Thank you for being an integral part of Okanagan College’s mission to transform lives and communities. Your support of our students is deeply appreciated, and the positive ripple effect it has had upon students is as meaningful as it is far reaching, as evidenced by the words of appreciation expressed by the award recipients below.
Automotive Service Technician Foundation program, 2015
Returned to begin Level 2 Apprenticeship Training, 2016
“As in any trade, but especially mechanics, you are only able to do your job as far as your tools allow. The Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan’s help with this award has allowed me to get ahead of the game in acquiring the tools I need. Because of this award, I’m in a great place to start my career and continue my education. Thank you so much.”
Bachelor of Business Administration (Human Resources), 2014 Graduate
“I received a bursary from your club in the first semester of my firsty ear of studies and it opened my eyes to the generosity of donors in our communities. Coming from a single-parent household, this support was pivotal in allowing me to stay in school and follow my dreams. My time at the College instilled in me a desire to make a difference in our community. After graduation, I accepted a position with the Central Okanagan Foundation and now have the pleasure of working with donors to give back to students at Okanagan College and many other important places and causes. Thank you for your support.”
Bachelor of Business (Accounting), 2016
President, Enactus Okanagan College
“Having access to bursaries like these allows students like me to enjoy a far richer, more rounded educational experience. It means we can pursue semesters in the field, study abroad, and be active in the community, as opposed to having to spend more hours at a part-time job to make ends meet. Your support opens up a world of new opportunities and possibilities, and inspires students to be more involved in the College and more connected to the community. In short, it greatly enriches the educational experience. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan for believing in me, encouraging me, and inspiring me to look beyond the classroom to other ways I can make a difference in our community.”
Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan members present a cheque for $5,000 to Donna Lomas, Okanagan College
Regional Dean of the South Okanagan-Similkameen and Jim Henderson, Past President of the Okanagan
College Foundation, in support of the Centre of Excellence.
This spring, the Okanagan College Foundation gratefully acknowledges a decade of giving by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.
Since 2006, the award fund established by the Society has meant more than $21,000 in bursaries to 21 students at Okanagan College.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Awards Fund consists of three annual bursaries to students enrolled full time in each of the following disciplines: The Okanagan School of Business’ Business Administration Program – Marketing or Hospitality Tourism Management, Culinary Arts Program, and Advanced Culinary Arts Program. Recipients must be permanent residents of the Okanagan region, in good academic standing and are selected on the basis of academic achievement and financial need.
“The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has a long history of giving back in our community and that generosity can certainly be seen at work at Okanagan College,” says Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler. “Over the past ten years, these bursaries have had a tremendous impact in helping young people pursue careers in business and food, wine, and tourism in the Okanagan. We are very grateful for the OWFS’ support and congratulate them on ten years of making a difference in the lives of students in the region.”
“The sustainability of our wine tourism industry depends in large part on the development of business and culinary skills,” says Bruce Hibbard, Chair, The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “Our financial assistance is meant to assist those interested in a career in our growing and successful industry. If we can help provide affordable education, we will attract a stronger quality of educated professional whose skills will be very much in demand.”
“This award is really exciting and brings a lot of financial relief,” said 2016 spring recipient Alex Blumenschein. “It will take away stress and allow me to focus on school and finishing off my program as well as I possibly can. Together, the culinary management program and the additional business training offered by the Bachelor of Business Administration degree should put me in a good place to start out and hopefully be successful from the get-go in this industry.”
Okanagan Wine Festivals Awards Fund beneficiaries to date are:
Craig R. Hawkins
Nadine L. Howk
Michelle J. Tait
April K. Erickson
Kimberley M. Powell
Donna L. Schergevitch
Michael D. Nowicki
Dekker B. Mende
Andrew K. Edwards
Elliott J. Sarabura
Danika R. Lamoureux
Jessica M. Pommer
Mike D. Britch
Dixie-May D. Kunicky
Patricia F. Hyde
Sarah M. Maw
Thomas J. Arrowsmith
Melissa L. Hewitt
Geno M. Russo
Elizabeth K. Bulmer
Alexander W. Blumenschein
Bursary recipient, Jessica Pommer, who graduated in 2014 with an Advanced Culinary Arts degree and plans to complete her Red Seal Certification commented, “I am a cook working at BNA Brewing Co. My education at Okanagan College not only gave me the technical skills needed to go further in my chosen career but it also gave me the foundation and confidence needed to continue to improve my skills and know that I can succeed.”
