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Back to school not just for fall, College offers winter intake

If a new educational path or career goal are part of your plans for 2017, Okanagan College offers a range of programs that start early in the new year.

The school offers a variety of courses, at its campuses in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, with winter 2017 intakes in a range of subject matters for degree, diploma and certificate programs. 

From business administration to commercial aviation, from office assistant to recreation vehicle service technician, there is a wide range of programs that start early in the winter semester.

Registration is also open for a variety of university studies courses. The College offers two-year arts diploma programs in subject areas such as criminal and social justice, environmental studies, international development and communications, culture and journalism studies.

Select arts and sciences, business and office administration and continuing studies programs are also available via distance education.

The College also delivers winter intakes of Pre-Apprenticeship programs for some of B.C.’s most in-demand trades, including aircraft maintenance engineering (structures), welding and residential construction. 

For those looking to upgrade their education, all four campuses offer January intakes for their adult academic and career preparation foundational programs.

The Continuing Studies department provides hundreds of general interest, professional development and certificate courses.

Winter intake dates vary by program, with most courses commencing in January.

Online applications and a full listing of programs available at each campus can be found at

OC Campus Run 2017

Okanagan College Media Release – Dec. 30, 2016

Set a new goal for 2017 with Okanagan College Campus Run

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, early bird registration is open to the public for the College’s 2017 Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race, taking place on Sun. April 9 in Kelowna.

Each year a mixture of runners – from amateur to elite – lace up at the KLO Road campus of the College to challenge themselves on the popular flat and fast course.

Now in its 15th year, the not-for-profit race raises scholarship funds to support College students involved in recreation and athletics.

Richard Dueck“I’m really happy that we’ve been able to grow this race over the years and to improve the experience for runners,” says Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “We now have a 10 K distance for those who prefer a shorter distance and of course our relay gives groups of people the opportunity to participate together. The fact that all of our proceeds go to support OC students is really the icing on the cake.”

The Half Marathon is a 21.1 K fast course, taking runners from campus along the flat Abbott corridor, through the downtown waterfront with a turn-around atop the first hill on Knox Mountain. Runners will then enjoy lakeside views as they make their way back through City Park to Gyro Beach and cross the finish line back at the KLO campus.

The 10 K is a flat out and back following the same first and last portions of the half marathon course but with a turn-around in City Park.

The Relay Race covers the same half marathon route and allows up to five runners to participate in segments of approximately 4 K each. The Relay is a great option for new runners, corporate challenge teams and those looking for a shorter distance.

For Richard (RJ) Dueck, president of the Kelowna Running Club, the race holds a special place in his heart. The first half marathon he participated in was the 2010 OC Campus Run. He has been back every year since and finds the race is an ideal gauge of fitness for anyone to kick-off their post-winter goals.

“I love the timing of this race because it’s the first local opportunity in spring to plug in and test where my fitness is at for the half marathon distance.

“This event is great for every type of runner,” Dueck says. “The course and mechanics of the race are done really well and the medals and the snacks in particular are fantastic.”

Following their finish, runners can join the festivities in the College’s Centre for Learning for delicious food, door prizes and the awards ceremony. Prize money is awarded to the top three finishers in the male and female division of the half marathon.

Those who are not runners, but are interested in joining in on the energy and enthusiasm of the event are invited to be race volunteers. No experience is necessary.
To register, find out more about the course or to view entry fee deadlines, visit:
To volunteer, contact Michelle Lowry at 250-762-5445 ext. 4649 or at
Race quick facts:
Start time: 8 a.m. (10 K) and 8:15 a.m. (half marathon and relay)
Early Bird fees, until Feb. 12 at midnight: $40 (10 K) and $55 (half marathon)
Relay team fees: $125 (until April 4)
Follow the Facebook page for updates, training tips and photos

Textbook lesson in savings

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 28, 2016

Online texts saving Okanagan College students money  

Okanagan College students are saving big with an innovative provincial program that gives access to free textbooks.

book RyanRyan McAllister, a second-year environmental studies student at the College, has already felt the positive impacts from using open textbooks in four of his courses.

“The biggest perk of open textbooks are the cost-savings - saving money as a student will always come first,” he says.  

Okanagan College ranked third in open textbook adoptions out of 31 participating post-secondary institutions in BCcampus’s 2015-16 Annual Review of their Open Textbook Project. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Camosun College ranked first and second, respectively.)

