Previous Posts(10)
OC business team takes silver at The Winning Pitch
Support swells for Silver Surfers with Interior Savings gift
Indigenous garden takes root at Kelowna campus
Red Dot Players bring Sense and Sensibility to OC
New book explores motivating a diverse workforce
An evening with three Canadian authors
UBC professor advocates the benefit of exercise for healthy aging
OC students get hands-on experience in community for in-demand trades
College marketing team earns silver in Montreal case competition
Okanagan College students tackle food security with Refreshing idea
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OC business team takes silver at The Winning Pitch
Okanagan College Media Release


A quartet of Okanagan College students have pedaled their way onto the podium with an Okanagan-inspired business idea at one of B.C.’s most prestigious tourism case competitions.

The team made of up Adrian Lemiski, Brooks Hewko, Merissa Hucul and Nick Gallant took second place at The Winning Pitch competition at the B.C. Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria last week.OSB Winning Pitch Feb 2017

Hosted by go2HR, B.C.’s tourism human resource association, The Winning Pitch challenges post-secondary students to propose concepts for new B.C.-based ventures. Teams were tasked with developing a proposal and business plan for a new accessible activity-based tourism business or service.

The group from Okanagan College, coached by OC School of Business professors Blair Baldwin and Laura Thurneer, took second place with their proposal for “Pioneer Adventure Company,” a premium cycle tour based out of the South Okanagan.

“We were thrilled that our idea resonated with the judges,” says Hucul, a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration student at the College’s Kelowna campus. “The process of developing our pitch, refining it, and preparing for the competition involved months of hard work. From start to finish it’s been an incredible learning experience, and it’s still going.” 

The team’s business plan is already getting noticed. Not long after the event, coach Blair Baldwin was contacted by a potential investor interested in speaking with the students about bringing their idea to life.

“These students put in an extraordinary effort, investing countless hours of their own time on top of their course loads to develop this pitch,” says Baldwin. “And so it’s exciting but not entirely surprising that the business community is recognizing the value in what they are proposing.”

Hucul attributes the well-developed pitch to the perfect blend of backgrounds and personalities on the team. Combined, they boast specializations in Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality and General Studies.

“It is the ultimate compliment to hear that our idea has merit and is financially sound enough to potentially become a reality,” adds Hucul. “I think that was borne out of the depth and variety of skills each of us brings to the table.”

She is also quick to acknowledge the efforts made by the team’s coaches to ready them for the competition.

“We couldn’t have done it without Laura and Blair’s expertise and guidance. We learned so much from them throughout the process.”

The team from Okanagan College was one of three finalists in Victoria. The team from Royal Roads came out on top, while BCIT took bronze.

In order to advance to the finals, the team from Okanagan College beat out challenger Thompson Rivers University at regionals last November. The event was held at Predator Ridge in Vernon.

“This team exemplifies the amazing crop of young businesspeople coming out of the Okanagan School of Business,” says Thurnheer, who is also Chair of Business Administration at Okanagan College. “We applaud their success and look forward with interest to seeing how their idea continues to unfold and develop.”

For more information about the competition, visit


Support swells for Silver Surfers with Interior Savings gift
Okanagan College Media Release

Silver Surfers Feb 2017Okanagan College Enactus students were presented with a $9,700 cheque from Interior Savings Credit Union in support of their initiative to promote seniors’ wellness through tech-savvy training.

Through the Silver Surfers program, Okanagan College Enactus students provide resources and coaching to enhance the abilities of seniors to communicate with loved ones and safely explore the Internet.  

The program offers student-to-senior mentorship and step-by-step illustrated guides on technology use with tools such as the iPad. The highly-portable program helps address the social isolation and mental health issues often felt by seniors and provides opportunities for them to increase their cognitive abilities.

“We wanted to find a way to use our entrepreneurial skills to create tangible change in the community,” says Rebecca Alfred, who co-founded the program alongside fellow Okanagan College School of Business students Daniel Alfred, Sam Jamieson and Meaghan Barnard. “We are thrilled that Interior Savings is recognizing the demand for Silver Surfers in the Okanagan and investing in the program’s growth.”

For Interior Savings, this partnership was a logical extension to their recent certification as the first age-friendly financial institution in B.C.

“Interior Savings has made a commitment to help lead the way in building more age-friendly communities,” said Kathy Conway, CEO of Interior Savings. “Silver Surfers will help a generation who grew up making phone calls and sending letters in the mail remain socially connected in a very different environment. We’re excited to support these students in helping build a community that is more inclusive and connected, regardless of age.”

The Silver Surfers program educates seniors on a range of tech topics over four one-hour sessions–from learning to use power and volume controls, to sending emails and performing searches, to taking a selfie and making video calls.

It also includes the subject of cyber security, an important concern for seniors new to technology, as they may be more susceptible to online fraud schemes.

Popularity of the program has already increased by word-of-mouth since the Silver Surfers piloted their program at a Kelowna retirement home in May 2016. They are currently running their fourth and fifth programs at two different seniors residences and have grown to more than 30 volunteer mentors.

The gift will enhance the Silver Surfers program through the construction of a website to boost their online presence and provide for the purchase of wireless routers and tablets that will enable the program to run simultaneously in multiple locations.

The students are already seeing the rewards of their efforts – a recent survey of program participants showed an 86 per cent increase in the number of online interactions between the residents and their loved ones. 

“As students, running programs through Enactus provides challenging business experience in an accepting environment,” Alfred explains. “This donation enables us as students to continue to grow the program and make an impact on the community.”

The group hopes the new website, which launches this week, will be an effective tool for increasing awareness of the program, engaging supporters and inspiring volunteers in the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

To learn more about the Silver Surfers program and how to be involved, visit


Indigenous garden takes root at Kelowna campus
Okanagan College Media Release


Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus will soon be home to a unique greenspace containing more than 50 local Okanagan plants that are of cultural significance to Syilx people.

The na’ʔk’ʷulamən (na - kool - a- min) garden will pay tribute to the close relationship between Indigenous people and the natural world. na’ʔk’ʷulamən is a Nsyilxcen word which broadly translates to “the things that we do.” It was chosen to reflect the holistic relationship that Indigenous people have with plants, encompassing maintenance of the land, values, beliefs, practices and protocol in relation to the natural world.

