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COF funds financial literacy program for elementary
Medical Office Assistant training helps launch graduate into a career she never planned for
Local student athlete gives back
Camp OC keeps kids learning all summer long at Okanagan College
Local builder proud to support future tradespeople
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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.”


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

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

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

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

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 or 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

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

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

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

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.

Good vibrations: College students launch new venture to change the way we think about sound
Okanagan College Media Release

When it comes to the places where we live, work, learn, and play, how they sound can be just as important as how they look in determining how we will feel about them.

Two Okanagan College students have launched an innovative new business to help the world sound a little better, one room at a time.Pfeifer and Mulloy_AEMP_May 2016

A common interest in recording technology led Alex Pfeifer and Josh Mulloy to the Audio Engineering & Music Production diploma program at Okanagan College from very different paths. Kelowna-born Pfeifer has a fascination with all things technical, while Mulloy, a musician who hails from Calgary, enrolled to better understand the intricacies of studio recording in the hope of amping up a career in the music industry.

The two young men quickly noticed their complementary skill sets came in handy in the studio and out in the field. While conducting an exercise in acoustic analysis (studying how the design and arrangement of a space affect the overall sound experience) a bold idea began to take shape.

“We instantly knew this was something we were passionate about, and brought two very different perspectives to,” says Mulloy. “We looked at each other and said: ‘How can we make a career out of this?’”

They set about founding their own company, first reaching out to the valley’s business owners for feedback.

“We pounded the pavement, knocked on doors, and had extensive conversations with local business leaders in audio and a ton of different other fields,” says Pfeifer. “During that time, and since then, there hasn’t been a single person in the community who hasn’t been supportive and offered advice or encouragement.”

Buoyed by the positive response to their idea, Mulloy and Pfeifer launched Perception Audio Inc. in February. Their website, is currently under construction.

“We specialize in acoustic treatments and analysis for commercial spaces, but that’s just scratching the surface of what we do,” explains Pfeifer, noting that live sound and studio recording is also among their areas of expertise.

“At the end of the day, we want to bring something new and truly unique to the audio scene in BC,” says Mulloy. “We want to change the way people think about sound during all stages and aspects of putting a space together. We spend our lives in these spaces and the way they sound hugely impacts our experience of them.”

One of those offering constant support and encouragement along the way has been instructor Corey Bell, a widely respected audio engineer and musician who, in addition to teaching at the College, remains extremely active in the audio production and recording industry.

“There are so many avenues you can pursue in audio,” says Bell. “Josh and Alex picked an avenue in starting their own business – doing what they love – and their drive to achieve that goal has been nothing short of phenomenal.”

Both students are quick to acknowledge Bell’s support as a factor in their successful startup, which already boasts several projects in development in the coming months.

“We wouldn’t have gotten to this place without Corey’s help,” says Mulloy. “This program has really brought a profound change to both our lives very quickly.”

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to do what we do, and appreciate the way people have supported us to this point,” says Pfeifer. “We love what we do and get to go to work each day not feeling like we’re going to work but going to do what we’re best at and enjoy doing.”

According to Pfeifer, the short-term goal is to continue to grow the business, while a long-term priority will be to support those following in their footsteps, whether it means mentoring students at the College or assisting other small business startup owners.

“When you build somebody else up, you build yourself up,” says Pfeifer. “That has been the ethic other business owners have instilled in us and we plan to carry that on in the way we conduct ourselves and our business.”

Pfeifer and Mulloy will join their fellow graduates at Okanagan College’s convocation ceremonies in June. While running their business, both entrepreneurs plan to return to the College to pursue additional business training, Pfeifer in project management and Mulloy in business administration.

More information about the Audio Engineering and Music Production program at Okanagan College is available at

Okanagan College business student off to Tanzania on prestigious international fellowship
Okanagan College Media Release

Karen Vandergaag May 2016An Okanagan College student’s academic excellence and passion for international development has earned her one of the most esteemed fellowships in the country.

Karen Vandergaag, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Honours student at the Kelowna campus, is one of only 12 young adults across Canada to be awarded an International Youth Fellowship by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC).

“My goal has always been to utilize my business degree to find work in international development,” says Vandergaag. “To know that I have launched a future in this field before I’ve even graduated feels incredible.”

