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Records 1 to 4 of 22
OC passes 2020-2021 budget – virtually
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has passed a $126.8 million budget for the coming year, but the board also recognized that circumstances associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic will prompt change over the coming months.

It was passed Tuesday by the Board which gathered virtually through an online meeting platform, an indication of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations at the institution.

“The very nature of the meeting drove home the fact that circumstances are changing rapidly. We fully recognize the budget was passed as a starting place while the uncertainty associated with the pandemic resolves itself,” explains President Jim Hamilton. The budget was developed before the pandemic was declared and before colleges and universities in the province moved to cease face-to-face delivery of programs.

“In the last three weeks things have changed dramatically and we cannot precisely forecast how these changed circumstances will affect our operations, especially revenue and expenses,” notes Curtis Morcom, Okanagan College’s Vice President Employee and Corporate Services. “There are uncertainties about how long the current situation will last and about what it will do to enrolments or costs. We have been and will be monitoring the impact on operations and will be adjusting expenditures accordingly.”

Okanagan College offers more than 150 programs at its four major campuses in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Penticton and Kelowna, as well as at several other learning centres. “We intend to continue to offer as many of those as possible,” says Hamilton.

Each year OC offers courses to more than 21,000 people.


How to play in today’s reality: A Q&A with Beverlie Dietze, Play Expert
Okanagan College Media Release

Play workshopSocial-distancing is the name of the game for all of us right now. But getting outside, whether it be in your backyard or your neighbourhood, when following the province’s guidance, remains an important way for us to keep moving says an Okanagan College outdoor play expert.

In early March, before the onset of COVID-19 halted such gatherings, the College hosted an outdoor play workshop alongside Outland Design and New Monaco in Peachland. This unique opportunity gave residents a chance to learn more about outdoor and unstructured play, and also gave children a chance to play with loose parts. The workshop also collected feedback from families and children on play preferences, including types of materials, activities and spaces.

With the emergence of COVID-19, the College’s Learning and Applied Research department has shifted its focus to facilitating connectivity for the College community. However, Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research and Education Technology at Okanagan College, recently took a few moments to share her perspective on the future of play, and how families can still stay connected and get outside.


Question 1: Can you tell us about the workshop the College hosted in early March in Peachland, and what it entailed?

Beverlie Dietze (BD): For the past five to seven years, across Canada, governments at all levels, health care providers, education and early childhood experts have expressed concerns about children’s lack of outdoor play and experiences with the concomitant increase in childhood obesity, mental health issues and related diseases.

Many national and international researchers recognize that there are a wide range of health benefits children gain from outdoor play. New Monaco, a land developer in Peachland is in the midst of creating a new neighbourhood that has woven healthy living into many aspects of the development, including the proposed park designs. Our community event was intended for Peachland residents and others to view the park space designs and provide feedback on them.

As well, children and families were invited to engage with the types of open-ended materials that will be promoted within the new park designs. The event brought families, educators, occupational therapists, playground designers, landscape architects, city planners and others to view how simple, open environments with loose parts can influence many hours of high-quality play and learning experiences for and with children. 


Question 2: For families who are struggling with being indoors more than they usually would right now, how can being outside benefit their health and wellbeing?

BD: Children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development is influenced by their connections to nature. Children need nature, sun, space, and play. Outdoor play experiences are connected to later academic performance, health status, and care of the environment.

Outdoor play is where children can develop their ecological self. Children who have access to outdoor play on a daily basis exhibit lower stress levels, are fitter and leaner, have stronger immune systems reducing the number of colds, flus and related illnesses, have more active imaginations and communication skills, exhibit higher levels of curiosity which in turn influence their academic learning. Children who play outdoors have more self-confidence with peers, less bullying behaviours, and abilities to formulate relationships. Indoor environments do not provide children with these same opportunities and in some instances, will not address the developmental domains.

As Dr. Bonnie Henry has identified, being outdoors is important. We encourage families to go outdoors and play together as a family. Although other families are unable to join in the play, families can share ideas back and forth digitally about what they are doing with their children. For example, one family may decide to gather sticks from the nearby forest that children require to build a den. Other families may do the same and then share photos or have children facetime the other children as they build their den.

We understand that parents are navigating unprecedented waters alongside their children, and many parents are making the transition to working from home. We are all faced with challenges but there are opportunities to divest from screens and in this instance, parents can lead the charge. Instead, encourage children to use the “gadgets” such as their phones to find particular items in their neighbourhood – have families develop scavenger hunts in the neighbourhoods and share digitally with families for them to use.

Children who are not use to spending time outdoors may also need specific projects offered such as building bird houses and painting them. We need adults to be creative to connect their children to the outdoor spaces that do not violate social distancing.


Question 3: What benefits are there for kids and families with outdoor play?

BD: Think about the types of games children can play – what are those old-fashioned games that children may not have learned? What kinds of materials can the children use to create things with? What old electronics might be available for the children to take apart and make discoveries? The more children can engage in the outdoors with opportunities to seek vitamin D and movement, as well has the reduction of germs spreading from the indoors, the healthier they will be.


Question 4: How has technology changed the way families play?

BD: Many children have lost the skills of how to play. It is not only the technology that has eroded children’s play, it is all of the organized events that they partake in – swimming, ball, music lessons – etc. They don’t have free time now to just play – perhaps this is one of the rainbows that we can see in this situation. Bringing back outdoor play to children will be one of the most significant child development gifts we can give a child.


Question 5: How do we strike a balance between going outdoors and being active, yet maintaining and respecting the requirements and recommendations of our current reality? 

BD: Children and their families need to play together – but connect with other families electronically to share what kinds of play occurs. Think about the pleasure that seniors take from watching children play – another reason why we need to make children’s outdoor play visible.


As the College continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, resources are available to students, staff and faculty to promote connectivity, maintain learning and reduce feelings of isolation. One of those resources includes Blackboard Collaborate, which Learning and Applied Research is using to facilitate online classes. To date, there have been over 380 individual engagements on the platform, across a variety of departments on all four campuses. Blackboard Collaborate continues to extend the classroom setting to students, enabling the continuation of learning.

For creative ideas available to families, head here for a comprehensive list of websites offering alternative ways to play, from forts to puzzles, crafts and adventures.

To learn more about resources available at Okanagan College, go here.


Top marks for OC business students at Western Canadian Business Competition
Okanagan College Media Release


Before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on major events and gatherings in the province, Okanagan College’s School of Business students enjoyed a winning-weekend as home and host team at the Western Canadian Business Competition (WCBC) in Kelowna earlier this month.WCBC March 2020

Attracting eleven teams from seven different institutions across the province, it was OC students Kitty Le, Nelson Denby, Sloane Mazza, Josee Edgecombe alongside coach Dan Allen, who captured first place in the Senior Division of the Top Strategic Plan category. Students Chandler Barron and Mazza also placed first in the junior and senior Top Individual categories respectively, while the College’s senior team also tied for Top Team Spirit.

WCBC is a comprehensive undergraduate business competition that sees students contribute their knowledge and skills towards a simulated business scenario. The scenario is stretched out over a hypothetical multi-year timeline, and students are assigned sectors of the industry to look after: Finance, Operations, Marketing, Human Resources, with one student assigned as the Chief Executive Operator.

Mazza says of the competition, “WCBC taught us a lot over the last two weeks leading up to it and the 48 hours of work during. Our experience was a roller coaster of emotions with perseverance, hardships, success and great memories.”