As a single mother of three juggling a hectic schedule and a lengthy commute, Okanagan College student Heidi Smithson was facing a financial roadblock on her way to becoming a Therapist Assistant. Fortunately for Smithson, support from her fellow students recently arrived to help keep her on the path to a career in caring.
Smithson is the third recipient of the newly created Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU) bursaries. Established in 2015, the award fund provides four $750 bursaries throughout the year for students.
“I was overwhelmed when I found out that the award was supported by other students,” says Smithson, a resident of Lumby who commutes to Vernon each day and then buses to and from the Kelowna campus.
“It’s wonderful that the Students’ Union has made these awards available. For a single mom like me, this will go a long way.”
Although her studies in the classroom are drawing to a close, Smithson herself is now faced with a long way to go. She learned in March that both of her practicum placements will be at a care facility in Kamloops. This will mean 10-weeks of driving to Kamloops, five days per week.
“Sometimes I feel very torn between the demands of school and making sure my kids get all the attention and energy from me they deserve. But I am committed to making it work.”
“I have always wanted a career that was more than just a job—something that was meaningful. I like the idea of a career where I could help people, and that’s what I have found through this program.”
Smithson credits her children (ages 7, 11, and 13) as a major source of inspiration. She also says the help of her fellow students is now yet another piece of inspiration that will keep her on the road to completing her training. After her practicum wraps, she is hopeful a permanent position will become available in Kamloops or somewhere else in the valley.
“This award will help with the daily commute, as well as providing a nest egg for moving, if a job opportunity opens up. It’s a wonderful load off my mind to know that I have that support at hand.”
Although the awards are still new, the OCSU is pleased with the impact they have already made in easing the burden of financial stress for students.
“It’s great to see this award fund doing just what we set out to do with it—really helping students when it comes to breaking down those barriers and helping when it comes to cost of life as a student,” says OCSU Executive Director Brianne Berchowitz.
“There are so many students like Heidi who are going the extra mile, taking care of their families while also continuing their education. We want students to know there are resources like this in place, and we’re absolutely thrilled whenever we can help.”
More information about the OCSU Bursaries and other awards and financial aid available at Okanagan College can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/financialaid.
An energy-efficiency research project involving students from Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan officially broke ground on Thursday, March 31. Known as the Wilden Living Lab, the project will see two very unique homes constructed on neighbouring lots in the Wilden subdivision.
The “Home of Today” will be built to current building code standards including the use of a natural gas furnace,standard plumbing fixtures and appliances, double pane windows, incandescent lighting, and insulation levels that include R-22 in the walls and R-40 in the ceilings.
The “Home of Tomorrow” will incorporate a number of additional features, including a geothermal heat pump, water-saving toilets and faucets, triple pane windows, photovoltaic solar panels, net metering, ICF wall construction, LED lighting, and insulation levels that include R-24 in the walls and R-70 in the ceiling.
A class of 17 students from the Residential Construction program will participate in the build over the next three months,working side-by-side with tradespeople from AuthenTech Homes. Once the homes are completed and sold, researchers from UBC’s School of Engineering will use sensors built into the homes to monitor the energy use of both dwellings for a period of three years.
“With a province-wide skills gap on the horizon, we deeply appreciate the way Wildenand AuthenTech Homes have stepped up in support of the next wave of tradespeople,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The Wilden LivingLab presents a tremendous opportunity for our students to receive hands-on training and work with local industry leaders.”
Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores and Associate Dean Randy Werger also participated in the groundbreaking event and touched on the impact of this opportunity as a training experience for students.
"Our students not only get the benefit of working on very high-end, cutting-edge homes, they get a chance to meet some of the valley's prominent employers in this sector, which are great connections to make. The jobsite experience they gain here will serve them well in the future," says Moores.
In addition to providing the lots for the project (valued at more than $200,000 each), Wilden has also contributed $100,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation's Bright Horizons campaign in support of the new trades training complex in Kelowna. Wilden's support helped to build a new student seating area in the atrium of the building.
Updates on the project will be posted in the coming weeks at www.wildenlivinglab.com.