While her fellow students are walking across the stage at convocation ceremonies next month, Vandergaag will be in Ottawa for a management seminar with other fellowship recipients departing for international projects.

Vandergaag will be headed to Tanzania in August, where she will spend eight months working with CARE, an international NGO dedicated to disaster relief and fighting global poverty. Her work will revolve around research and project coordination with the organization’s Microfinance and Microenterprise arms.

Prior to enrolling at Okanagan College, Vandergaag’s interest in working abroad was kindled by a year-long Rotary exchange to Brazil in 2010. Another eye-opening opportunity came a couple of years later, when a College course in entrepreneurship in developing nations took her to Ethiopia and Malawi for several weeks.

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to put my education and research into practice on the ground and see how the hands on experience compares to academia,” says Vandergaag. “As a business student, I approach opportunities like this from a different perspective than students in similar positions who might hail from international relations, health, or other backgrounds.”

Vandergaag credits the College’s unique approach to business training as one of the factors that has opened to the door to international opportunities and inspired her to apply for the fellowship with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Okanagan College’s ability to broaden horizons and provide a wide base of options. I was able to pursue an Honours degree, travel abroad, be a member of an Enactus team that competed nationally, and secure co-op employment that connected me with local industry.”

“Securing this fellowship feels very validating of all the work I’ve put in, and the education I’ve received at the College.”

And while thinking globally, Vandergaag certainly hasn’t shied away from acting locally during her studies. As a student researcher with the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence located at the Kelowna campus, she helped to develop new curriculum that will assist local non-profits in the area of impact reporting and measurement. She also completed an Honours research project focused on food security in the Okanagan.

“I was looking for a research project that would have application beyond business to a broader social issue with local implications,” explains Vandergaag.

Collaborating with BC-based Urban Matters, a social innovation and development organization, she set out to explore the issue of local food sustainability and how people perceive and interpret food security in the region.  

“Before I started I wasn’t aware of the sheer diversity of food security initiatives already going on in Kelowna,” she notes. “But through this research it was fascinating to look at the impact our choices have on our local food systems, what those systems are able to handle, and will be able to handle in the future.”

She recently presented her findings to the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council and continues to champion the cause of food security in the valley.

Following her fellowship abroad, Vandergaag has no specific plans for her next project, but is confident it will have something to do with social impact.

“I don’t see myself straying too far from the non-profit sector and social change/social impact initiatives,” she says. “That said, geographically speaking, that could take me anywhere. My horizons are completely open.”

Ford dealer drives up support for new trades complex, celebrates father’s legacy
Okanagan College Media Release

A local automotive dealer wants to help rev up the learning environment for trades students at Okanagan College in Kelowna, carrying on his father’s legacy of supporting education and the community.

Orchard Ford and Kelowna Ford Lincoln Dealer Principal Dan Assam has pledged $100,000 to assist the College in outfitting a new student lounge in its renovated and expanded trades training facilities in Kelowna. To the delight of automotive students and car buffs, the lounge will feature a mural depicting a Ford GT50 – a nod to Assam’s father Norm who owned a classic GT40 and for whom the lounge will be dedicated.Orchard Ford donation May 2016

“My father was a big supporter of education and training,” says Assam. “Helping staff advance their skills was important to him, as was giving back to the community. This gift honours and celebrates his legacy, and we hope it will inspire the next generation of automotive tradespeople training at Okanagan College.”

The valley’s automotive dealers and collision repair shops have been among the strongest supporters of the renovation and expansion project, contributing more than $850,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons fundraising campaign since it launched in October 2014.

“We are deeply grateful to Dan and his family for this phenomenal support,” says campaign Chair Dennis Gabelhouse. “This gift sends a powerful message to students at the College that local employers are behind them and gives them a sense of the long legacy of trades in the valley that they are a part of.”

Founded in 1983 by Norm Assam, Orchard Ford remains a family-owned and -operated dealership (as is Kelowna Ford Lincoln) with Assam’s son at the helm carrying on his father’s legacy of supporting skilled training. The two dealerships currently employ 20 Okanagan College-trained Red Seal Automotive Service Technicians, with another six on staff who are currently completing their apprenticeship training at the College.

Existing shops across a host of trades, from automotive to welding, have now been completely re-vamped at the College’s Kelowna campus. Upgrades were made to match the same LEED Platinum-targeted standard as the new building, as a testament to the College’s commitment to sustainability.