“This relationship we have with each other and the natural environment is rooted in being respectful and thankful,” says Anthony Isaac, Aboriginal Services Coordinator at Okanagan College. “We make offerings before we harvest, saying our thanks to the plants or animals for giving their lives for us and never taking too much.”

Education and awareness are key goals of the project.

Located just north of the Centre for Learning building, the 6,000 sq. ft. garden will provide an experiential educational opportunity for Okanagan College students and staff, and the broader community. Visitors can learn more about how plants were and continue to be used for things such as food, medicine, art, ceremonies, baskets and clothing. The project may serve as a model for similar campus and community gardens around the world.

“The garden will be a welcoming and inclusive space that strengthens the Indigenous presence on campus,” explains Isaac.

Collaboration and sustainability are also at the heart of the project.

“The na’ʔk’ʷulamən garden emphasizes several of the College’s key directions,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “From working with and learning from the Indigenous community to serving and engaging the community to advancing sustainability, we see this as an opportunity to celebrate the rich history and knowledge of Syilx people, and a way to demonstrate the value that Okanagan College places on Indigenous knowledge.”

The College has partnered with the Westbank First Nation, Growing Inspired Garden Education and Design and the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club to establish the garden. The project received a grant from the City of Kelowna’s Canada 150 fund, which supports a variety of community projects to help celebrate the area’s natural and cultural history.

To ensure that Indigenous history and culture is depicted accurately, the College is working closely with local elders, historians and members of surrounding first nations communities.

Jordan Coble, Cultural and Operations Administrator for the Sncəwips Heritage Museum is one of those advisors.

“As Syilx/Okanagan people we have always had a very deep connection with the land and all its resources,” explains Coble. “Our health, ways of being and our beauty has always been based on ensuring our relationship with the land is based on reciprocity.

“It is our responsibility to care for the land and in this way we establish deep relationships where we learn to understand the connections that bind us together. As Okanagan people we strive to ensure our land and resources remain healthy for our future generations.”

Space for the garden was cleared last fall and planting will commence as soon as weather permits. The garden is slated to open in July.


Red Dot Players bring Sense and Sensibility to OC

Jane Austen is coming to Okanagan College in March, via the College’s very own theatre troupe – the Red Dot Players – who are staging a popular new adaption of one of the author’s best known works.sense and sensibility

Featuring a cast of veteran players and newcomers, and under the direction of OC English Professor Jeremy Beaulne, the curtain will rise on Sense and Sensibility for a four-night run from March 9-12 in the Lecture Theatre at the Kelowna campus.

The play follows the Dashwood Sisters, Elinor (played by Amy Williams) and Marianne (played by Zoë Sommerfeld), as they navigate travails of the head and the heart in Victorian era England.

Audience members can expect a fun and fast-paced look at Austen’s classic 1811 novel, thanks to a spirited new script by playwright Kate Hamill which has already been produced to acclaim on some of the world’s leading stages since it was published in early 2016.

“This adaptation really amplifies the humour of Austen’s novel while preserving the complex relationships and social spheres within,” says Beaulne. “It lends an almost Monty Python-esque element of comedy to the story in places, while still conveying the serious struggles of two young women searching for autonomy and independence.”

The production marks Beaulne’s sixth time in the director’s chair for the Red Dot Players. He is also no stranger to the source material.

“I love Jane Austen and have taught her works in a number of courses,” explains Beaulne. “Whether you are familiar with Sense and Sensibility or completely new to the novel, I think there is something for everyone in this adaptation.”

According to the director, one of the factors that makes the play a challenge to stage is one of the reasons it continues to excite audiences.

“There are more scene changes in this play – upwards of 20 – than any other I’ve ever directed,” says Beaulne. “It’s a whirlwind from start to finish. The cast and crew have worked incredibly hard and are ready to share that wonderful energy with audiences.”

Ticketholders will be treated to sweeping hand painted vistas by local artist and OC employee Marie Bartlett. A series of immense canvases set the stage for the action and are intended to transport the audience to the English countryside. Actors will be outfitted in beautiful period costumes sewn by Christine Caumartin and OC employee Karen Tessier.

The Red Dot Players troupe was formed in 2010 and have produced six plays leading up to Sense and Sensibility: The Beaux' Stratagem (2011), Blithe Spirit (2012), Les Belles-Soeurs (2013), The Government Inspector (2014), The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon (2015), and A.K.A. Fangirl (2016). The troupe provides students and employees with an opportunity to contribute to the Okanagan’s bustling creative arts scene.

Tickets are available at Mosaic Books, the Okanagan College campus store and will also be available at the door ($18 for adults and $15 for students/seniors). Learn more on the Red Dot Players website

New book explores motivating a diverse workforce

ian macrae news
Are Millennials lazy, entitled narcissists who crave recognition, demand attention and refuse to be managed? Is this generation different from any other?

That question and others will be on the agenda as Ian MacRae discusses his new book, Motivation and Performance: A Guide to Motivating a Diverse Workforce, co-authored with Adrian Furnham, at Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex Atrium on Wednesday, March 1 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

MacRae will address whether there is any research to support the myths and stereotypes about millennials. 

“It would be wildly inappropriate to have similar guides for other stereotypes, such as Leadership for Lithuanians, Business Strategies for Blondes or HR for Homosexuals” he says. “Myths about generational differences are an easy target, mostly because the scientific evidence lends little support to theories of generational differences.” 

For MacRae, it isn’t age that explains why two equally qualified, knowledgeable and capable employees in the same position might behave in very different ways ­– it is their motivation.

Motivation and Performance delves into the science behind motivation and provides a practical guide for organizations to find and develop and individual's potential based on an understanding of what drives their behaviour.

Roberta Sawatzky, Okanagan College School of Business professor, utilizes MacRae’s case studies in her courses and sees the value his new publication will have for students and industry professionals.

