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Records 1 to 4 of 7
Olympic hopeful gets lift from Okanagan College donors

Thanks to the generosity of donors to Okanagan College, students are able to gain an education and for some, pursue big dreams at the same time.hannah mehain 1

Hannah Mehain is one such student. At age 20, she's in her second year of science at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus with the goal of studying medicine or physiotherapy.

She is also an accomplished cross country skier, who just last week made the Canadian World Junior/U23 Championships team. She will be travelling to Finland in January to compete with the best in the world. After that, her eyes are on the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"If I did not have the financial support from the College I likely would not be able to compete in cross-country skiing at a high level while going to school," says Mehain.

"Having that support, I can devote my time and energy into doing very well at both. It makes a huge difference."

Mehain is one of 977 students who received scholarships and bursaries from Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation this year. In total, more than $1.1 million was given to students, with much of the funds made possible through the generous support of donors.

"I want to thank everyone who is helping make my dream and other students' dreams possible," says Mehain.

She adds that the College professors have been extremely supportive of her athletic endeavors, providing her with flexibility to complete her studies while attending competitions.

“I love going to school every day because I am interested in the material I am learning and because the professors are passionate and knowledgeable about the material they are teaching,” says Mehain.

In November, nearly $500,000 was handed out to students at three awards ceremonies in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon. The fall award ceremonies provide a timely boost of support for students as the holidays approach. The ceremonies also play an important role in connecting students with the individuals and organizations behind the awards.

“Community support is a significant ingredient in the recipe for student success,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“Whether it allows students to pursue their studies while chasing other goals or whether it just relieves some of the financial stress associated with their education that help means a great deal.”

When seconds count: first aid trainer shares his life-saving knowledge at OC
Okanagan College Media Release

Andy Jack Dec 2018Andy Jack can give plenty of reasons why keeping his skills up-to-date is critical in his profession, but it only took one personal incident for the Vernon-based first aid expert to confirm his commitment to refresher training.

Jack first dipped a toe in the water of the first aid world when he took his Level C training years ago from the Red Cross as part of lifeguard training when he was a teen. He has seen first-hand the life-saving importance of updating his certification throughout his career.

“Having first aid is one of the most invaluable tickets you can have on the job, because you never know what is going to happen,” he says. “A lot of employers won’t even let you on the job site without it now.”

Jack can cite many ways in which he’s seen first aid training evolve over the years, from education around automatic electronic defibrillators, anaphylaxis response and, more recently, naloxone kits.

“I have used my naloxone kit a number of times. I carry face masks for CPR in my kit now, and I carry gloves with me all the time. It’s important to be prepared, and feel confident that you’re up-to-date, as you’ll never know when your skills will be needed.”

Jack has experience working in remote locations, including oilfields in Alberta and provincial parks in the Okanagan. Health and safety specialists have always been a phone call away, but Jack found having first-aid skills and knowledge can drastically improve the outcome.

“That initial response – the first 15 minutes – are so important when you are dealing with an emergency,” he says.
 

Never has a lesson hit home for Jack more seriously than one morning two years ago when he found his spouse unresponsive in the bathroom as he was getting ready for work.

“I didn’t want to move her because I thought she might have slipped and caused a head or neck injury. As I looked closer, I noticed her mouth was drooping on her one side,” he recalls. “I could see her eyes moving, she was trying to hear me, but her speech was slurred. That’s when I remembered FAST – face, arms, speech and time.”

He called 911 and she was sent to hospital for immediate surgery which, according the Jack, likely saved her life. “She pulled through. She has been back to work for several months and is improving every day,” he says.

Now a volunteer with Vernon Search and Rescue, Jack’s training continues to help those around him: stranded snowmobilers, overturned boats on Okanagan Lake, lost hikers and hunters in distress.

“I just love being there for people and helping them as much as I can,” he says. “On and off the job site, first aid is so invaluable as it allows me to assist people in need.”

