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Swinging clubs to hammers: How a golf pro’s home renos inspired his program choice at Okanagan College

It’s easy to say that Greg Forbes went from looking for a hole in one, to drilling several holes in many.
After growing up playing golf in Oakville, Forbes earned a golf scholarship to study at Coastal 

Greg Forbes is swinging hammers not just golf clubs these days

Carolina University, playing at storied courses at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. He completed his Bachelor of Business Science degree with a major in marketing, returning to Canada to tee off a career with retail giant Golf Town that ultimately brought him to Kelowna.

“I had been opening stores across Ontario, and the opportunity came up to move to Kelowna. I couldn’t resist,” he recalls. 

He began taking the game more seriously and created a name for himself. At one time, he was ranked in the top 100 in Canada for amateur golfers and played in the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship three times. Forbes eventually earned his pro card and began playing a lot of PGA of BC events, especially on the Interior Tour. 

“It was a goal I had to see if I had what it takes to turn pro, and see if you can make some money doing it. I did it,” Forbes says, adding that that achievement was enough for him. “Those guys on TV are a special breed. I found that out a few years ago.”

In 2013, he shifted energies more to the game, joining Black Mountain Golf Club as a PGA Golf Professional. “You’re doing something you love and coaching people. It’s great,” he says.

On the home-front, his family bought 1979 fixer-upper that needed upgrades – even though Forbes was more into golf tees than TLC.

“I’ve never been a handy person at all,” he chuckles, adding that they hired a Red Seal carpenter friend to do some renovations. “I watched and learned, helped out where I could. But here I am in my 40s, and I found I kind of liked working on the house. I thought, why not try carpentry?”

Last August, he signed up for the Carpenter Foundation program, thrown into a completely foreign world filled with tools, supplies and machinery.

“I did not handle a circular saw until I stepped into the class,” he says. “It’s amazing to see how comfortable I am now, only a few months later, handling tools. It is so satisfying completing projects and knowing that I did that.”

Hands-on learning helped Forbes refine those newfound skills. He helped pour a concrete pad behind the Trades Training Complex in Kelowna, renovate the tool room, as well as convert a shipping container into a mobile library to benefit Niteo Africa Society’s work establishing literacy centres in Uganda.

Those experiences transformed Forbes into a confident tradesperson who is up to speed with his classmates – many of whom were right out of high school or came from families with carpentry backgrounds.

“What the other students can do is amazing, some of them have been around carpentry since they were little. But I bring a dynamic that keeps everyone pretty loose and we all work together really well,” he says. 

Forbes is on course to write the final exam at the end of February, and hopes to work alongside Red Seal Carpenter in addition to working the links this summer. With enough hours, he could become eligible to register for Level 2 of the apprenticeship program by next winter.

“My wife always asks me, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ and I come home with a smile on my face every day. I just love learning new things,” Forbes says.

For information about the Carpenter Foundation program, visit

Gateway graduation showcases student transformation
Okanagan College Media Release


Caleb Wykes Jan 2020This is the second time Caleb Wykes has graduated from Gateway to Trades, but it's hard to say which time has been more impactful.

The first time Wykes took the 10-week program that introduces high school students to the skilled trades, he graduated with a desire to “straighten up.” In the past Wykes would skip school, but after Gateway he started showing up regularly and working hard. The seventeen year old completed his Grade 11 and 12 and graduated early.

The second time through the program Wykes benefited from getting an opportunity to try out a range of trades confirming which one he enjoyed most – automotive service technician.

Wykes is not only accepted into the program at the College starting Feb. 3, he’s also received four scholarships to help him pay for his studies.

“Before Gateway I never thought I would be going to college or be doing a college course,” says Wykes. “Now, I feel comfortable to start college.”

The Gateway to Trades program celebrated its ninth graduation of students at Okanagan College on Friday, Jan. 24. Wykes was one of ten students honoured.

The unique program is a collaboration between the College and Central School and is typically for students who have challenges learning in a traditional school environment. Students in Grades 10-12 have an opportunity to explore trades training with hands-on learning in programs like carpentry, electrical work, sheet metal and culinary arts.

“Gateway helps to open doors for students who otherwise might not even consider higher education,” explains Rob Law, Central Programs Gateway Coordinator.

“This program breaks down barriers and helps to bridge the gap between high school and post-secondary. Ultimately, it’s all about building up their confidence and comfort in the classroom, so that when the time comes, students will feel empowered and ready to step into college and keep going with their education.”

The program is not only about traditional learning. Gateway to Trades promotes personal growth by introducing students to a range of social activities and community events. Students went cycling, did yoga, and went skating and skiing at Big White. They mentored Grade 3 students learning to read and built shelves for a seacan that will serve as a mobile library in Africa.

Helping the students learn how to work as a team and make friends is integral to the success of the program says Randy Horne, Central School Principal.

“This program is often two steps forward and one step back,” says Horne. “What makes the students successful is that they’re building relationships.”

Adrian Zettergreen started Gateway during a turbulent time in her life, and credits it for helping her learn to overcome her anxiety.Adrian Zettergreen Jan 2020

“The one thing I had was Gateway that kept me going,” recalls Zettergreen, 17, the only female in the program. “It was knowing that if I was here, if I tried I could do it and go somewhere with it and be successful.”

Zettergreen is now planning to pursue electrical or welding.

“My key takeaway is if you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” she says.

“This program is truly one of the most tangible and inspiring examples we see, year in year out, of Okanagan College’s mission to transform lives and communities,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship for Okanagan College.

“It’s all about creating access, giving students a chance to pick up the tools, step into the shops, be mentored by our very supportive instructors and experience a trade for themselves. Congratulations to all of the Gateway students graduating! We hope to see you again in future as Okanagan College trades students.”

