Convocation ceremonies celebrate and elevate

convo guysThe black gowns, the red, blue, gold, and maroon hoods, turned the courtyard at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus into a sea of colour as the annual Convocation season kicked off earlier this month.

This year marked one of the largest groups of students completing their trades training, with nearly 1,000 students recognized at the Commencement ceremony on the Friday night. The evening also included the presentation of more than 30 awards.

convo morning ernieOn Saturday, the morning and afternoon ceremonies conferred degrees and diplomas on more than 450 students from a variety of fields including: Bachelor of Business Administration, Associate of Arts or Science degrees, Engineering Technology diplomas, Commercial Aviation diplomas and many others.

The Saturday ceremony also included the bestowing of Honorary Fellows of the College on Little Shuswap Indian Band elder and international performer Ernie Philip (seated next to Aboriginal Services coordinator James Coble above), and local orchardist and agri-tourism entrepreneur Alan Gatzke (below with President Jim Hamilton).

convo gatzkeConvocation ceremonies continue June 25 in Vernon, when the College confers seven degrees, 20 diplomas, nine associate degrees, and 38 certificates on the students in attendance. Another 85 Continuing Studies certificates will also be conferred.

The season ends June 27 with Summer Convocation when the College confers 75 diplomas, 276 certificates, and 210 Continuing Studies certificates.

At that time, the College will recognize Barry Lapointe, Co-founder, CEO and past President of Kelowna Flightcraft, as an Honorary Fellow.

First female carpenter in BC to speak at Women in Trades Conference

Women in Trades conferenceAuthor and Red Seal carpenter Kate Braid will be the keynote speaker at Okanagan College’s 2013 TRADE UP! Women in Trades Conference, which takes place July 6 at the Kelowna campus.

Kate Braid wrote about her entry into the trades in the 1970s in her book Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World, which was released last year. Over the years she hit a number of firsts including becoming the first woman to join the Vancouver local of the Carpenters’ Union, and was one of the first women to own her own construction company.

The free conference will feature a wide view of trades today and what it looks like for women. Other presentations include young worker safety, working in camps, electrical safety, and entrepreneurship.

“This Women in Trades Conference is building on the success we have enjoyed with our Women in Trades programs at Okanagan College since 2009,” said Program Administrator Nancy Darling. “We’ve designed this conference to give women in trades, and those interested in entering the trades a chance to connect, learn more, and appreciate what can be accomplished in this field today.”

To register for the conference, visit

Musician hits high note with new jam camp

Henry PiovesanThe musically inclined have a chance to tune-up any long-lost skills with a new course being offered this summer with a first class musician.

Henry Piovesan, who studied music under Quincy Jones and Chuck Mangione and played sessions with the likes of Patrick Simmons from the Doobie Brothers, is hosting two weeklong camps this July designed to get musicians jamming in ways they never thought imaginable.

“Your existing abilities are all you need to jam,” Piovesan said. “Come with your instrument, a positive outlook, a playful spirit and an open ear.”

The camps are designed for those ages 15 and up, and Piovesan suspects many of those interested could have an even longer history with music, and instruments hiding in their basements.

“I’ve talked to so many people who tell me they’ve got a guitar, or an old saxophone, or maybe even a banjo their spouse gave them, and sometimes they bring it out and play it in their backyard, but they don’t have anyone to share that with,” said Henry Piovesan. “There’s too many of these guys and gals out there.”

To read the full media release, click here.

Mercedes drives up College scholarships

Mercedes-Benz raffle winnerA Kelowna man zoomed off with a near-vintage Mercedes-Benz, while the Okanagan College Foundation collected more than $4,000 in donations in a unique raffle to raise funds for trades scholarships.

Leo Doody won the raffle, which was drawn following the College’s Convocation ceremonies on June 8.

The 1989 Mercedes-Benz was donated to the College last month by Ute Koessler, who has donated many items to the College including valuable photographic equipment that belonged to her deceased son.

Okanagan College shines at Skills Canada

Brandon Scott 2013 skillsTwo Okanagan College students returned home with medals from the national Skills Canada competition, which took place June 5 – 8 in Vancouver.

