagan at the School District 23’s Pro-D week before schools starts this September. 

The $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation is the second grant received for the CAN$ave program in the past few months.  In April, the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way's Gennext gave the Enactus team $2,000 to help purchase supplies for the CAN$ave program.

The CAN$ave program was introduced to teachers in January by Jones and a team of four other Okanagan College students.  In the winter, Jones and CAN$ave team member Hannah Griffin, earned first place at the Western Canadian Enactus Championships.  In May, the CAN$ave program was awarded second place at the Enactus Nationals, against 55 universities across Canada. 

“Teaching financial literacy to students has been a wonderful experience,” says Cody Troutman, another CAN$ave team member.  “We've learned that you are never too young to learn these important life skills.  When you see a seven-year-old starting to understand debt avoidance and how to save to help others, you really know that you are making a difference in someone’s life.”

“The Enactus OC students have put a tremendous amount of effort into creating and implementing CAN$ave,” says Okanagan College Professor Devin Rubadeau, who serves as advisor to the Enactus team. “It's very rewarding seeing other community programs come to our aid as Okanagan College students work to educate youth about the perils of debt and not saving for their future.”

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EDS: Please find attached an image of a Grade 3 class from A.S. Matheson Elementary, with (left to right) Enactus members Hannah Griffin, Julia Lalach, and Abbey Jones. 

For more information:

Allan Coyle, Public Affairs
Okanagan College
250-862-5413
acoyle@okanagan.bc.ca

Medical Office Assistant training helps launch graduate into a career she never planned for

JeromeLindsay Jerome never expected to go into the medical field.
 
Yet, Jerome decided to take the Medical Office Assistant (MOA) certificate at Okanagan College and upon graduation was hired by the North Okanagan Medical Clinic at Superstore in Vernon, B.C. Three years later, she enjoys a challenging career at the clinic where every day is different.
 
“I had no idea what I wanted to do and was just working retail – going nowhere,” says Jerome. “I knew I wanted to make more money, and I also wanted a job that was in-demand and that I could be proud of.”
 
Jerome decided to start investigating post-secondary education and her research led her to consider a career as a medical office assistant.
 
“Everybody that I talked to about the job had been doing it for 20-plus years, and they loved it,” says Jerome.
 
Jerome enrolled in the College’s part-time, Medical Office Assistant certificate and worked two jobs – retail and dog grooming – while completing her education. The flexibility of the program, which includes evenings and some weekend classroom time, allowed her to fit both work and school into her busy schedule.
 
Jerome found the instructors knowledgeable and ready to answer all of her questions, and appreciated the fact that her training included an observation.
 
“I did my observation at the clinic that I now work at, and I know for a fact that they wouldn’t have hired me without the course,” says Jerome. “Plus, there’s only so much the books can tell you. Our teacher would often say ‘it depends on where you work.’ So by doing my observation I learned things that were specific to working in a walk-in clinic.”
 
The Medical Office Assistant program is offered at the Vernon and Kelowna campuses and covers medical terminology, medical office procedures (including computerized medical billing), medical office guidelines, and medical and legal ethical standards. Instructors also help students develop time management and effective verbal and written communication skills.
 
“The training really is a great jumping off point for our graduates to go into a versatile career,” says instructor Carrol Tull. “We’ve got grads working in doctor’s offices, vet clinics, walk-in clinics, and hospitals.”
 
Tull also says that the instruction is designed to be hands-on and practical.
 
“Having been an MOA for many years I get great pleasure passing on my knowledge to the students who are eager to be part of this industry. It’s exciting to be part of this learning process, watching the students become skilled, confident and eager to start their rewarding careers.”

What does Jerome like best about her job?
 
“You never know what’s going to walk through the door!” she laughs. “It’s chaotic, it’s crazy busy, and it’s challenging because the medical field is always changing and we have about 20-30 doctors who rotate through here. So you’re always learning and definitely never bored.”
 
Jerome has a message for students considering the program: “Just do it – you won’t regret it.”
 
To find out more about Okanagan College’s Medical Office Assistant certificate, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/moa.
 

Local student athlete gives back

Okanagan College Media Release – Wednesday, July 20

Local student athlete gives back

An elite cross-country mountain bike racer and business student has shown he has the generosity to match his world-class prowess on two wheels.

Kelowna-born Evan Guthrie, 25, has been racing bikes at the highest levels since he was only 12-years-old. In 2009, at age 18, he was already a four-time national champion in cross-country mountain biking and cyclo-cross, and that year earned a silver medal in team relay at the World Championships and was named BC Male Mountain Biker of the Year.

Seven years later, Guthrie is still competing on the national and international stage, while also juggling life as a full-time student. He’s currently completing a diploma in Business Administration at Okanagan College and will graduate next year. And with national championships on the horizon this summer and a busy competitive season that extends well into the fall, Guthrie has already chalked up one of his most rewarding victories this year: he recently launched a scholarship fund to help student athletes pursue their dreams.

“As someone born and raised in Okanagan, it means a lot to me to be able to support our local student athletes,” says Guthrie, who graduated from Mount Boucherie Secondary and now lives in Peachland.

“It was also a priority to meevan guthrie to make this happen early in my career,” he says. “I drew inspiration from other local athletes, like Kelsey Serwa, who have done the same, while still very young. I thought ‘Why wait?’”

As a high school student, Guthrie received a bursary founded by Kristi Richards, an Olympic freestyle skier from Summerland. Guthrie credits receiving the award as one of his earliest inspirations to create his own fund one day.

“I just find the idea of athletes giving back and supporting other youth athletes inspiring,” says Guthrie. “I’m so grateful for the support I received, and my hope is that young athletes will use this support to continue reaching for their dreams, as I did.”

