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A beautiful thing - OC student's work helps industry

An Okanagan College student’s class project is turning out to be a valuable resource for B.C.’s estheticians and spa owners.

Faye Hughes, a fourth-year student in OC’s Business Administration degree program, has produced a 50-page human resources manual as part of her Social Entrepreneurship course. She worked closely with Heather Stewart, the Co-President of the Estheticians and Spa Professionals Association British Columbia and the organization’s board to understand and address members’ needs for HR information and direction.FayeHughes.jpg

“She was just amazing and her manual went far beyond what we initially expected,” says Stewart. “Faye and I will be presenting the manual at our convention in February in Vancouver and will be giving all the members an electronic copy.”

That convention draws about 5,000 people.

Hughes was able to draw on her own working experience as she prepared the manual: before returning to school at Okanagan College, she was certified as a hairstylist and worked in the industry for a year and a half.

“When I saw this on the list of potential projects we could undertake as part of our course, I thought immediately ‘this was tailor-made for me.’”

And from Stewart’s description of how the project bloomed under Hughes’ efforts, it was destiny at work. “She trained as a hairstylist, she worked in a spa, she knows the industry. Faye really went above and beyond. The scope and depth of material covered in her manual was beyond what we had initially envisioned.”

“Amazing” is a word that Stewart uses frequently in the conversation about the project. “She is a young woman who takes initiative, communicates well, uses technology to bridge a broad geography and connect with a diverse board.”

The manual is focused on helping the owners of small- and medium-sized businesses understand and implement good human resources practices, explains Stewart. Already, there is interest from a college in the Lower Mainland to use the manual in its esthetician training program. And Leading Spas of Canada – the national organization of spa owners – is reviewing it for distribution as well, reports Stewart.

For Hughes, the project is memorable for a whole host of reasons. It was satisfying to work with a professional organization with well-defined needs and being able to address those, she reports. But more than that “it was incredible how everything I’ve learned over the past four years in business at Okanagan College in human resources and other courses came into play with my experience on this.”

“Each year there are several of these success stories coming out of our student projects,” explains OC Business Administration Professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “Since we started offering this course in 2007, students have completed more than 200 projects with approximately 125 different organizations. It’s testament to the outreach of our program, but more than that, it is a testament to the quality of our students and what they are able to achieve as a consequence of their education.”

Hughes is set to graduate in June with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

Mentors give back to College

Mentors give back to the College in a big way

Inspired by their experience mentoring trades students nearly a decade ago, two long-time Okanagan College donors have come forward with a major gift to support the training of the Valley’s future carpenters.Jimandyvonnelamb.jpeg
Jim and Yvonne Lamb, owners of Vintage Design Ltd., recently donated $32,000 to assist the College with renovations to the carpentry shop at the Kelowna campus.
“I didn’t get here by myself,” says Jim Lamb. “I was able to learn my trade and build a business because people supported me and helped me learn along the way. And now I’m a firm believer that we need to invest in the next generation and ensure they know how to build it right the first time.”
Lamb has been helping students get hands-on training at the College since 2007, when he invited classes from the Residential Construction program to work alongside experienced tradespeople in the construction of two “Home for Learning” projects in the Village of Kettle Valley.
Students in the program worked under the supervision of their instructors and were mentored by Lamb, who served as the general contractor for the projects. Once the homes were complete, they were sold and the proceeds – more than $225,000 – were donated to the College and the Village of Kettle Valley to create awards for students entering the building trades.
Over the past decade, the Vintage Design fund has provided $17,400 in tuition credits to 10 students starting the Residential Construction, Plumbing, and Electrician programs.
“We are very grateful to Jim and Yvonne Lamb for their long-time support of students over the years and now for this generous donation toward the new carpentry shop,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.
“In addition to the financial support, the time and knowledge they have invested as mentors through the Home for Learning projects are deeply appreciated.”
When the Lambs learned that the College was seeking support to upgrade its decades-old carpentry shop, they decided to roll the remainder of their award fund, more than $30,000, into a one-time gift that could have a big impact.
“Supporting higher education is so important in general but particularly in this industry, says Yvonne Lamb. “We hope this gift will remind and inspire others to keep passing on their knowledge and support to tradespeople-in-training.”
The College is currently upgrading several existing shops at the Kelowna campus to match the same goals for sustainability as the new Trades Training Complex going up along KLO Road, which is being built to achieve LEED Platinum standards, net-zero energy usage, and carbon neutrality. Updated Welding and Heavy Duty Mechanical shops are already in operation.
When doors open next spring, the new complex will provide room for more than 2,600 students to train each year—including approximately 260 FTE (full-time equivalent) Carpentry apprentices and foundation (pre-apprenticeship) students.
Local homebuilders and developers have shown strong support for the $7-million fundraising campaign. More than $435,000 has been committed from the construction sector, including donations of $100,000 from Wilden, more than $62,400 from Village of Kettle Valley, $50,000 from Team Construction Management Ltd., $10,000 from the Canadian Homebuilders Association – Okanagan, and others.
“It’s a great time to get into this trade and an important time for employers to support education so that we have a skilled work force going forward,” says Jim Lamb.
Demand for carpenters is expected to remain strong in the Okanagan in coming years. The province projects job openings for 2,346 carpenters in the region, placing the occupation at the top of the trades sector in terms of job openings, followed by Red Seal cooks, automotive service technicians, and electricians.
More information about the College’s new Trades Training Complex project and opportunities to support students is available at

