Students’ successes applauded at
Convocation ceremonies

Grads groupFaculty, College employees, and families gathered at the College’s Kelowna campus on June 5 and 6 to celebrate the academic success of students who completed their programs at Okanagan College this spring. On Friday evening 920 Trades students were recognized at an evening Commencement ceremony. Then, on Saturday, an additional 438 students were conferred their credentials. 

Honorary Fellows Mr. Rodney James Butters, renowned chef and owner of RauDZ Regional Table and Micro Bar Bites, and Mr. Norman Embree, entrepreneur, public servant, and former Chair of the Interior Health Authority, addressed graduates with inspiring speeches about career success, passion in what you do, and the importance of being innovative and creative.

The Saturday Convocations recognized seven students for their outstanding merit:

  • Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal and Bachelor of Business Administration Medal: Amanda Lee Wright
  • Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze Medal, Business Administration Diploma: Tuomas Mikael Lahdenranta
  • Associate of Arts Degree Medal: Jennifer Michele Riddell-Meyer
  • Associate of Science Degree Medal: Conor Douglas Barrie
  • Bachelor of Computer Information Systems Medal: Marc Robert Schroth
  • President’s Award Diploma – Computer Information Systems: Matthew Michael Delorme
  • President’s Award Diploma – NTeN: Patrick Henry Sinotte

Grad GurdeepIn a College press release Practical Nursing diploma program graduate Gurdeep Dhanoa shared her experience of immigrating to Canada from India and her pursuit of education in order to secure employment in her nursing field. She credits the instructors at the College and the varied program options for getting her on the path. Immediately following the completion of her program, she was offered a nursing position at Kelowna’s Brandt’s Creek Mews. Read the press release about her OC experience here.

Two additional Convocation ceremonies will be held later in June: Vernon on June 23 and Kelowna on June 25.

More than 2,000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2015 before the end of the month.

Okanagan College graduates top of their game
at Skills Canada

Josh Wams skills goldGraduating Okanagan College students demonstrated their expertise once again at the 2015 Skills Canada National Competition held in Saskatoon bringing home three medals, including a gold in Electronics earned by Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program student Josh Wams.

During the challenge, Vernon resident Wams designed, built, troubleshot and programed a printed circuit board-PCB. Wams’ coach, instructor Kevin Bradshaw, pointed out that Wams’ exceptional soldering skills with the assembly of the circuit board was what set him apart. This marks the fourth year that an Okanagan College student has earned a podium finish in the Electronics category at the national skills testing event.

Earning a bronze medal in Automotive Service Tech was Ethan Delichte, who completed the fourth level of his Automotive Service Technician Apprentice at the College and is currently employed at Car Craft Automotive. Also earning a bronze was Nathan Schulte, who studied in the Plumbing and Piping Foundation program and he is working at Modulux. Each were coached respectively by instructors Jamie Bloomfield and Bruce Slater.

The Skills Canada National Competition sees more than 500 students from across the country compete in over 40 skilled trade and technology contest areas each year. For more information, read the press release here.

Penticton campus LEEDs the way
as an example in sustainability

Penticton LEEDThe Canada Green Building Council recently awarded Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation in Penticton LEED Platinum certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is globally recognized as a means of assessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.

Since it opened in 2011, the building’s sustainable features have earned it numerous international awards and attention, including being one of three buildings in North America featured by the New York Times as examples of carbon-neutral campus architecture.

The College’s goal is to have the Centre of Excellence achieve the Living Building Challenge standard, which is based both on construction and continuing performance. It is a higher standard than LEED Platinum and requires the building be carbon neutral, among other things.

To read more about the Centre’s sustainable features, read the press release or visit the webpage.

Northside donation keeps Trades campaign
on upward arc 

Northside DonationNorthside Industries, a steel manufacturing company based in West Kelowna, has donated $30,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign, noting that training the next wave of welders will be crucial for the local manufacturing industry. The donation will support the construction of three new welding booths in the complex, which is currently under renovation.
Northside provides manufacturing services to a variety of sectors including oil and gas, forestry, heavy duty transport, and military. With welding playing a key role in many of these services, Steve McKay, President of Northside Industries, said he often looks to Okanagan College’s welding program for new apprentices.
The company is also an active member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the welding program—a group of organizations and individuals that consults with the College’s Trades department to provide insights into the latest industry trends and training needs. Recent feedback from the Welding program PAC indicated that there remains demand for welders in other sectors despite the slowdown in the Alberta oil patch.
Follow this link to read the press release about the announcement, and for more information about the campaign click here.