Judging took place on the merit of each team’s overall strategic plan, their scores based on running their plan through real life scenarios, which ran over the course of the entire weekend, as well as their ability to convey results to the judges in a presentation.

Teams worked to strike a balance between their efforts in the strategic plan and working through the actual simulation, something Mazza notes was a challenging point of the weekend.

“We started off feeling good about our strategic plan but ended up at the bottom in the simulation. Despite it all, we made some great friendships with the junior team and other schools around B.C. Best strategic plan, placing third individually, winning team spirit and having one of our teammates win the top individual award really showcased the hard work we put into this competition. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Okanagan College School of Business professor Stacey Fenwick adds that, “it was a pleasure to host each of the 11 teams and students worked hard and were rewarded with ‘real world’ advice and mentoring from our community leaders who serve as judges for this event. I am so grateful for our community leaders, student volunteers and staff that make this competition so successful each year.”

Over the course of the weekend, 19 awards were given away, over the categories of Top Strategic Plan, Top Simulation Score, Top Individuals, Top Teams and Team Spirit. In addition to capturing the Strategic Plan and Individual Awards, the Okanagan College School of Business senior team tied for the Top Team Spirit, alongside the College of New Caledonia junior Team.

The competition would not be possible without the support of Interior Savings Credit Union and McDonalds, both sponsors for the event. For more information on the Western Canada Business Competition, go here.


Specialized Training Offered by Lillooet Tribal Council and Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release


The Community Adult Learning Centre in Lillooet, B.C., recently partnered with Okanagan College to offer the Introduction to Office Administration training program, a fast-track program designed to build essential office skills necessary to job readiness in the field.

Community consultation and local job vacancies highlighted a need for office administration. Yvonne LaRochelle, manager for the Community Adult Learning Centre, set out to close the gap between those in need of work and the office administration jobs available in her community.

LaRochelle has collaborated with Okanagan College in the past and was able to create a program that met community needs.

Melissa Roque March 2020Between September and December, 12 unemployed and underemployed members from Lillooet and the surrounding area completed a comprehensive program offering certificates in Computer Basics for Business and Basic Accounting as well as leadership skills training, math, essential skills and Sage 50, to name a few.

Melissa Roque completed the program in December. A Lillooet resident and former home-care coordinator, Roque experienced a workplace injury and needed training in a field that would be less physically taxing.

“The training offered me a newfound sense of confidence,” says Roque. Moving forward into her job search, Roque feels more competent with computer programs, accounting and communication strategies. “These skills compliment the ones I’ve developed over a dedicated career in home-care work and motivate me move beyond my injury.”

Roque had been taking courses through the Community Adult Learning Centre with the goal of obtaining her Adult Dogwood Diploma. This program was an opportunity to further challenge herself academically as well as open doors to future employment.

Since graduating, Roque has had several work opportunities and is excited about joining a new workplace. She plans to complete her Adult Dogwood Diploma and to contribute meaningfully to the community. She is especially grateful to her instructors for their genuine investment in the group’s success.

To celebrate the group’s achievement a graduation ceremony was held at the Community Centre at T’it’q’et on Dec. 20. The event featured guest speakers, drumming and a catered lunch. Students were invited to decorate their own tables and share in the celebration with their families.

The program included St’at’imc cultural workshops featuring traditional First Nations teachers, strategy workshops on success and conflict management, and other essential skills tutorials.

The Lillooet Tribal Council – Community Adult Learning centre received funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education’s Community Workforce Response Grant. The initiative supports skills training required to address both workforce challenges and emerging work opportunities.

Free tuition, books and supplies were included in the program. In addition, snacks and travel costs were covered. Learning resources and curriculum were provided by Okanagan College. The Community Adult Learning Centre provided onsite support throughout the program.

More information about the College’s Introduction to Office Administration training can be found at


OC student and printshop owner supports business community
Okanagan College Media Release


People helping others is a sign of the times, especially if Okanagan College student Bryan Carlton has anything to say about it.Snap Printing March 2020

In addition to studying part-time for his BBA, Carlton owns Snap Printing in Kelowna. Since the pandemic landed in North America, he found his clients in education, event management and business have either reduced hours, put projects on hold or cancelled events.

“I have a few clients who let me know how slow it was and wanted to see If I can do anything to possibly help them out. I figured banners were a quick and easy way to let potential clients know that the restaurant was open for carry-outs and deliveries,” he says, noting they’ve printed eight banners so far as of Wednesday morning and a few more lined up.

“Community is very important to Snap Printing. We have given to many charities and always tried to help them out with their printing needs.”

Carlton completed a Diploma in Business Administration from Grande Prairie Regional College before coming to the Okanagan in 2003. He established Snap Printing in 2011, growing from a home-based business into a cutting-edge digital and specialty printing business. Going back to school was just that next step in his growth.

“Times have changed and I just wanted to learn more about what is happening and how I can apply it to my business. Not to mention I have always felt a good business owner needs to be continuously educating himself in one way or another,” he says.

Management Principles (BUAD 123) Professor Laura Hetherington said it is no surprise that Carlton shifted to focus on other businesses.

“Bryan’s positive influence and compassion for others has been displayed throughout the term in our classroom, in-person and now virtually. His drive and ambition to continue to help our community at times like this demonstrates Bryan’s leadership qualities,” she says.

Restaurant owners looking for banners can provide him their business name, phone number and specifics on if they want carry-out or delivery/carry-out versions, by sending to or calling 778-478-9553.

For Carlton, kindness can bind Kelowna together during these tough times.

“Support your local community, stay safe and we will get through this together,” he says.


Tom Budd sponsors health care tuition
Okanagan College Media Release

Local businessman and philanthropist Tom Budd is giving residents an opportunity to win free tuition toward a health care career at Okanagan College.

Budd, along with local radio stations Virgin Radio and Sun FM, are offering the contest called Wishin for Tuition across the Valley until April 12.

Residents can win up to $5,000 toward their tuition to one of any 10 Health Sciences programs at Okanagan College. The programs offered range from nursing to Early Childhood Education and Pharmacy Technician.

The prize money is coming from
a new fund Budd set up to honour his two sons, Payton and Dillon, who both lost their lives to suicide.

“The Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Fund’s primary focus is mental health,” explains Budd. “But our physical health is directly linked to our mental health, and so we have to take care of both.

“I’m proud to be able to help someone go to school and pursue a meaningful career caring for others.”

The tuition contest was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic as part of
Our Students, Your Health, the fundraising campaign behind the College’s new Health Sciences Centre, which is slated to open in September on the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman says COVID-19 reinforces just how essential well trained health care professionals are.

“Tom’s gift is timely. Now more than ever we need quality health care professionals to care for our community, and the new Centre will provide a state-of-the-art regional training hub for those frontline health care workers,” says Jackman.

“We’re grateful that this contest will help not only a student pursue their dream but that student will go on to help countless community members who will be impacted by their care.”

To learn more about the contest and rules, visit any of these stations,
Virgin Radio Kelowna, Sun FM Vernon and Sun FM Penticton.


College Culinary Arts program drops off donation to food bank
Okanagan College Media Release


See a need, fill a need.Oudendag and Derrick March 2020

This is exactly what Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts department did earlier this week as culinary classes came to an unexpected halt in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tallying the vast amount of ingredients that would have been utilized in student labs and cafeteria plates, instructors gathered as much as they could and delivered it to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank. Initiated by Ross Derrick, interim Culinary Arts instructor and chef at Cod Fathers Market and Kelsey Oudendag, Culinary Arts instructor, the team loaded dairy products, vegetables and fruit onto pallets for transport.