BCcampus’s Open Textbook Project, an online repository of open educational resources (OERs), allows students and educators to use textbooks at no cost under a Creative Commons license. It currently has more than 170 books on a wide range of common post-secondary course subjects ­– everything from social science and business to trades and adult literacy upgrading courses.

“Okanagan College is committed on a number of fronts to minimizing barriers to post-secondary education,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It’s encouraging to see our professors supporting the Open Textbook Project and helping students save on the cost of their education.”

“The speed at which you can move through an online text to search or reference a specific topic and the ability to access your text anywhere without having to carry a book is great,” adds McAllister. “I find I spend more time reading further into the subject matter when using the online format.”

Dr. Arthur Gill Green, a geography professor at the College, has been an advocate of OER since 2010 when he discovered three of his students sharing a textbook because they couldn’t each afford to purchase one. Green became involved with the Open Textbook project in 2012 and doesn’t just teach with the materials, he creates them. In 2014, he co-wrote British Columbia in a Global Context, which is published and available in the online repository.

BCcampus reports that since 2012, 1,260 Okanagan College students have saved more than $190,000 across 76 different course sections where faculty and instructors have adopted an open textbook to replace a primary textbook or educational resource that must be purchased.

Since the launch of the project in 2012, more than 22,000 B.C. students have used Open Textbook for a savings of more than $2 million. BCcampus projects that Open Textbook will save students more than $800,000 in the 2016-17 academic year.

“Students are responding really well to open textbooks on multiple levels,” explains Green. “They appreciate the cost savings and the freedom of not having to rely on a heavy book that becomes out of date as soon as they purchase it. The biggest benefit is the ability for students and faculty to work together to actively create materials that further student knowledge linking to educational and occupational outcomes.”

Green’s support of the Open Textbook project hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was named one of BCcampus’ provincial Faculty Fellows for 2016-17. He is one of two B.C. educators named as an International OER Research Fellow with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, an American grant-making foundation that has been a longtime supporter of OER.

The Open Textbook Project is the only one of its kind in Canada. Though in its infancy, it has major support from the Province and is now receiving international backing. Open Textbook is funded by an operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education and recently received a $525,000 per annum grant from the Hewlett Foundation to expand its operations.

OERs are peer-reviewed to maintain quality standards and offer the added benefit of allowing for collaboration among educators and students. Open Textbook content can be edited and updated instantly and students can view the resources in various online or printable formats.

Because they are openly licensed, OERs can be used and re-purposed by others. This allows for adaptation to a specific course and enables access to students with learning challenges.

For more information on the Open Textbook Project visit


Transfer Scholarship

Okanagan College Media Release – December 27, 2016

Scholarship brings nursing goal closer to realization

Teresa Oyer is determined to become a nurse and a recent grant from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society is just fuel for her tenacity.

Student nurse Teresa OyerOyer, a mother of four grown children and grandmother to five, is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that began at Okanagan College and now has her attending UBC Okanagan. (Students complete two years at the College and then transfer to complete their two final years at UBCO).

Making the transfer between the two institutions meant Oyer, now in her early 50s, was eligible for one of the $5,000 transfer scholarships that the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society gives out annually. In 2016, the Society gave out 109 awards, totaling $545,000.

Five Okanagan College students, including Oyer, received the scholarships and proceeded to UBC.

It was a significant contribution for Oyer, who admits she has a full plate between responsibilities of family, helping care for grandkids, volunteering with the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and with the City of Kelowna access programs, and her studies.

“I have always been a caring person, and I have always wanted to be a RN. My mom was a nurse. In high school in Kamloops I was a candy striper at Royal Inland Hospital. At Halloween, as a child, I would always dress up as a nurse. I’ve been a health care provider for many years – I love teaching, advocating and caring for others.”

Her journey toward her goal wasn’t as straightforward as it might be for some just-out-of-high-school nursing students. She began at the College taking some of her pre-requisites in the school’s Adult Academic Career Preparation department. From English and biology, she took a foray into university arts courses at the College, including psychology and anthropology.

“I was always a good student, but I was not sure how I would do as a mature student,” she confides. “But my professors were great. They inspired confidence and I felt they recognized that my life experiences could contribute to the classroom.”

As she engaged in the nursing program, she found the small class sizes and quality of instruction reinforced what she had heard about the program’s reputation. As she entered her second year, that reputation was bolstered in her mind.

“In September last year (2015), I was diagnosed with and treated for lymphoma. I was even more determined that nothing was stopping me from accomplishing my dream. I have always believed that stumbling blocks can be used as stepping stones to success. This belief was followed with encouragement from the nursing staff, instructors and my family.