The Gateway program runs each year from November to January and is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.

Donors to the program include The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation, which provides funding for students to get their drivers education and license.

Okanagan College Foundation donors and community donors provided scholarships to support students who want to continue their studies. Scholarships were provided by the Joyce Family Foundation, Dee Capozzi, Dr. Steve and Terry Tuck, Rotary Club of Kelowna and the Gary Bennett Family Fund.


Pushor Mitchell invests in mental health
Okanagan College Media Release 


Pushor Mitchell is donating $30,000 to aid Okanagan College students who in their careers will support people facing mental health issues, homelessness and community isolation.Pushor Mitchell Award Jan 2020

The law firm that has been serving the Okanagan for more than 45 years is creating two annual awards valued at $2,000 each for students taking the College’s Human Service Work program.

Human Service Work professionals help people navigate through crisis or chronic situations where the person feels they need external help and guidance to move forward with their life and rediscover their personal power and self-sufficiency.

The two-year diploma is similar to social work with Human Service Work professionals supporting a wide range of clients including seniors, people who have a disability and people experiencing homelessness, to name a few.

Andrew Brunton, Pushor Mitchell Managing Partner, says the firm’s staff members actively fundraise to support mental health initiatives, so this gift puts additional firm support behind one of their priorities.

“Mental health affects everyone, including our own families and friends, and it’s an issue that can’t be ignored,” says Brunton.

“The whole community benefits in having people trained in the area of mental health and support for people facing crises.”

Neve Pratt is in her second year of the Human Service Work program and hopes to work with at-risk youth or people struggling with addiction when she graduates this Spring. The nineteen-year-old says the awards will make an impact by helping attract new students to the program and retain currents students who depend on financial support to continue their studies.

“The Human Service Work sector can be overlooked, so knowing that Pushor Mitchell is acknowledging it and supporting it is significant,” says Pratt.

“This can be a challenging sector to work in and it's important for Human Service Workers to continuously take care of themselves, so these awards are really appreciated.”

The gift is in support of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Our Students, Your Health campaign, which has a $5-million fundraising goal to build a new Health Sciences Centre and support students taking in-demand health and social development programs.

Pushor Mitchell has a longstanding relationship with Okanagan College, with several lawyers serving on the Okanagan College Foundation board including current Board Member Colin Edstrom.

The law firm also has supported past fundraising campaigns like the Kelowna Trades Complex, as well as bursaries for students taking the Legal Administrative Assistant Certificate program and students in the University Transfer programs.


Enjoy spirited learning at charity fundraiser
Okanagan College Media Release

Whisky 1Ward off the winter weather while learning to pick up the finer flavours of scotch as part of an upcoming whisky tasting to benefit Okanagan College students.

Held by the Rotary Club of Kelowna Ogopogo, the 11th annual charity whisky tasting will test participants’ noses and taste buds as they learn to pick up notes of crème brulee or ripple bananas from seven mystery scotches. Tasty appetizers and buttery short bread will cap off the event, which typically sells out each year.

“What people enjoy about this event is the opportunity to taste a variety of different scotches that they wouldn’t normally get to drink,” explains Mark Dixon, Rotary member and malt whisky expert, who will be leading the event.

“We have people who come every year and first-timers, the event is not formal, and it’s fun to try these warming drinks when it’s cold outside.”

Each year, Ogopogo Rotary chooses a charity to donate the event proceeds to. This year, the funds will go to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Our Students, Your Health campaign, which has a fundraising goal of $5 million to build a new Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus.Whisky 2

“Our Rotary Club is a big supporter of youth and encouraging people to reach their potential,” says Trish McLeod, who sits on the fundraising committee for the Kelowna Ogopogo club.

“We feel this new addition of a Health Sciences Centre at the College will be an invaluable asset to the enhancement of our community.”

The charity whisky tasting is the second largest fundraising event held by the Ogopogo Rotary with 100 per cent of the proceeds benefiting charity.

Since its inception, the charity whisky tasting has raised more than $100,000 for diverse charities throughout Kelowna.

To learn more about the event or to purchase tickets, click here.


OC Communications students level-up video game studies
Okanagan College Media Release


One Okanagan College Communications class brought multi-player action to a whole-new level this week.

The Introduction to Video Game Studies (CMNS 290) class travelled to Scandia Golf and Games Tuesday night, as part of an exploration on the history of video games.Intro to video games 2 Jan 2020

The course explores video games as a cultural phenomenon. While highly popular, they are the least understood, theorized and explored form of media. Scandia posed an opportunity for the class to explore how the phenomenon began.

“Scandia is something of a time capsule,” explains second-year student Scott MacLaren. “It offers a uniquely social experience, representative of the former cultural value of video games from back when arcades facilitated social gathering of like-minded individuals for the sole purpose of play in a shared space.”

Students were asked to play arcade games and post their reflections on the course blog, using multiple perspectives available to researchers in digital game history. These perspectives include art history, software studies, history of technology, social history, history of mentalities or games historiography.

Students also considered the notion that arcade games can be “meme machines,” a term introduced by Steven Poole in his book Trigger Happy – Video Games and the Entertainment Revolution.

While reflecting on concepts like race, class, identity and gender, the course examines the contexts and content of video games and their impact on players, audiences and society.

“Videogames are one of the fastest media industries to grow and develop in complexity. It is fascinating to see students engage with video games, to see them play and reflect on these experiences,” says Raluca Fratiloiu, Communications Department Chair. “It is always nice to take advantage of the opportunities in Kelowna to take the students somewhere to play. This type of experience creates an immediate connection with the class material.”


OC Vernon open house offers a behind-the-scenes look at fine press printing
Okanagan College Media Release


Have you ever wondered how books were printed 100 years ago? This month Okanagan College is kicking off a series of Open Houses at the Vernon Campus for creative individuals interested in writing and publishing careers.

