Fall enrolment numbers remain strong

The number of students enrolled in Trades and Apprenticeship programs at Okanagan College this fall has increased by 21 per cent over last year, according to the fall enrolment report. Overall, the number of students taking classes at the College remains steady.

Numbers drawn from the report show 5,853 students taking classes as of mid-September, compared to 5,851 at the same time in 2012. The fall enrolment report is a snapshot that only tells part of the story, explained Andrew Hay, Vice President Education.

“Students begin programs at the College at various points during the year," said Hay. "One of the interesting things about the fall snapshot is that our overall enrolment held steady this fall, while the number of Grade 12 students from the school districts within our region dropped by about 3.4 per cent last year.”

The Penticton campus saw a 9.3 per cent growth in student numbers, with 655 students in 2013 compared to 599 in 2012. The Salmon Arm campus experienced a 13.9 per cent decrease in student numbers (291 compared to 338). Kelowna’s enrolment was nearly steady, 4,193 vs. 4,197. Enrolment in Vernon was also relatively steady – 714 students this fall compared to 717 in 2012.

Health and Social Development programming grew by 11 per cent, to 467 students, from 422. Student numbers in Arts programs across the institution dropped by about 11 per cent (1,267 students compared to 1,420).

Science, Engineering Technology, Business and Foundational program headcounts are relatively stable this fall compared to last; each is within about one to two per cent of last year’s numbers.

The number of international students grew by 11 per cent (382 vs. 344).

Rockin’ robotics

RoboCup by Levi SapachOkanagan College welcomed more than 200 budding engineers on Friday, Nov. 29 for RoboCup Junior. Teams wowed the judges with their robots engaging in challenges in the Dance, Soccer and Rescue categories.  

“The creations were exceptional,” says Nadir Ould-Khessal, Chair of the Electronic Engineering department.

This year, students were able to participate in even more challenges as a result of a generous donation to RoboCup by TELUS through the Okanagan College Foundation.

“RoboCup provides a great platform to showcase technology and innovation in a high energy format that promotes creativity,” says Steve Jenkins, TELUS General Manager for Interior South BC.

The top three teams in the primary and secondary age groups received a TELUS Award, comprised of an electronics kit, and the winners are now eligible to represent Canada at the 2014 World RoboCup championship, July 19-25, in Brazil.

In addition to TELUS, other sponsors for the event were ASTTBC – Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC, Tekmar Control Systems, and Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.

Photo by Levi Sapach.

For more information, see the News section of the website.

Promoting Aboriginal student literacy in Salmon Arm

Coyote ReadsA generous donation of 1,500 children’s books from the collection of former Salmon Arm resident Dr. Andrea Deakin to Okanagan College’s library was the start of something big for student literacy in the Salmon Arm community.

Coyote Reads is a partnership between the College, SD 83 and the Literary Alliance of the Shuswap Society. The afterschool literacy program brings Aboriginal students from middle and elementary schools to the College twice a week to spend time in the Salmon Arm campus library, read books from the collection, and work on their reading skills.

“The College is an enthusiastic partner and offers the benefit of access to the Dr. Andrea Deakin collection of thousands of works of children’s literature housed here in our campus library,” says Okanagan College fundamental literacy instructor Tracy Riley.

“We are situated within walking distance to a middle school and several elementary schools,” she says. “The students and their parents are very comfortable visiting and we’re hoping some day they return to us as College students to continue along their educational pathway.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the Salmon Arm campus launched the third annual Coyote Reads program with a treasure hunt, presentations, and bannock and tea.

“The kids are making friends, developing a sense of love and belonging and we can see them really looking forward to their sessions at the College,” says Irene LaBoucane, School District #83 Principal for Aboriginal Education North Okanagan.

For more information, see the press release on the News section of the website.

Alumna launches Pay it Forward campaign

Sarah Comba Pay it ForwardRunning until Dec. 6, Pay it Forward volunteers are collecting the following much-needed items at the Kelowna campus: new or gently used winter gear, new toiletries, baby formula and supplies, and unwrapped toys for children aged 2 to 16 years. 

“The need grows each year because the face of poverty and homelessness in Kelowna is shifting,” says event organizer and Okanagan College alumna Sarah Comba. “There are many working families who are struggling. They may be able to pay the rent or heat their home, but not both. They can afford some of life’s necessities, but not all.”

Comba started the initiative after an experience she had volunteering with the Gospel Mission. An elderly client refused Comba’s offer of two pairs of socks, insisting that Sarah give one of the pairs to someone else in need.

“It was one of those unforgettable moments that stay with you for a lifetime,” says Comba. “It showed me the potential ripple effect of change. A small act for one person can be a big thing for someone else, which is the whole idea behind Pay it Forward.”

Donations can be dropped off between 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the International Education office or with Athletics and Recreation at the Kelowna Campus. Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and Inn from the Cold will distribute the items collected. For more information, contact Lynn Johnson or Heather Carson.

