College students earn 11 medals at BC Skills Canada

BC Skills WinnersOkanagan College trades and technology students earned three gold, four silver and four bronze medals in a series of high-pressure skills tests at the recent B.C. Skills Canada competition in Abbotsford.
For the second year in a row Okanagan College swept the Electronic Engineering competition, taking all three podium spots. It’s the third year the College has competed in this category; each year students from the program have returned with medals. The College earned gold, silver and bronze in 2013 and took home a silver and bronze in 2012.
Okanagan College’s 2014 medalists are: Dominique Zimmermann, Aircraft Maintenance (gold); Derek Volling, Aircraft Maintenance (bronze); Russell Relling, Automotive Collision Repair (silver); Jay Kendrick, Automotive Collision Repair (bronze); Ken Anderson, Automotive Service (gold); Nick Spottock, Automotive Service (bronze); Christopher Dalton, Carpentry (silver); James Webber, Electronics (gold); Josh Wams, Electronics (silver); Alex Pelton, Electronics (bronze); Bryer Edwards, IT Network Systems Administration (silver).

Winners of the provincial competition are eligible to compete at the nationals, held in June in Toronto. The Okanagan College students who will represent the province in Toronto are Zimmermann, Anderson, and Webber.

For more, see the press release.

Geography students earn national exposure

Geography StudentsLast month, Okanagan College geography students Julia Thielmann and Arianna Lapham participated in a study of international significance and got the opportunity to give a presentation at the Canadian Association of Geographers conference at the University of Victoria.
“We were the only undergraduate students giving a presentation and we were definitely nervous,” said first-year student Lapham. “But we did really well, and the audience was very supportive. We got lots of compliments.”

Led by Dr. Terence Day, College Professor of Geography & Earth and Environmental Science, the idea for the research study began with the College’s purchase of magnetic lab equipment from Lakehead University in Ontario.
Day will be using the magnetic lab equipment in two summer research projects – one in collaboration with UBC Okanagan that will measure properties of rocks from the Himalayas, and another in conjunction with the Royal British Columbia Museum and the University of Lethbridge examining sediment samples from the Merritt area.
For more, see the press release.

Okanagan College photo contest

PhotocontestCalling all amateur and experienced photographers. The College is looking for your best shot of life at Okanagan College for the 2014 photo contest. Open to students and employees, the contest is underway until midnight on Apr. 30.

The contest is accepting photos that showcase student life, in-class and out-of-class activities, student teams, campus landmarks or just general student photos are welcome. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and are eligible for prizes.

To find out more, log into Moodle and read complete contest details and submission requirements in the Okanagan College School of Business Photo Contest posting.

Comforting Canines

Therapy Dogs Spring 2014Eight certified St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dogs and their handlers took turns coming to help students and employees de-stress at the Penticton campus in the two weeks leading up to exam period.
“The therapy dogs are much anticipated by everyone. They really do reduce the stress level and are a welcome break from the routine of the day,” says Penticton campus Regional Dean, Donna Lomas.

Trades Training Complex construction news

canopyPhase three of the new $33-million Trades Training Complex renovation and expansion is about to begin. The Kelowna campus project will result in a significant renovation to all existing trades shops and will bring them up to LEED Platinum standards. The project also includes the construction of a new three-storey tower.

Phase three will include the renovation of all existing shops in the trades building, construction of plumbing and sheet metal shops adjacent to the trades buildings and the three-storey classroom tower. This phase is scheduled to start in May and be completed by December 2015.
The construction will have an impact on students and employees. Beginning in May, the west classroom and office wing of the Trades building will be closed and demolished. This portion of the construction should be complete by July and affects the west wing only.

The east wing will remain open (including O’Tools café, the first aid room, several classrooms, washrooms and locker space).  In addition, a large area in front of the trades building will be fenced off and become a construction zone.
Staff and students on the Kelowna campus should be prepared that starting in May, circulation in and around the trades building along with parking and traffic flow will be affected. Student and staff circulation, parking and traffic flow will be rerouted as needed. The details on this rerouting will be shared closer to the date(s) of impact and clear signage will be posted.

Wrapping up the semester in style

Students celebrated the end of winter semester classes with “It’s a Wrap” parties held at both the Kelowna and Penticton campuses on Apr. 10.

It's a WrapMore than 800 students attended the Kelowna campus party in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning. Activities included a hula-hoop contest, photo booth, limbo contest, and a fishing challenge. Refreshments on offer were ice cream cones, cupcakes, popcorn, and taco chicken wraps. All activities and food stations were supplied and run by different departments. The event also included a draw for a mountain bike, among other prizes.

It's a Wrap PentictonThe Penticton campus party was held in the Community Hall in the Centre of Excellence. More than 250 students attended the event.

“It’s a Wrap has become one of our most popular annual events and this year was no exception. There were a number of activities for students but I think it is safe to say that the mini-golf was the favorite,” says Regional Dean Donna Lomas.


Welcoming two new program Chairs

SCMT Chair Amy VaillancourtAmy Vaillancourt is Okanagan College’s new Chair and lead instructor of the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program in Penticton.

