2009 News

November 2009


Returning business students at Okanagan College will benefit from a new financial award established by the CGA-BC Educational Foundation.


The CGA-BC Educational Foundation Award is the result of a $100,000 donation to the Okanagan College Foundation and was created to encourage education and research in accounting, auditing and related disciplines. The scholarship will annually assist one or more students in need, those pursuing research projects and will promote the field of accounting generally.


In acknowledgement of this partnership, Okanagan College will recognize CGA-BC through a named classroom in its new Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus.


“The goal of the CGA-BC Educational Foundation is to assist students in financial need and to promote excellence in professional accounting and related disciplines,” said Pamela Skinner, Director of Member Services for CGA-BC. “The trustees are very excited about this opportunity to partner with our North Okanagan Chapter in establishing an endowment fund with the Okanagan College Foundation, leveraging the Educational Foundation’s strength in this vibrant community.”


In order to qualify for the award, students will have completed two or more years of full-time study in the Business Administration program at any campus of Okanagan College and will be returning for a subsequent year of full-time study in the program. Recipients will be selected based on a combination of academic achievement and financial need, and will be in good academic standing.


“This new partnership with the CGA-BC Educational Foundation is a great development for Okanagan College and our students,” said President Jim Hamilton. “Our students’ achievements in the field of accounting are many and this new award will recognize their efforts in the field and assist them in their educational pursuits.”


Complete information about this and other Okanagan College Foundation financial awards can be found at: www.okanagan.bc.ca/financialaid.

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November 2009


Completing his Electronic Engineering Technology diploma at Okanagan College is going to be a little bit easier for second-year student Aaron Edis, courtesy of some welcome financial support.


Edis was the happy recipient of a $1,000 Canada Technology Bursary scholarship last week, sponsored by TD Meloche Monnex and presented by John Leech, AScT the Executive Director of the Applied Science Technicians and Technologists of British Columbia (ASTTBC).


While his 91.6 per cent average in the first year suggests that getting through the second year of the two-year diploma program won’t be a struggle academically, Edis admits that it can be a struggle financially, even though his wife works full-time to support his studies.


“This will definitely help,” said the 23-year-old who decided to build on a short career as an electrician by pursuing a credential in Electronic Engineering Technology. “The money will be very useful, but it’s also very encouraging to see support from ASTTBC and from companies like TD Monnex Meloche. It’s a strong message that people see the value in our education and want to encourage us.”


It’s an education and an area that Edis thinks warrants promotion. “I recognized that there is a need for technologists and technicians and that the demand is only going to grow in the years ahead. That’s one of the reasons I decided to pursue the diploma.”


“There is already a significant issue meeting the skills gap in this area,” said Leech. “And as the effects of our demographic situation hit home and the economy accelerates, it is only going to get worse.”


“It’s companies like TD Meloche Monnex, which has been a steadfast contributor to the ASTTBC’s Foundation for Education and Advancement in Technology, who will help us encourage more interest in technical and technological careers,” said Leech.


The cheque for the scholarship was presented to Edis at a gathering of senior officials of Okanagan College, the Okanagan Science and Technology Council and the City of Kelowna.


Later that day, Edis joined more than 150 other students attending a Kelowna campus event, who received 98 awards, worth $141,627. He received three other awards: the Electronic Engineering Technology department award, a BC Hydro Scholarship, and the Walter Gray Endowment Fund Award in Electronic Engineering.


The Okanagan College Foundation expects that by the end of the fiscal year (March 31, 2010) it will have distributed approximately $1 million to students this year.

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November 2009


Higher learning and environmental sustainability supported with Okanagan College gift from BMO

BMO Financial Group announced a major donation in Penticton – a $75,000 gift to Okanagan College’s new Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

“Companies like ours have a responsibility to take a leadership role in environmental sustainability – to go where our customers are going,” said Sean Armstrong, Vice-President, B.C. Central Interior, North and Yukon, BMO Bank of Montreal. “This means that we must adopt environmental best practices into everything we do as well as support those organizations such as Okanagan College who are leading the way in green initiatives.” 

This gift is also in keeping with BMO’s corporate core values and commitment to education and life long learning.