First aid training is one of the course and certificate options available through Continuing Studies at Okanagan College. For details of locations, dates and times, check out the winter course brochure available at okanagan.bc.ca/csbrochure
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Education helps opportunity bubble for local wine industry professional
Okanagan College Media Release

From his start picking grapes at Tantalus Vineyard to now owning a vineyard with boutique winery goals of his own, Ryan Fipke is living proof of the value of education and training for B.C.’s wine industry talent.Ryan Fipke Dec 2018

As Tasting Room Manager and Private Sales at Tantalus Vineyards, and also co-owner of Vice & Virtue Brewery – one of newest additions to the Okanagan’s booming craft beer scene – Fipke has had many roles over the years, but has witnessed one constant: the importance of learning at every step along the way.

Knowing a career in the wine industry was his passion, Fipke began his formal training a few years back when he enrolled in the three wine certificate programs offered by Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies Department.

“While I was working full-time, I gained the skills I needed for my career with the viticulture, winery assistant and wine sales certificates,” explains Fipke. “And in the process, I also uncovered a ton of really cool family history that I never knew. My grandma used to make her own wine in the 1940s and my paternal grandpa distilled moonshine, and that’s just the start of it. It turns out wine and craft alcohols run in my blood.”

“When I made all of these connections, I couldn’t help but feel like I was meant to be here. I’ve been working very hard for many years; now that I own a vineyard, I’m literally planting vines for my future dream of running a small boutique winery.”

With wine and wine tourism driving economic growth in the Okanagan region, Fipke and the College’s continually growing numbers of alumni in this area are all examples of how education is becoming more and more critical, fueled by advances in technology in grape growing and the science of wine making all the way through to winery sales and marketing.

“The Okanagan wine industry is a dynamic and growing ecosystem full of aspiring producers, skilled workers and innovators who are producing truly world-class wines,” says Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continues Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College.

“Our goal is to be ahead of the curve and bring training for the full cycle of winemaking to workers and employers in the Okanagan Shuswap,” explains Silvestrone. “And with our alumni going on be become award-winning winemakers and vineyard managers right here in the region, it’s exciting to see that knowledge at work in the community and benefitting our local industry as well as around the world.”

The Viticulture certificate is one of hundreds of Continuing Studies courses and certificates offered by the College at its campuses and learning centres from Revelstoke to the South Okanagan. To find out more about the program or to discover a new career path, check out Okanagan College’s newly released winter brochure at okanagan.bc.ca/csbrochure
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College Culinary students cook up holiday cheer
Okanagan College Media Release

Holiday Dinner 2 Dec 2018Chefs-in-training at Okanagan College in Kelowna are once again putting their culinary talents to good work in the community.

A class of 15 Culinary Arts students, under the tutelage of OC Culinary Manager Chef Vincent Stufano and Chef Instructors Jim Armstrong and Mike Barillaro, recently prepped the turkeys, stuffing and gravy that will feed 500 people at an upcoming holiday dinner at Parkinson Rec Centre.

This year marks the 15
th annual Christmas Day dinner hosted by Victory Life Fellowship at the Rec Centre.

“Cooking for this meal is a wonderful opportunity for the students and chefs to give back to the community. Everyone takes pride in participating knowing that it’s going to mean a nice holiday meal for those who otherwise might not have had one,” says Stufano.

“It’s also a great learning opportunity for the students. They learn how to cook in volume while maintaining a high standard of quality.”

Students and instructors have cooked for the event, and others like it, for years, notes Stufano. It’s a holiday tradition he doesn’t see going away any time soon.

More information about Culinary Arts at Okanagan College is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/fwt
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Scholarship smooths road ahead for Okanagan College transfer student
Okanagan College Media Release

After being out of school for years, Blake Lewis is now well on his way to a career in the classroom, thanks to a spark of inspiration at Okanagan College and a boost from the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society.  

“It is a huge help in moving to a new city and community, and I don’t have to worry about the financial aspect,” Lewis says.

The Shuswap native had been working in pest control for years, but always felt the desire to explore his options. Attending professional training at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus inspired him to take action.

“I was hesitant about going back to school as a mature student. It was a big change, but ultimately, everyone at the Salmon Arm campus made it really easy for me,” he says. “I really enjoyed it, and have been trying to convince others to give it a go, too.”

He completed his Associate of Arts degree before transferring to Thompson Rivers University for this fall, in pursuit of a career in education. Lewis says the transition to university has been smooth academically and financially.