W&P Open House Jan 2020The College will open its doors on Jan. 31, Feb 28 and March 20 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Bunker at 7000 College Way. Parking will be free.

Participants can meet experienced faculty members, learn about how the program blends traditional and cutting-edge publishing techniques and tour the Okanagan College Print Shop, affectionately called “The Bunker” by students and staff.

Located in the basement floor, The Bunker features more than 20,000 pounds of vintage printing presses and metal type. Some assignments see students applying their typography and design knowledge by setting type by hand and printing that type on 100-year-old presses.

Although many people only think in terms of digital publishing, instructor Jason Dewinetz says The Bunker experience offers students a unique learning experience.

“I can’t stress enough what working in The Bunker does for students. It’s transformational. When they go back to the computer, they are thinking of things completely differently,” says Dewinetz.

“This is a great opportunity for future students to come and hang out, chat with instructors, meet some of our current students who will be finishing up their projects and ask questions about the program.”

The program infuses the range of English, creative writing, editing and communications material with applied technical skills in graphic design, typography, coding and book publishing, producing students who can publish quality content in a range of media.

“Our students love this program and the hands on experience they get from it,” adds Dewinetz. “They’re getting dirty, they have ink on their hands, and then the real benefit comes when working in the three-dimensional world and applying it to the two-dimensional screen.”

This intricate manual work is done in conjunction with training on industry-standard publishing software like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign – preparing students to work in multiple fields.

“We have a large number of business students who take our courses because they are interested in learning the software, and it gives them valuable skills for a variety of industries,” explains Dewinetz, adding the technical skills are enhanced with broad understanding in editing, writing and graphic design, as well as what it’s like to work with real-world clients.

“This program gives students a taste of different disciplines before they specialize, and some have gone on to other programs as well,” he says.

Students who complete the Diploma of Writing and Publishing can transfer to many university programs in B.C. to attain a bachelor’s degree in their desired field.

For program information, visit


Cannabis training offers credentials for growing retail market
Okanagan College Media Release

Christopher Simpson Jan 2020

With a growing number of cannabis retail outlets open or in progress across the province, Okanagan College is launching new training opportunities for those looking to gain a competitive edge in the cannabis retail job market.

Business manager Christopher Simpson has experienced a flood of interested applicants as he prepares to open Shire Green Cannabis in Prince George.

“Legal retail cannabis has been slow to roll out in B.C. but it is gaining momentum,” says Simpson. “Because the industry is privately funded, it’s important that companies get things right the first time. That translates to sky rocketing opportunities for skilled workers.”

Verifying experience in the cannabis industry prior to legalization can be difficult, so formal training is an important step to certify skills and training. Courses such as the College’s recently developed Recreational Cannabis Retail Sales were created to provide that training.

“This course is designed from the point of view of a manager of a licensed cannabis retail store,” says Simpson. Not only is he managing the opening of a retail business, Simpson also runs a cannabis consulting company and is a course developer and instructor for cannabis training with the College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department.

“Hiring managers are looking for strong candidates with a demonstrated interest in self-education,” continues Simpson. “The training at Okanagan College is intended to provide students with the skills and knowledge that will help them stand out and succeed within cannabis retail sales.”Shire Green

“We’ve worked with industry leaders to ensure that the courses we have developed – and are continuing to develop – are answering a very clear need. The focus is on bringing much needed training opportunities to people interested in the sector,” says Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “Our goal is to be ahead of the curve and find innovative ways to serve workers and employers in the Okanagan Shuswap as the industry continues to mature.”

Recreational Cannabis Retail Sales training is an online course that begins on Feb. 17. The training is module-based with new topics to explore each week. Find all of the College’s cannabis training programs at


Runners, mark your calendars and take your marks: Campus to campus run returns in 2020
Okanagan College Media Release


For the first time in a decade, runners will have a chance to lace up and enjoy a scenic run between the University of British Columbia Okanagan and Okanagan College, thanks to the return of the popular campus-to-campus half marathon and relay race.

The run will commence at UBCO at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. From there, runners will follow a scenic 21.1 km route down the Okanagan Rail Trail to the Waterfront Trail, before finishing up at the College’s Kelowna campus on KLO Rd. Registration is now open at C2C 2020 2

For runners not looking to tackle a half-marathon, there will once again be a relay option. Teams of four can register, with each runner completing various distances.

“In its inaugural return to the ‘campus-to-campus’ format, this run aims to unite students, faculty and staff of both campuses with the local community for a celebration of the Okanagan region,” explains Nikki Reiter, Race Director and Manager, Academic Health Initiatives, Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic for UBCO.

The run is back following a two-year hiatus. It was last offered in 2017 as an out-and-back half marathon and relay race originating from the College’s Kelowna campus. The last time it followed a course between the campuses of UBCO and OC was 2009.

“The depth and breadth of collaboration between the two institutions over the past ten years, since the race was last run between our campuses, is remarkable,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “This is a fitting time to bring back this format, as a way of celebrating that collaboration and highlighting the impact our students, staff and alumni collectively have on the region.”

Following the race, runners and guests will be treated to a gourmet BBQ at the College, prepared by students and staff from OC’s Culinary and Pastry Arts program. The celebration will also include music, prizes and tastings by local wineries, craft breweries and cideries.

“With our long history and shared DNA, both UBCO and OC have a proud tradition of creating links between our institutions, covering everything from academic bridging programs to research collaborations,” says Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC Okanagan. “It is only natural, then, that we should come together to celebrate those connections and to create one more through the newly revitalized Campus to Campus Run.”

Reiter explains that celebrations of campus connections with each other as well as with the wider region will be the motivation for organizers and runners alike.