“Motivation and Performance is an excellent balance between theory and practice,” says Sawatzky. “The suggestions in the book reinforce the principles we teach in our leadership, organizational behavior and HR management courses at the College, and any business professional would benefit from the very practical examples and step-by-step processes provided throughout.”
The book launch is being sponsored by the Okanagan College Alumni Association and Sage Transitions. To attend and for your chance to win one of three copies of Motivation and Performance, register for the presentation at

An evening with three Canadian authors
Okanagan College Media Release

Nationally acclaimed poet Judith Pond from Calgary will join two emerging homegrown talents for an evening of readings at Okanagan College on Thursday.Judith Pond Feb 2017

One Night: Three Writers will see Pond assembled with current Okanagan College student Pip Dryden, winner of this year’s OC 3-Hr Short Story Contest. Rounding out the trio of speakers will be author Cole Mash, an Okanagan College alumnus and current graduate student at UBC Okanagan. The event starts at 7 p.m. in Room B112 at the Kelowna campus.

Pond’s fiction and poetry have been featured on CBC Radio and a variety of Canadian literary magazines and journals, including The Fiddlehead, Grain, Prairie Fire and Prism. She has published fiction and four collections of poetry: An Early Day, Dance of Death, Lovers and Other Monsters, and A Shape of Breath.

She holds a Master’s degree in German Literature from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and an MFA in creative writing from UBC. She teaches in Calgary and is currently working on a novel.

“Judith Pond is one of our country’s most underrated poets,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, an English Professor at Okanagan College and one of the event’s organizers. “She describes the quotidian – the everyday – in ways that enlarge our understanding of what it is to be human. And I am equally excited to hear from the two student writers who are both incredibly gifted.

“All three writers offer up in their work a brutally honest investigation of the human experience. These readings will have you asking questions long after the evening is over.”

Dryden’s story “This Time” was chosen as the overall winner for the 2016 3-Hr Short Story Contest out of 22 stories submitted across the College’s four campuses.

Mash is the recipient of a UBC Undergraduate Student Research Award and is currently at work on a biographical study, The Poetics of Teaching.

The event is free and open to the public. 


UBC professor advocates the benefit of exercise for healthy aging
Okanagan College Media Release

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a local researcher says the best medicine for good health is making exercise a daily habit.

Dr. Gareth Jones Feb 2017Regardless of disease and disability, Dr. Gareth Jones says a daily dose of exercise at any age has a remarkable benefit on cognitive and physical abilities and overall health.

According to Jones, a professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Development at UBC Okanagan, these benefits may be especially important for our senior populations.

As part of Okanagan College’s Science in Society Speaker Series, Jones will reveal the latest research from his lab on Parkinson’s disease, frailty and exercise to enhance and preserve physical function. His public talk, entitled “Is Exercise the Medicine for Successful Aging?” takes place on Thursday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre.

Since 2008, under Jones’ guidance, the Healthy Exercise and Aging Laboratory (HEAL) group at UBC Okanagan has advanced the fields of exercise, prehabilitative and rehabilitative sciences toward understanding the subtle differences observed between men and women as they transition through the aging process.

“Much of the age- and sex-associated differences observed between older adults can be associated with the aging and disuse of muscle and other mechanical tissues,” says Jones. “Therefore, exercise that strengthens muscle will restore and maintain physical function, regardless of age or sex.”

Jones has received national and international recognition as a leader in the field of exercise and aging, with a specific interest in understanding the impact of frailty on physical function. He has been published in more than 50 scientific journals, presented at 60 conferences around the world and has received national awards for his work in exercise physiology.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.


OC students get hands-on experience in community for in-demand trades
Okanagan College Media Release

With a 44 per cent increase in new housing starts in the Shuswap over the last year, an Okanagan College program is training Salmon Arm students to meet the expected labour demand.Magdalena Kerner Feb 2017

The Shuswap is expected to see continued growth in the residential construction industry and WorkBC projects the province will have over 10,000 job openings for carpenters in the next decade.

The 26-week Residential Construction program is offered at the Salmon Arm campus and includes hand skills, safety training and trades math, and is ideal for those who enjoy physical activity, using tools and working both indoors and outdoors. Graduates of the program can go on to pursue careers as apprentice carpenters.

“It’s a great program for someone who wants to take the first step to change their career path, develop new skills, or to learn the techniques that will enable them to do their own home renovations,” says Rob Barton, Residential Construction instructor at Okanagan College. “Upon completion, students will walk out of the classroom with the theoretical foundation and practical experience that makes them ready for the workforce.”

Students will also complete a 14-week community-based construction project that gives them hands-on industry experience. Graduates are recognized for Level 1 carpentry technical training and credited with 450 work-based-hours towards the completion of Carpenter Level 1 Apprenticeship.

This year, the Salmon Arm cohort will construct a covered stage open-air amphitheatre at Gardom Lake Bible Camp that will provide valuable experience in concrete prepping, forming and placing.

This will be the second year the Salmon Arm students will complete work experience projects at the camp, and both parties feel the partnership has been mutually beneficial.  

“We were really pleased with the professionalism the students brought to the site last year,” explains Rick Kieft, Executive Director of the Gardom Lake Bible Camp. “As a camp and retreat, we believe in developing the next generation. Whenever there is the opportunity for youth to gain work experience, education, or learn a trade, we want to support it.”

For student Magdalena Kerner, the work site experience was one of the highlights of the College’s Residential Construction program. When she enrolled in the program at the Vernon campus in 2015 as part of the Women in Trades Training, she was looking for a career change.

“I knew I wanted to be hands-on in a job that was mentally stimulating and involved design and planning,” she explains. “When I started the course, I knew very little about carpentry. The skills I developed while helping build the Lake Country Food Bank were unique to being on a construction site and couldn’t have been taught in a classroom.”

Kerner didn’t have to wait to complete the foundation program to find employment and be paid for those skills. While in her final week of the course, she was hired by Greyback Construction where she worked on projects in the Kootenays and Okanagan.

She is now taking the Level 3 apprenticeship at the College’s Kelowna campus and works for Bercum Builders in Vernon on high-end custom homes.

“The foundation program offers a newcomer to the industry a great combination of safety practices, building science theory, essential hands-on skills, first aid training and 450 work-based hours – all which give one a great head start,” she adds.

Okanagan College is currently accepting applications for the next intake of the 26-week program which begins Feb. 20 at the Salmon Arm and Penticton campuses.

To learn more and apply online visit


College marketing team earns silver in Montreal case competition
Okanagan College Media Release

A trio of third-year marketing students from Okanagan College’s School of Business are back on B.C. soil after placing second at the 12
th annual BDC Marketing Case Competition hosted by Vanier College in Montreal last weekend.