Guthrie approached the Central Okanagan Foundation to set up an annual award to benefit young athletes. The criteria for the award is focused on athletics and good sportsmanship rather than marks, and athletes can apply it toward post-secondary tuition, books, and fees, or purely toward athletic costs while in school.

“I wanted the criteria to be flexible and allow a wide array of young people to apply,” explains Guthrie. “School wasn’t something that came naturally to me, but heading back to College as a mature student I have come to appreciate the doors that education can open in our lives and careers.”

Guthrie says his business education at the College has helped enhance his personal marketing as an athlete, and has also upped his confidence when it comes to managing the financial side of his business.

“Being an athlete is very similar to owning a small business,” he notes. “And some of the skills and knowledge I’ve picked up at the College have helped me further my career, no question.

“But above all, being a student has reminded me that none of us get where we are going alone. We all need a little help along the way.”

Guthrie notched a 7th place finish at National Championships in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec on July 14 and will compete in the Canada Cup in St Felicien this weekend. He took time off from a busy training schedule in June to personally present the inaugural award from his fund to local biathlete Tekarra Banser, who plans to attend UBCO this fall.

"As a Youth Olympic athlete and having experienced national sport, I know the amount of determination and perseverance that it has taken for Evan Guthrie to get to the level he's at in his sport,” says Banser. “I am thrilled and feel truly honoured to be the inaugural award recipient of Evan Guthrie's scholarship."

“We’re tremendously proud and appreciative of the growing number of young people like Evan Guthrie who are looking at how they can make a positive impact in their surrounding communities,” says Bruce Davies, Executive Director of the Central Okanagan Foundation. “They are lighting and carrying the philanthropic torch among their generation.”

Guthrie also joins other numerous Okanagan College students and alumni who are making an impact early on.

“We’ve had students complete their programs and immediately set up awards,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “These are young people in the early stages of their careers, who often do not have a great deal of money, but who are finding ways to give back. I think that speaks to the quality of young citizens we’re fortunate to have in the Okanagan and to the value they place on education.”

 
 

Camp OC keeps kids learning all summer long at Okanagan College

Summer in the Okanagan means lazy days at the beach, but for 1,500 kids in Kelowna this year it also means exciting adventures in everything from Lego robotics to the culinary arts at Okanagan College’s Camp OC.
 
Last week, more than 150 children and teenagers filled the College’s Kelowna campus for nine different camps including Chef Academy, Java Programming using Minecraft, and Jewelry and Craft Creations. Camp OC – Okanagan College’s educational summer camp – offers more than 100 camps and runs from now until Aug. 26 at the College’s Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses.
 
“We started offering Camp OC in Kelowna 12 years ago with about 10 camps and 70 kids,” says Helena Jordo, Camp OC coordinator. “This year we are expecting close to 1,500 kids and teens to attend 100 camps during the eight weeks of summer. “We’re really proud of how the camps have developed.”
 
Jordo explains that all of the Camp OC programs have an educational component, and are taught in a fun and interactive way.
 
“One of the biggest differences compared to other camps is that the majority of our camps are taught by actual teachers with a passion and expertise in the subject they are teaching and obviously a background in teaching.”
 
Matching industry experience and expertise with a student’s area of interest is nothing new to the College, nor Camp OC for that matter. Jordo says that one of the purposes of Camp OC is to get children and teens familiar with the College now so that when they graduate from high school they are already comfortable with the campus and the post-secondary environment.
 
Eden Froom, 10, attended the camp Movie Director – Lights, Camera, Action! and says using the green screen to make funny videos was her favourite part.
 
“I love Camp OC because I can make new friends and do stuff I’ve always wanted to do,” says Froom.
 
Kevin Nickel, who teaches the Movie Director camp, says one of the things that makes Camp OC so much fun is the educational experience without grades or risk of failure.
“Taking grades out of the equation is great for both the instructors and for the kids because it allows a ton of room for creativity and genuine learning.”

Camp OC runs weeklong day-camps for children entering Grades 2-9 in the fall, throughout the summer. Space is still available in some camps. To find out more or register, visit the Camp OC website:www.okanagan.bc.ca/campoc.

Local builder proud to support future tradespeople
Okanagan College Media Release

With more than two decades of experience under his tool belt, a local construction business owner and Okanagan College alumnus is giving back to support future tradespeople.

John Bachelder July 2016John Bachelder, owner of Bachelder Construction Ltd., has pledged $10,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College.

“This is an incredible facility that really honours tradespeople,” says Bachelder. “I’m excited to be a part of that. I imagine students are going to feel very proud to learn here and proud of the career path they’ve chosen.”

Bachelder moved to the Okanagan in 1970 when he was just 14-years-old, and says the trades have always been an important part of his life from an early age. He studied Commercial Transport at the College in 1985 before going into the construction business in 1993.

“I’ve been around the housing industry for most of my life,” says Bachelder. “And there has always been the challenge of finding enough skilled people. We need to stay ahead of the curve and that begins with supporting and encouraging the next generation of tradespeople.”

Among that next generation is Bachelder’s son Brady, who also trained at Okanagan College—earning Red Seals in Carpentry and Welding—and has gone on to be very successful right out of school.

“The trades are becoming increasingly technical, which is why education and training is so important,” notes Bachelder.

His wife Cynthia and daughter Anna-Leigh are also College alumni, having completed the Early Childhood Education and Human Service Work diploma programs in recent years.

In addition to his philanthropic activity with the College, Bachelder is also a member of the Kelowna chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn.

“I like to support things that tug on the heart strings a little, and we’re lucky to have a place like the College in the region, it creates a lot of opportunities for students.”

The College recently completed construction on its new and expanded trades training complex—a $33-million project. More than $6.2 million has been raised from local industry and individuals, to top up the province’s $28-million investment. The fundraising campaign goal is $7 million, which includes $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for program and student support. An official grand opening is being planned for the fall.