“From showcasing the beauty of the local environment by taking runners down the Rail Trail, to embracing sustainability by ensuring we achieve as light an ecological footprint as possible, to serving up local cuisine prepared by the College’s Culinary Arts students, our goal is to highlight what an incredible place the Okanagan is to live, work study – and run!”

The run is also a chance to get active for a good cause.

As in years’ past, proceeds from the run will go back to students, in the form of awards and bursaries.

Individual registration for the run costs $25 if completed online in advance (or $35 on race day) and includes a food and beverage ticket for the post-run celebration and BBQ. Relay registration is $100 per team ($25/person) and also includes a ticket for each participant to attend the celebration. Those looking to attend the celebration only can pick up tickets for $15 each.

The first 150 registrants will also receive a free Campus to Campus Run t-shirt.

The campus-to-campus will be a “rules of the road” run, meaning that there will be no road closure points. Participants will be expected to follow pedestrian rules of the road, crosswalks and intersections.

To register, and for more information, visit  


HR duo from College’s School of Business earn podium finish at Queen’s
Okanagan College Media Release


Liv and Madi Jan 2020A duo of business students from Okanagan College made the podium at one of Canada’s most prestigious case competitions over the weekend.

Madison Friesen and Alivia Leibbrand earned a second-place finish at the 2020 Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.). at Queen’s University.

“My heart exploded when they called our name for second! It was such an emotional moment. All that hard work was so worth it,” said Friesen. “I couldn’t have done it without Roger and of course Alivia. I was so honoured to represent our amazing College.”

The event, which took place Jan. 16-18 in Kingston, ON, is Canada’s largest, oldest, and most esteemed undergraduate case competition.

OC’s HR duo were coached by professor Roger Wheeler, who mentored them in recent months in prep for the competition.ICBC 2020 Team 2

“Madi and Liv were not familiar with each other when they were recruited, so it is remarkable how quickly they became a cohesive team,” said Wheeler. “Their support for each other, strong work ethic, and determination to succeed led directly to this fantastic result. I could not be more proud of them for their impressive performance at Queen’s.”

Friesen and Leibbrand were joined at the competition by fellow students Takiya Bradshaw and Matthew Davidson, who made up the Accounting team, coached by professors Adrian Fontenla and Mary Ann Knoll. Braeden Rahn and Justin Rantucci formed the Debate team, coached by professor Devin Rubadeau.

For more than 42 years, the top business schools from across Canada and across the world have attended the competition held over two days at Queen’s. This year there were over 120 teams in the qualifying round that competed to attend the event. The top six in each category were chosen to attend and present to a panel of expert and corporate executives who will choose the top three teams.

Full results and more information about I.C.B.C. is available at


Signature Speaker Series delves into screen time for kids
Okanagan College Media Release


Should kids be left to their own devices when it comes to screen time?

Michelle Ponti Jan 2020Dr. Michelle Ponti, a pediatrician from the Child and Parent Resource Institute in London, Ont., will discuss the risks and benefits of digital use for children as part of the Okanagan College Vernon campus’ Signature Speaker Series.

“Screen Time: Should we leave kids to their own devices?” will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in the lecture theatre of the Vernon campus.

“Parents, caregivers and teachers are constantly challenged with the dilemma of screen time for our children. How much is too much? If we restrict it, will they miss out? It’s everywhere, how do we control it?” she says.

This presentation will discuss evidence-based risks and potential benefits of digital use for children and adolescents, provide key recommendations on screen use and offer ideas on healthy use of digital media in daily lives.

Ponti’s pediatric practice focuses on child development, dual diagnosis and neurodevelopmental disorders, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. As chair of the Digital Health Task Force for the Canadian Paediatric Society, Ponti’s work has updated recommendations on screen time for children up to five years of age. More recently, she has examined the health effects of screen media use in school-aged children and adolescents with recommendations published in a new position statement for the society.

Presented by Okanagan College, the Signature Speaker Series is sponsored by the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Uprooted Kitchen and Catering Co. Admission is $10, or free for Okanagan College students. Participants can register in advance online – – or pay at the door.


Bannock taco day fundraiser returns to fuel student success at OC Salmon Arm Campus
Okanagan College Media Release


A popular fundraiser that provides emergency aid for students at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus is this week.Bannock Taco Fundraiser

Community members are invited to join students and staff for a delicious lunch for a good cause. Bannock tacos will be served in the Gathering Place on campus, 2552 10th Ave NE, Salmon Arm, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The lunch is by donation. The event is led by Caroline Chartier, Aboriginal Transition Planner for the campus and ingredients are supplied by the College’s Aboriginal Services department.

Donations go to the campus cafeteria. All students are able to access this fund from time to time for breakfast, lunch or coffee and tea whenever the need arises.

“Events like these really highlight the overwhelming generosity of our internal and surrounding community,” explains Regional Dean Joan Ragsdale. “And the impact is a very tangible one. It means any student who may be experiencing an unforeseen hardship – like a cheque not coming in, or an unexpected gap in employment – never has to pursue their education on an empty stomach.”

“Every year we are blown away by the response to this event. It’s one of those special days on campus when we get to open our doors to the community. There are lot of individuals and local organizations that mark their calendars to stop by for lunch, and we really appreciate that. We’re looking forward to another great event, another great turnout this year.”

Members of the media are also invited. Students and staff members will be available for interviews and photo opportunities.


First grad of OC’s new HR Post-Bacc reflects on her experience
Okanagan College Media Release


Elaine Bertram Jan 2020Okanagan College’s first graduating class of the new decade will cross the stage today and among the some 600 grads picking up their parchment will be Elaine Bertram who is celebrating an exciting first for herself and the School of Business.