The team from Okanagan College was among 34 competing post-secondary institutions from across the country. The College finished just behind the team from College Edouard Montpetit in Quebec and ahead of the third-place team from Ontario’s George Brown College in Toronto.OC BDC Feb 2017

OC’s team members included Jacob Kuypers, Talasa Larder and Lathan McKinney. They were coached by faculty members Blair Baldwin and Stacey Fenwick.

“I am so proud of our results,” said McKinney. “Just to be able to represent our school at this huge competition was an honour and then the results were incredible. We went into the competition focused on coming up with creative solutions to the cases and we wanted to give our best effort, whatever the results were. To finish as the top English-speaking team was a significant accomplishment.”

The competition consists of two rounds. In the preliminary round all 34 teams are presented with the same case. The teams go into solitary lockdown with no access to the Internet or research resources. They prepare a full strategic analysis and identify key issues and then develop three mutually exclusive marketing strategies, choose one and develop a fully integrated marketing and sales plan including a budget and forecast ROI.

After they prepare their solutions, they present their analysis and recommendations without notes in not less than 18 and not more than 20 minutes to a panel of four judges and then face five minutes of questions.

The top six teams advance to the final round where they are presented with a new case. In the 2017 competition the final case was based on a Vancouver Tourism company that was seeking ways to remain competitive in a saturated market and in the face of new competition from Airbnb and others.

The team from OC pitched the judges on a compelling adventure tourism challenge for the Vancouver company, which would give tourists an opportunity to experience the city in a unique way, giving the company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The 2017 competition marks the second year in a row that a team from Okanagan College has made it to the final round.

"The effort put in by the students to prepare for the case competition was inspiring,” says Blair Baldwin, co-coach of the team. “The results show how applied learning continues to differentiate our students at the national level.”


Okanagan College students tackle food security with Refreshing idea
Okanagan College Media Release

Inventathon team 2017Three Okanagan College business students battled their way to first place at UBC Okanagan’s inaugural Inventathon last weekend and took home $600 in prize money for their innovative and socially conscious business idea, Refresh.

Cameron Starcheski, Cooper Simpson and Darren Gillespie, all members of Okanagan College’s Enactus team, were joined by Jaren Larsen and Pablo Doskoch from UBC Okanagan and given 24 hours to create a business idea that would provide solutions to one of four major social issues: financial literacy, youth empowerment, eco green, or food security.

The team spent four hours brainstorming before coming up with the idea for Refresh—a social enterprise that helps reconcile the issues of food waste and food scarcity in the Okanagan.

“We know based on secondary research that each year in Canada more than $31 billion dollars worth of food ends up in the garbage or compost,” explained Starcheski, Vice President of Enactus Okanagan College. “When you consider that more than 850,000 people rely on the food bank for meals it seems like a fairly obvious supply and demand issue.”

Starcheski and his team knew others have tried to make an impact in the area of repurposing healthy food for people in need but there is yet to be a sustainable model that works and provides a revenue source. The problems, according to Starcheski, lie in the food safety, storage and redistribution.

“We came up with a concept for a mobile refrigerated truck that could access grocery stores, cafeterias and even restaurants to pick up high quality food that was slated for waste and operate as a mobile food vendor,” he says.

“With Refresh there’s no need for overnight storage or repackaging because the truck is refrigerated and is able to provide a direct connection between the source and the end user. That simplifies a huge part of the process and allows for easy and safe redistribution.”

After a grueling 24 hours of planning, the team took their idea and pitched it to a group of 15 business professionals and was awarded first place in the Inventathon competition.

“I’m really happy with the results from Inventathon,” says Starcheski. “I think it’s a good idea and we will be moving forward to further develop the idea and engage in some primary research at Enactus Okanagan College.”


Nominations open for 2017 OCAA Alumni Awards
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award.Comba and Stewart

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni of Okanagan College and Okanagan University College for their demonstration of excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College. The Young Alumni Award celebrates the outstanding contributions of an alumna or alumnus who is under the age of 35.

"It’s always a highlight to read through the nomination forms and learn about the impact that our alumni have on others,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the OCAA Board of Directors. “Okanagan College and OUC alumni are making a real difference in their industries and communities.”

All members of the Okanagan College Alumni Association are eligible to be nominated for the Distinguished Alumni or Young Alumni awards. Nominees must have completed a certificate, diploma, degree, apprenticeship program or have completed a minimum of 30 academic credits at Okanagan College or OUC.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 10. Nominations may be made by completing an online form available at:

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award will be selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and presented at the association’s annual general meeting in September.

Heather Stewart, General Studies (1979) was the recipient of last year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Sarah Comba, Business Administration Diploma (2007), was honoured with the 2016 Young Alumni Award. Profiles of previous years’ recipients can be found at


OC’s Abbey Jones wins BC Social Innovation Youth Award
Okanagan College Media Release 

jones abbeyAn Okanagan College business student is among 12 youth in the province who were recognized on Wednesday with an inaugural BC Social Innovation Youth Award, valued at $1,000.

Abbey Jones received the award from the Honourable Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, at the BC Summit on Social Innovation in Vancouver on Feb. 8.

Jones is in the third year of the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration program in Kelowna and is the co-founder and project manager of CANsave—a financial education program designed to teach primary school students the importance of saving and financial planning.

The project, which is operated through Okanagan College’s Enactus team, was initiated in 2016 after Jones and her peers identified a lack of financial education in the current school curriculum. The CANsave program was launched in Kelowna and has grown quickly, spreading through schools across the country. CANsave is now being implemented in 80 communities throughout Canada and is impacting more than 6,000 students.

“Being at the forefront of developing and implementing CANsave has added an incredible amount of value to my experience at the Okanagan School of Business,” says Jones. “Learning through experience, trying new things and making connections in the business and non-profit communities along the way are some of the incredible experiences I am so thankful for.” 


The BC Social Innovation Youth Awards recognize 12 extraordinary individuals in the province under the age of 30 who are creating positive social change within their communities.

At just 21-years-old Jones is among the youngest of the recipients and according to her professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah, is more than deserving.