According to Bachelder, becoming a donor has afforded him the chance to build a stronger connection with the College and to others in his industry who have supported the recent trades expansion project.

Bachelder reconnected with his alma mater during a dinner hosted by two of his fellow home builders Lambert Schmalz and Gord Wilson. Both men have contributed to the fundraising campaign for the project and have invited other builders to support their future workforce.

“It’s been great re-connecting with the College, and meeting with others in the industry to hear what they’re doing to support the next generation. It’s great to see that there is a growing number of us who believe in supporting the future of our industry.”

As a sector, local homebuilders have contributed more than $500,000 to the project.

“We greatly appreciate the support our local homebuilders have shown for the project,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “This gift from John Bachelder is very generous, and once again demonstrates for our students that local employers value the training being offered at the College."

More information about the new building, the fundraising campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign


Downtown College campus not proceeding as hoped, College to focus on enrolment growth as top priority

Enrolment challenges mean that a prospective donation of land proposed as a potential site for a new campus of Okanagan College in Salmon Arm will not proceed. (The land identified for the potential donation is located between 10th Street SW, 10th Avenue, Foothill Road and Shuswap Street.)
 
“We very much appreciate the generous offer of 20 acres of land for a campus closer to Salmon Arm’s downtown, but the agreement around the proposal included some conditions that we will be unable to meet,” explained Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It would be unfair to Jerry Thompson (the prospective donor) and municipal planning processes to tie up the land by suggesting that we might be able to meet them in the near future.”
 
The offer of land to the College and the City of Salmon Arm’s commitment to servicing were contingent on a number of factors that the three parties agreed to in 2013.
 
Those included developing education and business plans that would warrant building a downtown campus. Because the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, the eventual donation would hinge on having the Agricultural Land Commission approve removing the parcel of land from the ALR, based on the education and business plans.
 
“We worked hard to identify programs and circumstances that would take us past those conditions, but we have been unable to do that,” said Hamilton. “One of the reasons is because we have not experienced the enrolment demand for programs in Salmon Arm that was anticipated, mainly as a consequence of changing demographics and declining school populations regionally. In order to proceed with an application to the Agricultural Land Commission we would need a compelling case based on a lack of space at our current facilities. That is not the case at this time or within the time frame anticipated by the agreement.
 
“We have been working closely with both the prospective donor and municipal officials, who have been gracious in their appreciation of our circumstances. While we regret that we are unable to proceed, the College remains completely committed to growing its activities in the Salmon Arm region.”
 
The City of Salmon Arm is understandably disappointed that Okanagan College will not be proceeding with the downtown College campus, at least in the short term, due to enrollment challenges,” said Mayor Nancy Cooper. “The City remains committed to the concept of an expanded campus in close proximity to the downtown. The City is here to support the College in continuing to grow the Salmon Arm campus. Thank you to the prospective land donor, Mr. Jerry Thompson, for his vision and generosity. Thanks also to the many volunteers and the Economic Development Society for their passionate work on this project to date.”
 
“We would like to thank all the people (including the City staff) that were associated with the effort to make the downtown College a reality,” said Jerry Thompson. “It may have been a big dream for all of us at this time but in the future it will happen, it just was not the right time. We do not attach any blame to the Okanagan College staff, as we think they did what they could in this environment. But as we move forward and we must, other opportunities will present themselves.”
 
Hamilton said Okanagan College’s efforts are focused on increasing enrolments and developing new programs to take advantage of the capacity at the current Salmon Arm campus and the associated trades facility (located in the industrial area).
 
“We also remain committed to meeting the needs our community and ensuring we are offering relevant programming,” he said. “Our new Regional Dean, Joan Ragsdale, will bring fresh eyes to those objectives and will work closely with College personnel, our partners and the community in that regard.”
 
An example of what that may look like is the recently-announced development of a new Environmental Studies diploma option in Salmon Arm that builds on existing geographical information systems expertise and programs at the campus, says Hamilton. The College is also pursuing other programming options, all with the purpose of offsetting declining high school graduating classes over the next few years by attracting students both from out of region and from other groups within the area.

Jazz and Okanagan College create new opportunities for graduating pilots
Okanagan College Media Release

A new agreement with Jazz Aviation LP could spell more career opportunities for pilots graduating from Okanagan College’s Commercial Aviation diploma program.

The College’s two-year program, run in concert with flight partners Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC), recently celebrated a quarter-century of operation. This month, Jazz and the College signed an agreement that will see OC participate in the Jazz Aviation Pathways Program (APP), which can serve as a fast track for the OC pilots to land flying careers with the national airline. It is among the first aviation schools in Western Canada to participate in the program. Five colleges and universities in Ontario participate as well as Mount Royal University in Alberta.

“We have worked closely with Jazz regarding our program’s curriculum, and expected outcomes for students,” said Dr. Barry McGillivray, Okanagan College’s Acting Dean of Business. “Our program and our graduates have a good reputation in the industry, and this affords them some advantages in terms of advancing their careers.”

Jazz Aviation LP has a strong history in Canadian aviation with its roots going back to the 1930s. Jazz is owned by Chorus Aviation Inc. As the largest regional carrier in Canada, Jazz has a proven track record of industry leadership and exceptional customer service, and has leveraged that strength to deliver value to all its stakeholders.

“Further strengthening our Jazz APP program with the addition of OC, and our first B.C.-based college, is an exciting development,” said Steve Linthwaite, Vice President of Flight Operations at Jazz. “Our goal is to create a strong future for Canadian professional pilots and engaging with academic institutions from coast-to-coast is an important part of delivering on that. We’re very pleased to welcome OC to the Jazz APP and look forward to working together toward these common objectives.”