“Once our department decided to donate the food, the process went so quickly,” says Oudendag. “All it took was one phone call to ensure they were accepting donations and within the hour we had dropped off two full pallets worth of fresh food including fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk. Without Ross generously donating the Cod Fathers delivery truck and his own time to drop off the food, we probably would have had to make multiple trips.

“Once we got to the foodbank, there were plenty of volunteers working hard to help unload and process donations safely. The whole process took about 10 minutes. They are operating in an extremely organized and efficient manner, all thanks to wonderful volunteers.”

Restaurants, hotels, and casinos throughout the Okanagan Valley and province find themselves in the same predicament. While many have been forced to close their doors and lay off employees, many businesses have also seized the opportunity to do something with food that otherwise would spoil.

“During this time of struggle, I’ve seen many people in our hospitality industry band together to support each other, whether it be with time, funds or food,” adds Oudendag. “I’m blown away at the adaptability and generosity in our community.”

The Central Okanagan Community Foodbank is still accepting donations from the public at their location at 2310 Enterprise Way.


College cancels remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery
Okanagan College Media Release

Effective Thursday, Okanagan College is cancelling any remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 90 per cent of academic classes have already been transitioned to an alternative form of delivery this week. Classes still being delivered in a face-to-face format will be cancelled for Thursday and Friday in order to provide instructors and professors more time to complete plans to move fully to alternative forms of delivery.

“The vast majority of our classes have already transitioned to alternative forms of classroom delivery. As you can imagine, given the diversity of programs we offer, this was no easy task for our faculty and staff,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“We continue to work on creative ways to deliver trades training programming, especially shops, following guidance from the Provincial Health Officer. We have already postponed more than 20 planned intakes of trades programs that were to start in the next few weeks.”

Okanagan College students currently on practicum placements can continue those placements unless advised by OC. The College is working with practicum providers to carefully assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to moving classes to alternative forms of delivery, the College is also providing many services for students online to ensure continuity of services.

While campuses and in-person services remain open, students are encouraged to utilize these alternative forms of service delivery where possible to encourage social distancing.

“Many of our student services are already available online and others are transitioning to ensure students feel supported while not on campus, such as counselling and accessibility services,” says Hamilton. “We know this is a stressful and uncertain time for students, as it is for all, and so we’re going to be taking a look at every way we can provide support and help students face whatever challenges they’re encountering as the situation unfolds.”

The College is also communicating out to employees means and opportunities for them to work from home, while maintaining those critical supports to students and other services to keep the institution functioning.

The College will continue to communicate directly with students, and updates will also be posted to the College’s COVID-19 information page,


OC Course Helps Make Sense of “Fake News”
Okanagan College Media Release


The term “fake news” came to the public’s attention during the 2016 American presidential campaign and today, as the U.S. heads into another election cycle, the potential impacts are hard to ignore.

But is fake news a new phenomenon? How does it differ from propaganda? And is there any way to defeat it?Henczel and Fratilou March 2020

Okanagan College instructor Edward Henczel has spent 20 years working as a journalist around North America and Dr. Raluca Fratiloiu has studied the phenomena since her time in Communist-era Romania where she was surrounded by fake news and propaganda.

Together, they will deliver a two-part series at Okanagan College exploring the past, present and future of this ongoing problem.

Fake News: From Yellow Journalism to orange politicians is part of the Fascinating Intellectual Topics series that began last fall at Okanagan College. The series is comprised of two-day sessions that cover a range of subjects sharing a central theme of global citizenship.

“It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on and a 2016 study by the Pew Research Groups shows this is still true in the age of social media,” said Henczel.

Come prepared to explore ways to spot fake news and learn how others are detecting and debunking it. Bring a phone, tablet or a laptop for each class, as we will engage in some critical digital media analysis together.

The course will take place April 21 and 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


Campus-to-Campus half marathon cancelled

Sunday, March 15 – Today, Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia Okanagan announce that the campus-to-campus half marathon and celebration scheduled for Saturday, April 4 has been cancelled.

This decision follows the recommendations made by the B.C. Ministry of Health on March 12, which advise event organizers to cancel all events and gatherings of 250 people or more, in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

“While we are saddened to have to delay the resurgence of the run, it’s absolutely paramount to us to put the health and safety of OC and UBCO students, employees, volunteers and community members first,” said Tyler Finley, event co-organizer and Manager of Marketing and Communications for Okanagan College.

Adds Finley: “We are hopeful that the campus to campus will return in future, although we can’t speculate right now on when that will happen. Thank you to all of the students, staff and community partners who provided input, time and expertise in the planning for this event. We were overwhelmed by the positive response from our internal communities at both institutions and the external community to bringing back this great collaborative event.”

The organizing committee will be working to issue refunds to ticket-holders as soon as possible.

For those registrants who are interested, there will be the option to donate your refund to a fund for bursaries and scholarships for OC and UBCO students.

For information and current status of classes, services and events at the College, visit OC’s COVID-19 updates page here.


OC business students top podium at Enactus Regionals
Okanagan College Media Release

What do you do with your leftover fruit waste?

For a group of Okanagan College business students, repurposing apples that otherwise would have gone to waste into healthy snacks for kids was the logical solution – and the resulting project, FruitSnaps, recently earned them top project at Enactus Canada Western Regionals.

Hosted in Calgary in late February, the event drew college and university student teams from as far away as Vancouver to Brandon, Manitoba.

The College fielded teams in four categories, with FruitSnaps taking top spot in the Scotiabank Climate Change Challenge.

Teams from OC also finished as runners-up in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment and TD Entrepreneurship Challenges.

Started in the fall of 2018, FruitSnaps is a Vernon- and Penticton-based project, which sees Enactus OC students partnering with the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society facility, where unused apples from local orchards are dehydrated into snacks for local schools.

FruitSnaps Team March 2020Project manager and second-year student at OC’s Vernon campus, Karsten Ensz, notes, “kids absolutely love FruitSnaps and some schools have been going through more than 50 pounds every two weeks. The goal right now is to get FruitSnaps into more schools and finding ways to make the project self-sustainable.”

Enactus Regionals served as the perfect platform for Ensz and his team, Abigail Underwood, Sheryl MacIntosh and Marin Carruthers, to showcase their work to date and efforts to expand the project.

“We focused on how scalable FruitSnaps is and the impact it has on our community,” he adds. “A lot of people don’t realize that food insecurity is occurring in our community and that a lot of kids go to school without a breakfast.”

The competition format is simple, but nerve-wracking: teams have five minutes to test their technology, two minutes to set up and five minutes to present on where their projects have been, and where they are headed. Following that, the teams are grilled by a panel of judges.

Okanagan College School of Business professor Andrew Klingel serves as the FruitSnaps team coach, overseeing the project and offering guidance and support.

“Despite the demands of work, school and life, this team still finds the time to contribute to their community. In less than two years the project has grown from an idea to being available now to more than 4,000 kids in our community.”