At the groundbreaking ceremony held Friday in Penticton with Federal, Provincial and City officials, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton said, “BMO has been a long time supporter of our scholarship program at the Kelowna campus. This level of support for our Penticton campus demonstrates their commitment to the region, our communities and students.” 

About Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation
The new $28 million Centre commenced construction in July 2009 and is due for completion in 2011. The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation aims to be recognized by both potential students and the construction industry as the foremost teaching centre for green and sustainable construction and for research, development and commercialization of new approaches and methods of building construction and alternative energy production.
About BMO Financial Group
Since its founding in 1817 as Bank of Montreal – Canada’s first bank - BMO Financial Group has been committed to corporate and social responsibility and the principles of sustainable development. In 2008, BMO contributed $47.7 million in corporate donations, sponsorships and events, supporting communities and thousands of charities and not-for-profit organizations across Canada.
BMO has been making great strides on the environmental sustainability front – and in certain areas is leading the pack among Canadian Financial Institutions. The Bank announced in 2007 that it would be Carbon Neutral as an enterprise for energy and travel emissions by 2010. 

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November 2009



After breaking ground at the site of Okanagan College’s $28 Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, construction leader PCL has announced a $100,000 financial commitment in support of programming expansion and educational opportunities that will be developed as a result of the new building.


PCL was selected by the College as the contractor for the project, which broke ground Friday in Penticton. The building, which is on schedule to be complete in early 2011, will utilize green technology and innovative construction practices.


“It was a natural fit for PCL to support the Centre of Excellence in Penticton,” said Sean Brock, District Manager for PCL. “Our company is known for excellence in leadership and we are focused on growing our commitment to sustainability by building green. We see an incredible return on investment in being so closely involved in this great community project and know that our added support will contribute to the long term growth and wellbeing of the region.”


Federal and Provincial government support through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) will fund $23 million of the building. The remainder of the project cost will be generated through a community fundraising campaign.


“We have known for several years that PCL is a strong partner of Okanagan College,” said Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We are extremely grateful for their continued support and feel fortunate to have them on board to build our Centre of Excellence. Now, as major contributors to our fundraising campaign, the role PCL is playing in this community is even more vital and speaks to the organization’s commitment and values.”

About Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation
The new $28 million Centre commenced construction in July 2009 and is due for completion in 2011. The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation aims to be recognized by both potential students and the construction industry as the foremost teaching centre for green and sustainable construction and for research, development and commercialization of new approaches and methods of building construction and alternative energy production.


About the PCL family of companies
The PCL family of companies is a group of independent construction companies which carry out diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $6 billion, making them the largest contracting organization in Canada and one of the largest in the United States. Offices are strategically located in 27 major North American centers to support work across Canada, the continental United States, Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Caribbean.

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November 2009


jacobsenA retired automotive mechanic had all the tools he needed to get the job done, and now the company he worked for is passing his legacy onto others with a anew Okanagan College achievement award.

Jacobsen Pontiac Buick has donated $30,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation to create the Jacobsen Pontiac Buick Lou Simonelli Achievement Award Fund.

“The College has always been a good source of potential technicians,” said Ron Jacobsen, pointing to the fund’s namesake – Lou Simonelli who worked 35 years with the dealership before retiring in August.


The fund will provide an annual $1,000 award to deserving mature students enrolled in the Automotive Service Technician (AST) apprenticeship program at the Kelowna campus.


Simonelli enrolled in the College’s automotive program back in 1976 when he made the move to learn as much as he could about his passion – cars.


“Education will change your life,” said Simonelli, who recently toured the shop on campus. He said the technical education he received - combined with ongoing training - gave him a fulfilling career that carried him through an industry that has become increasingly complex and innovative.


“This is a very generous award,” said Okanagan College Foundation president Steve Tuck. “Sometimes mature students don’t have the same level of support when coming back to school as high school students have. And mature students often have greater needs because they may have acquired families or debt and are not eligible for the same support that high school students get when they graduate.”


Jacobsen said mature students often make ideal employees.


“If we can help in any manner, it’s all part of the solution.”