Okanagan College becoming a Jazz APP institution establishes a direct career path for qualifying graduates; including flight simulator evaluations, student scholarships, and the opportunity for OC’s top-performing Commercial Aviation graduates to transition to first officer positions at Jazz.

In addition to the Jazz APP program, any OC student who passes his or her Intermediate Airline Transport Rating (IATRA) exam can qualify to work for Jazz with 1,000 hours flying time and 250 hours multi-engine flying time. If the student graduates from a non-partner institution, he or she would need 1,500 hours flying time and 500 hours of multi-engine time to qualify.

“That can mean a significant savings and a head-start on a career for a young pilot,” notes SIFC’s Flight School Director Marc Vanderaegen.

As a partner school with Jazz, Okanagan College pilots also find themselves eligible to apply to two Jazz-supplied scholarships: the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and Diversity (open to any student who has self-identified as Aboriginal, a person with a disability, a visible minority or female).

Jazz operates more flights and flies to more Canadian destinations than any other airline, and has a workforce of approximately 4100 professionals, highly experienced in the challenging and complex nature of regional operations.

There are two airline divisions operated by Jazz Aviation LP: Air Canada Express and Jazz.

Air Canada Express: Under a capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada, Jazz provides service to and from lower-density markets as well as higher-density markets at off-peak times throughout North America with a fleet of 113 Canadian-made Bombardier aircraft.

Jazz: Under the Jazz brand, the airline offers charters throughout North America with a dedicated fleet of five Bombardier aircraft for corporate clients, governments, special interest groups and individuals seeking more convenience. Jazz also has the ability to offer airline operators services such as ground handling, dispatching, flight load planning, training and consulting.



Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends awards continue to open doors for students
Okanagan College Media Release

Thorpe Awards 2016Scholarships from Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and friends are inspiring graduating high school students from Penticton and Summerland to make the most of their studies as they step into the classrooms of Okanagan College this fall.

Eight students hailing from three different high schools assembled at the College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 16, to receive their entrance scholarships.

“Meeting students and their parents is rewarding for us,” says Yasmin Thorpe. “The parents appreciate the assistance and the students are keen to talk about what they hope to achieve with their studies and their futures.”

“Education opens so many doors,” says Rick Thorpe. “Yasmin and I feel incredibly proud to have been able to make a difference in the lives of students over the years.”

Scholarship recipient Hector Carlos of Penticton Secondary is one of those students reaching for the stars with a little help from the Thorpes.

Hector Carlos June 2016

“I am determined to obtain a degree in Physics and Astronomy,” says Carlos, who plans to complete the Associate of Science Degree program at the College before heading to the University of Victoria to finish his Bachelor of Science. “This scholarship is going to motivate me even more to achieve my goal and will reduce my stress along the way, so I can focus on my learning instead of student debt.”

Born in Mexico, Carlos immigrated to Canada in 2002 and moved the Penticton in 2008.

“I am excited to make my own way in the world; this scholarship is going to help me to transfer my acquired knowledge and skills into a profession that will allow me to lead a productive life.”

Honor Hollman, also a Grade 12 student at Penticton Secondary, is considering a career in education, social work, or nursing; she will take the first step toward that future when she begins the Associate of Arts Degree program at the College in September.

Honor Hollman June 2016“I am very excited to receive this award,” says Hollman, “and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future.”

“I really hope to give back to the community through my future career, so I look forward to paying it forward and using this award not only to benefit myself, but to get to a place where I can benefit others one day.”

The Thorpes have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade.

2016 marked the 10th anniversary of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Entrance Scholarships for Okanagan College, which were established in 2006. To mark the occasion, the Thorpes awarded 10 $2,500 bursaries.

Since inception, $92,750 has been awarded from the Thorpe’s fund to 43 recipients at Okanagan College.

The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship assists students who are graduates of, or will be graduating from, a secondary school located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton to Killiney Beach, registering in fulltime studies at the College. The award also supports students already enrolled at the College who are continuing their studies. Recipients must be undertaking courses in business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism/hospitality, trades, technologies, English or creative writing, science, and nursing.

“We are constantly amazed at the generosity of our donors in Penticton,” says Donna Lomas, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “The Thorpes have been deeply supportive of the College over the years, including spearheading the fundraising campaign for the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.

“Awards like these send a message to students that the community and the College are behind them and invested in their futures.”

The application deadline for the 2017 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarships will be in early March 2017. Students are encouraged to review the application guidelines at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards or financialaid@okanagan.bc.ca for more information.


Two-time College grad wins gold in national electronics competition
Okanagan College Media Release

SkillsZach Andrews is adding another medal to a growing collection of accolades after returning from the Skills Canada Competition in Moncton, NB with a gold medal in Electronics.

The 31-year-old qualified for the Canada-wide competition after winning gold for B.C. in April at the provincial challenge in Abbotsford. He was joined by fellow Okanagan College student Aaron Schmidt, who also earned gold at the provincial competition and finished second in the country in Automotive Service.

Making the trip to compete in Moncton meant Andrews had to pass up the opportunity to attend the College’s Convocation ceremony; he completed the two-year Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program in May. However, Andrews had already experienced the satisfaction of graduating from the College when he completed the Electrical program and earned his Red Seal designation in 2009.

“I started the Electrical program at the College in 2005 and worked my way through all of my apprenticeship levels,” explained Andrews. “When I became a journeyperson in 2009, I decided to focus on saving money for more schooling, as I knew I wasn’t done learning. In 2014, after a decade of employment as an electrician, I enrolled in the Electronic Engineering program and have now finished my second credential at Okanagan College.”

When Andrews was asked to consider competing at the provincial Skills BC challenge, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I was pretty surprised to win the competition,” he said. “I thought I had done a good job but it was exciting to learn I was the best in the province.”

