Convocation 2015

Grads 2015 imageThe parade of celebrating student successes at Okanagan College will start this weekend and will continue throughout the month of June. Graduating students will receive their credentials during five Convocation ceremonies to be held at the Kelowna and Vernon campuses.

The ceremonies are also an opportunity for Okanagan College to recognize the 2015 Honorary Fellows: Chef Rod Butters, entrepreneur Norm Embree, lawyer Rick Pushor, and social planner Annette Sharkey.

Convocation ceremonies schedule:

  • Trades Commencement Fri, June 5 @ 6 p.m. (Kelowna)
  • Spring Convocation Sat, June 6 @ 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Kelowna)
  • Vernon Convocation Tue, June 23 @ 4:30 p.m.
  • Summer Convocation Thu, June 25 @ 6 p.m.  (Kelowna )

The June 5 and 6 ceremonies will be live streamed with an access link available on the ceremonies information webpage.

Community support pushes Trades campaign
over the $4 million mark

Trades complex Jun 2015The fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s new trades training complex has officially raised more than $4 million toward its $7-million goal, with support coming from every corner of the Okanagan and beyond.

The outpouring of support for the $33 million renovation and expansion project illustrates the extensive network of donors and industry partners working with the College to make education accessible to a diverse array of learners. Donor support is opening doors for students to foundation or apprenticeship programs in more than 20 trades at the College.

Donations have included a $500,000 contribution from KF Aerospace (formerly Kelowna Flightcraft), continued support from the valley’s auto dealers collectively pledging more than $600,000. Many businesses outside of the trades sector are also supporting the project, including financial groups such as D.K.L. Financial which gave $50,000, law firms such as Pushor Mitchell which donated $30,000, and the Rotary Club of Kelowna which has contributed $85,000.

The Okanagan College Students’ Union made an inspiring gift in February, pledging $100,000 toward the project. More than a dozen families and individuals from throughout the Okanagan have also made gifts, establishing scholarships and bursaries for trades students, or legacy gifts to name classrooms.

When doors open in early 2016, the three-storey trades tower along KLO Road will cap off a 10,000-square-metre renovation and expansion, with the overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards.

Read the press release here, and to learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit the webpage

Partnership proves successful in giving
new Okanagan nurses a step-up

Courteney Miller NurseKelowna resident Courtney Miller values the small-class learning environment and increased one-on-one time with instructors she experienced at Okanagan College during her studies to become a nurse.

Miller is a member of the first graduating class to complete a partnership program that sees students take years one and two of the BSN degree program at Okanagan College and transfer to UBC Okanagan to complete the final two years. The inter-institution collaborative partnership, announced in 2011, demonstrates the enriching educational opportunities available for students within B.C.’s interior.

In describing the combined model, Miller explains that it is a reassurance to have had a path mapped out and what she calls the best of both worlds.

In April, Miller applied her nursing training to aid the people of Zambia on an aid trip with a group of Okanagan student nurses. She was able to make quick, effective, and educated health care decisions in scenarios such as delivering babies and at a community health clinic to assess, diagnose and prescribe medications to more than a hundred patients.

A testament to how the right training leads to jobs, two days after returning from Africa, Miller started at Kelowna General Hospital where she is a nurse on the Acute Medical Floor that provides stroke patient care.

Click here to read more about Miller’s aid trip in Zambia.

Team Construction Management gift helps
Okanagan College build for skills

Prominent Kelowna construction firm Team Construction Management Limited has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign as a show of support towards apprenticeship. The donation will help build a leading edge classroom space in the new Trades Training Complex.
Team Construction giftTeam Construction founder and president Gord Wilson shared that, as a business owner, having a good pool of skilled tradespeople is imperative. A motivating factor in the company’s decision to support the project was recognizing the need for trades students to be trained in new technologies, materials, and new ways of doing things in an elevated and innovative environment.

Team Construction’s support of the project goes beyond the donation; Wilson is volunteering his time as a sector chair on the Bright Horizons Campaign, and Team Construction Project Manager Chuck Cullen—an alumnus of the College’s Carpentry program—is a vocal advocate for Okanagan College about trades careers.

To learn more about the donation, read the press release here.


