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Fundraising campaign kicks off for College’s State-of-the-Art new Health Sciences Centre
The Okanagan College Foundation has launched its largest fundraising effort in Kelowna in more than five years, with a new campaign aimed at benefitting students and transforming the health of our communities for decades to come.
Our Students, Your Health is a $5-million campaign to support the completion of the new $18.9-million Health Sciences Centre under construction at the Kelowna campus.
College students, staff and community members gathered on Wednesday evening to announce the goal and tour the construction site for the new Centre.
“We’ve graduated more than 11,000 health care professionals since our current health building opened in 1963,” notes Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “When you consider the sheer number of people those graduates have cared for, across so many settings, it paints a picture of just how vital skilled health care workers are to the wellbeing of our communities and employers across the province and the country.”
“Our current building has served our students well, but it’s time for a new facility that will provide our students with a state-of-the-art learning environment to match the quality of instruction they are receiving at the College,” says Hamilton.
Beyond building sparkling new classrooms and modern labs, the campaign also seeks to raise critical support for the other factors that drive student success.
$1.5 million of the $5-million goal will allow the College to upgrade technology and equipment, and create new scholarships and bursaries for students entering in-demand health care professions.
“I think this campaign is particularly meaningful in that it resonates very personally with so many people. It hits home,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of the OC Foundation. “We can all think of a moment in our lives when each of us, or a close friend or family member, has needed care. These are the students who are going to provide that care to all of us, now and for years to come.
“What could be more important than supporting them in realizing their goals, finishing their studies and stepping out into such important – and needed – careers?”
Members of the community have already stepped forward with support and are joining the College and the Foundation in championing the cause.
“We’ve set a lofty goal,” says Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador. “But there is no more lofty goal than changing someone’s life, than empowering students to care for others, to ease pain, nurture our children, provide a helping hand to our elderly and our vulnerable. I’ve witnessed truly remarkable generosity in this region over the years, and I’m confident that generosity will bubble up once again and the good people of the Okanagan will help us reach our goal.”
The B.C. government is funding $15.4 million of the $18.9-million total project cost for the new Centre.
“This new facility is going to help us continue to address the very real skills shortages across the health care industry in the valley and across the province,” adds Hamilton.
The 2,800 square-metre (30,000 square-foot) facility is replacement space for current labs and classrooms in which practical nurses, dental assistants, health-care assistants and other health and social development students train.
As recent OC graduate Krystal Rose can attest, that kind of support can be life-changing for students.
A single mother of two young children, Rose credits a donor-funded bursary for allowing her to keep her focus on her most important priorities: her studies and her family. After graduating in 2018, she is now a Practical Nurse working with Interior Health.
“I wanted to show my kids that even as a single parent you can still go after your dreams no matter what obstacles are in your way,” says Rose.
“The financial aspect of going back to school was the biggest barrier I had to face as I had to pay for child care on top of my school supplies, tuition and living expenses. I am so grateful for the financial support I have received. I hope Okanagan College donors and future donors comprehend the truly life-changing impact they have through this campaign.”
Rose and her peers are stepping into the industry at a critical time.
Call for health care professionals is only expected to grow over the next decade. Recent labour market data predicts there could be need for as many as 25,000 nurses required to staff B.C.’s health care system over the next 10 years.
The new Health Sciences Centre is expected to be completed in Spring 2020, with student occupancy in Fall 2020.
Information about the new facility and how to donate is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/healthcentre.
“We are so excited to welcome learners to stop by campus, take a tour, talk to us and explore their options – whether they are stepping right out of high school, thinking about going back to school or wondering how they can upgrade to do so. We are looking forward to sharing with the community just how many paths and opportunities there are at the Salmon Arm campus,” said Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean Shuswap-Revelstoke.
Anyone who applies during the Open House will have application fees waived.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Kristine Wickner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-832-2126, ext. 8259.
The Program Open House and Spotlight Sessions at the Vernon campus is set for Monday, Oct. 21, running from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Kal View Café of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way.
Spotlight Sessions include:
6:15 - 6:45 p.m.
7:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Anyone who applies during the Open House will have application fees waived.
The 15 First Year FAQs Seminar will be held Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (D310), walking students and parents through the top 15 points they should know before starting post-secondary. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. For details, visit the event page.