Electronic Engineering Technology student Nathanael Bergmann came home with silver in the electronics category, while Collision Repair student Brandon Scott (left) took bronze in the Automotive Collision Repair category.

This marks the third year running that Okanagan College has reached the national podium in the electronics competition.

The weekend’s success also re-established the College’s Automotive Collision Repair performance on the national stage.

“This is the first time in four years that we’ve made it to the national podium, so this was a big deal for us to carry on that tradition once more,” said Collision Repair department chair Jeff Francis. Since 2000, students from the College’s Collision Repair department have reached the podium eight times.

To read the full media release, click here.

Get a glimpse of Ethiopia in Kelowna

ethiopiaOkanagan School of Business students, who returned from attending the Ethiopia Field School this past spring, will be presenting their findings at a special event, which takes place at the Kelowna campus Thursday, June 20 from 5 – 7:30 p.m., Room E202.

Nine students travelled to the African country as part of their studies in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, alongside professors Dr. Shei Seaton and David Northcott from the Penticton campus and Dr. Lynn Sparling from the Kelowna campus.

Their visual presentations will cover various projects they worked on while there, including building bio-sand water filters, training vocational students about entrepreneurship, making initial contacts for a business partnership with a local hospital to provide CT scans, and providing guidance on the development of a business plan for a community garden.

Students taking part were Jennifer Crookes, Drew Dawson, Jonelle Mamer-Harasen, Cyndel Miller, Landon Orr, Drew Vincent and Laine Weighill, and (in photo) Amy Cannan and Lacey Cross.


Allan Hickey takes on Associate Registrar role

Allan Hickey associate registrarAllan Hickey, formerly of IT Services, has taken on a new role at Okanagan College as the Associate Registrar, Systems.

Allan joined Okanagan University College in 1999 as a Senior Programmer/Analyst in IT Services. During his 14 years in the department he contributed greatly in the areas of project management and client service. Most recently Allan held the role of Software Services Coordinator.

Allan is excited about the new opportunity in the Registrar’s Office and is looking forward to contributing his experience in project management methodology in order to support technology processes.

Admissions Assistant receives Masters degree

heather brownHeather Brown, who works at the Kelowna campus, celebrated her Master of Arts degree alongside her daughter as the two graduated from UBC-Okanagan at the same convocation ceremony held earlier this month.

Heather Brown achieved her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, while her daughter Catherine received her Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Psychology.
As part of her degree requirements, she successfully completed and defended her thesis entitled "Aging Gracefully: A Case Study of Seniors in Kelowna’s Housing Market”. Her thesis can be viewed here.
Brown, who is also a Fellow with the College’s Institute of Learning and Teaching, is continuing her education through the Provincial Instructors Program at Vancouver Community College.

First Aid instructor moves on

Michelle Riches 2Michelle Riches, who has been teaching First Aid courses for 24 years at the College’s Revelstoke Centre, is moving to Penticton this month.

Riches brought her knowledge from her work as a nurse at the Queen Victoria Hospital and as an ambulance worker. Over the years, she’s attracted an exceptional following with students travelling from as far away as Alberta to attend her classes.

Bike to Work rides to Indian Head Saskatchewan 

bikeThis year a total of 45 Okanagan College riders, including 17 first-timers, took part in the Bike to Work event, held earlier this month.

The group braved some soggy conditions to achieve a total distance of 1,531 kms – the equivalent of cycling from Kelowna to Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

The goal now is to ride to work at least once a week through the summer and into September. Team members are always welcome. To find out to take part, contact Paul Stephenson.

And congratulations to Heavy Duty/commercial Transport Mechanics instructor instructor Blair Penfound, who won two nights accommodation at any Accent Inn in B.C.


Okanagan College warms up crowd

Jenn Naiman and Heather Carson from the College’s Athletics and Recreation team helped warm up the crowd for the annual Walk to Fight Arthritis held in Kelowna on Sunday.

About 300 people took part in the Kelowna event, which helped to raise a total of $1.7 million for the cause nation-wide.

Jun. 18, 2013 Vol. 8, Issue 6


POST Update

In response to performance issues with POST when downloading applicant documents, PeopleAdmin has advised that an upgrade is planned for the hardware infrastructure to improve the overall product performance. The upgrade will be implemented by PeopleAdmin within a few months once the planning, development and testing stages have been successfully completed.