The Jacobsen Pontiac Buick Lou Simonelli Achievement Award Fund is the largest award for the automotive program. Capital from the fund will be invested as a permanent endowment and the income earned from the fund will be used to provide the award.


Students eligible for the award will be enrolled in first, second or third year of the Automotive Service Technician (AST) apprenticeship program. They’ll be selected by their instructors based on overall academic performance and participation.

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October 2009


A new scholarship program being introduced by Okanagan College will reward area high school students who have helped their communities.


The Okanagan College Community Spirit Awards are $1,000 tuition scholarships for Okanagan College programs. Forty of the scholarships will be distributed to high school graduates annually who have a record of service to their school or their community or both. They must also have a grade average of at least 65 per cent on their Grade 11 and 12 courses to qualify.


“We really want to encourage those students who share the College’s goal of being supportive to the communities we serve,” explained Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “A $1,000 scholarship will let recipients know that their efforts are valued.


“We see a lot of evidence of a well-developed sense of social responsibility among our students and want to encourage that.”


The awards will be distributed throughout the Okanagan College region – six going to Shuswap Revelstoke area students, eight to North Okanagan students, 18 to Central Okanagan students, and another eight to South Okanagan students.


The deadline to apply for the Okanagan College Community Spirit Award is March 5, 2010. Application forms will be made available on the Financial Aid and Awards website in late January 2010 at www.okanagan.bc.ca/financialaid.

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August 2009



Tickets to Okanagan College’s Alumni Association (OCAA) awards banquet are now on sale at an early bird price of $100 until Sept. 30, 2009. The banquet and dinner reception will take place on Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Okanagan Golf Club (The Quail) and will honour the achievements of Distinguished Alumni Award winner Launi Skinner and Young Alumni Award winners Todd and Mark Regier.

Skinner, President and Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, is receiving the OCAA’s highest honour for alumni in recognition of her outstanding achievements in business.

skinner_smallSkinner graduated from Okanagan College in 1985 with a Business Administration diploma. Less than a decade later she began a prolific career with Starbucks, during which time she became the most senior woman in the organization, rising to the position of President of Starbucks U.S.

In 2007 Fortune Magazine named her one of its “Four Women to Watch.” With her career climbing steadily and after nearly 15 years with Starbucks, Skinner took command of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in 2008. As President and COO of the growing organization, she is responsible for the growth of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? brand in North America and Australia.

The Regier brothers are joint recipients of the Young Alumni Award, which recognizes excellence among alumni under the age of 35.

regiers_smallThe Regiers own and operate Prestige Collision, a full-service automotive collision repair shop in Kelowna, which they established in 2003. Todd completed apprenticeship programs in Automotive Collision Repair (2001) and Automotive Painting and Refinishing (2003). Mark is a graduate of Okanagan College’s Business Administration diploma program (2004).

CHBC’s Mike Roberts will emcee the event, which will include a silent auction with proceeds dedicated to the Okanagan College Alumni Association student bursary.

To order tickets, contact Katerina Hay at: 250-762-5445 ext. 4771, toll free at 1-888-650-6968 or via e-mail, khay@okanagan.bc.ca

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June 2009



Two Pen-Hi graduates who have enrolled at Okanagan College this fall will have an easier time financing their education thanks to the generosity of Rick and Yasmin Thorpe.


Jayme Braithwaite and Kaley Wells have each received the $2,500 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship, which supports students from the former MLA’s riding and is based on a combination of financial need, academic standing, leadership potential and demonstration of contribution to their community.


Braithwaite is enrolled in Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree program at the Penticton campus and plans on using her education to realize her goal of becoming an accountant.


“Going on to further education is expensive,” said Braithwaite. “Receiving this scholarship is really helpful and I am very appreciative. It was great to get to meet the Thorpe’s in person because they are such nice people.”


Wells will attend Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus this fall where she’ll pursue an Associate of Arts degree. Fluent in both English and French, Wells plans on earning a Bachelor of Education degree and using her skills to teach abroad.


“I chose to go to the College because of the personal attention you get there,” explained Wells. “They offer a program that is just as good as any program at a university and it just made financial sense for me.