The Automotive Service Technician (AST) shop was one of the first new shops to come online for students in late 2014, and features new and emerging technology in the industry. Feedback from students and instructors on the new space has been overwhelmingly positive according to the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores.

“Industry support is absolutely vital to what we do,” says Moores. “Quality learning environments support quality instruction and the proof is in the pudding in our students’ accomplishments.”

Okanagan College recently tied its best-ever results at the provincial Skills Canada BC competition in Abbotsford, earning 11 medals overall. Automotive Service Technician students from the College dominated the podium, taking home gold (Aaron Schmit), silver (Dale Blumhagan), and bronze (Hugo Beaumier-Martin) medals.

The new complex will allow the College to accommodate more than 2,700 students each year and comes at a critical time for training as BC faces a potential shortage of skilled labour over the next decade. It is projected that more than 160,000 job openings will exist for trades and technical workers by 2022, with more than 10,000 needed in the Thompson Okanagan region alone by 2024.

To date the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign has raised more than $6.2 million toward its $7 million goal, which includes $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for program and student support through awards, bursaries, and emergency funding.

“Creating access and supporting students is at the heart of this campaign,” notes Gabelhouse. “As we enter the summer and approach the grand opening of the new building this fall, community and industry support is going to help us reach our goal and open a world of new doors for students.” 

Okanagan College business students, advisors and faculty recognized for excellence on national stage
Okanagan College Media Release

Enactus Nationals Team May 2016Okanagan College business students chalked up multiple podium finishes at a recent national competition in Toronto. Making the showing all the more impressive was the fact that a number of the students and their mentors were honoured at the highest level for their teamwork.

The Enactus National Exposition brings together approximately 800 students, 500 industry leaders who serve as judges and 100 faculty advisors from across the country to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s future leaders and entrepreneurs. A team of 24 students from the Okanagan School of Business participated in this year’s event, held from May 4-6 at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre.

The Financial Literacy team that presented on the CanSave program came 2nd in the country (behind only SFU), beating out powerhouse competitors from Saint Mary’s University, Windsor, Ryerson, and Memorial, and receiving a $2000 cash prize. The CanSave program is focused on teaching financial skills to elementary students.

"Being awarded National runner-up in the Financial Education Challenge was a humbling experience,” says Abbey Jones, a Bachelor of Business Administration student at the College’s Kelowna campus and the team’s project manager. “Having just completed the second phase of the CanSave pilot program, our team is now fuelled with a strong desire to expand the program across the province, ensure its sustainability and make a lasting change in the financial literacy and lives of those it touches."

Enactus Financial Literacy Team May 2016

The Youth Empowerment Team (a new category this year) came third in the country (behind Ryerson and Windsor), and received a $1000 cash prize. The prizes will help fund the team’s participation in next year’s competition.

Despite stiff competition, the Nationals team from the College advanced to the semi-final round of competition (top 20), before being bested by eventual finalist and last year’s national champion, the University of Ottawa.

“This year marks the 10th year of operations for Enactus Okanagan College,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Okanagan School of Business professor and one of the Faculty Advisors to the team. “I am continually inspired by the incredible work our students do in the region and the outstanding support we receive from all our community partners. I can’t wait to see what they will achieve in the decade ahead.”

According to Myrah, another highlight of the event for the team came when two students and two of their mentors, received prestigious awards for leadership.

Fresh off her team’s runner-up finish in the Financial Educational challenge, Abbey Jones and fellow BBA student and Enactus Okanagan College President Cassandra Lum, were awarded the national Founder’s bursary. Valued at $2,500 each, the bursaries recognize students for demonstrating exceptional leadership with Enactus. Only ten bursaries were handed out to students from all across Canada and two went home with Okanagan College students this year.

Enactus Youth Empowerment Team May 2016“It was truly an honour to receive the Founders Bursary and to be recognized alongside great student leaders from across the country, including one from our very own team in Abbey Jones,” says Lum. “I think this speaks to the experience and knowledge we're gaining through Enactus and at Okanagan College. ‎We are fortunate to have a very large support network through the College that encourages us in our endeavours and enables us to achieve these outcomes.”

Outstanding advisors and faculty were also recognized at the event for the critical roles they play in mentoring the student teams.