Hailing from Fredericton, N.B., Vaillancourt completed a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of New Brunswick (UNB), and a Masters of Sustainable Development at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is currently completing her PhD through UNB on the sustainability performance assessment of existing Canadian municipal infrastructure. Vaillancourt can be reached via email or ext. 3321.

Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus welcomes Fariba Arjomandi, the new Chair of the Pharmacy Technician program.

“I am most excited and looking forward to teaching the next group of pharmacy technicians and preparing them for an exciting and fulfilling career."

Many employees may already know Arjomandi, who has taught Pharmacology with the Continuing Studies department.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of British Columbia and has worked as a clinical/distribution pharmacist at Vancouver General Hospital and Interior Health and as a retail pharmacist. She can be reached via email or at ext. 4832.

Anthony Isaac joins Student Services

Anthony IsaacAnthony Isaac has replaced James Coble as the Aboriginal Access and Services Coordinator.
Isaac comes to the College from UBC Okanagan, where he has most recently served as an Aboriginal Academic Advisor. Isaac is Objiway and member of the Ojijaak Indoodem, or Crane Clan. His home reserve is within the Bkejwanong Territory in southwestern Ontario.

He completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Western Ontario. His master’s work focused on enhancing knowledge of how First Nations youth transition into post-secondary education.

In his role at UBC Okanagan, he worked hard to build lasting relationships with Aboriginal organizations, community members, and academic professionals in the Okanagan Region.

Isaac can be reached via email or at ext. 4322.

Brian Rhodes’ retirement

Brian Rhodes then and nowAfter 24 years, Brian Rhodes is retiring from Okanagan College’s ESL department in Kelowna. During most of his tenure with the College, he dedicated himself to educational technology.

While his last day of teaching will be Apr. 30, his plans for retirement have already begun.

“In addition to my renewed enthusiasm for horse riding, cross-country skiing, cycling, and golf, I have started a new 'career' of facilitating storytelling among families."

To get details, check out Rhodes’ website,

David Northcott’s retirement

David Northcott

Penticton-based Business Administration professor David Northcott is retiring to devote himself to his humanitarian work, specifically establishing a social business in Lira, Uganda. This is a major endeavour that aims to make a significant difference to the health and welfare of people in Eastern Africa.

On May 1, a retirement party will be taking place in the Kelowna campus cafeteria at 3:30 p.m. 

Northcott will be presenting a slideshow about his Uganda project during the event beginning at 3:45 p.m.

Contact Lynn Kohout for more information and to RSVP.

Brett Wade in Rodale News

Dr. Brett WadeDr. Brett Wade has been doing a lot of North American promotion of his book Ekahi Method in recent months. He was interviewed by several radio stations in the U.S. and had an article published on the Rodale News website.

The article, “Heal your Relationships: 5 Ways to Reset your base frequency,” discusses how you and your partner can have different base frequencies and still find happiness.

For more on Dr. Wade’s book, Ekahi Method, visit the website.

April 22, 2014, Vol. 9, Issue 2


ILT Spring Newsletter

The Institute for Learning and Teaching has just published the spring edition of its newsletter, Enhancing the Practice of Learning and Teaching.

This issue of the newsletter explores how to improve the student experience and support student success. Articles include how to use mindfulness in the classroom, ways to advance the student experience from a disability services perspective, and how students think teachers can enhance their learning experience.

Read the spring issue here.

The fall issue will be published in Nov. 2014. Submissions are welcome, see the following author guidelines.

Pension Plan design changes

Please be aware that there will be changes to the College Pension Plan effective Jan. 1, 2016. Click on the following link for Q&As and an overview on how employees might be affected by these changes.

Authors Exhibit

The Okanagan College library is putting together a major exhibit across all four campuses to showcase the work of its authors including books, book chapters, chapbooks, articles, theses, dissertations, audio-visual media, published conference proceedings, reviews, interviews and reports, for the fall semester.
If you have something you’d like to include in the exhibition, please send details about the work, including author(s) name, title, publisher, and publication date, to Claudia Valencia for consideration.

Do not send the publications themselves at this time, but do indicate whether you own a copy that can be lent to the Library for display. Operational limitations, including availability of material and budget, will ultimately determine which items are included in the exhibits.
For more information about the project, please contact any of the following:

Assistant to the Director, Library Services - Jennifer Heppner (ext. 4664)
Kelowna Campus Librarian: Michelle Ward (ext. 4749)
Penticton Campus Librarian: Anne Cossentine (ext. 3224)
Salmon Arm Campus Librarian: Taryn Schmid (ext. 8253)
Vernon Campus Librarian: Jennifer Sigalet  (ext. 2248)

Family Award application deadline

Applications are now being accepted for the Okanagan College Family Award. This round of applications is for programs or terms starting between May 1 and Aug. 31 and is designed for immediate family members of continuing (regular) Okanagan College employees.

Full award criteria and the application form can be found in myOkanagan: follow the link to OC Express - Forms and then click through to Foundation.