Melanie Wasilenkoff joins the Recruitment team  

Melanie WasilenkoffMelanie Wasilenkoff joined Okanagan College’s Registrar’s Office Recruitment department on June 9 as the Recruitment & Events Assistant at the Penticton campus.

Melanie is a recent graduate of the College’s BBA program. She is originally from Castlegar and has held positions at the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College and at Okanagan College where she was a Research Assistant working on the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

Melanie will be based out of the Penticton campus and can be reached at local 3205.

Stephanie Harrington joins Continuing Studies

Stephanie HarringtonStephanie Harrington joined Continuing Studies in early June and will be working jointly with Public Affairs as a Marketing and Communications Specialist for the portfolio.

Her professional experience includes working as a journalist and editor for newspapers and magazines in Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

She has worked in communications and media relations at universities in Brisbane, Australia, and Victoria, B.C., before moving to Kelowna. Stephanie grew up in Hamilton, and completed a Bachelor of Journalism and English at Carleton University. She earned a Master of Creative Industries (Interdisciplinary) at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, and is working on a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria. She has produced podcasts for The Malahat Review and the Victoria Writers Festival.

Stephanie is working out of the Public Affairs office on the fifth floor of the Centre for Learning building in Kelowna and can be reached at extension 4657.

Dr. Dennis Silvestrone is PRAISEworthy

Silvestrone awardDr. Dennis Silvestrone, the College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development, received the PRAISE (Performance Recognition for Achievement, Innovation, Service and Excellence) Award from the Canadian Institute of Management (CIM) in early June in recognition of his commitment to the Winnipeg Branch of the organization.
Silvestrone worked at the University of Manitoba before coming to Okanagan College and was very active in promotion and development of CIM members while he was there. Wilfred Barranoik, a former west/central region president with CIM and current chapter membership director for British Columbia and the Yukon presented the award to Silvestrone.
The Canadian Institute of Management is Canada's senior management association with 16 chapters coast-to-coast. It is dedicated to enhancing managerial skills and professional development.

Click here for the press release sharing the award’s announcement.

College program inspires mature Aboriginal learner
to chart a new course

Edna FelixReturning to the classroom 40 years later, Splatsin Nation Spiritual Helper and Elder Edna Felix found the opportunity to change her life’s course by participating in the Stepping Forward program at the College’s Salmon Arm campus.

After her husband had passed away, Felix was inspired by a social worker to pursue further schooling with the 21-week program. Offered through Continuing Studies, the Stepping Forward program provides pre-employment skills and essential skills training, as well as Adult Basic Education upgrading. It also incorporates traditional First Nations heritage teachings and culture workshops. Funding for the program has been provided through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund Agreement. The Ministry of Advanced Education supported the program with funds from the Aboriginal Community Based Delivery Partnership Program.

Felix and her 24 classmates from the Neskonlith Band, Adams Lake Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band, and Splatsin Nation, graduated in March 2015. With qualifications and certifications training in hand, Felix today is gainfully employed as a dishwasher and prep cook at the Wicked Spoon in Salmon Arm. Her long-term goal is to open and manage an elders home and she has already applied to the College’s Health Care Assistant certificate program.

Find out more about Felix’s path to education by following this link, or viewing this video.

OC Nursing alumna recognized at ceremony
marking inter-institution partnership 

Nursing roseDawn Sears, an Okanagan College Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Practical Nursing diploma alumna, received the honourable College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC) Professionalism Award at a Rose Ceremony held at UBC Okanagan on June 6.  Only one award of its kind is bestowed to a student in the graduating class. The award recognized Sears for having exemplified professionalism in nursing through her interactions with patients, peers, and faculty members. Her calm demeanour was noted in her being a role model for the clinical group.
The Rose Ceremony serves to welcome new graduates into the nursing field in a commemorative way with the presentation of red roses to newly graduated registered nurses. This year's ceremony marked the first group of graduates who completed the first two years of their degree at the College, and transferred to UBCO for the final two years. It is a testament of the successful partnership between the two institutions. At the ceremony, Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology, and Health addressed the class and inspired them about the diverse career a nursing degree provides.