Denesiuk becomes Board Chair

Okanagan College News Release - Dec. 24, 2016

New OC Board Chair has strong resume

The incoming Chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has a distinguished history of leading educational organizations.denesiuk

Connie Denesiuk, of Summerland, will assume responsibilities of the Chair on Jan. 1, following in the footsteps of Tom Styffe, who finishes six years of service on the Board (three as Board Chair).
Denesiuk will be joined on the executive by Doug Manning as Vice-Chair. (Manning has served on the Board since 2010.)

Denesiuk joined the College Board in 2012. Previously, she was Chair of the Okanagan Skaha School District for nine of the 19 years she served as a school trustee. She also served for three years as President of the B.C. School Trustees Association and a director of the Canada School Board Association. She is also the former chair of the Trail of the Okanagans

“Over the past decade, Okanagan College has become an incredible success story in the province and has earned national attention for its achievements,” notes Denesiuk. “There are incredible opportunities as we move forward, and I’m pleased to be picking up where Tom (Styffe, outgoing Board Chair) leaves us.”

“I have seen first-hand the contribution Okanagan College makes to the region, in terms of transforming lives and communities and I know that is going to continue and intensify in the years ahead. I’m also excited to be stepping into the role at a time when we have just adopted and are about to implement a new strategic plan.”

She and husband Bob have been partners in a Summerland-based construction business for the past 30 years.

 “Connie’s extensive experience in leading boards and working at the provincial and federal level on behalf of education will serve Okanagan College and the post-secondary sector well,” notes Styffe. “I wrap up my tenure knowing that the Board has strong leadership and a tremendous membership.”


Students thankful to donors in the community as holidays approach
Okanagan College Media Release

During the busy season of giving, an Okanagan College student and father of four is taking the time to express his gratitude to donors who have brought the gift of education back into his life this year.Steven Steed Dec 2015

Steven Steed is among the 866 students throughout the region who collectively received more than $1 million in scholarships and bursaries provided by Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation over the past year—many of which are made possible through the generous support of donors.

For Steed, the $2,500 he received between two Okanagan College entrance awards and the John and Nancy Woodworth Award means he can finally reach for the career that has long been a dream. Having successfully completed upgrades at the College over the past year, he will begin the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2016.

“I’m so thankful to the generous donors who make these awards possible,” says Steed. “These are people who didn’t know anything about me, had never heard my story, and yet they cared enough to invest in my future.”

A certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Steed’s decision to continue his education and become a nurse was inspired by his sons Nicholas and Cameron, both of whom were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes before the age of 2.

“My children are a huge source of inspiration,” explains Steed. “Their life is not easy, nor is it fair, but I hope one day to be able to provide other people with the same quality of care our family has received over the years from the nurses and doctors in Kelowna.”

Helping other children and their families cope with diabetes has become a mission for Steed; he and his wife April have been active volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since shortly after Nicholas’ diagnosis in 2004.

“I am passionate about helping people. To have experienced support like this for my education and to have people wanting to help me with my future is very motivating.”

Steed shared the story of his journey back to College as a mature student with a crowd of more than 200 students and donors at the Kelowna campus award ceremony on November 19.

Of the $1 million given out this year, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation handed out more than $325,000 to students at fall awards ceremonies in Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon this November. Another $75,000 in support went out to students at the Salmon Arm campus awards ceremony in June, bringing the grand total awarded at this year’s ceremonies to over $400,000.

The annual fall award ceremonies provide a timely boost of support for students as the holidays approach. The ceremonies also bridge another gap by connecting students with the individuals and organizations behind the awards.

“We are reminded especially at this time of year what a truly phenomenal impact community support has on our students,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “On behalf of Okanagan College, I would like to congratulate all of this year’s award recipients and extend our deepest thanks to all of the donors brightening futures by supporting education in our region.”