Andrews drew on his experience from Skills BC at the national competition but was slightly less confident about the outcome.

“The national competition was much longer and covered all aspects of the technical skills we learn in the program—and if you ask anyone who has taken Electronic Engineering, it is not an easy program. I was shocked at how I was able to draw on concepts and techniques I had learned in first-year. It was incredible, everything from circuit theory and design and fabrication to soldering and programming microcontrollers. I think I was the only person to complete the soldering task and have the circuit fully functional.

“I was completely taken by surprise when I found out I won. I thought the other competitors from across the country were doing really well. I was pleased to win and I think the education I received throughout the program combined with my knowledge as an Electrician really set me up for success. I worked really hard and in this case putting in the work paid off.”

Now that he can consider himself as the most skilled graduate in electronics in the country, you might think Andrews’ next step would be to focus on working. And while he is spending the summer working as an electrician, he hasn’t yet completed all of his educational goals.

Andrews is enrolled in Okanagan College’s Electronic Engineering Technology Bridge to UBC Okanagan Electrical Engineering program, which builds on the two-year diploma program to prepare graduates for entry mid-way into UBC Okanagan’s degree program.

“I know I could get a job today in my field and having credentials in both the electrical trades and technologies sets me apart but I’m focused on continuing my education. I think it’s a good investment and will open a lot of doors in the future.” 

Salmon Arm campus and community recognize students
Okanagan College Media Release

Thirty-eight students from Salmon Arm were recently awarded bursaries and scholarships in recognition of their hard work in and out of the classroom.

Students and their families, alongside College officials and donors from the community, gathered on Wednesday, June 15 for the annual Salmon Arm campus awards ceremony. And for a number of students training toward helping careers, a helping hand from those around them is bringing big dreams within reach.

Shayda Yazdanmehr June 2016As new Salmon Arm resident and mature student Shayda Yazdanmehr attests, receiving a bursary has done far more than reduce financial strain—it has validated her decision to return to school.

“Receiving an award from the College is incredibly motivating,” says Yazdanmehr, who took home the Salmon Arm Campus Adult Academic and Career Prep Award. “Since moving here, the College and this community have been so supportive. And thanks to that, I’ve been able to get on the fast-track towards my career goals far quicker than I ever expected.”

Originally from Yellowknife, NWT, Yazdanmehr moved to the Shuswap two years ago after visiting family in the region. She soon decided to pursue upgrading as part of the College’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) offerings, which are designed to assist students in obtaining the prerequisites needed to enter one of the College’s degree, diploma, or certificate programs. After completing the necessary upgrades, she plans to enrol in one of the College’s Health and Social Development programs and has already begun shadowing local health industry professionals to get a sense of the day-to-day work in a variety of fields.

“I am very interested in blending a program in healthcare with various healing arts and hope to work with children,” explains Yazdanmehr. “OC has many opportunities for me to get started on that path.”

Salmon Arm-born Julia Agassiz echoes her fellow student’s comments about the cost-savings of being able to pursue her education in the Shuswap community. Agassiz will graduate from the 18-month Practical Nursing diploma program in January. A mother of twin five-year-olds, she says being able to stay close to home has made all the difference in her being able to pursue her nursing dream.Julia Agassiz June 2016

“Having the opportunity to stay in Salmon Arm and not have to commute elsewhere, or move, has been tremendously helpful,” notes Agassiz, who also credits receiving an award as inspiration to finish her program strong over the next six months.

“As a mother of two young children, any additional support I can bring in for my education is a huge relief and goes a long way. I am so grateful for this award. I hope as I enter into a career where I’ll be helping people day in, day out, that I’ll be able to pay it forward and make an impact in the community.”

At the ceremony, Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of the Shuswap-Revelstoke, acknowledged the hard work and determination of students, and the role that community support plays in enriching the learning and teaching experience in Salmon Arm.

“I extend a heartfelt congratulations to all of the recipients,” says Ragsdale. “Although I have been here only a short while, I have seen and experienced firsthand the personal commitment to students and excellence that exists at this campus.

“The support from community and the donors is the strongest I have seen anywhere in the province, and I am delighted to be a part of an event which supports and honours student achievement.”

This year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.


Alumnus celebrates College’s history with gift for tradespeople of tomorrow
Okanagan College Media Release

Lambert Schmalz June 2016An alumnus with a connection to Okanagan College that spans more than five decades has made a gift to inspire the next generation of tradespeople who will follow in his footsteps.

Lambert Schmalz, owner of Lambert & Paul Construction Ltd., has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus. The new three-storey tower opened to students in April, as part of an overall $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project.

“The College and this region are very dear to me,” says Schmalz, who was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1956 after completing his training as a journeyperson Carpenter. “I am proud to support the place where our future tradespeople will train.”

At that time, there were only 9,600 people in Kelowna and very few residential or commercial builders. He says the opening of the College (then BC Vocational School) in 1963, helped spark the growth of the construction industry in the years that followed, and was critical in developing a culture of apprenticeship in the valley.

“Having come up through the European system of apprenticeship which has been going strong for hundreds of years, I was surprised by how little apprenticeship there was in the valley when I arrived,” explains Schmalz. “I am pleased with the progress that has been made to change that over time, and the College has played a big role in that development.”

Schmalz’s involvement with the College has taken many forms over the years. As a student, he took business courses in the mid-1960s, adding bookkeeping, drafting, and estimating to the skills he learned as a journeyman Carpenter travelling Europe. He also served on the Program Advisory Board for the Carpentry program for more than a decade beginning in the 1970s.  

In 2004 Okanagan University College conferred upon Schmalz an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his long-term involvement.

“Lambert has been a dedicated champion and supporter of the College for many years,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We deeply appreciate his significant contributions to our institution and his dedication to advancing apprenticeship in the Okanagan.”