Bertram is the innaugural graduate of the College’s Human Resources Management Post-Baccalaureate Diploma program.

“When they told me I was the first graduate of the program I was shocked – but in a good way,” says Bertram. “It's an honour to be the first graduate.”

The program, which launched in the fall of 2018, is accredited with the Charted Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) and is considered to be equivalent to a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a Human Resources specialty.

“If you want to go into HR and have another degree already, this is the best way to do it,” says Bertram. “The professors are amazing – they care about your education and help you to achieve your goals. The courses are in depth but are taught at a comprehensible level.”

The two-year program is aimed at students with a bachelor's degree in any business or non-business program other than those with a Human Resources Management major or specialty, who wish to pursue a career in the Human Resources Management field.

“I really liked how flexible the program was,” adds Bertram. “The classes did not clash with one another so I was able to take all the classes I wanted and still cover the program requirements. There were options to take courses online which I opted not to do until I needed to, as the professors make the classes enjoyable to attend. There were a lot of group projects so I met a lot of great people and made some friends right away, which was great.”

Bertram is currently the Plant Administrator at BC Tree Fruits with plans of taking some time off after graduation to do some traveling.

“I'm really proud of the fact that this program pushed me to do the best I can, and it showed. I competed in competition and achieved high grades, making Dean's List for the first time in my whole time in post-secondary education.”

“We congratulate all our graduands on their successes, and acknowledge the hard work and dedication they invested to get here,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “Our students and alumni have an immense positive impact within the region, across the province and beyond. Today, as we send hundreds more graduates out into the world, that impact continues to grow.”

Winter convocation is the first of the College’s eight ceremonies that take place this year. Around 600 students from all four campuses will cross the stage today at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony at noon. Both ceremonies will stream live on the College’s Facebook page.


College’s 13th Annual Business Expo & Employment Fair powers up Tech Alley collaboration
Okanagan College Media Release

Jobseekers, mark your calendars. Okanagan College’s popular Business Expo & Employment Fair is back for its thirteenth year, once again connecting students and community members with a diverse array of employers from the Okanagan and across the country.Business Expo

The Okanagan College School of Business and OC’s Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre is presenting the 13th Annual Business Expo & Employment Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The event is held at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus in the Centre for Learning (E building) Atrium from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The expo continues to grow year after year, notes Jamie Morrow, Okanagan School of Business Program and Event Coordinator.

“We’ve got another incredible line up of exhibitors this year – more than 75 employers from a host of sectors. There really is something for everyone, no matter what field you’re looking to get into, or advance your career,” says Morrow.

This year, in collaboration with Accelerate Okanagan, the Expo will feature an exciting new focus on technologies. A section of the expo is being devoted to tech sector employers, from start-ups to larger organizations.

“We’re calling it Tech Alley,” explains Morrow. “And the goal is to really shine a light on the booming tech sector we are so fortunate to have in the Okanagan. Given the College’s focus on technologies, the fact that we’re training students for these careers, from business to computer science to engineering technologies, it’s obviously a natural fit for what we do. We hope it will benefit our students and alumni who are looking to chat with these and other employers.”

“The Okanagan’s tech industry has grown so much over the last few years and it’s only going to keep going,” says Alex Goodhew, Community Manager for Accelerate Okanagan.

“Companies are scaling their operations and expanding their team to match. Opportunities like Okanagan College’s Expo provide a much-needed connection point between local companies and talented young professionals that can help fill those seats. Our tech industry is full of so many creative, innovation-focused companies, connecting them with OC’s students just makes sense.”

Participants will spot exhibitors from industries including municipalities, wine, law enforcement, hospitality, finance, construction, technologies, retail and more.

More information about the expo is available at


OC alum makes national honour roll for Common Final Exam
Okanagan College Media Release


Donald Brouwer Jan 2020After 150 hours of studying, Donald Brouwer walked out of his Common Final Examination (CFE) with a sigh of relief. Little did the Okanagan College alum know that just a few months later his name would be listed on the national honour roll, meaning his mark earned him a spot in the top one per cent of successful CFE writers in Canada. Announced in early January, Chartered Professional Accountants Canada shared on their website the 77 writers who earned the honour roll mention, Brouwer being one of nine from British Columbia.

“My first reaction was disbelief,” says Brouwer. “I wasn’t expecting to be on the honour roll, and was shaking with happiness. I texted my girlfriend and family as soon as I could to tell them.”

Graduating from Okanagan College's School of Business (OSB) in 2017 with his BBA in accounting, Brouwer spent a large portion of his 2019 summer studying, often up to six hours a day. Currently a senior accountant at Grant Thornton, he has his sights set on being a partner one day. From his perspective, starting in co-op in his second year at the College with Grant Thornton was invaluable to his career now.  

“We are incredibly proud of Donald and the hard work he put in studying, preparing and writing his CFE,” says OSB Associate Dean Barry McGillivray. “To be mentioned on the national honour roll is a big accomplishment and it’s very impressive within the accounting and finance community.”

For what lies ahead, Brouwer is appreciative of his role in a problem-solving atmosphere and loves the ability to help business owners on a tangible level. His advice for those who want to write the CFE and pursue a career in accounting:

“Pick a good study partner and try to secure a co-op. Co-ops are a great way to figure out if accounting is for you, and study partners give feedback, and you can review cases with them.”

The CFE exam is written over three days in early September, formatted as a 13-hour case study. It is written simultaneously across the country by students wanting to further their accreditation in accounting and level up for future opportunities. It’s considered the standard exam to pass in order to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in Canada, along with education and work experience.


New OC grad proud of setting an example for her children
Okanagan College Media Release


It was being a role model for her children that motivated Katie Reynders to return to school as a mature student. She wanted to show them it’s never too late to follow your dreams.Katie Reynders Jan 2020

“There were days I wanted to give up, but I knew I had two little people not only counting on me, but looking up to me,” says Reynders.