A gift 50 years in the making: donor honours father’s legacy
Okanagan College Media Release

Cookson donation Dec 2015One of the valley’s longest-running family-owned commercial trucking businesses has come forward with a big gift for trades students at Okanagan College, in honour of its founder who helped pave the way for the industry in Kelowna.

Cookson Motors Ltd., owned by Hugo Cookson Jr., has donated $50,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus.

The donation is being made in honour of Cookson’s father Hugo Cookson Sr., who founded Cookson Motors in Kelowna more than 50 years ago in 1965.

“My dad did his apprenticeship in Kelowna, and had a strong belief in the apprenticeship process,” says Cookson.

The commercial truck sales, leasing, and servicing company has grown from three employees in 1965 to a staff of more than 70 today; a second dealership was purchased in Penticton in 2001.

“As our company has grown there has always been a need for skilled apprentices,” says Cookson. “My dad recognized the importance of investing in the next generation and so this gift is meant to carry on that legacy.”

Cookson Sr. passed away in September at the age of 87. A plaque in his memory will be placed outside of the classroom bearing his name in the College’s newly renovated Heavy Duty Mechanical Trades shop.

“On behalf of Okanagan College I want to express our appreciation to Cookson Motors, and to all the donors helping us build for the future,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“It is particularly inspiring for our trades students to see this kind of support locally from organizations, families, and individuals who have played a role in growing the trades sector in our surrounding communities,” says Hamilton.

Upgrades to the heavy duty shop were completed in summer 2013 as the first phase in the College’s current $33-million renovation and expansion project in Kelowna.

Added to the shop were three new classrooms (including the classroom named in Cookson Sr.’s honour) and a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the province’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels.

Cookson Jr., an alumnus of the College’s Business Administration program, has been a supporter of the project since early in the renovation. In addition to sitting on the Program Advisory Committee for the Heavy Duty program previously, he joined the Bright Horizons campaign team last year as a volunteer Sector Chair.

“It’s a very worthwhile cause and I hope this gift inspires other people in the community and in the industry to come forward and support students as our company has,” he says.

When doors open next spring, the new Trades complex will accommodate more than 2,600 students, almost doubling capacity for trades training at the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C.

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise another $7 million for capital construction and program and student support.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit  
On your mark, get set, write: 3-hour short story contest winners
Okanagan College Media Release

Armed with only their creativity and the words at their fingertips, 60 budding writers participated in Okanagan College’s annual 3-Hour Short Story contest in November at the four campus locations.

Four regional authors (one per campus) were named the recipients of the $250 tuition credit prize:
  • Vernon – “Watercolours” by Daniel Greene (Okanagan College)
  • Penticton – “Mother” by Marina Meyer (Okanagan College)
  • Salmon Arm – “The Legend of Mr. Mustache” by Amy Nicholson (King’s Christian School)
  • Kelowna – “I Heard” by Kirsten Kvaale (Okanagan College)
Daniel Greene Dec 2015   Amy Nicholson Dec 2015  Marina Meyer Dec 2015
Daniel Greene  Amy Nicholson  Marina Meyer

For his tale about alcoholism, family history, and memories painted in watercolours, as recounted by a grandmother to her grandson, second-year Associate of Arts degree student Daniel Greene from Vernon took home the overall top prize. He received an additional $250 tuition credit and will have his story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.

“Even though I had prepared for the contest and had an idea of what I may want to write, it is hard in just three hours,” said 20-year-old Greene. “You really don’t have time to re-read which actually helps the creative process. It allows your ideas to flow better and you can’t second-guess yourself.”

Up against a 180-minute ticking clock, the Grade 11, 12, and Okanagan College student authors were challenged with needing to incorporate the secret phrase “downy moustache” into their story, a phrase only revealed at the start of the contest. Faced with the fear of writers’ block (the contest does not allow any previously authored materials and no online access is available) the authors conquered their fear and made the job of the judging panel that much more difficult.

“Each year it is astonishing the scope of creativity and talent we see these budding authors showcase in such a short amount of time,” says Okanagan College English professor, contest judge and organizer Dr. Sean Johnston. “The outlook for the already thriving writers’ community in the valley looks very promising based on all the entries we read.”

In addition to Johnston, College Professors and authors Corinna Chong, Francie Greenslade, Jeremy Beaulne, Steve Weber, Dr. Shona Harrison, Jeremy Lanaway, and Hannah Calder judged the contest. All entries were anonymous, allowing the judging panel to review each story indiscriminately.