Bike to Work team cycled 2,918kms

Bike to workThis year 84 OC riders joined Bike to Work week, the biggest team to date. Breaking another record, the team also rode the longest distance with 2,918 kms collectively logged. The distance is equivalent of riding from Kelowna to east of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Congratulations to OC employee Mitsuyo Kaneda who won the grand prize of a CCM Lucerne commuter bike (with aluminum frame and pannier bags). The OC Bike to Work team was proudly sponsored by both BCGEU and Central Okanagan Regional Dean Heather Schneider.

If you are interested in beginning a safe, sustainable, personal program of occasionally riding to work, please contact Paul Stephenson.

June 16, 2015, Vol. 10, Issue 6


Vernon and Summer Convocation

Two Convocation ceremonies will be held later this June to confer credentials to Vernon and summer graduands.  

  • Vernon Convocation Tue, June 23 @ 4:30 p.m.
  • Summer Convocation Thu, June 25 @ 6 p.m.  (Kelowna campus)

For more information about Convocation, visit the website.

Submit conference session proposals

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 and 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

Reach Out newsletter

A new edition of the Registrar’s Office e-newsletter Reach Out is now available online.  It includes reminders of important dates, notification of Education Council approvals, program features and general information about what is happening in the Registrar’s Office. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list, or have any questions, email Carlyn Young.

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

Until the end of June, 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 through the Great Canadian Giving Challenge. Each dollar you donate earns the Foundation an entry into the grand prize. Contact Richard McAdam (local 4772), or visit the Foundation’s Facebook page or for more information.

Kelowna gym summer hours

The fitness facility hours at the Kelowna campus will change for July and August (through to Friday Sept. 4). New hours will be:

  • Mon. to Fri.: open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sat. and Sun.: closed
  • Statutory holidays: closed

Become a host family for short-term international students

This summer, the College’s International Education Department Homestay Program is looking for Kelowna-area families to spend a part of the summer or early fall hosting some international students.
Program durations range between one and four weeks during July, August, and September. Homes on the Kelowna side of the bridge are preferred and must be on a good bus route.
Host requirements include:

  • Pre-arrival host meeting
  • Airport pickup and drop off
  • Provide three meals plus snacks per day
  • Private room with comfortable bed
  • Occasional ride to/from school or events

Host families receive approximately $25 per student per day. More information about hosting and an application form can be found online.

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 provide tips on 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.


Connections 2015 registration 

Aug. 18 -19 – Join your colleagues at the College’s 10th annual employee learning conference taking place at the Kelowna campus from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. Employees can register for one of the two days here.

To plan your day, see full descriptions of each workshop on the Workshop Planner.

Explore effective learning & teaching environments at Planting The Seeds event

Aug 24 and 25 – New and continuing faculty are invited to participate in a two-day interactive workshop held at the Kelowna campus that will focus on creating effective learning and teaching environments. The "Planting The Seeds" event is presented by Learning and Teaching and IT Services.

Much like planting a seed and watching it grow, learning and teaching provides a rewarding, organic experience of growth. This two-day workshop will look at the multiple topics to foster learner centered educational environments.

Register for the event by emailing Carla Whitten. Questions about the event can be directed to Ross McKerlich at ext. 4921.  


Local media joined in celebrating the College’s Convocation ceremonies with stories dominating the weekend’s papers. The Okanagan Sunday recapped the ceremonies and Honorary Fellows addresses in the OC grads urged to change world for the better article in print and online, including a photo page of the day's events. In the same paper, managing editor Dave Trifunov published an editorial congratulating grads and advising them to pursue their passion. The Kelowna Daily Courier wrote about student Gurdeep Dhanoa’s education path from India to Okanagan College in the pursuit of a nursing career in a June 5 article appearing in print and online. The outlet also included an online photo gallery from the ceremonies. The Kelowna Capital News also shared Dhanoa’s success story online.

Stan Chung’s June 7 Global Citizen Column in the Okanagan Sunday and online describes seven points about how colleges create jobs. In response to his column, a letter to the editor in both the Penticton Herald and Kelowna Daily Courier from Bill Everitt, COO Southern Interior Construction Association, and Manley McLachlan, president of the B.C. Construction Association, supports Chung’s observations.