“I think it’s really important that they got to see me go back to school while also raising them. As parents we constantly question if what we are doing is good for our kids and there was a lot of guilt when I wasn’t able to do the fun things that I wanted to do with them because of homework or exams. At the end of the day I think that when they look back, they will be really proud of what I did and about the example I set for them.”

On Saturday, Reynders will be one of about 600 students from Arts, Business, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, Culinary Arts and Health and Social Development programs to receive their credentials.

Reynders will give the student address during the first ceremony.

“I want to encourage everyone that we all need to keep trying to better ourselves,” she says. “We may have finished our programs but we need to continue to look for ways to grow and to keep learning.”

Reynders decided to return to school after almost 20 years and enrolled in the two-year Water Engineering Technology Diploma program at Okanagan College. Without any family in the Okanagan, Reynders wasn’t sure how she would manage both school and parenting.

“I am very fortunate to have a great community of friends who stepped up and offered help and support to me and my kids,” says Reynders. “I also really valued the support from our instructors. They knew our struggles and challenges in school and outside of school and they were able to support us and ensure our success in the program. This was really important to me as single mother. Sometimes there would be scheduling conflicts and they were very understanding and would try their best to accommodate in times we needed it.”

“I am really proud to have gotten through it successfully and to be able to show my children that it’s never too late to go back to school and better yourself or prepare for your future.”

Reynders is currently a casual employee with the City of West Kelowna and hopes to continue to build her career there.

“I did both my work terms with them and it’s a really great team. I am very fortunate to be able to still work with them often and to have developed some really great friendships and industry connections.”

“This will be the first graduating class of the new decade and we look forward to witness the way in which they’ll contribute to their communities now and in the years to come,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “These are the students that will go on to invent new technologies, start new businesses and meet the skills gaps facing our region and the province. Congratulations to all our graduands.”

Winter convocation is the first of the College’s eight convocation ceremonies that will take place this year. Students from all four of the College’s campuses will cross the stage receiving 66 bachelor’s degrees, 57 associate degrees, 307 diplomas and 172 certificates.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the second ceremony following at noon. For those unable to attend the ceremonies, both will be streamed live on the College’s Facebook page.


OC Physics and Astronomy professor discusses what life is like in Penticton (on Mars)
Okanagan College Q&A


Ryan Ransom is a professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Okanagan College in Penticton. We asked him a few questions about the Penticton crater on Mars, and in general, how a day in the life in the crater would compare to life in its namesake of Penticton, B.C.
Ryan Ransom 2
Q. What are you teaching this term?

A. In the winter semester, I teach the second parts of the first-year physics and astronomy courses in Penticton, and a second-year course called "History of the Universe" in Kelowna. In the fall semester, I teach a second-year course on Astrobiology in Kelowna.

Q. News reports have said that winter on the Penticton crater on Mars is pretty harsh. Would this be colder or warmer than what we experience?

A. The temperature on Mars ranges from about -130 degrees Celsius on a winter night to about +20 degrees Celsius on a summer day. So, it’s certainly fair to say that a Martian winter is harsh. The temperature only tells part of the story, though. Mars' atmosphere is ~100 times thinner than Earth's. Even at +20 degrees Celsius, there is very little heat energy in Mars' atmosphere.

Q. What does that mean from an astrophysical perspective?

A. In a broader context, we could say that Mars is just outside the Solar System's "habitable zone"; i.e., the region in a planetary system where the average temperature at the surface of a planet/moon is just right for liquid water (and thus life).

Q. Seasonal ice makes it sound like there’s water on Mars, which is critical for lifeforms here on Earth. Any chance it’s the same kind of water?

A. The seasonal ice shown in this particular image (below) is carbon dioxide ice (sometimes called "dry ice"), which at Mars' atmospheric pressure indicates that temperatures in the shaded regions of the crater are less than -110 degrees Celsius. There is also water ice on Mars. The water ice will melt in the sunlight on a summer day, but the liquid evaporates quickly under Mars' thin atmosphere. There's no life (or any organic molecules) on the surface of present-day Mars. Interestingly, Mars had a thicker atmosphere in the distant past, and there's excellent evidence that liquid water pooled and flowed on the Martian surface in the past. If there are still pools of liquid water under the surface, it is possible that these pools host life. The current lander mission, InSight, is probing the temperature a few meters under the surface.

Q. How do planetary craters get their name?

A. Great question. I can say, looking at the record, that the Penticton crater was named by the International Astronomical Union in 2008. In reading through Castanet's earlier article (Sep 5, 2019), it seems the crater received its name because the city is affected by landslides. I reached out to my colleague JJ Kavelaars, a planetary scientist at NRC-DAO (which is DRAO's 'sister' institution in Victoria), for a little more insight.

Q. Have you been to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton?

A. The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) is why I moved with my family to Penticton from Toronto. I had a postdoctoral position at DRAO in 2007-08, and still have a 'visiting scientist' position at DRAO.

Q. Could we see the Penticton crater on Mars, from Penticton?

A. The Penticton crater on Mars is just ~8 km across. The crater is unresolved to even our largest Earth-based telescopes. This speaks to the importance of space-based missions. We learn a great deal more about Solar System objects when we get a close-up view. Mars has had 25 successful spacecraft visits, including 4 fly-bys, 12 orbiters, 5 landers, and 4 rovers.