Dr. Alix Hawley receives national literary award,
second novel already underway

Alix Hawley wins awardOkanagan College English Professor and novelist Dr. Alix Hawley received the national First Novel Award for her debut novel All True Not a Lie in It at a May awards ceremony in Toronto. It is an attestation of Hawley’s talents as a writer, and of the reading community’s appetite for the stories she imagines.

Even before the honour of winning the prestigious Canadian literary award has set in, she is already hard at work on her second novel: a sequel to All True Not a Lie in It, which continues to recount the adventures of American pioneer Daniel Boone, who attempted to settle Kentucky and was captured by the Shawnee. Readers can expect to have Boone’s character reappear, but will include more about his wife, Rebecca, and their children.

As with her first novel, Hawley will once again write the novel longhand.

While it is all business and back to writing for Hawley, she admits that when she was announced as the winner, she thought she had heard wrong.

Click here to read the press release, and visit Hawley’s website for ongoing updates about her writing.

Student award recipients inspired by philanthropists’ generosity

Thorpe award June 2015College donors Rick and Yasmin Thorpe have once again inspired a group of graduating Grade 12 students to think about how they can translate education into community impact.

Mount Boucherie Secondary School student Breanne Pitts was one of six students to receive a $2,500 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Entrance Scholarship to support her studies at Okanagan College. Enrolled to start classes this fall in the Culinary Arts program, she aspires to be a Red Seal chef specializing in gluten-free creations, a goal inspired by her mother and brother who both have Celiac Disease.  One day she hopes to give back by teaching cooking classes to pass on her skills to future chefs-in-training.

Shad Collins, Matt Finlayson, Jack Holman, Courtney Korabek, and Jaxon Stel join Pitts as recipients of the student awards. To date, the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends fund has provided more than $70,000 in awards to students at Okanagan College.

To read more about the student recipients, and the Thorpes’ contributions to the College, read the press release here. For more information on student awards, follow this link.

College artists' artwork showcased at local winery

Art Show VladThe Okanagan College Art Show held on May 3 at the Volcanic Hills Winery showcased the artistic talents of 15 individuals from our College community. The artists gathered their paintings and easels to display for visitors and art aficionados who were enjoying the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival simultaneously. An impressive variety of artwork was exhibited including landscapes, animals, flowers, abstracts, and photography, ranging from small to very large pieces.  The visual event saw those who are creatively inclined unite and network to show their work, and served as an inspiration to one another.

The artists included Okanagan College staff and members of the OC Art Group:  Marie Bartlett, Vicki Benham, Wendy Chiu, Kathleen Jagger, Shelley Johnson, Suchitra Light, Deb Matheson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Vladimir Neykov, Ann Marie Ruether, Karen Tessier, Virginia Trueman, Terry Tuck, Rosalind Warner, and Julie Welsh. 

Michel Delgado Castillo receives
Kate Gilchrist Memorial Award 

Michel DelgatoEach year the Okanagan College Foundation and the English as a Second Language (ESL) department recognize a student’s outstanding achievements with the Kate Gilchrist Memorial Award.  Domestic ESL student Michel Delgado Castillo, from Cuba, is recognized as this year’s recipient in recognition of his hard work and dedication towards learning the English language, while having a generous and helpful demeanor towards both his classmates and instructors. Since starting to study at Okanagan College, he has consistently received top grades in all his courses while motivating students around him to learn to speak English.
The $1,000 award is in memory of Kate Gilchrist, an ESL instructor at Okanagan College with a career spanning 18 years, who passed away suddenly in 2012. The bursary enables a domestic ESL student in need to pursue further education, and is a way to honour Kate’s passion and dedication to teaching ESL.

June 2, 2015, Vol. 10, Issue 5

Master Capital Plan
employee sessions

The first round of consultations for Okanagan College’s Master Capital Plan, which looks at the directions for the College’s capital projects, are currently underway at the four campus locations. All employees are invited to participate and provide valuable feedback for the vision of where the institution will be 20 to 25 years from today. Sessions include a review of Okanagan College’s 2007 Master Capital Plan.