“My whole goal when I’m finished my studies is to ‘pay it forward.’ I hope to have my Master’s degree before I’m 60 and I am thinking about becoming a nursing teacher someday.”

She is grateful to the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society for its support, and has advice for fellow students: “take the time to find out what financial aid is available to you – do the research and apply.”

(Okanagan College has a website dedicated to financial aid for students, that makes researching sources of funding easy, and allows for online applications – visit


New year to bring new basketball teams to Okanagan College

A partnership between Okanagan College and the Kelowna College Basketball Society will see the College offer women’s and men’s collegiate teams in 2017.

OC basketball signingThe partners signed an agreement on Tuesday that will create capacity for two new teams who will compete under the Okanagan College Coyotes athletic brand. The teams will begin their first season with a strong exhibition schedule and will be working toward inclusion in the PAC-WEST.

Longtime Okanagan basketball coach Dino Gini will be the head coach of the men’s team as well as an assistant on the women’s team. The women’s head coach will be announced shortly. Doug Sperling will be an assistant with the men’s program and Chris Oddy will be responsible for recruiting and development, along with Jamie Boreham and Gene Wolverton. Altogether, the coaching staff has more than 85 years of coaching experience and are looking forward to filling a void that has been evident in the region.

“We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with Okanagan College,” says Gini. “We are situated in a hotbed of basketball in the province and we have a number of players who are talented enough to play beyond their high school careers. The College is growing every year and offers such great programming that it was a natural fit to add a second athletic team to OC.”

Okanagan College also has a baseball team that is in its ninth season of competition in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). It operates under a similar partnership between the College and the Kelowna College Baseball Society.

“We are looking forward to working with the society to provide a great athletic opportunity for our students,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We don’t have the kind of athletic team model that allows us to fund intercollegiate sports but through our experience with the baseball team, we have found a way to support the team and provide opportunities for students who have aspirations to be collegiate-level athletes. It’s a great example of working with our community to offer an expanded student experience.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Society will cover all operating costs associated with the teams.

“We are grateful for the support of Okanagan College to help us see this vision through to reality,” says Gini. “We’re excited to bring the varsity spirit to the hallways of the College and to build upon the OC Coyotes athletic profile.”


Unstumpable students code their way to second in Canada at 24-hour global hackathon
Okanagan College Media Release

For Okanagan College’s Kevin Hall, Brody Travis and Martin Wallace, you can’t stump the Unstumpable. The three computer science students placed second out of 74 teams nationally and an impressive 125th
of 2,200 teams globally at the IEEEXtreme 10th annual student programming competition.OC IEEE Students Unstumpable Dec 2016

Earlier this fall, Unstumpable, along with four other teams of the College’s computer science students, battled sleep deprivation and students around the world in the 24-hour virtual coding competition put on by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is the world’s largest association of technical professionals.

The contest - which transpires simultaneously worldwide - challenges teams of students to work collaboratively to solve a series of programming problems that are released over the duration of a day.

The four other Okanagan College teams placed 22, 25, 46 and 52 in Canada.

“We had a strategy going in as to how we would approach each question and we communicated well as a team,” explains Hall. “We started off strong and were in the top 15 worldwide after the first few questions, but the lack of sleep definitely impacted our problem-solving abilities.”

Unstumpable also put in hours of training in their spare time with professors Ken Chidlow, Jim Nastos and Youry Khmelevsky, who coached them and proctored the competition on campus.

“Participating in a competition like this is very rewarding for the students,” says Khmelevsky, Chair of the College’s Computer Science department and Chair, Okanagan Subsection of IEEE. “They can practically apply their skills, which shows them the immediate implications of their studies in the industry, in research and in competitions such as IEEEXtreme.”

To be eligible to participate in IEEEXtreme, students must be a member of an IEEE student branch. Okanagan College’s IEEE Student Branch, established in 2015, is part of the larger IEEE Okanagan Subsection, which currently has 50 active student members and 74 non-student members. The Subsection recently won Outstanding Small Technical Chapter and Khmelevsky was awarded Outstanding Volunteer at the 2016 AGM.

IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology and has more than 400,000 members in 190 countries.

The College’s IEEE student branch grew out of a response to the increasing number of Computer Science students and the thriving tech industry in the Okanagan. The branch provides learning opportunities and financial support for competitions such as IEEEXtreme, which are an important practical application of their studies.