Q. Any chance Martians are as cold as we are here in the Okanagan?
A. On Earth, we'd call them extremophiles – lifeforms that love the extremes.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

mars penticton


Future caregivers given boost by Central Okanagan Foundation
Okanagan College Media Release


An organization that helps to inspire and facilitate a great deal of philanthropy in the Okanagan is supporting future caregivers by donating to the new Health Sciences Centre currently being built at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.HCA Jan 2020

The Central Okanagan Foundation is donating $28,000 from the Kelowna Home Support Society Fund towards the construction of the new Centre, which will educate Health Care Assistants, Nurses and Therapist Assistants, among other professions.

Marliss Magas sat on the board of Kelowna Home Support Society that created the fund in 1988 and managed it until the society closed in 1999. She praises the strong financial management of the non-profit society that allowed it to leave a legacy to the community. The surplus funds, which are held by the Central Okanagan Foundation, have been providing bursaries to students in the College’s Health Care Assistant program for a number of years. The new Health Sciences Centre was an opportunity to deepen their commitment to educating future caregivers.

“The new Health Sciences Centre is a great opportunity to recognize the values of Kelowna Home Support and support a community institution that teaches the values of caring and helping people stay at home as they age,” says Magas.

“We see community care becoming increasingly asked for, and we’re excited to have a new Centre that can raise the profile of meaningful careers in this area.”

The new Health Sciences Centre will feature a new Home Care Lab that will give students an opportunity to practise supporting someone in a home environment, something that is not currently available for students at the College.

“We are thankful to these two community organizations for investing in the future of health care for our community,” says Maxine DeHart, Okanagan College Foundation Community Ambassador and Kelowna City Councillor.

“We all deserve excellent health care, and this gift will make sure we can provide the best care for seniors who want to age at home.”

The new Health Sciences Centre replaces the College’s current health building, which dates back to the 1963 and no longer reflects the quality of education Okanagan College is renowned for. The B.C. government is funding $15. 4 million towards the new $18.9-million Centre.

The Okanagan College Foundation’s Our Students, Your Health campaign has a fundraising goal of $5 million to complete the building, purchase equipment and provide bursaries and scholarships to students entering high-demand health care careers. To learn more or to donate visit


Okanagan College students and staff coordinate exhibit, awareness activities for Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Okanagan College Media Release


January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Okanagan College students and staff are hosting a number of activities and initiatives to continue to raise awareness, open dialogue, support survivors and help prevent sexual violence on campus and in the community.

One of the projects, an exhibit called What Were You Wearing, brings to OC a popular exhibit that has been recreated at post-secondary institutions across North America since it debuted in the U.S. seven years ago.

From Jan. 13-15 at the Vernon campus and again in Kelowna from Jan. 21-22, OC students and staff will be presenting the exhibit, which is modeled after an installation first organized by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert of the University of Arkansas in 2013.

The installation was born out of a research and advocacy lens, when Brockman and Wyand-Hiebert noted that the question, “what were you wearing?” was pervasive for most survivors of sexual violence. It depicts various items of clothing in a gallery style walk-through, inviting participants to consider an important and insidious question that continues years later, well into the post #metoo and #timesup era.

Wyandt-Hiebert and Brockman set out to create a project that would place the work of bearing witness to this question’s answer back on the shoulders of the community and humanize the survivor in the answer. The installation asks participants to understand that it was never about the clothing a survivor was wearing, and that the act of shedding those clothes is never enough to bring peace or comfort to survivors.

“We hope this exhibit will generate discussion, bring students and staff together to think about and challenge their own ways of thinking where it pertains to consent culture, victim shaming and sexual violence,” explains Beth Triano, a Counsellor at the Vernon Campus and one of the exhibit organizers.

In addition to the exhibit, there will also be a number of educational events throughout the month to raise awareness and continue to foster a consent culture on campus.

“Building consent culture on campus and continuing to raise awareness is something we’re very focused on throughout the year, but particularly during this important month that sometimes flies under the radar for people,” explains Brianne Berchowitz, Executive Director of the OCSU.

“Okanagan College is committed to fostering supportive campuses which promote assistance, intervention and consent,” explains Jane Lister, Regional Dean for the North Okanagan and a member of the College’s Sexual Violence task force.

“As part of the College’s ongoing commitment to working with the Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU) and Vernon Students' Association - Okanagan College (VSAOC) to support consent culture on campus, there will be a number of activities throughout the month and into February and students should keep an eye on the website to learn more about what’s happening on their campus.”

To read the College’s sexual violence policy, learn more about the activities being coordinated by OC students and staff for SAAM, visit

On Jan. 5, to coincide with the start of the new semester at post-secondary institutions across the province, the Ministry of Advanced Education Skills and Training launched a renewed awareness campaign to help keep students safe from sexual violence. More information is available in the media release from the Ministry and on


OC Speaker Series returns with a focus on the environment
Okanagan College Media Release


A lineup of experts and authorities will offer free presentations, touching on a range of topics like history and astronomy to appeal to everyone. But a running theme through the majority of sessions will be climate change, including things everyday people can do to help the environment.

“Youth-led protests last fall and the fires in Australia and the Amazon have amplified conversations about climate change and human impacts on the environment,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan Similkameen. “The OC Speaker Series will be exploring the practical and political aspects of climate change. We invite the community to take part in continuing the dialogue.”