In addition to founding multiple contracting companies, Schmalz was also a founding member of the Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), a professional organization that promotes affordability and choice in the residential construction industry.

Individuals and businesses from the construction sector have contributed more than $500,000 to the Bright Horizons campaign to date. Schmalz recently challenged the valley’s builders to reach the $1-million mark.

“These tradespeople are our future work force,” said Schmalz. “If we don’t support them, who will?”

It is a message echoed by Schmalz’s friend and colleague Gord Wilson. Wilson, owner of Team Construction, has also stepped forward with $50,000 for the campaign.

Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Complex is now open to students; a grand opening is being planned for September. The three-year capital construction project rejuvenated existing spaces to match the same sustainability standards of the new tower, which is targeting LEED Platinum, net-zero energy usage, and carbon-neutrality. The complex will allow the College to train more than 2,700 students per year in Kelowna.

The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise an additional $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment.

 

To learn more about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign


Okanagan College instructor ready to change the way kids think about food
Okanagan College Media Release

Kelsey Galt, holistic nutritionist, owner of Basket Case Picnics and instructor for the College’s Camp OC, has always been interested in eating healthy and staying fit. She attributes this interest to her upbringing and the fact that she has been an athlete for much of her life.Kelsey Galt June 2016

“I was a competitive snowboarder – to compete at that level you need to take care of your body and ensure you’re getting the right nutrition,” says Galt.

After her snowboarding career ended, Galt thought about becoming a dietician but decided to study holistic nutrition instead. She was drawn to the principal philosophies of the field: prevention over treatment, and the idea that each person deserves an individual and holistic approach.

“Holistic nutrition is about so much more than simply food – although of course, that’s a large part of it – the idea that food can be healing. We also look at supplements, and lifestyle is a major piece of the puzzle,” Galt explains.

Galt graduated in March from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Vancouver, after completing a two-year program. During her studies, she deepened her understanding of the role food plays in our health, as well as learning how many physical symptoms are rooted in stress and how important it is to include activities like yoga that help “de-stress.”

“I think many people have lost a connection with food because of the fast-paced environments we live in,” says Galt. “We really only scratch the surface when we talk about ‘this food is good for you, this food isn’t.’ That’s not enough. My goal is to educate people about how essential food is to their health and help them get back in touch with their connection to the earth and where food comes from.”

How does Galt plan to achieve this goal?

“We’ve got to start with kids. That’s why I’m so excited to be teaching kids at Camp OC this year,” she says, in reference to the two camps she’s teaching: The Independent Chef and Travelling Taste Buds. “We’re going to start in the garden and see where food comes from. The kids are going to pick it, chop it, prepare it and ultimately enjoy it more. I think it’s crucial that kids develop that sense of pride and feel like they’re in control.”

The Independent Chef runs July 18 to 22 at Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus for kids entering grades 4-7. Travelling Taste Buds runs August 8 to 12 at the Vernon Campus for kids entering grades 4-7. Galt plans to share with campers her love of food from other places that she developed while travelling all over Europe, as well as the experience she’s gained working in the food industry for years.

With her mother Chris as mentor, Galt has run her own custom catering business – Basket Case Picnics – for the past four years. Basket Case Picnics started out in farmers’ markets with a food truck, branched into private catering, and is now a Culinary Service Partner with Okanagan College – offering daily food services and event catering at the Kal View Café.

“Kelsey is definitely impressive,” agrees Cindy Meissner, program coordinator of Camp OC in Vernon. “She has the education and the experience to back her up – much like many of our Camp OC instructors actually.”

Meissner explains how all Camp OC instructors match industry experience and expertise with a camper’s area of interest. For example, the instructor for Jr. Passion for Fashion is a Canadian designer and owns her own design and retail store; and, a professional photographer will be teaching the “Kids with Cameras” camp. The Camp OC instructor for “Metal Fabrication” and “Building with Wood” is a SD 22 industrial teacher.

“But I think what makes Kelsey unique is her obvious passion for what she’s doing,” says Meissner. “Whether it’s serving up delicious food in the Kal View Café here on campus or arming kids with that oh-so-important life skill of cooking for themselves. Kelsey really is on a mission to change the way we think about food.”

More information about Camp OC Okanagan College is available at www.campoc.ca


From accountants to welders, thousands of College graduates heading out into the world this month
Okanagan College Media Release

As one Okanagan College business student will note when she addresses her graduating class this Saturday, it was often the most challenging moments of her studies that best prepared her for the future.

Jessica Lenz Nov 2015Jessica Lenz is completing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Honours Degree specializing in Accounting, and for the past year has been a student researcher with the Scotiabank Centre for Non-profit Excellence located at the Kelowna campus. She recently presented her findings at the The Canadian Council for Small Business & Entrepreneurship national conference in Guelph, ON.

“It was so beneficial to have real-world opportunities to engage with and learn from business leaders in our community,” said Lenz, who now plans to pursue her CPA certification. “It was very challenging but also very fulfilling as a student to be a part of research that has application to people’s businesses and livelihoods locally, and has the potential to bring about positive change.”

Lenz is among the more than 1,450 students who will be recognized at the College’s Convocation ceremonies this weekend. She will also take the stage to give the student address and will be presented with the Silver Governor General’s Academic Medal and Bachelor of Business Administration Medal, as the graduand with the highest graduating grade average in an Okanagan College baccalaureate program and the BBA program this year.

“Receiving the Silver Governor General’s medal was one of the goals I have pushed myself toward for a long time,” explains Lenz. “It’s an incredible feeling to realize a goal like this. I can’t wait to be at the ceremony with all my fellow graduates who share the same pride of accomplishment.”

The College will recognize the achievements of nearly 1,000 trades students at its Commencement ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 3.