Hours change at Kelowna fitness facility

The fitness facility at the Kelowna campus will be closing at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 for campus electrical upgrades.

In addition, the facility will also be closed for the upcoming holiday weekend, starting Friday, June 28 at 4 p.m. The facility will re-open Tuesday, July 2 at 7 a.m.


June 18  - The Okanagan College Alumni Association is hosting a special wine tasting at Volcanic Hills in conjunction with its Annual General Meeting. Documents are available on the alumni website. Space is limited. To register, visit Eventbrite.

June 20 – Okanagan College Business Administration students present on their recent field trip to Ethiopia, where they assisted with various projects including training vocational students about entrepreneurship. The drop-in event is in Room E202 at the Kelowna campus from 5 – 7:30 p.m.

June 21 – 24 – The Kelowna campus hosts the RV Owners Lifestyle Seminar, where new and seasoned RV owners can gain valuable travel and vehicle information. Fee is $190 per person. For more information, click here.

June 21 – 23 OC4 Cyclosportif rolls through all four campuses, with an interactive group cycle designed by the Geography and Earth and Environmental Science faculty. The ride starts Friday in Salmon Arm and ends Sunday in Penticton.

June 25 – The Vernon Convocation takes place at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Theatre.

June 26 – Donors are invited to the Penticton campus for a special reception with Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Okanagan College Foundation President Alf Kempf. The event takes place at 4:30 p.m.

June 27 – Okanagan College holds its Summer Convocation at the Kelowna campus at 6 p.m.

July 6 – The Women in Trades Conference takes place at the Kelowna campus with presentations, keynote speakers and demonstrations. To register, visit


An Okanagan Saturday photographer captured Culinary Arts students as they waited to be called up at the commencement ceremony. See: Okanagan College Culinary Arts graduates.

Okanagan College will recognize the achievements of more than 1,450 students, reported the Daily Courier. Read: OK College grads already finding work.

In an Okanagan Sunday special supplement a mom talks about her daughter’s graduation from Okanagan College. Read: Ready for what comes next.

The Daily Courier highlighted the medal wins of two Okanagan College students at the Skills Canada competition. Read: College students shine in medal wins. The paper also picked up the media release promoting the competition. Read: Students go for gold in national skills event, from the Courier, and OC students on Skills Canada podium.

Registrar Jane Muskens wrote about the College’s new three-year diploma in Sustainable Construction Management Technology in her School’s In column in the Capital News. Read: Sustainable economic methods a job pathway to the future. Earlier in the month, she wrote about a session she attended at the Association of Community Colleges conference with the director general from Dawson College. Read: Role of colleges key to reaching nation building objectives.

Honorary Fellow Yasmin John-Thorpe wrote a letter to the editor of Okanagan Saturday about colleges and literacy. Read: Conference helps boost literacy in the valley.

Also in the letters section, outgoing president James Knight, of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, thanked Okanagan College for hosting their annual conference. Read: ACCC thanks Penticton, in the Penticton Herald.

The Capital News picked up a media release regarding the College’s new Pastry Arts certificate program. Read: Celebrating the art of pastry.

The Salmon Arm Observer wrote a story about the Adult Special Education Department and instructor Wanda Radies. Read: Students work to gain support and place to meet.

Okanagan College has an additional few thousand dollars to hand out to deserving trades students thanks to a car raffle. Read: College raffle raises $4,000, in the Okanagan Sunday.

The Capital News published a media release regarding the recent donation of photographic equipment to Okanagan College. Read: Late photographer helps college, and Okanagan College sharpens its image with donated equipment.

Dancing robots and dedicated kids from Shuswap Middle school are on their way to the Netherlands for the World RoboCup Junior Competition. Read: Competing for RoboCup. In order to reach the nationals, the students took first place at the Western Canada RoboCup Junior competition held at the College last fall.

An overwhelming majority of seniors feel safe in Kelowna, according to a new study by Heather Brown, who just received her master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and works as an Admissions Assistant at Okanagan College. Read: Study suggests Kelowna seniors feel safe.


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

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The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on July 2, 2013.