The series includes:

  • Jan. 14 – A Personal Reflection on the Situation in Hong Kong
  • Jan. 21 – ‘The Man from Eldorado’ Presents an Evening with Robert W. Service, by Andre Begin
  • Jan. 28 – Invasive Species and Climate Change, by Lisa Scott from OASISS
  • Feb. 4 – Bridging the Gap: The Bad News and the Good News about Climate Change, by First Things First’s Dr. Michael Healey and Jim Beattie
  • Feb. 11 – Climate Change in the Okanagan: Crisis or Opportunity? By Tami Rothery
  • Feb. 25 – Love Food, Hate Waste: Are You Using Your Refrigerator Right?, by Cameron Baughen from the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen
  • March 3 – Air Quality and Child Development, by Jason Curran
  • March 10 – Role of Magnetism in Star Formation, by Dr. Mehrnoosh Tahani from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory
  • March 17 – The Spiral Structure of the Milky Way, by Dr. Trey V. Wenger from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory
  • March 24 – Climate Change Diet, by Dr. Todd Redding
  • April 1 – The Politics of Oil, by Dr. Rosalind Warner
  • April 7 – Mindful Self-Compassion, by Barb Regasz

Talks are 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (PL 107) of the Ashnola Building. The Okanagan College Penticton campus is located at 583 Duncan Ave. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to support students in need.

Event information is available at


OC Business students ready to bring their best at International case competition
Okanagan College Media Release


Although it may be their first time competing together, a pair of business students and up-and-coming HR professionals at Okanagan College have their sights set on bringing home the hardware at a prestigious international case competition.

The College’s School of Business will send three teams to compete in the 2020 Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.). at Queen’s University next week.Liv and Madi Jan 2020

One of those teams is the HR duo of Madison Freisen and Alivia Leibbrand, coached by OC Business Professor Roger Wheeler.

“We’re looking forward to the pressure of competing and to speaking in front of such an esteemed panel of industry leaders. If we pull out all the stops and deliver a great presentation, hopefully we’ll find ourselves standing on the podium at the end of the weekend,” said Leibbrand, who is currently completing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Kelowna campus.

Takiya Bradshaw and Matthew Davidson make up the Accounting team. They will be coached by Adrian Fontenla and Mary Ann Knoll.

Braeden Rahn and Justin Rantucci form the Debate team, coached by Devin Rubadeau.

They follow in the footsteps of Mitchell Folk and Derek Monsen, last year’s OC debate dynamic duo (also coached by Rubadeau) who notched a second-place showing in what was the first ever appearance by an OC debate team at I.C.B.C. Also on the podium last year were Rowan Nevard and Mark Fellhauer (coached by Adrian Fontenla & Mary Ann Knoll) took first place in Accounting, along with Ryan Buchanan and Jason Greaves (coached by Dr. Barry McGillivray) who took second place in Ethics.

I.C.B.C, held this year from Jan. 16-18, is Canada’s largest, oldest, and most esteemed undergraduate case competition.

Okanagan College boasts a strong track record in the annual event.

“The results over the years have demonstrated consistently that students from the Okanagan School of Business can compete with those from the very top business schools across the country and around world,” notes Dr. Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean. “Our students receive a first-class – and indeed world-class – business education at Okanagan College and competitions like these help to illustrate just how prepared our graduates are to make an impact in their chosen fields.”

For more than 42 years, the top business schools from across Canada and across the world have attended the competition held over two days at Queen’s. This year there were over 120 teams in the qualifying round that competed to attend the event. The top six in each category were chosen to attend and present to a panel of expert and corporate executives who will choose the top three teams.

Full results will be posted to the College’s news blog following the competition. More information about I.C.B.C. is available at


OC Culinary Arts debuts Indigenous-inspired feature menu for Dine Around
Okanagan College Media Release


Dine Around 1 2020

Infusions Restaurant at Okanagan College will once again be a can’t miss stop for anyone looking to sip, savour and save as part of Dine Around Thompson Okanagan this month.

OC Chefs-in-training and chef instructors have designed a menu that not only showcases Okanagan ingredients but also incorporates aspects of traditional Syilx-Okanagan culinary knowledge and practices.

“This year we’ve added a selection of Indigenous fare, along with other daily features, to provide a culinary experience that is truly unique to the region,” explains Culinary instructor Chef Brian Alexander.

“Dine Around is a fantastic learning and teaching opportunity as it gives students a chance to get creative and expand their knowledge. In this case, one of the ways they will be doing that is delving into Indigenous knowledge, practices and ingredients.”

Diners can select from a two-course menu for $25 or a three-course menu for $35. This year’s menu features a number of vegan (VG) and gluten-free (GF) options as well as suggested local VQA wine pairings.

Appetizers include a choice of garden beet salad with goat cheese, winter spiced squash soup (VG) and smoked salmon bruschetta. Main course features include braised short rib (GF), hunter chicken, cedar plank wild salmon and quinoa napoleon stack (VG) for their main course, with the choice of a flourless chocolate cake or coconut posset (VG) for dessert.

Infusions is open for dinner Tuesday-Friday from 5:30 – 8 p.m. The feature menu will be offered from Jan. 15-31.

Reservations are recommended. Visit to check out the menu or make a reservation through the OpenTable feature on the site.

Dine Around 2 2020

Also new for this year, Infusions diners will have a unique chance to meet the chefs as OC Culinary students will play a role in serving the meal during Dine Around.

“Students are very hands on with every aspect of Dine Around this year, from the creation of the menu to serving the food and interacting with guests,” explains Alexander.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see how their creativity needs to really shine during a month like January, which is always a challenging one for the restaurant industry as a whole. Events like Dine Around provide a way for chefs to challenge themselves to try something new and find ways to draw people in, and that’s a very important and practical lesson for a new chef.”

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan will officially kick off with a Launch Party at Okanagan College on Tuesday, January 14 (that event has now sold out). More information about Dine Around and participating restaurants is available at  

Earlier this year, Okanagan College launched its first ever Indigenous knowledge-infused Culinary Arts intake, engaging Indigenous chefs from across the region, alumni and elders.

Those looking to launch a career as a professional cook can learn more about the Culinary Arts program at Okanagan College at an upcoming info session.

From 5-7 p.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 15 future chefs can tour OC’s Culinary Arts facilities and chat with instructors at the Kelowna campus at 1000 KLO Rd. More information is available at