Scott Tyerman, AuthenTech Homes; MLA Norm Letnick; Karin-Eger Blenk and Russ Foster of Wilden; Jim Hamilton, Okanagan College; Dr. Deborah Buszard, UBC Okanagan; MP Stephen Fuhr. (2): Steve Moores and Randy Werger.
Lisa Wilhelm’s love for life, adventure, and the career to which she was so dedicated—nursing—lives on in the memorial award disbursed to an Okanagan College nursing student each spring. This year, two students received the award and had an opportunity to meet Wilhelm’s parents and sister, to hear about the inspiring life led by this OC alumni lost all too soon.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing student Shelly Somerville, a single mother of three young daughters, knows that every little bit counts when it comes to balancing school and the costs of raising her family.
“Coming back to school as a single parent has its challenges, and so I really appreciate the financial relief this award brings,” says Somerville. “But even more so I am touched by the incredible kindness of Lisa Wilhelm’s family and by the legacy that lives on in her memory at the College, through this award and their generosity.”
The Lisa Wilhelm Nursing Opportunity was established by Lisa Wilhelm’s partner Mike O'Neil along with the Wilhelm family in memory of Lisa, who studied nursing at Okanagan College and went on to be a successful RN; sadly, Lisa lost her life to cancer in 2007.
The Wilhelm family is happy that the award continues to assist students who share Lisa’s passion for nursing to be successful in their education.
Supporting Okanagan College Foundation in the disbursement of the award is the Central Okanagan Foundation. Executive Director Bruce Davies joined Wilhelm’s parents Lorraine and Clarence, and her younger sister Colleen Richardson, for the presentation on March 22 to Somerville and her fellow student Rudi Goldnik.
Richardson spoke about her sister’s adventurous spirit, including her love for travel, scuba diving, and all manner of adventure sports. She also said this passion for adventure and nursing were interwoven in her sister.
“Nursing was part of the adventure for Lisa,” says Richardson. “It was a passion. And we’re happy that this important part of her life lives on, and that students can follow in her footsteps at the College.”
For more information about this award, and other award available at Okanagan College, please visit https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards.
Alex Blumenschein is the 2016 recipient of the Wine Festival Society Culinary Management Award.
A student in the Culinary Management Diploma program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, Alex hopes to pursue a career as a restaurant owner. His plan is to start out with a food truck or cart in the near future.
Twelve students from bands throughout B.C. and across Western Canada recently completed the first level of a unique collaborative apprenticeship program designed to support Aboriginal learners looking to advance their careers in the construction sector.
In March 2015, Okanagan College launched a new Construction Craft Worker two-level apprenticeship program. Last November, the College created an intake tailored specifically for Aboriginal students.
“The College is committed to working with local bands, First Nations, and Métis across our region to create access and offer new training opportunities to meet the need for skilled workers among their members,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“This course was launched to help Indigenous students broaden their experience and gain the jobsite skills that employers are looking for,” says Hamilton. “We collaborated closely with the local bands and worked with the students to identify what kind of added support would help them be successful.”
Most of the students in the class are from the Westbank First Nation (WFN) and Adams Lake Indian Band (ALIB), with a few from bands and communities outside the region.
“Aboriginal students who complete the Construction Craft Worker program are opening a door to jobs that support their families and communities,” says Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Workers are needed in the Okanagan to fill the skills gap in sectors such as construction, and Aboriginal workers from this program are fulfilling that need.”
In addition to the WFN and ALIB, the College partnered with agencies throughout the province to break down barriers for students. The Aboriginal Community Based Training Partnerships (ACBTP) Program provided tuition and books, tools, lunches, safety gear and transportation. CIBC provided motel accommodation and living support for out-of-town students.
The bands, the Aboriginal Skills, Employment and Training Services (ASETS) and the Okanagan Training and Development Council (OTDC) provided meal allowances; OTDC also sponsored the apprentices.
“This type of training is so beneficial for our young people and our community as a whole,” said Adams Lake Indian Band Chief Robin Billy, who spoke at the class’s completion ceremony in West Kelowna on Feb. 19. “We need workers who are well trained and have the skills necessary to build our houses, schools, roads, and other vital infrastructure.”