Sessions have already been completed in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
Upcoming sessions:

  • Wednesday June 3 at 1 p.m. (room E310)
  • Monday June 15 at 10 a.m. (room E202)
  • Tuesday June 16 at 1 p.m. (room E102)

Penticton, room PC204:

  • Tuesday June 9 at 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday June 10 at 1 p.m.

For more information and if you have questions about the Master Capital Plan, please contact Donna Lomas, Regional Dean South Okanagan-Similkameen. 

Strategic Planning:
consultations underway

Internal consultations for the Strategic Planning process are underway and scheduled up to June 16 at the four campus locations. Employees have an opportunity to contribute their ideas that will build on the success and feedback from sessions held earlier this year, and help shape the future of Okanagan College.

Sessions have been held in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna. Upcoming sessions, each 1.5 hours:
Kelowna (room E103):

  • Wednesday June 3 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Monday June 15 at 8:30 and 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday June 16 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Penticton (room PL120):

  • Tuesday June 9 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday June 10 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

For session details and schedules, and ongoing updates about the Strategic Planning process, please visit the OC2020 website.

Call for entries
for new College conference

Proposals for conference sessions are now being accepted for the first annual Tiltshift Education Technology Conference at Okanagan College. The series of events will be held on Friday Sept. 25 in the evening, and continue throughout the day on Saturday Sept. 26.  The conference is presented by Learning & Teaching and IT Services.

The committee is looking for session proposals in the following streams: making the classroom a better place to be, learning online, new and improved tools for student learning and technology leadership. For further information please visit the Tiltshift website or contact Ross McKerlich

Your donation could help Okanagan College Foundation win a $10K prize

This June, you can help the Okanagan College Foundation vie for a chance to win a valuable $10,000 donation prize from CanadaHelps to support student scholarships and awards. The month-long Great Canadian Giving Challenge encourages individuals to donate to their favourite charity, with each dollar earning an entry for that charity into the prize-draw. After a minimum donation of $3 dollars, every dollar garners the Okanagan College Foundation an entry in the challenge prize draw. In other words, for a donation of five dollars, you can help the Foundation accrue five entries towards the grand prize.

Contact Richard McAdam (local 4772), or visit the Foundation’s Facebook page or for more information.

Employee health and wellness newsletter

The June edition of The Balance Sheet newsletter looks at how technology plays a role in our social wellbeing and health. Articles look at cellphone etiquette in social settings, and also how to slow down in a fast paced world to avoid burning out.

On Wednesday June 24, join a webinar titled “Optimizing health in the rising age of technology” where Mary Rocarelli presents strategies to stay healthy in a digital age. Register here.

Okanagan College’s employee and family assistance provider, Optum PPC Canada, provides information on issues regarding your health and wellbeing.Events

Commuter Challenge week June 1-6

Individuals can still register to participate in the Commuter Challenge taking place until June 6. Employees and students are encouraged to find sustainable transportation to and from work, including walking, bicycling, car- and ride-sharing, and public transit.

To register with the Okanagan College team, follow this link and select "Kelowna - Central Okanagan." For more information visit the College's webpage. More than 1,295 workplaces across Canada compete in this friendly challenge, with great prizes up for grabs. T- shirts are available at the Athletics, Recreation and Student Life Kelowna Office (A105) for $5.

Connections 2015 registration 

Aug. 18 -19 – The 10th annual Okanagan employee learning conference Connections 2015 will be held at the Kelowna campus from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. both days.
Connections provides valuable opportunities to network with colleagues across the four campuses and attend informative workshops on a variety of topics, all while having fun. To register for Connections 2015 click here.
To plan your day, see full descriptions of each workshop on the Workshop Planner.


Media across Canada celebrated College English Professor and novelist Dr. Alix Hawley when it was announced she received the First Novel Award. The Globe and Mail ran a feature in their national edition on May 23, and CBC’s North By Northwest aired an interview with the author on May 31. Closer to home Okanagan Saturday published its article Professor’s 1st novel a winner and shared details of her book signing being held at Mosaic, as did the Kelowna Capital News online. Maxine Dehart also captured the news in a brief in the Kelowna Capital News on May 27.

College alumnus and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran headed to Boulder, Colorado to learn and discover how that community bolstered its technology sector. College President Jim Hamilton was one of those accompanying the Mayor on the technology mission, as reported by Castanet.

Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship spoke to AM1150’s Phil Johnson about the newly announced Apprentices on Public Projects policy from the B.C. government. was quick to share news that the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign has broken the $4 million dollar mark towards its $7 million goal.

The same outlet reported the bronze medal win for Okanagan College Automotive Technician student Ethan Delichte at the Skills Canada National Competition. Read the article at

Sharing the news of funding by the B.C. government for new trades seats to 12 post secondary institutions, the Salmon Arm Observer published a brief including mention of the 32 new seats at Okanagan College.

Business reporter Steve MacNaull of the Kelowna Daily Courier took notice of the $50,000 donation by Andrew Sheret Limited to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in a brief published May 20, as did the Vernon Morning Star online.

Coverage of contributions by donors to the Campaign continued to generate media buzz throughout May. A donation by Kelowna’s Team Construction Management, garnered coverage in the Kelowna Capital News May 27 print edition and online, as well as on

Both the Penticton Herald and the Penticton Western News (print and online) took notice of a unique job-shadow project by Greyback Construction that provides trades students with hands-on training in building a high-end home in the South Okanagan.

Generosity continued to be the media focus in a Globe and Mail “Giving Back” column about Karen Blair and Stephen Leckie’s contribution to creating the Gold Medal Plates, with events hosted at Okanagan College. The article featured a photo of chefs working in the College kitchens during this year’s competition.

The College’s culinary teaching facilities and instructors were the feature of the Flavours World spring issue. Chef Geoffrey Couper shares his braising tips with a recipe. The magazine’s front cover is the photo of Chef Couper’s dish, and the editor’s page included a brief about the College’s role with the Gold Medal Plates.

A print article in the Kelowna Capital News shared details of a new student award at the College created in memory of renowned local author and playwright George Ryga. The Penticton Western News also shared details of the new award online. 

Nurse Courtney Miller is part of the first Bachelor of Science Nursing graduating class to complete the College and UBCO partnership program. The Kelowna Capital News shared her story of an aid trip to Zambia as well as her experience while studying at the College in a May 27 print article as did

College alumnus and the 2015 Young Alumni Award recipient John Perrott is profiled in print and online as the Kelowna Daily Courier’s Top Forty Under 40. He is the economic development officer for the District of West Kelowna.

Also in the news is Distinguished Alumni Award winner, and College alumna, Sareena Nickoli who was profiled in the Morning Star Women in Business insert.

Winners of the Askew’s Foods’ Word on the Lake Writing Contest, held at Okanagan College in May, were announced in the Salmon Arm Observer on May 13.

College employee Skye Chataway, who is also the President of the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition, spoke to Ron Seymour at the Kelowna Daily Courier about how more churchgoers are cycling to Sunday service, as part of Bike to Work Week coverage.

Steve MacNaull’s Valley Views May 20 column in the Kelowna Daily Courier made sure to announce construction starting at the Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna, which includes space for Okanagan College training.

The annual Trunk Sale held at the Kelowna campus was promoted in a Kelowna Daily Courier brief and  in advance, and a follow-up photo was published in the Okanagan Sunday’s May 24 edition.

The memory of College Honorary Fellow Ross Gorman, who passed away last year, was honoured by the Rotary Club which created a new bursary for a welding student at the College in his name. The Kelowna Capital News reported on the announcement both in print and online, including quoting Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

Six students received a big boost as the recipients of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Entrance Scholarship Award for their upcoming studies at the College. The good news was shared by both the Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald who both published photos of the donors with the recipients. The Kelowna Capital News reported the news online.

Stan Chung’s May 24 Global Citizen column in the Okanagan Sunday is in memoriam of Ethan Baptiste who had taught at the College. The article recounts the traditional Aboriginal celebration of life held for Ethan.

A College-contributed editorial for the Kelowna Daily Courier’s 110 Years of Progress special insert explores the growth of the College community, with insights provided by College donors Randy and Evelyn Enns. Randy is an alumnus, having been a student in the College’s first welding class.

An Okanagan College student's positive outlook after having her bike stolen has resulted in the community coming together to replace the bicycle. Read the Kelowna Daily Courier story online.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Axelle Bazett.

To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on June 16, 2015.