“With a beautiful new Trades Training Facility to our renowned School of Business to everything from Arts, Science, Health, and more, there’s so much to explore at the Vernon campus – lots of options some students and parents may not know we offer. There’s also upgrading if you’re thinking about coming back to school or are changing career paths. We hope people seize opportunities like this to explore the Vernon campus and get a chance to chat about the programs that interest them with our staff and instructors,” said Jane Lister, Regional Dean, North Okanagan.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Tawnya Cameron at email@example.com or 250-545-7291, ext. 2309.
The annual Open House is set for Oct. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence (PC 113), Penticton campus, 583 Duncan Ave. West. Students and parents can learn the top 15 points they should know before starting post-secondary at the 15 First Year FAQs. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. The seminar begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Ashnola Building Lecture Theatre (PL 107). For details, visit the event page.
“I continually run into incoming students, parents and community members who are surprised at just how many options there are at the Penticton campus. Whether you have a program in mind or are looking to explore lots of options, events like these are a great way to learn about all the pathways across Arts, Science, Business, Health, Trades, Technologies, and Continuing Studies. Some unique programs in Penticton are the Criminal and Social Justice program, Sustainable Construction Management Technology and Human Kinetics.”
“We have great programs to offer and extremely dedicated staff and faculty who are committed to creating unique and extraordinary student experience,” said Eric Corneau, Regional Dean, South Okanagan-Similkameen.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Alison Roberts-Zschocke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-492-4305, ext. 3205.
The College’s 38th annual Career Fair is set for Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Kelowna campus, offering high school and post-secondary students, and the general public, the opportunity to explore potential career paths and connect with employers.
Career Fair is one of the Interior’s longest-running fairs that attracts hundreds of prospective students every year. Attendees are treated to post-secondary preparatory seminars, tours, activities, program information and draw prizes. Tours depart from the Student Services (S) building at 10:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
The fair runs from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd. Students and parents can learn the top 15 First Year FAQs (frequently asked questions) they should know before starting post-secondary in the S104 Lecture Theatre at 11:30 a.m. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. For details, visit the event page.
Admission and parking are free for Career Fair. Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Blake Edwards at email@example.com or 250-762-5445, ext. 4469.
Dean Whibley graduated prior to Okanagan College offering a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree. It was his daughter, who is taking business at the College now, who nudged him to attend Okanagan College’s Business Reunion held Friday, Sept. 27.
Standing off to the side as the crowd of diverse alumni entered the cafeteria, Whibley wasn't sure he recognized anyone. That's when Margo McMahan, a retired professor, walked by and recognized his face. McMahan taught at the College for 25 years starting in 1989.
"It's amazing, I've taught thousands of students but I still remember their faces," she says.
Whibley shared that after graduating with a Business Administration Diploma he spent 20 years building a tech software company that he recently sold. At age 49, he is retired, but he isn't sure it will be for long.
McMahan says Whibley's achievement is outstanding, and stories like his are common. She still keeps in touch with many graduates and says OC business alumni are successful locally and internationally.
More than 75 alumni attended the anniversary to mark the beginning of the BBA degree, which started at the College in 1999. Offering the four-year business degree was a milestone for the College, thanks to a core group of skilled professors with strong ties to industry, resulting in the program receiving positive accolades from the community, industry and government.
“Okanagan College has become one of the most outstanding institutions in Canada and we at the Alumni Association are very proud to represent our graduates,” says Kara Kazimer, Alumni Association President, who welcomed everyone to the event.
Kazimer shared that people who were born in 1999, when she attended the first BBA program, are now potentially in their first or second year at the College.
"Our grads are very sought after," says Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business, who shared with the audience some recent wins that included business teams taking first at Queens University and Enactus National competitions.
"We continue to do very well and provide an excellent education to excellent students. We are thankful to have great faculty, great students and great alumni support."
After networking that included refreshments and appetizers from Infusions, alumni and faculty paired into teams to test their trivia in a competition entitled “Are you smarter than an OC student?”
Crowe MacKay, an accounting firm with offices in Western and Northern Canada, had two teams of OC alumni entered in the trivia, all vying to take the winning title.
“The College has a really strong program,” says Jen Mendes, a senior manager at Crowe MacKay and 2007 BBA grad. She says her firm takes OC co-op students annually and ends up hiring two to three new OC graduates each year.
“You come here for a reason, not just because its close, the College’s reputation speaks for itself,” she says.