For Jay Darwin Charleyboy, a member of the Ulkatcho First Nation, completing Level 1 of the program achieved two goals. It brought him one step closer to his dream of becoming a Red Seal-certified tradesperson. It also gave the single father of three a chance to demonstrate to his daughters the importance of lifelong learning.
“One of the reasons I enrolled was to show my children that we should always strive to better ourselves in life,” says Charleyboy, who moved from the community near Williams Lake to the Okanagan. “I plan to continue on to Level 2 of the program, complete my apprenticeship, and keep building a better life for myself and my daughters.”
Charleyboy said that the College’s respect toward Aboriginal culture was evident in the class.
“Being able to train with other Aboriginal students, in an all-Aboriginal setting, was a great benefit. We held smudge ceremonies and there was an Aboriginal Classroom Mentor to assist us. The way the program was structured really brought us together as a group.”
The program’s coordinator, Sara Cousins, also re-iterated the benefit of having an Aboriginal mentor on hand to work with the students.
“An important part of the success of this program was the Aboriginal Classroom Mentor, Chezzeray Alphonse, who was with the students every day providing academic, personal and cultural support,” says Cousins.
Alphonse is from Tl’etinqox, also near Williams Lake, and recently completed fourth year carpentry apprenticeship at Okanagan College.
“Being a peer mentor is a great experience and to be able to give back to the college in any way is a great privilege,” says Alphonse.
Construction Craft Workers play an important role on every job site in the province, from set-up to clean up. They install utility piping, place concrete, construct roads, perform underground work, and assist skilled tradespeople such as Carpenters, Bricklayers, Cement Finishers, and Heady Equipment Operators.
The B.C. government has projected there will be call for nearly 12,000 construction trade workers by 2018. In the Okanagan, it is expected that the residential and commercial construction and road building sectors and related occupations will require 7,149 new skilled tradespeople.
More information about the Construction Craft Worker program is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades.
When 14 students from Central Programs and Services (Central School) in Kelowna completed the Gateway to Trades program on Jan. 29, it marked the fifth year and more than 50 students graduated from this transformational educational opportunity.
A collaboration between Okanagan College and School District 23, the program provides struggling high school students with a gateway to a brighter future by bringing post-secondary in reach.
According to Schmitke, the Gateway program was crucial in setting him on the path to post-secondary, after struggling in middle- and high school.
“I’ve always struggled in a formal classroom setting,” he says. “But the Gateway program was hugely helpful in showing me how I could be successful, how higher education was something I could be successful at, and in pushing me to reach for a career in the trades where I could support myself and move up and where there was a lot of potential.”
“I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my future before I enrolled in the Gateway program. But very early into the program I felt ready for College, I felt more confident about myself and my future, and it gave me a sense of purpose and direction.”
Students are not the only ones who have had a rewarding experience.
Ingram believes in the program so much he even came out of retirement last fall to lead another group of students through the course. At the graduation ceremony in January, representatives from School District 23 and the College joined students in presenting Ingram with a plaque recognizing the instructor’s immense contribution to the program.
“Instructing this program has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” says Ingram. “We’ve had students from very difficult backgrounds, students who have struggled with drugs and all manner of issues.”
“These are students with the same aspirations as everyone else but they don’t necessarily have the skills to get where they want to go. Gateway gives them the skills to pick themselves back up and keep going, even when they stumble. To have seen students do just that has been a wonderful experience, and I hope people continue to support the program and help it carry on for many years to come.”
Donor support has played a significant role in the program’s growth and continuation. Last year, Dee Capozzi created a bursary for Gateway students to help inspire young learners to see the value in themselves and in continuing their education.
“What I like best about the Gateway Program is that it offers students an opportunity to get a hands-on experience at the college's trades facility,” says Capozzi. “As a donor, I feel this is an opportunity to offer a hand up rather than a handout. I believe that through education each student can acquire the tools for success in their life & I'm delighted to be part of it.”
The program has now been replicated at other campuses. A class of 14 students from Keremeos Secondary completed 12-week Gateway to Trades program in December 2015. Ranging in age from 15-17, students honed their skills in carpentry, construction craft work, electrical, plumbing and piping, and welding, and had a chance to connect with local employers and tour job sites.
More information about the Gateway program is available here.
Between juggling a busy work schedule and caring for her three-year-old son, sous chef Rachel Broe thought her dream of becoming a certified Red Seal Chef would have to stay on the backburner. Then she found the recipe for a new future in 500 words or less.