Trades and Apprenticeship opens its doors to parents

In an effort to help parents and their children make the best education and career decisions possible, Okanagan College and Discover Trades BC are partnering to host a Parent-Teacher Conference at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Friday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“During the day, we’ll raise awareness of how skilled tradespeople affect our daily lives, break the myths associated with trades careers, and highlight the diversity of opportunities within the trades,” says Dianne Holm of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.

Parents will even have the opportunity to participate in real projects, such as building walls and using simulation equipment.

“The emphasis is on how we—industry, parents and educators—can work together to provide our children and students with the right tools, understanding, assistance and opportunities to learn how trades can provide them with fulfilling and productive careers,” says Holm.

Getting the word out

The Public Affairs Department of Okanagan College sent out the following media releases in the last two weeks:

Okanagan College Foundation hands out thousands of dollars to Kelowna students

Open audition call for Okanagan College Red Dot Players annual production

Jobs a focus of new Okanagan College and Kal Tire partnership

8th annual Okanagan College Pay it Forward drive now accepting donations

Celebration of Coyote Reads after-school literacy program partnership at Okanagan College

TELUS dials in to Western Canada’s RoboCup Junior event with big donation to Okanagan College Foundation

College sees significant growth in trades, while overall fall enrolment remains steady

College provides critical support to parents of individuals with autism

Competing students rock their robots at 8th annual RoboCup Junior


Vernon English professor up for major award

Jeremy LanawayVernon English Professor Jeremy Lanaway and his story “Downturn” have been nominated for the Journey Prize, a $10,000 award given to an emerging writer for a short story published in a Canadian literary publication.

The story is about a brief but momentous exchange between a banker and a pool cleaner. While their lives seem like polar opposites at first glance, they turn out to be distanced only by a decision or two.

It was published in the Spring 2013 issue of The Fiddlehead, a literary journal from Atlantic Canada.

Writing and Publishing student wins short story contest

The 3-hour Short Story Contest winner was Mary Bevan, a first-year Writing and Publishing student from the Kelowna campus. Bevan's story, “The Use in Usefulness” earned the writer a $500 tuition credit and her story will be published in a limited fine-press edition created by the students in the Writing and Publishing Diploma program and Kalamalka Press.

The contest, which had 65 registrants across four campuses, featured current Okanagan College students and local high school students from Grades 11 and 12 writing an original literary piece in 180 minutes using the secret phrase “burning fields.”

“The contest was once again an energizing experience for everyone in the English Department who participated,” said Sean Johnston, Okanagan College English Professor and contest organizer. "For the contestants, it was invigorating and challenging.”
The other regional winners were Amelia Moore (Salmon Arm Secondary) for “The Silent Road Trip,” Carley Dolman (OC Vernon campus) for “Kella the Seer,” and Gwyneth Meghan Steele (OC Penticton campus) for “Sunlit Memories.”
Read the winning stories on the website.

Penticton hosts student holiday party

Penticton Holiday LunchMore than 200 students got into the holiday spirit as the Penticton campus hosted its annual student lunch on Nov. 26.

Attendees enjoyed turkey with all the trimmings served by College employees and the Okanagan College Student Union.

Judy Colpitts is retiring

Judy ColpittsJudy Colpitts, Disability Coordinator at the Kelowna campus, will be retiring on Dec. 20.

“I will really miss the people—both employees and students. Everyone I have worked with has been phenomenal,” she says.

“Being here has given me so many amazing opportunities outside of work,” says Colpitts speaking of her involvement with wild horse rescue. “Helping the community is something Okanagan College really supports.”

Retirement will allow her to open a part-time private counseling practice, spend more time with animal rescue and rehabilitation, and travel.

Staff and students are invited to the Student Services office on Wednesday, Dec. 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for coffee and cookies.


Dec. 3 Vol. 8, issue 18


Volunteers needed for Winter Convocation

Public Affairs is looking for volunteers for Winter Convocation on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, to help with gown distribution, serve as ushers, and organize the reception. The ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. and would require about three to four hours of your time.

Please contact Michelle Lowry, ext. 4649 for details.

Applications open for Learner-Centred Instructor Certificate

If you are interested in enhancing your teaching skills and developing a philosophy of instruction that is centred on learners, consider enroling in the Learner-Centred Instructor Certificate (LCIC). Applications are currently being accepted for the program that starts on Jan. 9, 2014.

The program is open to both new and seasoned instructors from all areas of the College community as well as those individuals with an educational focus who have access to a teaching/training position. The program is tuition-free for Okanagan College employees (excluding administration fees and the cost of required texts). 

To find out more information about this certificate and to register, visit the website.

Telephone system maintenance

IT Services will be performing routine maintenance on the telephone system on Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 7-9 p.m. As the auto attendant will be unavailable, you will be unable to leave messages or pick up voice mail during this time. No voice mail will be lost.