“Abbey is a great example of the very best of the students I have the privilege of working with at Okanagan College and it was an honour to be with her in Vancouver to watch her accept this award,” says Myrah. “While she is outstanding in the classroom, where Abbey really shines is her community engagement. As part of Enactus Okanagan College, Abbey and her peers take their knowledge and enthusiasm and put their skills into projects that have a real impact on people in our community. The growth and success of CANsave is evidence of the strength of her ideas and her leadership skills. We are extremely proud to work with her at the College.”

It’s the End of the World As We Know It – playing at the Salmar

A recurring and increasingly prevalent theme in film is “the end of the world as we know it,” and Okanagan College’s Dr. Tim Walters has built a season of “Classics at the Classic” that feature nine dystopian and apocalyptic flicks.

The next film in the series air on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. at the Salmar Classic Theatre. Walters, who teaches film at the College, organizes the series for students in his second-year university transfer course – Studies in Reading Film – but it is open to the general public as well. General admission is $5.

Despite the seemingly dark subject matter, Walters says that he was attracted to the theme precisely because of the growing range of movies that explore this terrain. 

“The desire to show audiences the end of the world, or a world gone bad, is almost as old as film itself, but one that has become increasingly prevalent in mainstream culture in the past few decades, and is now a recurring context for not just sci-fi or horror films, but comedies, Christian and secular thrillers, and blockbuster young adult film series like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner.”

Walters ranks this season’s line-up of films as the best yet. “Focusing on this genre allows us to see how the idea of a dystopian world has changed over time and between cultures, which can help us understand our current anxieties. It is also a theme that allow us to enjoy a surprisingly broad range of films—action and zombie movies, historical epics, psychological dramas, etc.—from some of the greatest directors in film history.”

“When planning these series, I’m mindful of the fact that Salmon Arm has an unusually sophisticated film-going public, and I think local audiences are going to really appreciate these films, almost none of which has ever been screened in town before.”

The program began with a dystopian double bill of Fritz Lang’s visionary masterpiece “Metropolis” (1927), followed by Bong Joon Ho’s revolutionary sci-fi action thriller “Snowpiercer” (2013) at 7:30 p.m. The final film of the series will be voted on by students taking the course and announced in mid-March.

Full line-up:

Jan. 30 – 5 p.m. Metropolis (1927) 7:30 p.m. Snowpiercer (2013)
Feb. 6 – 5 p.m. Children of Men (2006)
Feb. 27 – 7 p.m. Melancholia (2011)
March 6 – 5 p.m.  Blade Runner (1982)
March 13 – 5 p.m. 28 Days Later (2002)
March 20 – 5 p.m. The New World (2005)
March 27 – 7 p.m. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
April 3 – 5 p.m. To be announced. The choice of film will be voted on by the class.



New courses explore resistance and revolution


From millions of women marching globally out of concern for their human rights, to protests over pipelines, to rebels in Syria, there seems to be increasing expressions of discontent dotting our global political landscape.amy cohen

Some may be full-on revolt. Others may be civil disobedience or demonstrations of democratic rights and freedom of speech.

It is clear that the issue of resistance, its causes and manifestations, warrants consideration - and it’s at the heart of a timely new offering from Okanagan College at its Salmon Arm campus.

Resistance and Revolution is a program emphasis within the College’s two-year Associate of Arts degree (transferable to B.C. universities) that will give students an in-depth opportunity to study the many ways that people around the world have fought and continue to fight social, political, colonial and economic orders.

The program draws on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, communications, economics, English, geography, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and gender studies.

“It is vital to understand what leads people to dramatic efforts to foment change, and to appreciate how the drive for social justice and empowerment is harnessed,” notes Joan Ragsdale, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the Shuswap-Revelstoke region. “There’s a growing interest in our area, throughout the province and around the world in social justice studies. We are fortunate to have some very good faculty at our campus with an interest in this.”

Amy Cohen is among those professors.

“Whether it is the expression of solidarity we saw at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access pipeline or the ways dissatisfaction with politics and politicians are manifested in the U.S., we’re seeing that resistance is playing an ever-important role in the public agenda,” says Cohen. “The protests following Trump’s inauguration are just further evidence of the trend.”

The program emphasis will be of interest to students who want to better understand the history of resistance and revolution, the strategies involved, their effectiveness and how they are expressed in today’s political and economic environment, she explains.

“The program will also sharpen students’ critical thinking and analytical skills, something that will serve them well in further studies or in career development,” adds Ragsdale.

Courses in Resistance and Revolution will be offered beginning September 2017 at the campus. For more information, you can visit



College’s green buildings earn gold

Okanagan College Media Release 

Trades Complex Exterior NightGreen technology took top nods at the 25th Tommie awards, with two Okanagan College projects recognized for their environmental innovation.

One of the most advanced and sustainable trades training facilities in the world, the College’s new Trades Complex at the Kelowna campus landed top spot for Best Environmental Initiative at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Okanagan Chapter Awards Gala on Jan. 28.

The three-year, $35-million project was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with David Nairne + Associates and constructed by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. with the goal to be certified LEED Platinum and achieve net zero energy usage.

The ambitious project involved a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion that included building a new three-story learning space and state-of-the-art workshops as well as retrofitting and environmentally upgrading existing facilities. 

Every effort was made in the Complex’s design to integrate renewable energy sources. The heating system utilizes waste heat from the treated effluent of the neighbouring wastewater treatment plant and the facility boasts the second largest photovoltaic solar array on a non-utility institutional building in western Canada, generating enough energy to power more than 25 homes per year (the College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton is currently the largest solar array.)

The Trades Complex also incorporates smart technologies to minimize its carbon footprint. The automated windows of the “breathing” atrium regulate heating and cooling based on temperature and sun position. Trades shops were outfitted with on-demand ventilation to significantly reduce energy waste during hands-on training.

The Complex, which officially opened in September 2016, has the capacity to train 2,700 students a year for in-demand skills.

The Trades Complex is the College’s first campus building to win a Tommie and is one of two sustainability-focused projects the College was involved with that were honoured at this year’s ceremony.

The Wilden Living Lab, a collaborative project between the College and four community partners, also received a gold, winning the FortisBC Award for Building Energy Efficiency.

Built with assistance from 17 of the College’s Residential Construction students, the Living Lab is a real-world study on sustainable homebuilding – the only of its kind in North America.