Dylan Hamel was busy working and pursuing his passion as a photographer and time-lapse filmmaker in his hometown of Quesnel when a chance visit to the Okanagan prompted him to pursue a new home and a new direction. Recently, Hamel learned he was chosen to receive an award in memory of Okanagan resident Gerry Hastings who had a well-known love for the automotive world, including vintage cars and motorcycles.
Now completing his training in the Automotive Service Technician Foundation program, Hamel is the 2015 recipient of the Gerry Hastings Memorial Award.
“I have always been fascinated with how engines work,” says Hamel. “Rebuilding them, making them better—it’s a great challenge, a fulfilling one.”
Hamel says the creativity required in the shop is no different than the artistry required behind the lens. His timelapse videos have gone on to viral success on YouTube. He was even contacted by the organizers of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George earlier this year and asked if one of his videos could be shown at the opening ceremonies.
“That was incredible,” he says. “Such a thrill. And I love that I get to put that same creative energy into my automotive career.”
"This award will help me get through this program. I'm living on my own, in a new city, and so having this is really helpful not just for tuition but for food and rent."
Bruce Stevenson, Past-President of the Okanagan British Car Club, presented the award and regaled Hamel and his fellow students with tales of Gerry Hastings, and the classic car racing that to this day continues to fund the award in his honour. Hastings died in 2006 from complications following a tragic motorcycle accident.
A 30+ year veteran of the BC health care community and a former naval officer, Hastings travelled the world following his passion for cars and motorcycles. He was a regular at Telemark Cross Country Ski Club in the winter months.
“Gerry was a very kind, quiet and reserved gentleman,” said Stevenson. “He had a true love for cars and motorcycles and he would be proud to know that this award is helping students like Dylan and Aaron pursue careers in the automotive industry.”
The car club, which boasts about 80 members, hosts car racing in Lot 17 of the Okanagan College Kelowna campus parking lot every Thursday night during the spring and summer months.
“We’re delighted that the money is raised right here and stays right here, going back into the College. Our club is pleased to be able to support the next generation of automotive tradespeople and we’re thrilled that some have even chosen to join the club and share their skills and love for cars with us."
Aaron Schmidt, who received the bursary in 2014, is now working as an automotive service technican at Kal Tire. Schmidt joined the car club after receiving the bursary and has since become one of their top racers.
Three students in the NTEN program at the Kelowna campus received the annual Jordy Koenig Telus Awards this fall to help them launch their networking engineering/telecommunications careers. In the process they had a chance to meet the namesake of the award they received and benefit from the wisdom of his decades of experience in the Telecommunications industry.
Kendrick Arason, Dalton Sears, and Brendan Battersby took home Bronze ($1,000), Silver ($1,500), and Gold ($2,500) scholarships, respectively.
“The Scholarship presentation is an opportunity for me to see the enthusiastic and high energy realm that is the NTEN classroom,” said Koenig, who visited the Kelowna campus recently to present the awards and speak to the current class of NTEN students.
“Our community has benefited greatly from the skills that these students master during their time at the Okanagan College and TELUS’ support of the scholarship is recognition of the potential to our business community.”
“This award will be a huge help with my tuition and books,” said Bronze award recipient Kendrick Arason. “I’m so grateful to Telus and to Jordy for making these scholarships available to us.”
Jordy Koenig began in the Telecommunications industry in 1977 as a temporary summer employee, while attending SAIT. After graduating teh Electronic Engineering program in June of 1979, Koenig continued his career in the industry and never looked back. He enjoyed a long and successful career with TELUS, having mastered the maintenance and repair of network switching, radio microwave and modern transport/special services and "next generation" network applications. Throughout his career, he knew that supporting the next generation was crucial to keeping the ever-changing industry strong.
"Okanagan College's NTEN graduates have been top performers when hired by TELUS and are sought after by many companies," explained Koenig. "It always reminds me of my own career beginnings which is why I mentioned that I do envy them at the start of their careers, so much potential, so many changes in store for them, it is indeed very exciting to see."
Jordy Koenig, students Kendrick Arason and Brendan Battersby, and Phil Ashman, Associate Dean, Science Technologies and Health, Okanagan College.