IT system outage

On Saturday, Dec. 7, IT Services will be applying some critical security patches to the Banner and ACM (website) databases. Both will be offline from 11 p.m. to approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.

The services still available during this period will be noted on the maintenance page of the IT Services website.

December Kelowna Fitness Facility hours

The Kelowna fitness facility hours are changing for December. From now until Dec. 23, the facility will be open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., but will be closed on weekends. On Dec. 24, it will be open from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The centre will be closed from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2014, and will reopen on Jan. 6, 2014, at 6 a.m.

2013 expense deadline

All staff must submit taxable mileage and meal claims, and Fleet Vehicle Usage Logs, to Payroll by Dec. 13 for inclusion in your final 2013 pay. Any expenses received after Dec. 13 will be included in 2014.

Harassment Policy change

Be aware that the Harassment Policy has recently been revised to address the new legislative changes from Worksafe BC to include protection against bullying and harassment. The policy is now called the Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy and can be found at the following link.

Sprinkler system upgrade

The fire sprinkler system in the Lab building (C) on the Kelowna campus is being upgraded. The work will commence in the next few weeks and continue until Feb. 2014.

In order to reduce classroom disruption this upgrade is primarily being conducted during weeknights and weekends. If there are any concerns, contact the Regional Dean’s office at ext. 4789 or 4501. 


Yoga to help the hungry

Certified yoga instructors, Kim Snyder and Dawn Balic, are offering Kelowna campus students and staff free yoga sessions if they bring a non-perishable donation for the food bank to the following classes:

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:45- 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 12 - 1 p.m.

Yoga is regularly offered on Monday at 4:45-5:45 p.m. and every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1 p.m. Classes are free for students and $7 for staff.

Classes take place in the Lecture Theatre, room S104. Bring a yoga mat, wear warm comfy clothing and prepare to indulge in your inner bliss. If you don’t have a mat, please contact Kim Snyder

Coyotes Baseball fundraiser

The Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team is launching a new fundraiser for the 2014 season. Purchase a ticket for $20 and not only will you be able to see any baseball game in the 2014 season, you’ll also be entered into a draw to win some great prizes, including a trip to Los Angeles, ski passes and a spa/golf package.

Buy your tickets now to qualify for these prizes:

Feb. 1: Trip for two to Las Vegas
Feb. 17: Okanagan College Hoody
Mar. 1: Romance Package at Hotel Eldorado
Mar. 15: Okanagan College Hat
Apr. 1: Sparkling Hill Resort/Predator Ridge Golf Package
Apr. 20: Trip for two to Los Angeles
May 1: Okanagan College Hoody
May 15: Okanagan College Golf Shirt
Jun. 1: Okanagan College Dri Fit Shirt
Jun. 15: Two Big White Season Passes for 2014-2015
Jul. 1: Golf BC Gift Certificate
Aug. 1: Okanagan College Golf Shirt

At time of purchase, you’ll be asked to provide your contact information and winners will be notified by email. Tickets can be purchased from Athletics, Recreation & Student Life, 250 762-5445, ext. 4938.

ILT lunch and learn

Dec. 12: Aging Gracefully: The Search for Affordable Housing in Kelowna. Heather Brown will present her research on housing issues experienced by senior homeowners and renters in the city of Kelowna, which is known as one of the most expensive housing markets in Canada. Noon-1 p.m., E302, Centre for Learning, Kelowna Campus.

Okanagan College Wood Turning Club show and sale

Dec. 5: A group of local artisans who get together every second Tuesday in the Carpentry Shop are hosting a Holiday Show and Sale. Come check out handcrafted Christmas gifts—including bowls, cutting boards, coasters, salad servers—and talk to the members about joining their club. Centre for Learning, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, contact Brian Thomas at 250-762-5445, ext. 4431.


Alumna Sarah Comba started Okanagan College’s Pay it Forward campaign after a profound experience she had volunteering, see Pay it Forward campaign at OC ready for donations and College campaign targets poverty.  

The Kelowna Capital News covered TELUS’s sponsorship of RoboCup Junior, see TELUS dials in for RoboCup event. The Okanagan Sunday covered the success of the event, see Robotics contest gains in popularity.

Okanagan College Civil Engineering students, as well as those graduates with trades and technology specialties, are in high demand, see Students Engineer Choices.

The Kelowna Capital News covered the Okanagan College Foundation student awards, see OC Foundation hands out thousands of dollars to students.

Fall enrolment report was covered in many media outlets, see OK College sees growth in trades, Overall enrolment up at Okanagan College, Okanagan College sees significant growth in trades, and Enrolment up for trades and health courses at Okanagan College.

Registrar Jane Muskens discussed the importance that testing plays in education in her column, see Final exam stress serves valuable purpose for students.

Alumnus and Okanagan College Coyote baseball player, Mike Monster, has been drafted to the major leagues by the Anaheim Angels after playing in an OC alumni game, see Kelowna pitcher earns himself a second chance.