The following day, 481 credentials will be conferred to students in academic and vocational programs and include: 129 bachelor’s degrees, 55 associate degrees, 270 diplomas, and 27 certificates.

The morning ceremony on June 4 in Kelowna starts at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, and Health and Social Development programs receive their credentials. Local forest hydrologist, Dr. Rita Winkler, and Mission Hill’s Anthony von Mandl, O.B.C., will address the morning graduating class as Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College.

At the afternoon ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m., Okanagan College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands of the Okanagan College School of Business.

It is in this ceremony that Lenz will share some wisdom gained during her time as a business student, followed by a local business veteran who shares her feelings on the subject of perseverance.

After being recognized as Honorary Fellow on Saturday afternoon, Kelowna entrepreneur Bill Redmond will address the next wave of business leaders who will follow in his footsteps.Bill Redmond HF 2016

One of his key messages? Learn how to overcome adversity, and even embrace it.

Redmond spent four decades building his career in the wholesale food industry. He is the founder and formerly the president and CEO of HRI Supply Ltd. Redmond launched the company in 1978 and guided its growth until it merged with Sysco Corp. in 2001. HRI Supply is the only food distribution company in the B.C. Interior to merge with a Fortune 500 company in the past 30 years. After the merger Redmond continued his career as president and CEO of Sysco Kelowna until he retired from the company in 2004.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Convocation ceremony at Okanagan College,” said Redmond. “It is a big honour and I have been thinking carefully about what I want to say to the students before they make their way into the working world.”

Distilling a career’s worth of lessons into a few short minutes isn’t an easy task but Redmond says the lesson that has been most valuable was one that he learned early.

“The difficult things and the challenging things are what you remember,” he said. “Overcoming adversity, even embracing it and seeking it out, is really what sets people apart. It is actually quite easy to be a great leader when things are going well but when things take a turn, that’s when you grow the most.”

Redmond spent a year at Okanagan College as its first Entrepreneur-in-Residence in 2007. During that time he worked out of an office in the School of Business a few days a month, meeting with students, joining lectures and working with colleagues in the department.

“I was very impressed with the business students at Okanagan College,” he said. “Working with them made me remember the pure joy of learning about business. It’s a wonderful institution and a great privilege to address the graduating class.”

This weekend’s ceremonies represent three of the College’s six annual Convocation ceremonies. The first Convocation ceremony of the year was held in January, and 310 credentials were awarded to students.

Two additional ceremonies will be held later in June. A ceremony in Vernon will be held on Monday, June 27. The final summer convocation in Kelowna will take place on Wednesday, June 29 and will confer approximately 380 diplomas and certificates. Former Okanagan College professor Rick Gee will be honored as the 2016 Distinguished Service Award recipient at that ceremony.

More than 2,100 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2016 before the end of the month.

To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.


Foundation charity golf tournament celebrates twenty-five years, milestone in funds raised for students
Okanagan College Media Release

Golf 2016_1This year marked the 25th playing of the Okanagan College Foundation’s annual charity golf tournament, and along with that milestone came another impressive number on the event’s scorecard. 

The tournament has now raised more than $500,000 towards awards, bursaries, and emergency funds for students at the College since it began in 1991.

On Thursday, May 26, nearly 150 players walked the fairways of Okanagan Golf Club to celebrate the anniversary, reflect on what has been accomplished, and add to the fundraising total.

“From day one, this tournament has always been about helping students,” says Terry Flannigan, one of the tournament’s founders and a past Director of Development for the College (1991-1995). “Over the years, the Foundation has done a tremendous job of carrying it on and building it up, and the response from the community has been nothing short of terrific.”

Flannigan has played almost every year since the tournament’s inception. He says the continued popularity of the fundraiser, despite competition from many other charity tournaments throughout the spring and summer, is a testament to the way in which the region embraces the College’s mission to transform lives and communities.

“I think people in the Okanagan appreciate the College’s efforts to make education accessible to a wide array of learners,” he notes. “That mission really seems to resonate with a lot of people, and the legacy of this tournament is proof of that.”

Since 1991, more than 3,000 golfers and 600 sponsors have supported the tournament, with many returning each year, such as 2016 title sponsor Western Financial Group, which has now been the title sponsor for more than a decade.

“The 25th annual golf tournament proved to be one of the best,” said Western Financial Group’s Senior Vice President Sales – Pacific, Greg McGill. “We had great support from all the sponsors and golfers. Western is proud to be part of this prestigious event and we are looking forward to next year’s tournament.”Golf 2016_2

Scotiabank, another returning supporter, once again matched donations raised through a contest prize raffle; to cap off the evening, Vernon Branch Manager, Sales and Service Gladys Fraser presented the foundation with a cheque for $3,455.

“Scotiabank employees are proud to continue to support Okanagan College through the Foundation golf tournament,” said Fraser. “This is our 9th tournament directly volunteering to raise funds. Many of our customers and employees benefit from the educational offerings provided by Okanagan College and our employees are happy to volunteer to make a difference.”

“We couldn’t be happier with the way this year’s 25th anniversary tournament played out,” says Okanagan College Foundation’s Executive Director Kathy Butler. “We had another tremendous response from golfers, from sponsors, and from businesses around the valley.”

And as impressive as the $500,000 milestone may be, Butler says the philanthropic ripple effect generated by the event is far greater.

“This tournament really has helped to build and grow relationships with our donors,” explains Butler. “It’s an event everyone can feel good about being a part of—especially when you consider that the funds raised have impacted literally hundreds of Okanagan College students over the years.”

The Okanagan College Foundation would like to acknowledge the support of title sponsor Western Financial Group and media sponsor The Capital News, and many others that contributed to another successful event this year.