Elvia Picco was named Team Advisor of the Year in recognition of her outstanding support of the Enactus Okanagan College team. Okanagan School of Business professor Andrew Klingel was inducted as a John Dobson Fellow for his Enactus involvement as a faculty member. A well-known entrepreneur, investor, and business advisor, Klingel teaches courses in marketing and management at the College’s Vernon campus.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. The Canadian chapter sees annual participation by more than 2,600 students spanning 67 post-secondary institutions.

Full results from the exposition can be found here. More information about Enactus Okanagan College is available at

Princess Auto Foundation turns key on new trades bursaries at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Whether building a house or re-building a car, it all begins with a strong foundation of knowledge. A national foundation dedicated to supporting trades education has launched a new bursary fund at Okanagan College to give students a strong start.

The Princess Auto Foundation has donated $25,000 to establish an award fund that will enhance access and opportunities for students entering or continuing in Trades programs at Okanagan College.Princess Auto Foundation donation May 2016

“We are committed to helping students pursue skilled trades training at colleges across the country,” says Princess Auto Foundation Founder Bob Tallman. “We are delighted to work with Okanagan College to open doors for students in the Southern Interior.”

Tallman owns Princess Auto, which has grown to more than 40 retail locations across Canada since his father Harvey founded the retailer in 1977. Established in Manitoba in 2007, the Princess Auto Foundation has distributed over $4 million to 15 colleges in Canada to help students access trades training. Okanagan College joins two other B.C. institutions – BCIT and Camosun – on the list of those that have received support, to date.

“An integral part of Okanagan College’s mission to transform lives and communities is making education accessible,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We deeply appreciate Princess Auto Foundation’s investment in our students’ futures and applaud their leadership in enhancing access to trades training for students across the country.”

Tallman and his wife Cathy recently toured the College’s new trades training complex in Kelowna. He says the decision to support students in the Okanagan was a natural one, given the College’s vision for elevating trades careers in the minds of students and the public.

“We were inspired by the way the College celebrates tradespeople and recognizes the contributions they make in our communities,” notes Tallman. “The Princess Auto Foundation is proud to be a part of that vision.”

In addition to the Princess Auto Foundation, Tallman’s family also spearheads the Tallman Foundation, which provides full scholarships to post-secondary students in Winnipeg.

Classes are now in session in the College’s new trades facilities, following a three-year $33-million renovation and expansion project. The Okanagan College Foundation has raised more than $6.2 million towards its goal of raising $7 million to top up the province’s $28 million investment. The Foundation is aiming to raise at least $2 million for program and student support.

More information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at

College names von Mandl, Redmond and Winkler as 2016 Honorary Fellows
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable Okanagan residents, each of whom has helped shape and define the region in unique and impactful ways through entrepreneurship, philanthropy and ecological research.  

Anthony von Mandl O.B.C., Bill Redmond and Dr. Rita Winkler will be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College during Convocation ceremonies on June 4 in Kelowna.

Anthony von Mandl HF 2016von Mandl, proprietor of VMF Estates, founder of Mission Hill Family Estate and one of the region’s best-known self-made entrepreneurs, will be recognized by the College for his vision and pioneering efforts in making the Okanagan a world-class winery destination.

Born in Vancouver and European educated, von Mandl, without resources, founded a wine importing firm in Vancouver at the age of 22. Despite difficult initial years, he successfully grew Mark Anthony Wine Merchants, and in 1981 began to realize his audacious dream: to produce world-class wines in British Columbia’s then unknown Okanagan Valley. Little did he know that in order to realize his vision he would need to organically build a more than half billion dollar corporation from the ground up without outside financing.

Mission Hill Family Estate, which von Mandl conceived and built to endure for centuries, has become internationally known, and been called “the gold standard of wineries” by Condé Nast Traveler. In 1994, Mission Hill won the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for Top Chardonnay Worldwide and in 2013, the family’s Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir won the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir in the World in London at the Decanter Wine Awards, the world’s most significant competition with over 14,000 wines entered, putting the Okanagan on the international Pinot Noir map. In 2016, Mission Hill was once again named Canadian Winery of the Year, for the sixth time.

von Mandl has been recognized personally and professionally for his extensive contributions to the industry. In 2005, he was awarded British Columbia’s highest distinction, the Order of British Columbia. In 2011, he was the recipient of The Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence alongside A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble. Previous winners include Mikhail Gorbachev, Benazir Bhutto, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks. In 2015, he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.