Comprised of two identical homes with different energy-efficient technologies that will be monitored and compared over a three-year period, the Lab’s Home of Tomorrow incorporates renewable energy sources, including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels and a heat pump water heater.

“To be recognized in our community for two leading-edge environmental initiatives is very affirming,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We pride ourselves on having set and achieved high standards for sustainability. The Trades Complex and Living Lab demonstrate how we continue to achieve that standard.”

The Living Lab homes mark the 49th and 50th projects of the College’s Home for Learning program.

Okanagan College has previously won three Tommie awards for Home for Learning projects. 



OC Board raises domestic tuition two per cent
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will be increasing its tuition for domestic students by two per cent in the coming year. International student tuition will increase by five per cent.

The decision was reached by the College’s Board of Governors on Tuesday, and follows policy set by the provincial government which limits fee increases to that amount.

For a university transfer arts student taking a full load of lecture courses, the increase will amount to approximately $65.28 per year, rising to $3,342.54.

For a student taking a six-month (24-week) electrical foundation program, tuition would increase by $51.73 to $2,638.29.

A year’s arts tuition for an international student will increase to $12,978 from $12,360.


Denesiuk, Derickson re-elected as OC Board Chair, Vice Chair
Okanagan College Media Release

Connie Denesiuk Jan 2017Connie Denesiuk has been re-elected as the chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. Chris Derickson has also been re-elected to the position of Vice Chair.

Christopher Derickson Sept 2014Denesiuk has served on the College Board since 2012, and has an extensive background in serving the province's K-12 system as a school district board chair, as a trustee and as president of the B.C. School Trustees Association. She was also a director of the Canada School Board Association.

"It's a real honour to be entrusted by my colleagues with the responsibilities of this position and to serve a great institution in this role," says Denesiuk. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Leadership degree at Royal Roads University.

Derickson's tenure with the College Board of Governors began in 2014. He is a councillor with the Westbank First Nation. He holds a degree in law from UBC, and is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration in Aboriginal and Business Leadership at Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business. 

The terms for the two positions run until Jan. 31, 2018.


Okanagan College 10th Annual Business Expo & Employment Fair brings career opportunities
Okanagan College Media Release

OC Business ExpoThe Okanagan College School of Business and OC
Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre is presenting the 10th Annual Business Expo and Employment Fair at Okanagan College on Wednesday, Feb. 1, featuring more than 50 businesses from the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

Many of the participating firms will be hiring.

The Business Expo & Employment Fair will be held at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College in the atrium of the Centre of Learning building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event gives students and community members the opportunity to speak to and network with employers regarding career opportunities.

There are a number of regional and national companies who are looking for staff throughout Canada, as well as an array of employers looking for Okanagan-based employees.

CIBC, City of Kelowna, FortisBC, Investors Group, Metro Vancouver, PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., and TNG/Oakridge Accounting are just a few of the participating employers.

“This event provides an excellent opportunity for anyone considering a new career or employment in the Okanagan,” notes Dr. Barry McGillivray, Okanagan College’s Associate Dean of Business. “By bringing industry experts together with those seeking jobs and careers we are able to offer a direct line of communication and networking for job seekers. It’s especially valuable for our students.”

A full list of exhibitors and further information is available at 


OC Business students triumph at international business competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Students from Okanagan College’s School of Business once again showed they are among the best in the country, notching three podium finishes – including a first-place and two runner-up finishes – at Canada’s oldest and most prestigious case competition.OC Team at Queen's 2017

For fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student Madison Blancher, the path to competing at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) at Queen’s University became clear when she and her teammate Adrianna Knuth advanced through a challenging preliminary round in November. The pair didn’t rest on their laurels after becoming finalists, however, and in the weeks that followed they spent countless hours preparing for the competition, with one goal in mind: winning.

Their preparation paid off. The duo from Okanagan College, coached by Dr. Robert Groves and Roger Wheeler of the OC School of Business, took first place in the Human Resources category, besting finalists from Simon Fraser University, Concordia University, McGill University, Saint Mary’s University and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“We were definitely nervous going up against the best business students in the country and internationally,” says Blancher. “But the level of support we received from our coaches was incredible. We couldn’t have done it without their knowledge and expertise.”

“We were ecstatic when the results came in,” adds Knuth. “The best part about studying business at OC is that you have real-world opportunities like this to push yourself beyond your comfort zone – it’s the best way to learn.”

Blancher and Knuth weren’t the only ones celebrating as Okanagan College recorded one of its best ever showings in the competition. The Accounting team comprised of BBA students Kyla Bernardo and Kirsten Pitzoff placed second (coached by Adrian Fontenla and Randy Newton), as did the Management of Information Systems (MIS) duo of Jared Hubner and Anthony Peterson (coached by Dr. Glen Coulthard). The Debate team (coached by David Cram and Devin Rubadeau) also put in a strong effort, although they failed to crack the top three.

“All of us at the School of Business are extremely proud of our students who competed and the professors who volunteered as coaches,” says Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “These amazing results speak to the effort, dedication and commitment of both the students and professors. They all represented Okanagan College and themselves with professionalism and poise on a competitive, international stage.”

The Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) is Canada’s oldest and longest-running undergraduate business case competition, featuring eight different categories in which students can compete, including Accounting, Business Policy, Ethics, Debating, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and Management of Information Systems. Held annually in Kingston, the event hosts more than 100 competitors from leading business schools across Canada and around the world.

“I came away from the competition with so much more confidence in myself and my abilities,” says Blancher. “I know that will carry forward into future competitions and my career.”

Blancher and Knuth are back in class this week, but both are already focused on their next challenges.

The pair has been invited to participate in HRC West, Western Canada’s top HR Case Competition, in Vancouver in early March. Both students will graduate this year, Blancher with a BBA with a specialty in Human Resources and Knuth with a BBA Honours degree, specializing in Human Resources (which she is on track to complete in just three years).

Even before graduation, Blancher’s career in HR has already taken off. She currently works full-time as a Junior Human Resources Advisor at KF Aerospace, while finishing her last four classes this semester at Okanagan College.

More information about the competition is available at


OC Vernon students shine with second-place finish in international business competition
Okanagan College Media Release

ICBC Jan 2016 Hubner, PetersonTwo Okanagan College students from Vernon have returned from one of Canada’s most prestigious international business competitions knowing that they are among the best in the country.