Students Emily Pilon, Issac Hossmann, Rachel Wehrmann and Maya Samaddar came in second place in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge with their project GreenScreen. Run in partnership with Kelowna Cell Repair and Evangel Church, GreenScreen is a technology drive, offering local residents a chance to recycle or repair their tech. In the first year alone, the initiative kept over 150 pieces of technology out of the land fill. The team is coached by College professors Mark Ziebarth and Laura Hetherington.

Pilon, a third-year marketing student in the College’s BBA program, says of the competition: “it’s a fabulous experience to develop teamwork, presentation and critical thinking skills. After being a part of multiple Enactus competitions, I could not be more thankful for what I’ve gained in skills, leadership opportunities and friendships.”

Despite not advancing to Nationals, the GreenScreen team dubs their time in Calgary a win: “for a project in its first year, we are incredibly proud of our results,” adds Pilon.

The Accelerate Youth project, involving students Zack Plaxton, Nicole Sapieha, Zach Paton and Stephen Kucher, also finished as runner-up in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge. Coached by College instructor Dean Warner, the project helps at-risk youth learn valuable life lessons, from budgeting and financial literacy to goal setting.Enactus March 2020

Danielle Walker, Deziree Day, Christian Santos and Mitchell Kucher, coached by professor Devin Rubadeau, gave an enthusiastic presentation on the CanSave program but did not make the podium.

Reflecting on the competition, Rubadeau says, “the Enactus students continue to develop meaningful projects that benefit our community in significant ways. On these teams, students learn how to lead towards a common goal with outcomes that greatly exceed their own expectations.”

Dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillett, adds that, “we are proud of our students who are taking the initiative to make a positive change in their communities. It takes long hours and a lot of hard work to see these projects up and running.”

On FruitSnaps championship win: “It’s meaningful to see a project take off and make an impact in such an immediate way. The benefit of Enactus is that it affords students the chance to implement their learning in the real-world arena, hone skills and develop connections. In the case of FruitSnaps, it’s students finding a solution to a very real issue in our region.”

Looking ahead, Enactus Nationals are next for Ensz’ team, taking place on May 19 – 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. The three-day event draws teams from every corner of the country, and the winners of each categorized competition can go on to represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup. This year it is in Utrecht, Netherlands in September.

Okanagan College Enactus teams took first place in the CWB Financial Education Challenge at the 2019 National Competition, and placed second in the Scotiabank Environmental Challenge. For now, teams across the country will continue to perfect their presentations, changing elements where necessary to bring their best possible pitches.

“Going to the national competition is a great opportunity to see what the best schools in the country are working on. Our team has a lot of work to do between now and then, and not only do we need to keep expanding the project but also figure out how to showcase FruitSnaps in the best way possible,” says Ensz.

Learn more about Enactus OC here.


Redmond family inspires future dental assistants
Okanagan College Media Release


After spending more than 40 years working as a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Jean Redmond knows first-hand it is a rewarding career.CDA 1

Now, she and her husband Bill are choosing to inspire the next generation of CDAs by pledging $40,000 toward the construction of a new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

The new Centre will feature a modern dental clinic to train CDAs, which are in-demand locally and across the province. The clinic will mirror a modern dental office, with a reception room, state-of-the-art operatories, a dental manufacturing lab and sterilization room.

“I am thrilled that students will have a new and modern training facility,” says Jean.

“A modern clinic will inspire students during their education and give them a sense of pride in their chosen career. We’re happy to support people who are going into this training.”

Jean started as a certified dental assistant in 1961 and retired in 2005, working for more than 30 years at dentist offices in the Okanagan. She and her husband Bill have been long-time supporters of the College, donating most recently to the Kelowna Trades campaign.

“Okanagan College fills a gap in our education system that is really important by providing skills training, whether for trades or health care,” says Bill, who is co-owner of Dockside Marine Centre and Tow and Stow Dry Marina. “We're proud to be able to support the College.”

In recognition of their gift, the dental clinic reception will be named after the Redmonds.

“This gift will give our students the ability to learn in a dental clinic that will match their employers in terms of advanced digital technology,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

“Students will graduate ready for work, but they will also give back to our community. Our dental clinic is open to the public for three weeks every May offering low cost cleanings and other services to families.”

The free clinic serves approximately 200 people per year and has resulted in thousands of saved dollars for individuals, students and families seeking low-cost to free care.CDA 2

Okanagan College has been training CDAs for more than 40 years, and the College’s current Health building dates back to 1963. Health care and learning settings have changed dramatically since the 1960s and the current building no longer supports the quality of education the College is renowned for.

The B.C. government has contributed $15.4 million toward the new $18.9-million Health Sciences Centre, which will accommodate students who are training to step into eight high-demand health care careers and meet our community’s escalating health care needs.

The Okanagan College Foundation has set a fundraising goal of $5 million to complete the building, purchase technology and equipment and provide scholarships for health care students.

To learn more or donate to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, click here.


RV Technician training proves to be a dream choice for OC student
Okanagan College Media Release


Imagine constructing a building using WhatsApp.

Kartik Choudhury March 2020This was Kartik Choudhury’s reality, as he made the decision to build and sell a property of land in his homeland of India. The funds he earned from the property would propel his future in a way he never could have imagined, ultimately helping him pursue a new dream as a student in the Recreation Vehicle Service Technician Foundation program at Okanagan College.

Three years ago, Choudhury knew he wanted to get into trades. An IT consultant living in Calgary at the time, a switch in career and the enticement of technical know-how was enough to draw him in. After sharing his excitement with his wife, he knew that before he pursued a career change, they needed to save for their daughter’s post-secondary fund before he could make a transition to full time school himself.

“I had a small stretch of land beside my ancestral house in India,” says Choudhury. “Very odd shaped like a shoe box.”

He confirmed that he could work remotely for a period of time and started on the process of constructing a building on his shoe-box piece of land. With the help of his mother-in-law and communicating through WhatsApp, he started the process utilizing the app to send photos back and forth to confirm the pace and progress of construction.

The structure eventually sold and Choudhury knew it was time to apply, but the field of choice became the next question. It was a turning point after he had seemingly waited what felt like years to simply start, but he still needed to determine what area he wanted to work in.

“I thought to start with being a motorcycle mechanic. Everybody in India uses a motorcycle or scooter, but when I returned to my old university, I didn’t find many opportunities. I thought it was something I should see.

“Then I stumbled across the RV service technician program. I started looking into it and stumbled across Okanagan College.”

After months of back and forth to India to confirm the sale of his property and to be with family, nearly all of Choudhury’s hurdles seemed to be cleared. It wasn’t until he confirmed his enrolment at the College that it all became real.

“The most interesting part of all of this is that I had never used any tools,” he laughs.

Despite navigating the construction of a building through an app, Choudhury still had never swung a hammer or used a drill. Now six months into his program, he credits his instructors and classmates with helping him find his rhythm and easing the transition from his old life to the new.

“If I don’t get something, everyone helps me to understand,” he says. “In my previous line of work, if you didn’t know something, that was your problem. So, it’s refreshing that everyone is so willing to share information. It’s an unreal situation, that people are so forthcoming, just remarkable.”

Knowing he made the right choice, the hardest part of being a student now is simply getting across how content he is living his dream.

“Now? I chose this and I know I have not made the wrong choice. I am 46 and feel like this is something crazy, but I am happy. There’s more pressure but there’s no stress and I love it.”