“These sorts of coding competitions help to equip students with the skills, languages, and processes to enter the fastest growing sector in the Okanagan,” explains Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “Okanagan College plays an important role in the community by helping to respond to the talent shortage by offering technical training, structured curriculum, and opportunities to complete project work with local companies."

Work demand is high in the Okanagan’s $1.3B technology industry, which is growing at 15 per cent per year, according to Gopal. Accelerate Okanagan’s job board has about 75 open jobs at technology enabled companies available at any given time. Though Wallace, Hall and Travis are second-year students, they all have held or are holding part-time jobs in Kelowna’s tech industry.

“It’s great because at the College you have the skills learning,” says Wallace. “At work, you have the business side of learning. You can see the full picture.”  

More information and a complete listing of the competition results can be found on the College’s Computer Science department’s website: or by visiting


Nursing students’ caring contributions yield warmth for the winter
Okanagan College Media Release


Pay it Forward 2016Boxes of donated warm clothing that have been jamming the halls where Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program lives are on their way to making a difference for Kelowna’s disadvantaged.

The first- and second-year students who sit on the BSN’s Global Health committee – a civically-minded, student-led initiative for social equity – were looking to launch a holiday coat drive for those in need when they found the perfect campaign already on campus.

The BSN students joined up with the Pay it Forward campaign, an annual giving drive started by a former College student and run by the College’s Alumni Association. Each year several holiday-wrapped donation boxes are placed around the Kelowna campus for donations of blankets, clothing or unused toiletries to go to three local non-profits – Inn from the Cold, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and Kelowna Gospel Mission.  

Over the past month, the group of 10 student representatives on the Global Health committee have been spreading the Pay it Forward message to their peers and encouraging them to participate.

For them, community advocacy is an important part of the nursing program and there was appeal in the broad spectrum of people in the Okanagan that are reached by the campaign.

“We knew there would be a positive response from our classmates because we had run successful projects before, including a food drive,” says Christie Kneller, a BSN student and a representative on the volunteer committee. “But we didn’t expect this much!”

In 2007, Sarah Comba, an Okanagan College business student, began Pay it Forward after an experience she had volunteering at the Gospel Mission.

“I offered an elderly client two pairs of socks, but they insisted on only taking one pair and giving the other pair to someone else in need,” she explains. “The spirit of selflessness ­– that one small action could make a big difference for someone else – is what ignited the Pay it Forward campaign.”

Following graduation, Comba has continued to partner with the College’s Alumni Association to run the campaign, which is now in its 11th year. She returns to campus each year to help coordinate the event and even takes a day off from her job to hand-sort the donations alongside volunteers from the community and the College. This year the volunteers included a student from the BSN program. 

The 2016 campaign wrapped up at noon on Dec. 2. Volunteers packed and delivered six truckloads full of donations to the non-profit organizations. The contributions from the BSN students accounted for 15 per cent of this year’s overall donations, which collectively come from the generosity of the College’s students, employees, alumni, and external community members who have heard about the drive.

The department was impressed with the spirit and the momentum of the campaign, says Monique Powell, BSN program chair.

“We weren’t surprised they took the initiative, because volunteering and advocating for the community are embedded in their program,” she explains. “The students really take a lot of pride and responsibility in participating in all aspects of their volunteering. For them to lead this effort among their peers, to manage it and to go out and do it – above and beyond their intensive school workload – is incredible.”

The BSN students donate their time to many campus initiatives, including Canadian Blood Services drives and they formed the largest volunteer group at the College’s Half Marathon last year. They plan to kick-off a drive next term to put together and give out care packages to those in need. 


College business students to battle the best at Queen’s University
Okanagan College Media Release


Eight students from Okanagan College’s School of Business will be spending their winter break preparing to compete in the final round of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious case competition, Queen’s University’s Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.).Adrianna Knuth Dec 2016

For 21-year-old Adrianna Knuth, being selected to compete on the Human Resources team along with Madison Blancher was a huge honour and after being named one of the top six teams in the preliminary round, the duo aren’t planning on just showing up at Queen’s for the competition: they are heading to Kingston to win.

“I’m feeling very confident about the competition and I’m so excited to represent Okanagan College,” says Knuth. “I think that we will come out on top because the professors here give us a lot of applied knowledge so as a student body we are really well prepared for real life application, which positions us very well in case competitions.”