“College is a stepping stone on the path to success,” Lewis says. “For me, the scholarship also reinforced that the hard work I had invested into my education was paying off. It was a tough decision to go back to school, but this scholarship really showed me that the hard work was coming back to me.”

Lewis is one of 27 students from Okanagan College who received a $5,000 award from the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society, which are awarded annually to undergraduate students who have completed at least one year at a public post-secondary institution in B.C. and are transferring to another degree-granting institution to complete their studies.

This year, Okanagan College had the highest number of students in the province to receive the transfer scholarships in pursuit of educational studies.

“Ike Barber’s legacy of supporting students to fulfill their goals through post-secondary education in the province grows every year,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We’re deeply grateful to the Irving K. Barber Society for this continued investment in students at Okanagan College and so many other institutions. These scholarships create flexibility, mobility, and for many students, a life-changing opportunity to carry on their education.”

Scholarship funds come from the returns on a $15 million endowment established by the province in 2006. The fund is named after philanthropist Irving K. Barber who had a long history of supporting public education and research projects in British Columbia before his death in 2012. This year, the fund supported 171 transfer scholarships in the province, totalling $855,000.

Okanagan College student recipients for 2018 are: Martina Nenasheff (Armstrong); Cristian Kwasnek (Coldstream); Ashley Stocker (Kaleden); Annaka Wojciechowska (Kelowna); Carson Mintram (Kelowna); Cora Withers (Kelowna); Gabrielle Mendler (Kelowna); Garrett Kehler (Kelowna); Hayden Hanson-Street (Kelowna); Jenna Swett (Kelowna); Joshua Clark (Kelowna); Marissa Meyer (Kelowna); Marissa Pineau (Kelowna); Morgan Mathison (Kelowna); Muhammas-Bilal Madani (Kelowna); Quinn Krahn (Kelowna); Ross St. George (Kelowna); Bailey Hillman (Keremeos); Jamie Long (Keremeos); Melissa Fenton (Peachland); Julia Hudson (Penticton); Austin Phillips (Salmon Arm); Blake Lewis (Salmon Arm); Caitlan Gau (Sicamous); Sandra Johnson (Sorrento); Samantha Theobald (Trail); and Shelby Krywonos (Vernon).

To find out more information about the Ike Barber Transfer Scholarships, visit www.ikbbc.ca.

 

Okanagan College students win big with accessible tourism pitch
Okanagan College Media Release

The Winning Pitch Nov. 2018A junior team of four Okanagan College School of Business students have captured the regional title at The Winning Pitch competition for their innovative concept to expand accessible tourism opportunities in the Thompson Okanagan.

The Winning Pitch is a post-secondary student case competition presented by go2HR, British Columbia’s tourism human resources association. The competition was held at the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Summit in Osoyoos on Nov. 14 and tasked teams to develop an idea of a new tourism service that supports the development of accessible tourism opportunities in the province.

Second-year students Bryan Cresswell, Celina Matte, Emily Pilon and Zackery Plaxton made up the junior team entered by Okanagan College. They presented to a packed audience of local tourism stakeholders and judges on their winning idea, AccessFest – a seasonally inspired series of festivals for those with accessibility requirements.

“Tourism opportunities can be limited for people with accessibility requirements and a lot of regions in B.C. are actively working to improve on that,” says Pilon. “Our proposed festival focuses on highlighting regional aspects of B.C. specifically for those with accessibility requirements and the whole concept contributes to B.C.’s Accessibility Strategy to become a truly inclusive province by 2024.”

The team’s pitch focused on four seasonal festivals in four different locations across B.C. Opportunities to spotlight everything from fully accessible restaurants and hotels to ski resorts and wineries were part of the pitch. Each festival would also feature the various areas’ unique aspects of culture and tourism to develop unique visitor experiences that are more accessible and inclusive.

The junior team was joined on the podium by fellow students from Okanagan College.

OC’s senior team, consisting of Brittany Hemmerling, Nathan Ziebart, Jacob Pushor and Brett Loeppky, came in second after a close vote. Thompson Rivers University teams placed in third and fourth. Both College teams were coached by Okanagan School of Business Professors Blair Baldwin and Alan Rice.

“Both the junior and senior teams’ pitches were well received by the judges and Alan and I are very proud of their hard work and ambition,” says Baldwin. “This is the first time the students from the junior team have worked together and they found an immediate team chemistry. Each student comes from different specialty areas – marketing, finance and accounting – and they each brought something unique to the team.”