Outland Design gift grows trades campaign total, nurtures early childhood educators
Okanagan College Media Release

Education is one of the roots of a healthy community. This is the message a local landscape architecture firm hopes people in the valley will take away from its recent donation to Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus and its students.Outland Design May 2016

Outland Design Landscape Architecture has pledged $10,000 to support the new Trades Training complex at the Kelowna campus; the firm has also created an annual bursary to support students in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program.

Trades and Early Childhood Education may seem unrelated at first glance, but as Outland owner Fiona Barton explains, the gift was inspired by the College’s commitment to opening doors for a diverse array of learners.

“We’re hoping to inspire local students and would-be students to lifelong learning. The value of education for themselves and for our community is limitless,” says Barton, who is also the firm’s senior landscape architect. “The College has a growing Horticulture Certificate program, and there are many intersections with the trades in what we do, so there were lots of reasons for us to support.”

“Support from the community plays an integral role in Okanagan College’s efforts to break down barriers to education,” says Okanagan College Foundation Director Kathy Butler. “We are deeply moved by the way Fiona and her team at Outland Design have so generously invested their dollars, and their time and expertise in our students.”

The newly launched Outland Design Landscape Architecture award, valued at $750, will provide an annual boost to an ECE student entering second year of the two-year diploma program at Okanagan College.

“We wanted to highlight the important role that early childhood educators play in the Okanagan, which is what led to the creation of this award and inspired our ongoing research partnership with the College,” explains Barton.

Last year, Outland Design signed on as a community partner of a federally-funded, applied research grant exploring the benefits of outdoor play on children’s wellbeing, and how it can be tied into the training of early childhood educators.

As a mother of three, Barton saw working with the College to bring outdoor play into the lives of young learners as a natural fit, and a project that could have a long-term positive impact.

“Our goal as a design company is to create beautiful landscapes that enrich the environment,” notes Barton. “It is a natural fit for us to be involved in research that will have a positive impact on ECEs and help children grow and learn in the outdoors.”

Equipping early childhood educators is a growing area of expertise for Okanagan College. Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College’s Director of Learning and Teaching, has been involved in researching the benefits of outdoor play in the ECE curriculum for several years. Dietze and Outland Design embarked on an outdoor play research project that was funded by NSERC in 2014-2015, and earlier this year received a research grant of $195,000 from the Lawson Foundation.

The grant will allow researchers to explore a wide range of training modules to benefit ECEs, from physical literacy to indigenous outdoor play practices, to outdoor play designs for optimal play.

“Fiona Barton and her staff are important community partners as they bring expertise in creating diverse and complex outdoor play spaces for children. These spaces contribute to triggering children’s curiosity, exploration and learning for life,” says Dietze.

The first recipient of the Outland Design award will be selected later this fall.

“Our students graduate with an in depth understanding of the benefits of well-constructed outdoor play environments to the overall development of the whole child,” explains Pam Wetterstrand, Chair of the ECE program. “We are grateful for support like this for students, and for the important research being conducted to support professional development opportunities for Early Childhood Educators.”

More information about this and other awards available at Okanagan College can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/financialaid


Hamilton to stay as OC President until 2019
Okanagan College Media Release

Jim Hamilton May 2016Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton has accepted an offer to extend his term until October 2019. The longest-serving president in British Columbia’s post-secondary sector, Hamilton has led Okanagan College since 2004.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Jim will stay on as President,” says Connie Denesiuk, Chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors. “Over the course of his tenure he has helped the institution develop a well-deserved reputation for accomplishment, growth and service. I’ve witnessed first-hand how well respected he is provincially and nationally.”

“This news will please many of Jim’s colleagues at Okanagan College, and I know it will be welcomed by the sector generally. Jim is respected for his experience and for his insights, demeanour and intelligence.”

Hamilton sees it as an opportunity to continue to complete some ongoing tasks as well as advance important new initiatives.

“I am proud of Okanagan College’s record of success and achievement but I know a lot remains to be done to even better serve the students, employers and community of this region. I am particularly excited about some of the key directions in the College’s recently-completed five-year strategic plan and I want to be part of moving them forward. Those include working with and learning from our indigenous community, increasing our support for key sectors such as wine, food and tourism and technology, and completing a plan that will expand internationalization opportunities for our students and employers.”

Hamilton’s history at Okanagan College started with teaching English in 1980 at what then served as the Vernon Campus: the old Canadian Forces army barracks.

Prior to becoming President, Hamilton was actively engaged in the College, having served as a faculty member, a member of the Okanagan University College Board of Governors, and the Regional Dean of the North Okanagan.

Currently, he is the Board Chair of the BC Council for International Education as well as a board member of Colleges and Institutes Canada, member of the British Columbia Council for Admissions and Transfer, and a Vice Chair of the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society. In the past he has been the Chair of the Trades Training Consortium of BC and the Chair of BC Colleges.

During his time as President, Okanagan College enrolments have grown by 43 per cent, exceeding government targets every year. Okanagan College is now one of the largest colleges in BC and the second biggest public trades training institution in the province. Aboriginal student numbers have more than tripled to 1,550, and the College has greatly expanded its services to that population. 

Okanagan College has introduced a host of new programs, grown its profile to address regional and provincial labour force demands and skills needs, and worked closely with industry and employers to make the Okanagan, Shuswap, Similkameen and British Columbia stronger.

With the recent completion of the new Trades Training Complex in Kelowna, Okanagan College has seen more than $100 million in new building and redevelopment at its four major campuses in the last decade. The College has earned a place on the national and world stage for the development of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation. The building was recently named the greenest building in the post-secondary sector in Canada and boasts a number of national and international awards. The new Trades Complex will also support Okanagan College’s reputation as a leader in sustainability.

“As much as construction and enrolment growth are both good for the local economy, what has given me the greatest satisfaction is the success of our students and how our team has worked together to create more access for more post-secondary options for the people in this region,” Hamilton says.