After a challenging preliminary round, Okanagan College teams made the finals in four categories. Knuth and Blancher will compete in Human Resources and will be coached by professor Roger Wheeler. The College will send an Accounting team made up of Kyla Wiseman and Kirstin Pitzoff, coached by Adrian Fontenla, as well as a team in the category of Management Information Systems made up of Anthony Peterson and Jared Hubner, coached by professor Glen Coulthard. 

The fourth team to compete will be named shortly and will present in the debate category. I.C.B.C. does not offer a preliminary competition in debate but ranks the top performing schools in the other seven categories and selects finalists based on the cumulative placing of all the competing teams.

In order to advance to the final round, Okanagan College teams competed against 32 post-secondary institutions from around the world.

“Queen’s I.C.B.C. competition is known to be the pre-eminent business case event in Canada and has growing recognition internationally,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “Once again our students are representing our institution extremely well and affirming that they are among the best in the country, if not the world.”

The finals will take place in Kingston from Jan. 19-21 and will include competitors from the University of Toronto, University of Vermont, Queen’s, McGill, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to name a few.

At the finals, students will be given five hours to review a complex business case within their designated field and prepare a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel, which is comprised of Queen’s professors and senior management professionals from Canada’s largest corporations. No electronic resources are allowed, however, teams can use all the textbooks they had the foresight to bring with them.

Knuth and Blancher plan on spending the better part of their winter break and the early weeks of their January semester preparing for the finals. With a full course load, the extra hours might prove to be challenging for some students but Knuth has a history of taking on challenges and coming out on top.

She is currently in the final year of the Bachelor of Business Administration Honours program. She is scheduled to graduate in June with her honours degree with a major in human resources, a minor in communications, as well as a diploma in management—and she will have completed all of this in just three years.

After Knuth graduates she plans on working in human resources and then eventually running her own company. CEO is a title she sees in her future and given her work ethic and drive, her ambitions of becoming part of an executive team don’t seem far from her reach.

For now, Knuth has her sights set on a first-place finish at I.C.B.C. and would be honoured to bring home the title to Okanagan College. 


Okanagan College student overcomes creative block to win Three-hour Short Story Contest
Okanagan College Media Release

The title “This Time” is an appropriate name for a winning story, considering Okanagan College’s Three-hour Short Story Contest is all about time ­– 180 minutes precisely.

Presented by the English department, the seventh annual contest took place on Saturday, Nov. 5 across all four College campuses. Writers were up against the clock with only three hours to create and edit an original short story while incorporating a secret phrase revealed at the competition’s start. This year’s phrase was “under the weather.”

Four regional authors (one per campus) were named the winners of the 2016 contest:

Pip Dryden Dec 2016“This Time” by Pip Dryden (OC – Kelowna)

“Splat” by Daniel Greene (OC – Penticton)

“About Otters” by Adam Lauze (OC – Salmon Arm)

“Dinner Dive” by Mirka Yargeau (OC – Vernon)

The regional winners were awarded a $250 tuition credit and one overall winner received an additional $250 tuition credit and will have their story published in limited fine-press edition by Kalamalka Press.

For Pip Dryden, a second-year Associate of Arts student at the Kelowna Campus, entering the contest was a way to overcome her creative block and be motivated in a fun environment.

“The only thing I had in my brain when I started writing was the first line of the story,” says Dryden. “I tried to not be too formulaic and the story just sort of built itself around that.”

Not only did Dryden find her inspiration to start writing again, her story “This Time” was chosen as the overall winner out of 22 stories submitted across the four campuses.

“Pip’s story stood out to the judges because of her character development and consistent use of metaphor,” explains Dr. Shona Harrison, Okanagan College English professor and a contest judge. “We look for a strong story structure and relatable, believable characters that drive the plot and captivate the reader.”

Harrison and fellow Okanagan College English professors Kerry Gilbert, Hannah Ball, Jeremy Lanaway, Frances Greenslade and Jeremy Beaulne organized the event and judged the anonymous entries.

“All of the stories were varied in topic and tone, but they all demonstrated playfulness, creativity, deftness of expression and an immediacy inspired by writing a complete, self-sustained narrative in real-time," adds Lanaway.  

For Daniel Greene, an Associate of Arts student and the 2015 overall winner, participating in the contest and having his story published was fulfilling on multiple levels.

“The biggest benefit was the recognition and affirmation of my skills as a writer. That was the first writing contest I had ever won and it has encouraged me to continue writing.”

Greene entered again this year and won the regional award for Penticton.

The free contest takes place every fall and is open to Okanagan College students and high school students in Grades 11 and 12.

Winning stories can be read online at