The competition required students to build a full business plan and seek feedback from real community stakeholders.

“After speaking with a few tourism stakeholders across the region, we found that what was really missing was a key driver that could influence the industry and create demand,” says Cresswell. “We started to think about an event that could be held regionally and could be scalable to a provincial level and that’s what sparked on the idea of AccessFest. After we developed the idea, we brought it back to those stakeholders and we were blown away with their support and desire to turn this idea into a reality.”

The team will now go on to represent the Thompson Okanagan region at the provincial finals, facing off against four other regional winners from across the province – but not before one last twist. All regional winners will be handed an extra challenge in January that teams will need to account for and build into their presentations at the provincial championship.

“The twist could be so many things so it’s hard to try to predict our challenge,” explains Pilon. “We’ve done our work and we’re actively preparing for provincials. Once we hear what the twist is, we’re going to further develop our concept and start building it into our plan.”

The provincial challenge takes place in February at the 2019 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Vancouver and teams will present to a panel of judges and an audience of more than 1,000 conference attendees.

 

OC profs’ approach to texts ease student costs
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College professors are helping to turn a new page in the rising costs of post-secondary education, giving students free access to online textbooks.

An online solution to lower post-secondary students’ costs is spreading at Okanagan College. Open Educational Resources – also known as OER – are high-quality resources (notably in the form of open textbooks) that are available in digital formats and at a very low cost to print.

The latest provincial statistics show Okanagan College ranks sixth in the province for open textbook adoption. By fall 2018, the College reported 147 courses that have adopted open textbooks, helping 2,875 students to save $437,212 (those numbers are up from 95 courses using online texts, 1,673 students impacted and a savings of $248,522 only a year ago). Many professors have committed to continue using and expanding their use of online texts at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

“It is fabulous to see initiatives like this become a reality,” says Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President, Education. “Student success is of the utmost importance to Okanagan College and the combination of better student learning with reduced costs is most welcome.”

Okanagan School of Business Professor Michael Orwick is one of many professors at the College who has introduced online textbooks to his classes and he can already speak to the educational benefits.

“Generally, the first mid-term grades in the Intro to Marketing classes I teach average 57 to 61 per cent,” explains Orwick. “This year, my first mid-term just averaged 73 per cent and I heard from students who said they felt the annotated textbook was a major reason for improved scores.”

Orwick has supplemented the text he is using – Principles of Marketing – with his own notes that provide students with additional insights into the subject matter.

“The textbook change for this class alone means a savings of $6,000 and every student is guaranteed to be able to get the textbook,” says Orwick. “There are four sections of this class running this term, so that adds up to $24,000 in savings just for this course. Next semester there may be 12 sections running which amounts to $72,000.”

The savings fit with the Province’s and the College’s agenda, as well as the Okanagan College Students’ Union, which presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government on Sept. 27 about the very issue.

“The high cost of textbooks has become a serious obstacle to accessing post-secondary education in B.C.,” says Jennifer Meyer, 2017-18 OCSU Board Member. “Textbook prices rose by 82 per cent between 2002-12 and now typically cost more than $200 per book. For the many students and families already struggling to afford education and the cost of living, this unpredictable expense can be a huge burden, causing students to take on additional debt or work longer hours for their required books.”

OC student Andre Dominguez is enrolled in Orwick’s Marketing class and has experienced the financial help that comes with the advent of online textbooks.

“The e-textbook has been a real asset because I can access it anywhere I go, both on mobile or on my laptop, and the fact that it was free is extremely helpful,” says Dominguez. “Expenses accumulate for college and it takes a toll on your bank account which brings unwanted stress that affects your personal and academic life.”

Not only do e-texts bring serious savings they also offer a custom approach to teaching and learning. Professors can annotate the online texts, leaving detailed notes, highlights, comments and provide specialized information. Students can choose to access the text online or can choose to have it printed from the College’s bookstore.

“It’s such an incredible bonus that my textbook is annotated by my professor,” explains Dominguez. “There is more retention when reading and I know I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am and learning as much if it wasn’t annotated. If every teacher had annotated textbooks, it would help students out very much.”