Jared Hubner, a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student at the College’s Vernon campus joined forces with Anthony Peterson, a fourth-year BBA student, to compete in the finals of the Management of Information Systems (MIS) category at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) held at Queen’s University in Kingston. They placed second in the competition.

The duo from Okanagan College competed against finalists from the University of Vermont, Laurentian University, Sheridan College, Wilfred Laurier University and the University of Calgary. Teams were given five and a half hours to review and present recommendations on a case that involved a hypothetical university looking to sell and distribute online learning materials, prevent content piracy, and provide secure e‑commerce transactions. Vermont won the competition. The six competing finalists were chosen from a larger group of competitors based on a preliminary round completed in November.

The OC team tackled the problem by suggesting a new Business-to-Business (B2B) subscription-based service model that could have real-world benefit.

“Our solution was equal parts preparation and in-the-moment inspiration,” explains Hubner. “We came up with an out-of-the-box answer, and I think we had the confidence to do that based on the experience we’ve gained in the classroom.”

“We have tremendous support from our coaches,” says Peterson. “We came into the event feeling prepared thanks to them, and that was a huge factor in our success.”

Hubner says the fact that they faced strong competition in the category added to the pressure and the feeling of accomplishment when results were announced.

“It was an amazing feeling. It was very hard to process and contain the level of excitement and the feeling of accomplishment afterward.”

Among those cheering when the results were announced was the MIS team’s coach Glen Coulthard, a professor with Okanagan College’s School of Business.

“Competitions like this give our students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and passion in real-world situations, and to prove to both themselves and others that they are among the top business students in the country,” explains Coulthard. “We are extremely proud of Anthony and Jared, not to mention the other three OC teams who performed so well at Queen’s.”

Okanagan College had one of its best ever showings at the competition. In addition to the second place finish for the MIS team, the College celebrated a first place finish by the Human Resources team (a first for an HR team from OC), a second-place finish for the Accounting team, and a strong effort by the debate team, although they failed to crack the top three.

The Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) is Canada’s oldest and longest-running undergraduate business case competition, featuring eight different competitive events in which students can compete, including Accounting, Business Policy, Ethics, Debating, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and Management of Information Systems.

Held annually in Kingston, the event hosts more than 100 competitors from leading business schools across Canada and around the world.

“It feels incredible to know that we competed and represented OC so well and at such a high international level,” explains Peterson. “I came away very inspired. It was an experience that will serve me well throughout the rest of my studies and my career.”

More information about the competition is available at


Strength in the shadows of Scottish history: book celebrates Jean Armour, Robbie Burns’ wife
Okanagan College Media Release

The day the world celebrates famed Scottish poet Robbie Burns this year (Jan. 25), Melanie Murray is hoping the world will take note of another key player in the saga of Burns’ life: Jean Armour, the poets’ wife.Melanie Murray Jan 2017

“I’m sure that without Jean, we wouldn’t have the body of work from Burns hat we have today,” says Murray, an English professor at Okanagan College. Her book
Should Auld Acquaintance: Discovering the Woman Behind Robert Burns, will be released by publisher Nightwood Editions on Jan. 25. “Everyone who knows Burns, knows Bonie Jean, but that doesn’t tell the story.”

Murray’s focus on Armour dates back five years, when she was in Scotland researching her first book, For Your Tomorrow, the Way of An Unlikely Soldier. That’s the story of her Scottish nephew Jeff Francis who served – and died – in the armed forces in Afghanistan. Being a fan of Burns, and with some time on her hands, she went to Mauchline, where Burns and Armour met, and visited the graveyard where their four daughters were buried.

“Knowing the grief my sister felt over her son’s death, I found myself thinking about the grief that Jean must have felt losing her four daughters. I couldn’t stop thinking about her.”

Five years of research, tracing the steps of Armour and Burns, visiting the towns and homes where they lived, resulted in the book – and Murray’s intense respect for Armour. Burns died at age 36. Armour was 31 with six children to raise. She lived another 35 years. “She was giving birth to her last child as he was being buried,” Murray notes. “She was a strong, passionate, resilient woman.”

“I wanted to give her a voice,” says Murray. “I want people to think about her story.”

Murray’s book is not a traditional biography: “It’s creative non-fiction. After going to these places, I wanted to take the facts and bring them to life, so I introduced myself into the story as a narrator. I really feel close to her and I feel I really know her. Hence the title…”

“Melanie Murray has achieved a startling intimacy in Should Auld Acquaintance,” notes Frances Greenslade, another OC English professor and author of Shelter. “She comes across less as an author and more as an affectionate friend, a patient listener to the ghost of Jean Armour telling her own story. I felt like an eavesdropper, listening in on the deliciously private conversation between two women born centuries apart, but who both knew what it was to yearn for something beyond the conventions their eras demanded of them.”

The book is available through,, Barnes and Noble, Chapters-Indigo and Harbour Publishing.

“The book provides the millions of Burns acolytes around the world with a new perspective on the wife of the famous poet and on the poet, himself,” says Murray.

“It brings focus to someone who deserves attention in her own right.”

A launch for Murray’s new book will take place Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at Infusions Restaurant on the Kelowna campus.


Sweet success for College with chocolate launch
Okanagan College Media Release

Chocolate Launch Jan 2017Okanagan College hosted an especially sweet reception on Monday and became the first post-secondary institution outside of Europe to create its very own chocolate recipes, under the name Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate.

At a tasting event on campus, the College introduced Okanagan Noir, a 69.8 per cent smooth dark chocolate with intense cocoa flavor and a fruity finish. It also unveiled a signature milk chocolate, Kalamalka Karamel—a solid milk chocolate with a high cocoa content (45.1 per cent) with sweet notes of caramel and a smooth honey finish. Both the chocolates were showcased in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes at the launch event.  

The exclusive milk and dark chocolate recipes were created by Chef Danny Capadouca and Chef Bernard Casavant in the summer of 2016 when the pair traveled to France to the Or Noir
TMII tasting laboratories of Cacao Barry, a chocolate company founded in 1842. Capadouca is the head instructor for the College’s Pastry Arts program and is well known in the industry for his expertise in chocolate and pastry. Casavant is a renowned chef and Okanagan College’s culinary manager.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to see this project come together, says Capadouca. “Having our own unique recipes will add a huge amount of value to the Pastry Arts program and will benefit our students. The support we’ve received from Cacao Barry and the team there has been unreal. I’m very proud of our products and would put them up against any good quality chocolate in the marketplace.”