“Stories like Kartik’s are always truly inspiring for us as educators,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship for Okanagan College. “And they’re stories that we want people to hear beyond the shops and classrooms of the College. We hear all the time from employers just how strong the demand for skilled works is right now, how many opportunities there are, and so we’re always trying to spread the word that there has never been a better time to pursue a career in the trades.”

Adds Moores: “Congratulations to Kartik for the strides he’s taken, and the hard work he’s put in, to seize his dream.”

To learn more about Okanagan College’s Recreational Vehicle Service Technician Foundation program, head here.


Vanity Fair: An (Im-)Morality Play takes centre stage on OC’s Kelowna campus
Okanagan College Media Release


Red Dot Players Feb 2020Celebrating 10 years of dynamic performances, Okanagan College’s Red Dot Players are set to delight audiences again as they transport them to 19th-century England with their latest production

The curtain will go up on Vanity Fair: An (Im-)Morality Play from March 12-15 at the College’s Kelowna campus, bringing together students, employees and community members. Theatre-goers also have the opportunity to dine beforehand at Infusions, the College’s Culinary student-led restaurant, with dinner theatre tickets available for the March 12 and 13 performances.

The play, written by Kate Hamill, is a hilarious fast-paced adaptation of the classic satirical novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. Crew and cast are comprised of Okanagan College’s very own, including the likes of Computer Science instructor Sarah Foss playing lead Becky Sharp, and Emily Hardy playing Amelia Sedley.

“Thematically, this year is similar to last,” says Director and Okanagan College English professor Jeremy Beaulne, referring to 2019’s production of Pride and Prejudice, “but this production takes you across Europe, and includes an expansive class hierarchy.”

The playwright, Kate Hamill, is a widely produced creative out of New York, who specializes in literary adaptations. Originally published in 1847, the story follows two women, Sharp and Sedley, who navigate the throes of English society amidst the Napoleonic Wars.

The production would not be possible without the countless hours contributed by various backstage hands, from lights to stage directing and costume design and creation, in addition to those who are cast in on-stage roles. A dynamic team of more than 24 are supporting this year’s production, nine of those running behind the scenes.

“We’re excited to finally put everything together” says Beaulne. In his ninth year of directing, he admits that, “the emotional range of this play is something we haven’t seen before.”

For those interested in getting involved with Red Dot Players, Beaulne encourages the community to come out to auditions, which are held every year in early November. They’re open to new and seasoned actors, and those looking to step into a variety of backstage roles as well.

A limited number of dinner theatre tickets are still available, starting at $47 for students and seniors and $50 for adults. General admission tickets are $15 for students and seniors and $18 for adults. Tickets can be purchased here. The production runs March 12 – 15 in the Theatre (Student Services building) on the College’s Kelowna campus. For more information about Vanity Fair, and about the Red Dot Players, head here.


OC alumni honoured for community impact
Okanagan College Media Release


Two female graduates of Okanagan College have earned the highest honours from the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their outstanding contributions within their communities and industries.

The OCAA has been conferring the Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards since 2002 to honour the extraordinary contributions and recognize the positive impact that OC’s graduates have in improving the lives of those around them.

Christina Fast is the recipient of this year’s Young Alumni Award.Christina Fast YAA March 2020

“I was a careless 19-year-old with no clear direction in life when a neighbour recommended I register for the Continuing Studies Sterile Processing Certificate program at OC,” said Fast. “I was fortunate to have had a number of inspiring instructors and preceptors throughout the program who imparted their knowledge and passion for a field of healthcare that deserves much more recognition for its essential role in patient safety.”

Since graduating from the program (which has since been renamed Medical Device Reprocessing Certificate) in 2006, Fast became an International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) certificated educator and began teaching internationally trained health care workers, unable to be licensed in Canada, how to sterilize surgical instruments.

In 2011 she volunteered to work as a sterile processor on the Africa Mercy ship, stationed in Sierra Leone. Not only did she improve sterile processing practices on the ship and ran education sessions in the evenings to ensure staff were appropriately trained, but she also visited local hospitals. Finding no organization that worked to address the obvious need for proper sterilization, Fast founded SPECT, a Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust.

Over the last eight years, SPECT has worked with staff from more than 248 health care facilities in 14 countries in Africa. Fast has educated and mentored over 700 workers as well as advocated with local and national governments to address standards to improve sterile processing.

“We were a part of a larger initiative and we did a study in Tanzania with Harvard University collecting the overall data. Initial findings indicated that there was a 50 per cent reduction in surgical infection rates because of the collaborative work that was done with other organizations,” says Olive Fast, Chair, SPECT.

“I would have never dreamt that a sterile processing certificate would lead me to starting a charitable organization that has now gone on to impact thousands of lives in 14 low-income countries,” adds Fast. “I’m so proud to have begun this rewarding career at Okanagan College.”

Fast received her award Thursday night at the OCAA’s annual awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus.

Bree Cawley DAA March 2020Bree Cawley was honoured with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Cawley graduated from the Bachelor of Business Administration program in 1999 since then has made her mark in communications, marketing and non-profit leadership for a host of organizations.

In August 2017, after realizing the lack of support there was for her daughter who was born with a brain abnormality, Bree founded the Okanagan chapter of GIRLS CLUB. GIRLS CLUB is a club for girls with autism and neuro-developmental differences and was formed to give girls a place to be themselves and connect with others who share in their experience. It is 100 per cent volunteer run and relies on donations to operate.

“We offer regularly scheduled free meet ups and activities for these girls, as often these kiddos are the ones that go from therapy to therapy, but don’t get the chance to connect with other likeminded kids to make friends,” says Cawley.

Initially, Cawley was funding the club’s activities out of her own pocket before receiving essential grants to continue the program. Since the club’s inception, activities have been free for members, which creates increased access for families that may not be able to afford club registration fees.

“Through GIRLS CLUB, Bree provides families in the Okanagan with an opportunity to connect, have friendships and form community,” says Vicky Ryan, Founder, GIRLS CLUB. “The work that Bree is doing is affecting hundreds of families.”

Cawley was humbled by the award.

“I am still not sure how I deserve to stand up here and accept this award, but I am incredibly grateful for the chance to do so,” said Cawley. “I extend my gratitude to my fellow BBA grads who became lifelong friends (one of which even became my husband), my amazing instructors, and the Okanagan College Alumni Association, who have all supported me in my career, in my life, and allowed me to be exactly where I was meant to be right now.”

“Both Bree and Christina have done outstanding work. Their commitment to their communities and industries is remarkable,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, OCAA. “We congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say we are excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”

Videos were shown to further broadcast Fast and Cawley’s achievements.

For more information on the awards and previous recipients, visit


Stronger together: collaboration a theme of 37th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest at OC
Okanagan College Media Release

What’s true for spaghetti and hot glue is true for people as well – we’re stronger when we stick together.

Spaghetti Bridge 2020In addition to coming away with new insights into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), participants of the 37th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest at Okanagan College also learned another important lesson in the value of collaboration.

More than 250 students from elementary through post-secondary flocked from all over the Okanagan to the College’s Kelowna campus on Friday to see whose spaghetti bridge would reign supreme.

Students had a chance to work in groups to build bridges on-site during the morning for the team-building competition, while others carefully transported elaborate pre-constructed spaghetti structures from as far away as Salmon Arm and Osoyoos.

The Dessert brothers of Lumby came out on top in the Heavyweight competition once again, marking the fourth year in a row one or more of the family has been in the top trio. It was Justin, a grade 11 student at Charles Bloom Secondary, whose bridge held the most – 237.44 kg – weighing in at 845.27 grams.