All applications must be date-stamped at the Student Services Administration office in Kelowna or at the Campus Administration office in Penticton, Vernon or Salmon Arm by May 16. 

For more information, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Office at 250-862-5419.

Health and wellness resources

Okanagan College’s Employee Family Assistance Provider, PPC Canada, has changed its name to Optum. Details about the name change are available in the April edition of The Balance Sheet newsletter.

This month’s newsletter also focuses on personal and family financial health and includes articles such as “Emergency Funds: Your First Step Toward Financial Health” and “Ours, Mine and Yours: How Couples Can Successfully Manage Joint Finances.” Read it here.

For more information about Planning for a Successful Retirement, tune in for the free webinar on Wednesday, Apr. 30 at 12 p.m. Click here to register.


Move for Health Day 3 km Walk

Join the Kelowna campus Athletics and Recreation team on May 7 from 12 to 1 p.m. in a group walk to celebrate Move for Health Day 2014.

This event will kick off the Be Well at Okanagan College Challenge. Meet in the Courtyard and bring your lunch to eat after the walk.

Register at A105 or online.

Be Well Challenge

On Wednesday's from 12-1 p.m., May 7- Jun. 25, the Athletics and Recreation team on the Kelowna campus will meet in the Courtyard and lead 3 km walks in local parks and on trails.

Participants of the Be Well Okanagan College Challenge will also receive fitness tips, healthy recipes, myth busters and giveaways. It’s $10 for staff and free for students to participate.

Register at A105 or online.

World record attempt and fundraiser

On Apr. 24, from 12 to 1 p.m., the Human Kinetics Student Society is holding a Tabata class at the Penticton campus. Tabata is a high intensity interval workout and students will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest class of this kind. The class is safe for all fitness levels. To break the world record, they need more than 250 people to participate.

This is also a fundraiser for Penticton Human Kinetics student Will Wright, who qualified to represent Canada in karate in the Junior PanAm Games in August.

RSVP via the Okanagan College Penticton campus Facebook page or email

Okanagan College Social Club

Mark your calendars, the OC Social Club on the Kelowna Campus has set dates for a number of upcoming events:
Friday, Apr. 25: OC Staff Pub Night – Mission Tap House, 4 p.m.
Friday, Jun. 13: OC Staff Fun Golf Tournament – Mission Creek Golf Course (time and registration details TBD)
Saturday, Nov. 29: OC Staff Seasonal Party – German Canadian Harmonie Club (time and ticket details TBD)
More information will be circulated closer to each event, all events will be posted on the Google event calendar.

The Camino de Santiago: A Pilgrim’s Perspective

On Apr. 27, Okanagan College Business professor David Cram is holding a talk about his experience walking the Caminio De Santiago in Spain. This pilgrimage covers approximately 2,000 km, which took him a total of 70 days on three separate occasions.

Cram’s talk takes place from 2-4 p.m. at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO), Mission Creek Regional Park, 2363A Springfield Rd., in Kelowna. the event is free.


A member of the Okanagan Indian Band transitioned into trades training as a result of a program between the band and Okanagan College in Vernon, See Helping Aboriginals find work in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap school district is shutting down its ABE programs, but education options are still available for adult students at Okanagan College, see School district axes adult programs in the Vernon Morning Star.

Okanagan College Honorary Fellow Lois Serwa authored the Senior Moments column in the Okanagan Saturday, see Gold Medal grandmother Lois Serwa remembers.

The Okanagan College Half Marathon event made headlines, see Fleet feet claim half marathon in the Salmon Arm Observer, Day makes quick work of OK race and Cache Creek resident tops OC half-marathon in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Registrar Jane Muskens wrote about the tie between literacy and the skills shortage in her column in the Vernon Morning Star, see Literacy is critical.

Programs promoting dual enrolment for post-secondary students is one way to encourage trades training, see Consider the trades in the Vernon Morning Star.

Olympic medalist and Okanagan College alumna Kelsey Serwa was at Big White Resort signing autographs, see Krazy for Kelsey in Champions.

The Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team starter Tanner Collins saves the game against Nanaimo, see Collins aces for Coyotes in the Kelowna Capital News.

The Coyotes also made the news with the team's recent wins, see Shedden earns starting short-stop spot in the Kelowna Capital News, and Coyotes Win 3 of 4 in Nanaimo in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

For one local mom, Okanagan College’s Practical Nursing program in Penticton was the perfect way to re-enter the workforce, see Practical nursing program launches new career in Southern Exposure.

Okanagan College and four other B.C. colleges have reached a new collective agreement; see College, faculty agree to 5-year pact in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Amy Vaillancourt joins Okanagan College as its new Sustainable Construction Management Technology Chair, see Sustainability expert to lead new program in the Kelowna Daily Courier, and New Face at Okanagan College in the Penticton Herald.

Two students in the geography program participated in some groundbreaking research and recently presented at a major conference, see Okanagan College students’ research gains national exposure in the Kelowna Capital News.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Meredith Birchall-Spencer.

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 May 6, 2014.