Capadouca and Casavant spent nearly a week in France creating the custom blend of cocoa masses that are the heart of the chocolate recipes. The darker Okanagan Noir features a blend of beans from Tanzania, Cuba and Mexico.

“Chefs Capadouca and Casavant did an incredible job on these two recipes,” says Mark Pennington, Regional Sales Manager Western Canada for Cacao Barry. “I was very impressed by their process and of course by the end result. Okanagan College is breaking gastronomic ground in North America as the first institution of its kind to have its very own recipes.

“It’s a very rare achievement—the College is only the second culinary college in the world to have made their own chocolate.”

The chocolate will be used by students in the Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs at Okanagan College. Initially, it will also be available for purchase in the College’s cafeteria on Fridays at the Kelowna campus.

“I take a lot of personal pride in the contributions our students and instructors make in our communities and today’s launch of Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate is no exception,” says Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “The students’ expertise and the quality of the food they produce is outstanding. None of that would be possible without exceptional instruction and leadership, which is something our chefs bring to the classroom daily.”


College to host panel discussion on Collective Impact movement
Okanagan College Media Release

It is becoming more widely understood that collaboration is the key to creating value and accelerating change in communities. Gone are the days when organizations worked in silos to address complex social issues. This collective impact model offers a framework for achieving social change at a community level and an upcoming panel discussion hosted by Okanagan College will help unravel the complexities of collective impact.

The College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence will host the free panel discussion on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 2 – 5 p.m. in the atrium of Okanagan College.

Panelists, Kevin McCort from Vancouver Foundation, Laurence East of Metro Community, and Ellen Boelcke from Kelowna Community Resources will be sharing their experiences and informing attendees about collaborative initiatives in the community.

“The panel will provide an opportunity for engaged individuals in Kelowna to gather and discuss some key issues in our community and formulate ideas about how we would like to see change take place,” explains Dr. Sheilagh Seaton from Okanagan College’s School of Business. “Collective impact has becomes such a hot topic in the Okanagan and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring individuals together to share information and best practices.”

Okanagan College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence offers workshops and creates resources to assist non-profit organizations.

For more information about the event and for free tickets for the Collective Impact and Collaboration Panel please visit


Lecturer to uncover Mysteries of the Mind
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will host Dr. Tomas Veloz, an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, for an afternoon lecture series entitled Mysteries of the Mind: Quantum Perspectives in Cognitive Science for Learning Environments.Tomas Veloz Jan 2017

Veloz is the director of the Systemics department at the Instituto de Filosofia y Ciencias de la Complejidad, Santiago, Chile, and a post-doctoral researcher at the Free University of Brussels. His research focuses on the application of the mathematical formalism of quantum theory to generalize probabilistic theories of rationality and cognition.

“We are thrilled to be hosting Dr. Veloz at Okanagan College,” said Dr. Norah Bowman, College professor of English and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. “His recent work on quantum physics and cognition can teach those of us in teaching, literature, arts and the humanities new ways of thinking. It’s a creative and stimulating field.”

The lecture takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 12 -1 p.m. in the lecture theatre. The free event is presented by Okanagan College’s Institute for Learning and Teaching.


Business grad reaps rewards of well-rounded College experience
Okanagan College Media Release


Hannah Griffin Jan 2017When setting off to pursue a career change, business student Hannah Griffin was surprised by the opportunities that came knocking during College.

Griffin thought she would have to wait to finish a diploma before embarking on a new career path, but a series of opportunities to enhance her education presented themselves the minute she became an Okanagan College business student.  

Griffin will be one of 369 students who will receive credentials at the College’s first convocation ceremony of 2017 this Saturday and will graduate with a Post-Baccalaureate diploma in Accounting from the Okanagan College School of Business.

While still in the first semester of the business program, Griffin was offered a position as a financial administrator with local tech success Vineyard Networks and jumped at the chance.

“Working during my studies has taken me longer to complete my diploma, but it was a win-win,” she explains. “I took distance courses part-time and gained experience in private and public accounting while being able to support my daughter.”

Born and raised in West Kelowna, Griffin completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UBC Okanagan. While making a living as an artist, the economic recession hit and she sought out a more stable career. The reputation of the College’s School of Business enticed her to enrol in the two-year Post-Baccalaureate diploma program in 2011.

Following the sale of Vineyard Networks and subsequent relocation of the company’s accounting office in 2015, Griffin took the opportunity to accelerate her education by continuing at the College on a full-time basis.

“One of the highlights of the program was the accessibility of my professors,” she says. “I knew I could go to anyone in the department and they would happily take the time to help me and answer questions.”

With the encouragement of her professors, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and joined the School of Business’s debate team and Enactus Okanagan College, where she co-founded CANsave, a financial literacy program for elementary school students.  

Her involvement in the two groups brought about regional and national travel and industry networking opportunities. In January 2016, Griffin competed at the finals of the prestigious Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) at Queen’s University in Kingston and in May 2016 she flew to Toronto for the Enactus National Competition, where CANsave earned the title of Canada’s second-best Financial Literacy program.

When Griffin completed her studies in August, a connection from one of the College’s networking events led to a full-time position as an articling student at Crowe MacKay. She is concurrently pursuing her CPA designation.

On Saturday, Griffin’s three-year-old daughter Lucia will watch her don a cap and gown to receive her diploma.

“Balancing my education with providing the best life for Lucia has been a challenge, but also very rewarding.” says Griffin. “She will be able to look at me and see what a single mom is – a hardworking woman who can give back to others and be ambitious in chasing her dreams.”

Winter Convocation is the first of the College’s seven convocation ceremonies that take place this year. Students from all four campuses will cross the stage at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials. The College will confer 60 bachelor’s degrees, 17 associate degrees, 191 diplomas and 101 certificates.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 and will stream live on the College’s Facebook page. 

In 2016, Okanagan College graduated more than 2,100 students from its programs.

Watch the ceremony live on