James, brother and second-year student at the College who won last year’s competition, came in second with his bridge holding 177.85 kg with a similar weight of 791.10 grams.

Sporting a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, Justin says, “Winning today means that I am able to take the lead from my brother again. We didn’t change anything this year but we kept the humidity more consistent, made sure to redo a couple of things right from scratch, and from the start made sure we were doing everything right.”

Not far behind James was Okanagan College alumnus Keyvan Khadem who captured third place. Khadem spent two years at the Kelowna campus completing the Civil Engineering technology bridge program and is now studying engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus. His bridge, made alongside teammates Harvir Mann, Ahmed Ramadan and Gavin Saini, held 131.24 kg.

“For us, this is a combination of what we learn in lectures, learned previously here at the College and transferred to UBC Okanagan. Basically, we’re putting science into action here. Because of the quality of the spaghetti we work with, if you spread the build out over more time, the pasta becomes brittle.

“Being here is like being part of an old family with a new family.”

“It was great to see the energy, excitement and positivity in the room. Whether their bridges worked out the way they wanted them to or not, every single competitor represented themselves and their schools so well. It was a joy to have everyone on campus, and we’re so grateful to all the students, teachers, volunteers and industry partners who make Spaghetti Bridge happen. Thank you!” said event organizer Michelle Lowry of the College’s Public Affairs department.

The event was made possible thanks to a variety of industry and community supporters including title sponsors, Faction Projects Inc. and Allnorth. Other sponsors for the contest include the Applied Science, Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia, PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., the Okanagan College Students’ Union, Multi-Power Products, CTQ Consultants, Interior Testing Services and OPM (Okanagan Precision Machine Ltd.).


Complete Results

First – Justin Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby, B.C.) Spaghetti Bridge 2020 Justin Dessert
Bridge weighed 845.27 g
Bridge held 237.44 kg

Second – Justin Dessert (Okanagan College, Kelowna, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 791.10 g
Bridge held 177.85 kg

Third – Keyvan Khadem, Harvir Mann, Ahmed Ramadan, Gavin Saini (UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 992.10 grams
Bridge held 131.24 kg

Secondary (lightweight)

First – Kiyoon Kim, Ty Sigvaldason, Kaytlynn New, Evan Vasarhely (Eagle River Secondary)
Second – Brody Pister and Camryn Pister (Southern Okanagan Secondary)
Third – Brooke Lachowski and Connor Schmitz (Eagle River Secondary)
Fourth – Josiah Peterson, Ben Stalker, Clayton Reay (King’s Christian School)
Fifth – Payton Kerr, David Chancellor, Haley Partridge (King’s Christian School)

Team Building Secondary
First – Hunter Milne, Joel Hrasko, Sam Cao, Joseph Sturgeon (Immaculata Regional High School)
Second – Sophia Grenier, Matt Hopley, Patrick Donovan, Eric Waller (Immaculata Regional High School)

Team Building Post-Secondary
First – Kyle Barker, Jordan Wapple (Okanagan College)
Second – James Schafer, Sarah Kelly, Lauren Biggs, Shea Krenzler (Okanagan College)

View and download high resolution photos from the 37th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest on the College’s Flickr gallery here.

Watch the final moments of Justin Dessert’s winning spaghetti bridge here.


College recognizes students, staff, alumni and community partners on International Women’s Day

In lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8, Okanagan College will be highlighting and celebrating the remarkable achievements and contributions to the region made by OC students, employees, retirees, alumni, donors, industry and community partners in a variety of ways.

In case you missed them, these are just a few examples of some of the diverse and inspiring accomplishments by women in the Okanagan College community in recent months.

Follow these and other stories on the College’s Facebook page on Sunday and from the past year on

OC profs lend expertise to Kelowna Homelessness Research Collaborative as Phase II of new project launches

Okanagan College School of Business professors Kerry Rempel and Kyleen Myrah recently launched phase two of a new research project in conjunction with the Kelowna Homelessness Research Collaborative. This collective brings together Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, Interior Health and the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society. The project, which is funded through a grant from the Vancouver Foundation, looks to connect researchers with the community to understand vulnerability around homelessness. In short, what makes people vulnerable to housing instability?

“We wanted to get a grounding of what vulnerability looks like from a Kelowna perspective,” says Rempel. “We want to highlight the Kelowna context on homelessness which is different from other communities. What is also unique about our project is that the outcome of all of this isn’t just to report our findings to the academic world for use in future research, but to create a how-to guide for other communities looking to bring community and researchers together.

Read the full story here.

Communications student reaches for the moon with first self-published book

A sacred appreciation for the exchange of knowledge, whether between friends or strangers, is a central theme in Juliana Troll Trujillo’s life. So, after moving to Canada from Brazil last Christmas, it was only natural for her to acknowledge the moments that led her to write her first book, Helio meets Luna – Luna meets Helio. Troll Trujillo is a first-year student studying Advanced Communications at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. She recently shared her story of how the book took shape, and the inspiration she drew from her family, fellow students and professors at the College in a recent interview.

“This project has shown me what is possible to do as a student, and is something that the College has allowed me to do. I hope other students can go out for their dreams and do what they wish to do. It’s possible when we decide simply to start,” says Troll Trujillo.

Read the full story here.

Banner year for OC Women in Trades and momentum continues to build

OC’s Women in Trades Training (WITT) program celebrated 1,000 students trained this year. The Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, joined students, alumni, staff, mentors and industry partners last June to raise a banner to mark the occasion. Future women in trades had a chance to hone their skills with the return of the popular all-female Girls Can Go-Kart camp as part of CampOC, while a new camp focused on carpentry was added last summer. On March, 5, a class of WITT students mentored Middle Years students and their teachers at Willowstone Academy as part of a unique sustainability-focused maker event.

Okanagan College researchers explore how to support wellness in nursing students

When Monique Powell noticed some of her nursing students were struggling with the adjustments and challenges that come with first-year, it inspired her to take a look at what measures could be put in place to better support those learning to care for others.

What followed was an innovative approach to gauge student wellness – and an injection of insights into the need for future study and new means to support students.

Powell is Chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and Interim Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at the College. Along with her colleague and fellow nursing instructor Erin McFee, she recently received a grant of just over $12,700 from the College’s internal Innovation Fund to support a pilot project.

Stay tuned for the full story on

Education Assistant training supports diverse learners in our communities

Every day she walks into the classroom at Columbia Park Elementary, Åsa Kenyon is looking for ways to support students with diverse learning needs. Kenyon is a graduate of the Education Assistant (EA) Certificate program at Okanagan College. And since becoming an EA she has embraced every opportunity to support students and ensure they have the best possible experience that keeps them feeling safe, secure and confident in the classroom. 

“My job is to find the strength in each individual I work with. I work as a key part of a team to strive towards success for all students in the classroom,” says Kenyon. 

Read the full story here.  

Indigenous women in business conference organized by Alumna Nicole Taylor-Sterritt

It all started with a conversation between mother and daughter at the breakfast table back in 2017. Okanagan College alumna Nicole Taylor-Sterritt and her mother Laurie Sterritt co-founded the Canadian Indigenous Women’s Leadership Summit in 2018. In 2019, they hosted the 2nd annual Summit in Vancouver. More than 250 women attended. 