A former YPO International Board Member, von Mandl has served on the Advisory Boards of the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He is also Chairman of the von Mandl Family Foundation, a charitable organization that supports cancer research in both Canada and the United States.

Bill Redmond HF 2016

Bill Redmond spent 40 years building his career in the wholesale food industry. He is the founder and formerly the president andCEO 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.

Retirement has been anything but slow for Redmond, who is involved in a number of community organizations. He is active in the Rotary Club of Kelowna and is past-president as well as past-director. He served as Okanagan College’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (2007). He was chairman of the Kelowna Roads Task Force as well as a number of private equity funds. He is still involved in business and is a partner in Dockside Marine Centre.

“It’s an honour to be recognized by Okanagan College,” said Redmond. “I was thrilled to be a part of the School of Business and came to realize what a wonderful institution we have right here in Kelowna. My career in business has brought me a lot of joy and I will be proud to address the graduating business class of 2016.”

Rita Winkler HF 2016Dr. Rita Winkler is a forest hydrologist with a career spanning more than 35 years. During this time she has worked in government, academia and private consulting in operational settings, education and research. Winkler is credited with sustaining B.C.’s longest running paired watershed experiment, which is located at Upper Penticton Creek in the South Okanagan. Research at this site focuses on improving our understanding of water supplies from forested watersheds and how natural disturbance, land management and climate change can affect this vital resource.

Winkler’s own research on snow processes in forests changed by insect outbreaks, wildfire, logging and regrowth, as well as the resulting changes in streamflow regime, has refined our understanding of the science and guided the development of forest management practices.

Her association with Okanagan College dates back to the 1990s when she was involved in selection of the Forest Renewal BC Chairs in Forest Hydrology. She has been involved in the College’s Penticton Speaker Series and has mentored and collaborated with faculty members at the College for more than 20 years.

“I am thrilled to receive this honour from Okanagan College,” said Winkler. “It is a privilege to be included in the group of Fellow recipients, a program that clearly highlights the College and President Hamilton’s commitment to acknowledge the contributions community members, employees and students all make to life in the Okanagan.”

Anthony von Mandl and Dr. Rita Winkler will attend the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 4 in Kelowna. Bill Redmond will address the graduates in an afternoon ceremony on June 4.

College to host 22nd Annual Aboriginal Career Fair on May 5
Okanagan College Media Release

Hundreds of Aboriginal high school students from throughout the B.C. Interior will converge on Okanagan College on Thursday, May 5 to explore a vast array of post-secondary and employment opportunities.

Aboriginal Career Fair May 2016The 22nd annual Aboriginal Career Fair will take place from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on KLO Road. The event is a partnership between Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, and Westbank First Nation. Students will have a chance to connect with more than 30 exhibitors, including representatives from colleges and universities, and employers in finance, trades, agriculture, health, technology, and other sectors.

“Opportunities like this are an excellent way for Aboriginal students to explore their options for post-secondary, and to learn about employers’ expectations in regard to education and training,” says Okanagan College Vice President of Students Charlotte Kushner.  

More than 300 students are expected to attend. For schools and employers, the career fair is an opportunity to initiate connections with a key demographic for recruitment. Provincial data indicates that Aboriginal peoples are one of the fastest growing populations in B.C.

Okanagan College has witnessed significant growth in Aboriginal student enrolment in recent years. In 2015, the College delivered educational programming to over 1,500 Aboriginal students, more than three times the number that attended a decade prior in 2005-06.

“Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community is one of the five key directions for the College, as outlined in our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan,” explains Kushner. “We value every opportunity like this to collaborate with local school districts, First Nation bands, Aboriginal organizations and industry, to inspire and open doors to post-secondary for Aboriginal students.”

Exhibitor spots are still available. Educators or school administrators interested in having students participate are requested to register in advance. To learn more and to register, visit

Lunch will be provided by students and faculty from Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program. 

Rick Gee recognized by College for Distinguished Service
Okanagan College Media Release

A retired employee who assembled an impressive career that spanned 30 years and five days will be recognized by Okanagan College with the Distinguished Service award at the College’s Summer Convocation ceremony on June 29 in Kelowna.Rick Gee

Rick Gee, former Chair of Okanagan College’s Education Council and longtime professor of Computer Science, has left an indelible mark on the institution’s curriculum and program development after dedicating more than three decades to supporting students and enhancing academic standards.