The Kelowna Capital News was quick to share news of graduating student Josh Wams’ gold medal win at the 2015 Skills Canada National Competition in the Electronics division in their online edition. also shared the good news including the two bronze medals students also brought home from the national challenge.

Being green earned some ink in the Kelowna Daily Courier’s June 15 paper, the feature article Recognition keeps coming for one of the world’s most sustainable building focuses on the Penticton campus earning the LEED Platinum designation. The Penticton Herald also shared the significant environmental achievement in their June 16 print edition, as did, and the Real Estate Management Industry Network.

News of students receiving $2,500 entrance awards through the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Entrance Scholarship for their studies at Okanagan College was captured by the Summerland Review in early June.

Another student award recipient, Catherine Links studying in the Health Care Assistant program, was noted as the recipient of the W. Brett Wilson Prize in the Business Examiner’s July issue.

The Business Examiner highlighted this year’s Okanagan College Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award winner Sareena Sharma Nickoli, as well as Young Alumni Award winner John Perrott in their July and June editions respectively.

The same outlet also published a recap of the Shuswap Launch-a-preneur. The event is co-organized by the College’s Enactus students, and the College’s instructor Andrew Klingel was one of the judges.

Another alumna in the news, Siobhan McManus, senior development officer at the KGH Foundation, is the 38th profile in the Daily Courier’s Top Forty Under Forty.

International student Rita Kabongoya, studying in Penticton, created a greeting cards project as part of InStill Life to help children in her home village of Kawsa, in Uganda. Her good-will efforts were captured in an article in the Penticton Herald’s June 8 print edition.

Splatsin Elder Edna Felix’s inspiring story about returning to a classroom 40 years later with the Stepping Forward Program was featured in the Vernon Morning Star’s online edition.

In a feature article with the Osoyoos Times on June 3, Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship, speaks about the increased demand of trained skilled professionals and in turn the increased interest by students to seek trades training.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign reaching the $4-million mark was captured by the Vernon Morning Star in early June in print and online, and was also featured in the Kelowna Capital News print edition on June 10.

Additional campaign news about the donation made by Andrew Sheret Limited, was published in the Vernon Morning Star. While Okanagan Life Magazine chose to print a photo of Dale Lamb from D.K.L Financial Services and OC alumnus, to capture their contribution made to the campaign. In an online story, the Kelowna Capital News shared Northside Industries' donation to the campaign.

Staying in the know about all things RV, Forever Young Magazine published the schedule of seminars at the upcoming RV Owners Lifestyle Seminars to be held at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus June 19-22.

Foodies were given notice of the new June 10 Food Flicks event, in partnership with Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program, with a post on  and also via the Kelowna Capital News online edition.

A Global Okanagan segment looking at the rise of trendy restaurants in downtown Kelowna included commentary by Chef Bernard Casavant, Culinary Arts Manager at the College and Director of the B.C. Restaurant Association.    

From food to wine, KelownaNow shared submission details for the B.C. Wine Awards, which will be judged in the fall at the Okanagan College B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre in Penticton.

Okanagan College professor Colin Snowsell’s short story titled “Krankowsky," published in the University of Victoria’s esteemed literary journal the Malahat Review, led to him being interviewed in the June issue of the Malahat Review Lite.

The Kelowna Capital News online reported that an economic roundtable of business leaders, including Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of the College’s School of Business, agreed that the key to continued growth in the Thompson-Okanagan economy is the ability to attract skilled labour.

The Kelowna Capital News profiled Tammy Auranen, who runs SunRype’s IT department, as the Crowe MacKay’s Women to Watch profile series. Auranen mentioned she hopes to encourage more women to work in the tech sector, and is working with both Okanagan College and UBCO towards that goal.

The Summerland Review described the Penticton Adventurers Club visit to Agur Lake, including their stop at three cabins built by Okanagan College’s Trades department and Agur Lake Camp.

KelownaNow helped spread the word that the College is looking for Kelowna families to host international students for the summer and early fall as part of the homestay program. 

Okanagan businessman and columnist John Thomson, who passed away on June 7, was remembered by Kelowna Daily Courier’s columnist Steve MacNaull in his Valley Views column. Thomson received an Honorary Doctorate from Okanagan University College in 1999.


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 30, 2015.