“It’s about changing the narrative,” says Taylor-Sterritt. “This is about Indigenous women in leadership and how we approach life, our professions and personal lives and how we lead in our communities. We have a bigger voice than we think we do.”

Read the full story here.

OC Students make an impact in the Shuswap

Laureen Shannon, a 4th year BBA student and member of Enactus OC has been an unwavering champion for the popular and ever-expanding Launch-a-Preneur program in Salmon Arm. Since the program’s inception five years ago, 81 mentors from local businesses have provided countless hours of one-on-one training, benefiting students and local entrepreneurs alike. Forty-four businesses have been involved, creating 78 full-time and 15 part-time jobs in the Shuswap – and the impact continues to grow. 

"It allowed me to get to know students that had the same thought about giving back and making a difference in your community. You are fostering a network that is creating positive change. It’s action oriented, they don’t just talk about change,” says Shannon.

Read the full story here. 

Gloria Morgan elected as Chair, Juliette Cunningham Vice Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors

Two well respected community leaders assumed leadership of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors in late 2019. Gloria Morgan, who was serving as Vice Chair, was elected Chair, while Juliette Cunningham was elected as Vice Chair, replacing Morgan. 

Morgan was Chief of the Splatsin Indian Band from 2001 to 2005. She is a former President of the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the RCMP’s E Division Aboriginal Advisory Committee. She also served on the board of the Provincial Community Co-ordination for Women's Safety. She was the 2016 recipient of the Community Leader Awards - Community Builder award for the North Okanagan. Morgan has been on the Board of Governors since 2016. 

Juliette Cunningham is a former Vernon City Councillor, as well as Vice-Chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan, and Vice-Chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board. She is a business owner with an extensive history of working with non-profit boards such as the Women’s Centre, Junction Literacy, People Place, Museum and the Early Years Council. Cunnigham was also named Vernon’s 2016 Woman of the Year by Vernon Women in Business.

Read the full story here.

Dreams Take Flight: abundant opportunities in the world of aviation showcased at panel and film screening

Okanagan College School of Business professor and pilot Pam Nelson recently hosted a community event that combined two of her passions: aviation and education. The event served as the College’s kickoff to Women in Aviation Week, which runs March 2-8. Nelson chaired a panel discussion and film screening designed to spark dialogue about how to continue to make the sector more inclusive.

We need to be able to transcend beyond gender,” says Nelson. “There are opportunities in aviation and, yes, women are very underrepresented in the sector but we don’t put gender labels in front of everything else. You don’t hear someone described as a ‘female teacher’ or a ‘woman doctor,’ so let’s try to work to remove the gender labels completely.”

Read the full story here.


Making mentors: OC Women in Trades and Willowstone Academy students learn and build together
Okanagan College Media Release


Sometimes a finished carpentry project turns out to be far more than the sum of its parts, when the tools, techniques and materials combine to create something unforgettable and transformative.

WITT Maker Event 1 March 2020The same goes for educational experiences, as demonstrated by a recent event that brought together students from Willowstone Academy and Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training (WITT) program, with support from the Industry Training Authority (ITA).

On Thursday, March 5 a class of WITT students arrived in the early hours of the morning to prep for a unique “maker” event that would see them step into the shoes of teacher and mentor.

What followed was also an unforgettable day during which WITT students and staff supported Middle Years students and their teachers in the construction of three maker projects specific to the sustainability of our local environment.

Notes WITT Program Administrator Nancy Darling, in designing the projects, the partners knew they wanted to meet four key goals or learning outcomes.

“First off, we wanted to provide an introduction to some real-world design challenges that impact our community, while encouraging students to come up with some innovative solutions to the challenges using Design Thinking,” explains Darling. “After that, the learning got more hands-on, as our students and staff gave them a bit of an introduction to tools and materials, and then supported in the construction of the prototypes the Middle Years students designed from scratch.”

“From start to finish, this was such a valuable mentorship opportunity for our students. It gave them a chance to apply what they know, to transition from learner to teacher for a day, which is always a chance to build confidence and demonstrate what they know and can do.”

The event builds on a long history of the WITT program making an impact in the community, from constructing picnic tables for schools and parks to custom build projects for Arion Therapeutic Farm and a host of other non-profits in the community.

All told, 40 students had a chance to participate during the Maker Day at Willowstone Academy.

“Design thinking came to life for our students through our collaboration with Women in Trades of Okanagan College,” remarked Chief Learning Officer, Karine Veldhoen.  “It becomes real when students start with ideation, move to technical drawings and prototyping, and finish with a high-quality product. Thanks to the Industry Training Authority for this experience.”

“This Maker Day is a perfect example of educational institutions coming together to highlight the value of hands-on trades education and training, the diversity of career paths in the trades and what an important role trades people play in our community, as learners, teachers, builders and doers. Congratulations to all the students and educators who made this day possible,” says Lisa Langevin, Director of Women in Trades, ITA.WITT Maker Event 2 March 2020

This event isn’t the first time that the WITT program has put their skills to work to inspire youth to test drive a trade early on in their education. Beginning in 2018, and again in 2019, the WITT program and ITA collaborated on a go-kart building camp geared toward girls aged 9-12. Last year also saw the addition of a carpentry-focused camp for the same age range.

Last summer, the WITT program celebrated a remarkable milestone – the first 1,000 students through the program since it launched in 2009. It shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, as demand for skilled trades professionals remains strong in the region, across the province and beyond according to recent labour market data.

More information about the WITT program is available at

For more information about Willowstone Academy (daycare, preschool, K – gr. 9), please visit  

In lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday, Okanagan College will be recognizing and celebrating the remarkable achievements and contributions to the region made by OC students, employees, retirees, alumni, donors, industry and community partners in a variety of ways. Follow along on social media on Sunday and on Follow along for content from Okanagan College, the Industry Training Authority and many others using the hashtags #IWD2020 and #EachforEqual.

A Flickr photo gallery from the event can be viewed here.


450-year old map highlights role of women as map colourists

A map from the world’s first atlas, produced in 1570, offers a window not only into the geography of the time, but a chance to learn about a pioneering female colourist and the many others who have made indelible contributions to cartography ever since.

maddy moss

The map, which depicts the surrounding areas of Milan, Spain, some 450 years ago, will be on display at Okanagan College’s Library for International Women’s day until March 8.

It’s on loan from the private collection of Geography Professor Terence Day, who posits that it was almost certainly coloured by Anna Ortel, sister of Abraham Ortel (or Ortelius), the producer of the atlas.

“What is particularly interesting about this map is the way in which it is coloured,” notes Day.

“Anna Ortel coloured it by hand using four colours – red, blue, yellow and green. This is in accordance with the four-colour theorem that says no more than four colours are required to colour a map to avoid having adjacent regions in the same colour. The mathematical proof for this didn’t come until 1976 but Anna Ortel was apparently aware of this more than four hundred years ago.”

And while the colours may have darkened with age, as Day notes, the map still provides a vibrant and intriguing example of the role women played as map colourists in the 16th and 17th centuries.

For Day, who teaches classes on cartography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing, the map is also a way of illustrating for students the integral role that women play in cartography to this day.

“An example can be found in Cynthia Brewer of Penn State University, who has an online colour brewer to assist the design of map colouring,” notes Day. “But you need not look that far. In fact, you need not look beyond the environs of Okanagan College to find brilliant students and faculty members who are advancing the discipline.”