President Jim Hamilton, whose career with the College began just five year prior to Gee’s, recalls him as a cornerstone of the institution.

“Rick’s contribution to Okanagan College has been immense,” says Hamilton. “His name was synonymous with Education Council and in that role he became the keeper of educational quality in programming. He has done much to build the institution’s reputation for academic excellence.”

Gee joined the College on July 26, 1985 as a College Professor of Computer Science. Throughout his tenure at the College he served as department chair on three separate occasions, contributing 17 years altogether in the role.

He was elected to the College’s Education Council, the body that is responsible for setting curriculum content, academic standards and policies, eventually becoming Chair in 2008.

Gee was responsible for the development of two degree programs during his time at Okanagan College and Okanagan University College, the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Career Achievement award at the College’s Employee Excellence recognition ceremony.

With 30 years of experiences to reflect upon, Gee says his most memorable moments at the College occurred in the classroom.

“My favourite part was the teaching,” says Gee. “Seeing the light bulbs go on is something that brought me a lot of joy. I also worked with some very interesting and intelligent people over the years.”

In addition to his scholarly contributions Gee was a longtime volunteer and supporter of initiatives like the College’s Career Fair. He dedicated his personal time to support the College community at events such as the annual Clean the Creek, wading in the murky waters of Fascieux Creek at the Kelowna campus to remove garbage and waste.

Gee retired on July 31, 2015. Those who knew him well remember him as a meticulous editor and someone who could advocate on behalf of a comma with an unmatched passion.

“Rick was a stickler for detail, punctuation, grammar and consistency who also had the ability to focus on the big picture of student success,” says Dianne Crommer, who worked beside Gee on Education Council for many years. “Outside of his contributions to the College, he is also a tireless volunteer in the community and is someone who did a lot of great work, much of it very quietly and on his own time.”

Gee is an active member and current president of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and the director responsible for snowshoeing for the Kelowna Nordic Ski Club. He also volunteers with the NatureKids Kelowna. He dedicates his time to leading people on snowshoeing adventures.

“Rick was very committed to the College and had students at the heart of everything he did,” said Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “He was often the driving force on committees to ensure that ideas came to fruition and his many contributions will be long standing.”

Local business helps College gives trades students a warm welcome
Okanagan College Media Release

Coast Appliances Donation May 2016As Okanagan College welcomed students and staff to its new Trades Training Complex last week, a donation of equipment from a local appliance dealer helped ensure it was a warm welcome. 

Coast Wholesale Appliances Inc. has donated microwaves to power up kitchenette stations throughout the new three-storey tower at the Kelowna campus. Construction on the building completed on Mar. 31. Over the past three weeks, more than 700 students training at satellite campuses on Acland and Penno Rd. transitioned to their new home at the KLO campus.

“We are very proud and excited to contribute to the student experience at Okanagan College,” says Robert Siddon, General Manager for Coast Wholesale Appliances in Kelowna. “The trades are connected to our business, and so many others in the Okanagan, and so having a world-class training facility here benefits us all.”

Siddon says it was important to Coast Appliances that students know the valley’s businesses are behind them, which is why the company has also provided a tool credit to assist a student in purchasing tools.  

Coast Appliances joins a growing number of individuals and organizations in the community who have stepped up to help the College enhance student spaces like food service and study areas in the building.

Our goal with this renovation and expansion is to provide a world-class facility that truly celebrates the trades and celebrates our students,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “We are very grateful for the depth of community support for that vision. Local industry and individuals are sending a message to our students that they have chosen an important and valued field in the trades.”

Community support has brought the Okanagan College Foundation within $1 million of its $7-million goal for the Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign in support of the project. The Foundation is aiming to raise $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment. To date, the campaign has raised more than $6.2 million.

Last week’s welcome event for students and employees was a soft opening for the building. An official grand opening is slated for the fall.

In the meantime, College officials will continue to put the finishing touches on the new complex over the summer, including landscaping, signage, and activation of the building’s solar panels (when completed, the roof will have the second-largest solar array of any non-utility building in the province, behind only the The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus).

More information about the Bright Horizons campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at