The winning stories can be read online at

Regional winners’ quotes and profiles:

Salmon Arm:

Grade 11 King’s Christian School student Amy Nicholson is currently working on a medieval time-set novel in her spare time and credits it as an inspiration for her short story. “The Legend of Mr. Mustache” is a hero’s tale with elves, goblins and magic centered on a grandfather’s prophecy about a man with a downy mustache.

“It seemed like a difficult task, writing an entire story in three hours, but I wanted to stretch myself and give it a try,” said Nicholson. “I’ve been wondering whether to pursue writing as more than a hobby, and I think winning this helped confirm that there is something to pursue.”


Originally from South Africa, 57-year-old Marina Meyer who is studying Arts at the Penticton campus of the College says writing has always been a passion and she hopes to teach English as a second language throughout Africa after completing her studies. Her short story “Mother” is a melancholy narrative about two siblings, one a member of the South African military, who are juxtaposed in terms of the relationships they each have with their mother, and each other.

“Most of the time, the mere act of writing inspires me to write. Many of my stories are musings,” said Meyer. “For me, winning this contest means that some of my tuition is going to be paid because I spent three hours doing something I adore. What could be better than that?”

College students’ Stash Bash raises funds for BC Cancer Foundation
Okanagan College Media Release

You may have noticed Kelowna gentlemen growing a little hairier this past Movember. Keeping to the theme and in support of the moustache the annual Stash Bash raised $2,250 in support of the BC Cancer Foundation in Kelowna.Stash Bash 2015

Now in its fourth year, the Stash Bash is a collaboration between the College’s Okanagan Business Students’ Association (OBSA) and Family Photos Kelowna. The fundraising initiative includes a “concert for cancer” with proceeds benefitting prostate cancer research and treatment in our community. More than 150 stash supporters attended this year’s event, which was held on Nov. 14 at the Habitat Bar, and featured a performance from the local band Wild Son. The band also donated their appearance fees to the event.

With a family member recently diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment, second-year Okanagan College Bachelor of Business Administration student and OBSA President Roger Hulstein knows all too well how valuable the work of the BC Cancer Foundation is in the region.

“You never beat cancer, but it’s comforting to know that there is research being done,” said Hulstein. “For myself, and the OBSA team, it felt great to know we can contribute to helping improve treatment for patients. If everyone does a little bit, it helps.”

He adds that hosting a concert benefit for attendees to enjoy an evening of music is a fun way to get people to donate, rather than just asking for the funds.

“We’re very proud to see students demonstrate of their own accord their commitment to the community around us,” says Okanagan College Business Professor, and an OBSA faculty advisor, Devin Rubadeau. “This extracurricular event organized by the Business students provides an excellent and valuable experience for them to practice what they learn in class.”

Entirely student led, Stash Bash has come a long way since its first inception in 2011, when it was held in the Student Services building at the Kelowna campus. The event’s popularity has grown year over year, and naturally outgrew the space. The organizers hope that this trend trajectory will continue and that even more can be raised next year.

Okanagan College receives $250,000 from The Joyce Foundation for trades bursaries
Okanagan College Media Release

Joyce Foundation Donation 1A major gift from The Joyce Foundation will soon open doors to education and help make dreams a reality for scores of current and future students at Okanagan College.

The $250,000 donation will be used to create entrance bursaries and augment existing financial aid for students in the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship programs.

“This gift represents a tremendous investment in the future of many students in our region,” says Okanagan College’s President Jim Hamilton. “We are very grateful to The Joyce Foundation for enhancing our efforts to make trades training accessible for a diverse array of learners.

“This support is very timely when you consider that B.C. will need 160,000 new tradespeople over the next decade, including more than 10,000 in the Okanagan alone.”

The $250,000 cheque is one of the largest donations ever received by Okanagan College for bursaries and student support.

At least $50,000 in entrance bursaries for students demonstrating financial need – 10 awards valued at $5,000 each – will be made available beginning in January. Additional entrance bursaries and funding for literacy and numeracy tutoring for trades students will be made available throughout 2016 and 2017.Joyce Foundation Donation 2

“Education is key in opening new pathways to success. The Joyce Foundation is very pleased to be part of that process at Okanagan College,” said Ron Joyce, founder of The Joyce Foundation and well-known Canadian entrepreneur.

The Joyce Foundation’s primary focus is to provide access to education for children and youth with significant financial need or who are facing other socio-economic barriers to success. This gift was made available by Ron Joyce with the support of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, including Grant Joyce, Steven Joyce, Hon. Ed Lumley, Rob MacIsaac, Aileen O’Rafferty, Michele Thornley, and David Wagstaff.