“I am honoured to by recognized by the Thorpe’s with this scholarship and I respect them so much for all they do in the community.”


Braithwaite and Wells both demonstrate excellence in leadership -- both graduates worked on Pen Hi’s Relay for Life program. Braithwaite also lent her skills and energy to the 10,000 Tonight Campaign, a canned food drive in Penticton.


Wells was co-chair of events for Relay for Life in addition to being a Penticton Princess, where she is an ambassador for youth.


"Rick and I are so pleased to be able to assist these two very deserving young women," said Yasmin John-Thorpe. “It gives us a great deal of satisfaction to know we are supporting local young students who are choosing to pursue their dreams and studies here in the Okanagan.”


The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship Fund was established to support students from the west side of Okanagan Lake from Penticton to Killiney Beach who enrol at Okanagan College in a range of studies including: business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism, trades, technologies, English or Creative Writing.

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June 2009


Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce Penticton Board of TradeThe Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is contributing $30,000 to the development of Okanagan College’s new Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

The announcement was made today at an Okanagan College Foundation donor recognition event held at the Penticton Campus, where the new $28-million Centre will be built.

“This is a very important project for the community, and it will have a lasting impact for many of our members,” said Chamber President Jason Cox. “We see our support as a signal of the business community’s commitment to the future of higher education in the region.”

Jim Henderson, who is spearheading the $5-million fundraising campaign on behalf of the Okanagan College Foundation for the $28-million Centre, was elated with the donation.

“The Chamber is known for carefully choosing its targets for support. This is an endorsement of the project that should resonate through the entire South Okanagan and among the business and community leaders who will help us achieve our goals.”

When it is complete in early 2011, the Centre of Excellence will accommodate about 500 additional students on campus, and will be a significant expansion of the existing Penticton campus, almost tripling the building space for students, staff and programs.

The Centre will house a variety of programs that are focused on sustainable (green) building technologies and processes as well as the use of alternative and renewable energy sources. The 8,500-square-metre structure will include shops, labs, office space, a new cafeteria, incubation space for business, and a recreational facility.

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June 2009


Gorman Bros Rotary AwardLejla Kusturica was recently honoured at a Kelowna Rotary luncheon as the recipient of the $5,000 Gorman Bros. Rotary Scholarship. Lejla is a Practical Nursing student in Kelowna. She came to Canada 10 years ago from Germany, where she fled with her two daughters after being forced from her native country of Bosnia.

She began her education at Okanagan College with English as a second language classes. She will graduate from the LPN program this August and plans to get further training to become an OR nurse. Ross Gorman of Gorman Bros.(right) and Tony French, president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna presented Lejla with the scholarship.

May 2009



The commitment of the Okanagan College Foundation to support students with bursaries and scholarships is weathering the current economic malaise that has affected many other foundations.

While several foundations have cancelled disbursements of funds due to the significant reduction in the value of investments and the uncertain investment climate, the Okanagan College Foundation will disburse a growing number of scholarships and bursaries in 2009.

That’s due in part to a conservative investment and disbursement strategy that anticipated the need to maintain disbursements in the event of changing economic circumstances.

The Foundation, similar to its counterparts, has been affected by the downturn in the economy, but has been able to generate enough income on its investments in 2008 to continue its distribution of student support.

The Foundation Board made the decision in December to disburse 3.5 per cent of its endowment (approximately $235,000). The Foundation’s endowments are currently valued at almost $6.7 million.

"The Foundation’s investment policy recognizes the expectation of donors to provide funds for scholarships as the first priority. The asset allocation in the investment portfolio is varied enough so that there is sufficient interest and dividends to support scholarships," said Kathy Butler, Executive Director. "We also have the added advantage of having no administrative or fundraising expenses charged against the revenues of the endowment."

The Foundation’s annual donations for student support increased more than $100,000 in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

"With the increase in donations, we expect to disburse close to $1 million in student and program support by the end of March 31," said Butler.

A major boost in funding came as a consequence of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, which made a three-year $1.43 million commitment to supporting students entering the trades, engineering technologies, and nursing programs as well as high school students enrolled in dual credit programs at the College.

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