Maddy Moss is one of those women re-drawing the lines on the map. And in her case, she hopes to colour them in in a way that makes the world a little greener.

Moss, who hails from the Okanagan, will graduate from the College’s Environmental Management diploma later this spring. In the meantime, she’s absorbing as much knowledge as she can to help her land a career in urban planning.

“Before I came to the College I didn’t realize there were so many aspects of geography. I love thinking about the spatial links in our society, our cities – how we organize where we live, work and play, and how it relates to the ground we live on.”

Adds Moss: “I’d love to be able to working city planning, helping to make our cities more sustainable, more eco-friendly.”

In lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday, Okanagan College will be recognizing and celebrating the remarkable achievements and contributions to the region made by OC students, employees, retirees, alumni, donors, industry and community partners in a variety of ways. Follow along on social media on Sunday and on


Renowned social media expert debunks digital myths in latest book
Okanagan College Media Release

Ian MacRae March 2020Social media is free. Millennials are all social media experts. Businesses have to be available 24/7.

Psychologist Ian MacRae will address these and other social media myths during an upcoming book launch and discussion at Okanagan College in Kelowna on Wednesday, March 25.

The date will mark the international debut for his latest book, Myths of Social Media: Dismiss the Misconceptions and Use Social Media Effectively in Business (published by Kogan Page, 2020), which he co-authored with Michelle Carvill.

“Everyone knows that social media is just for posting pictures of your breakfast, it is full of fake news and it creates filter bubbles, don't they?” muses Macrae. “This book delves into many of those types of misconceptions.”

All told, the book debunks 28 commonly held falsehoods surrounding social media in business.

“We’ve all heard those kinds of messages, but what does the data really tell us? And, most importantly for business owners and social media professionals, whether you’re novice or advanced, what should be considered when choosing your channels, building and implementing your content strategies? These are just some of the types of questions the book explores and that we’ll chat about during the launch.”

Among his more than 100 publications on the psychology of work MacRae has written five books including Motivation and Performance: A guide to motivating a diverse workforce and High Potential: How to spot, manage and develop talented people at work.

His books have been translated into 10 different languages and have been shortlisted for numerous awards. MacRae has been featured on BBC News International, BBC Capital, The Guardian, and GQ. He is also the developer of the High Potential Traits Inventory which has been used to select tens of thousands of leaders around the world.

Prior to taking to the stage for his talk, MacRae will provide a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into the book’s development and share insights with a class of Communications students at the College.

MacRae’s talk on March 25 is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Lecture Theatre in the Student Services (S) building at OC’s Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd. Doors open at 4:30 for mingling and networking; the talk starts at 5 p.m.

The book launch is being sponsored by Sage Transitions and supported by the Okanagan College Alumni Association. To attend and for your chance to win one of two copies of Myths of Social Media, register in advance on Eventbrite here.

Read more about the book here.


Students seize opportunity at CICan Student Showcase on Parliament Hill, Ottawa
Okanagan College Media Release

For third- and fourth-year Bachelor of Computer Science students Jack Humphrey and Christopher Mazur, showcasing their project on network optimization at Parliament Hill was an opportunity that opened doors and forged connections.

Held in the National Arts Centre, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) on the Hill is a two-day conference, running February 26-27, geared towards connecting college and institute leaders with parliamentarians. The Student Showcase did just that, offering students from across Canada in any academic discipline the opportunity to take a project of their own making and present it to those attending. Colleges and institutes nominated students in late 2019, and selected projects highlighted innovative ideas on how to partner with post-secondary institutions to impact future direction and better their communities.

The event was afforded to five Okanagan College students, Aubrey Nickerson, Christopher Mazur, Jack Humphrey, Logan Costa-Hemingway and Kyle Barnes, each working alongside instructors and classmates on their projects. Of the 44 presentations lining the halls of the National Arts Centre, the Okanagan College teams represented three of them with their respected efforts in the areas of network optimization, hydroponics and geothermal exchange systems.Logan and Mel Feb 2020_2

Nickerson, Mazur and Humphrey presented on network optimization. The trio of OC computer science students joined forces for the NSERC GPERF 2 category, and have been working with WTFast (“What the Fast”) on a project focused on reducing latency and network jitter through machine learning. The team has been delving into a variety of factors that might slow down or speed up connectivity, with the goal of pointing WTFast in the right direction before they invest in new tech solutions. The National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) offers funding to students and faculty working on research and innovation projects.

“We had the privilege to discuss the merits of how colleges can impact communities and small businesses through outreach and grants,” says Humphrey.

“This coincided with our project, as our work not only benefits local communities, but the insights and knowledge have gone toward academic papers that can be accessed and used globally.”

Mazur adds that the time spent in Ottawa was “an excellent motivator, and talking with other students about their accomplishments and how approaches converge and differ is something I always look forward to.”

Logan Costa-Hemingway, a student in the College’s Electronic Engineering Technology (ELEN) program shared his work on an innovative new geothermal exchange system. He created a weather-proof in-ground temperature monitor for the system, which showcases the ability of a greenhouse that can run regardless of the weather or season.

His classmate Kyle Barnes also presented an NSERC-supported project in the area of hydroponics, this one involving hydroponics solutions for a mid-sized lettuce-growing farm. The project has potential to be used in an array of real-world farming situations to identify plant health and promote better crops.  

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who was also in attendance for the two-day event on the Hill, adds, “we’re proud of these students for the innovative and collaborative work they demonstrated through these projects, and the way in which they represented Okanagan College on the national stage. This showcase highlights the importance of applied learning in post-secondary. It’s one of the many ways our College continues to take learning beyond the classroom for the benefit of our students, our industry partners, our region and the province.

Beyond the Showcase, students had the chance to sit in on meetings alongside government and education officials, with opportunities to network and debrief. The event finished with a panel for students focused on advocacy within the federal sphere, and reconciliation in education, rounding out the dynamic two-day event.


Students shine at Skills Canada BC Regionals at OC

High school students from across the region showed off their creativity, knowledge, skills and poise under pressure at Okanagan College on Friday as part of the Skills Canada BC 2020 Regional competition. skills regionals 2020 blog

Upwards of 100 competitors tested their mettle in a host of categories, from Culinary Arts to Automotive Service Technician, to Welding, Cabinetmaking, Carpentry, Photography, Electronics and others.

After a morning of fast-paced competitions, winners were crowned during award ceremonies in the afternoon.

Those successful earned berths to Skills BC Provincials in Abbotsford on April 15.

This year is a particularly exciting one for competitors as it is a qualifying year for WorldSkills Championships in Shanghai in 2021. Competitors who advance through provincials in April will have a chance to compete at Nationals, which will be held from May 28-29 in Vancouver. Those who take top spots at Nationals will qualify to represent Canada in Shanghai next year.

“Thank you to all the educators and volunteers at the College and from throughout the region who have come out to make this event possible. Thank to you to the student competitors for stepping up and competing. It takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone to compete. This is our 26th year and it’s our biggest year by far,” said Elaine Allan, Executive Director of Skills Canada BC as she addressed competitors during the opening ceremonies.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s competitors. You represented yourselves and your schools extremely well,” said Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “We were honoured to once again host this phenomenal event which provides our up-and-coming tradespeople with a chance to test their skills under pressure. We were very impressed with the skills and professionalism on display throughout the competition.”

More information about Skills Canada BC Competitions is available at and in the media release from Skills BC.

Find a Flickr gallery of photos from the competition here.