“We are very excited to see young people use these entrance awards as a catalyst for change in their lives,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “And for our existing students in need of support, the impact will be just as profound – for some, it can mean the difference between staying in school or not.”

Following today’s official announcement of the donation, trades students, instructors and Okanagan College employees at the Kelowna campus gathered together to voice their gratitude to the Joyce Foundation. The video can be viewed here:

“This is an amazing contribution for students,” said Spencer LaPointe, a student in the Automotive Service Technician Foundation program. “Thank you to The Joyce Foundation for building on the foundation of support available to us.”

Increasing access to trades training remains a priority for Okanagan College, which is B.C.’s second largest trades training institution. The 12-week Gateway to Trades program provides mentorship opportunities to high school students and students at risk. Some of the Joyce Foundation funding will assist students transitioning from the Gateway program to an Apprenticeship or Foundation (pre-Apprenticeship) program.

The Joyce Foundation’s donation will count towards the Okanagan College Foundation’s $2-million goal for student and program support as part of the overall $7-million Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign in support of the $33-million renovation and expansion of Trades Training facilities at the Kelowna Campus.

More information about the campaign is available at

$1 million in funding announced to support apprenticeship in high demand trades
Okanagan College Media Release

Apprentices, employers, and anyone considering a career in trades should take note: LNG Canada has announced $1 million in private funding to support employers sponsoring apprentices and foundation (pre-apprentice) trades students in programs from Carpentry to Welding.Trades Training Fund

LNG Canada Trades Training Fund, which is administered by the BC Construction Association, will support training in all construction trades, although priority may be given to 15 high demand trades in B.C. identified by LNG Canada. Ten of these trades are currently offered at Okanagan College, B.C.’s second largest trades training institution.

Along with tuition, the funding can be applied to student fees, textbooks, software and other required materials, and examination fees.

“This new Trades Training Fund is exciting news, particularly for employers, but also for our students and potential students looking to pursue an apprenticeship,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.

Employers who have committed to hiring a graduate, are seeking to upgrade training for existing employees, or who are sponsoring an apprentice may apply for the funding.

Applications opened on Oct. 15, 2015 and will continue until further notice.

More information about the fund, including a full list of the Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs covered is available at

CLAC gift helps Okanagan College equip trades students
Okanagan College Media Release

CLAC_1 Dec 2015One of Canada’s largest national independent unions has come forward with a major donation to help Okanagan College put tools in the hands of tradespeople in training.

CLAC has donated $30,000 toward a new tool crib in the College’s carpentry shop, which has received an extensive renovation and upgrades in recent months. The tools will be used by students in the Carpentry and RV Service programs.

“CLAC Training BC believes strongly in strengthening communities through better training opportunities,” says Larry Richardson, CLAC’s Director of Training for BC.

“We are very pleased to support Okanagan College in developing this modern trades facility, which will help the College continue to train skilled workers for B.C.’s industries.”

Upgrades to the carpentry shop, which include the addition of the new tool crib, along with a new paint spray booth and a new dust extraction system, are all part of the $33-million renovation and expansion of the trades training facilities underway at the Kelowna campus.

“Our sincere thanks go out to CLAC for helping us enhance the learning environment for our carpentry students,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

“Overall, the new shop is far more modern and efficient, and the location of the new tool crib makes it more accessible to students in our outside work spaces, which the students and instructors greatly appreciate.”

The new three-storey Trades Training Complex along KLO Road is expected to be completed and open to students by spring of 2016.

The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign to raise the necessary $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support to top up the provincial government’s $28 million commitment.

Formed in 1952, CLAC is one of Canada’s fastest-growing unions. Operating through 15 member centres, it is currently the largest national, independent, multi-sector union representing over 60,000 workers.CLAC_2 Dec 2015

With a strong demand for more skilled tradespeople over the next decade – more than 160,000 in B.C. alone – CLAC recognized the need to reinforce the College’s effort to train proactively against potential skills shortages.

“The practical skills and education offered through this new facility will enable our tradespeople to gain the necessary knowledge to help us compete not only within Canada, but in the global marketplace,” says Brad Bent, CLAC’s Director of Training for Alberta.

Okanagan College is currently B.C.’s second largest trades training institution, offering an array of Apprenticeship and Foundation (pre-Apprenticeship) training programs.

The College has launched numerous initiatives in recent years to support student access and success in trades training. Women in Trades Training (WITT) provides additional support, mentorship and job-readiness training specifically geared for women entering the trades. The Dual-credit and Gateway to Trades programs are intended to introduce high school students to trades careers and help them build skills.

More information about the renovation and expansion project and opportunities to support the fundraising campaign is available at