Areas of Study
Connect with Us
Financial Aid & Awards
Alumni and Friends
In Case of Emergency
News and Events
Print this Page
Report an Error on this Page
The Okanagan College Foundation has received a landmark gift to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, which will help support the training of the Okanagan’s frontline health care professionals for generations to come.
The Stober Foundation is committing $500,000 over the next five years to support the development of a state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, which will train 450 students per year over the next 40 years.
In recognition of this leadership gift, Okanagan College Foundation is establishing a $250,000 award fund in honour of the Stober family. The awards will provide vital financial support for 100 students, helping them achieve their educational goals and progress to careers in critical sectors of our region’s economy.
The new Health Sciences Centre will serve as a leading-edge training hub for students across eight critical health and social care professions. Graduates will go on to provide care in the region’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, rehabilitation settings, dental clinics, and mental health services.
The Stober Foundation gift will specifically support the completion of the Centre’s Health Lab, where nurses and Health Care Assistants will be trained. It will also establish vital scholarships and bursaries, enabling students to complete their studies at a time when many are facing even greater financial uncertainty.
“This gift is a testament to the leadership and vision of the Stober family and will help us complete a world-class facility which our students and community deserve, as we continue to deliver the vital training needed to shore up our health care sector,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“Okanagan College has been educating health care professionals since the early 1960s. Our graduates – and many of our current students – are serving on the frontlines during this public health crisis. We are exceptionally proud of all of them, and of the quality of education they received.”
“Now more than ever, we recognize the critical role of frontline health care professionals,” says Keith Z. Brewster, Executive Director of the Stober Foundation.
“This is a strategic investment in our community’s health and well-being. COVID-19 continues to highlight the dedication and commitment of all those on the frontlines in our community, specifically health care professionals. We are incredibly honoured and proud to be able to support the education of those who will care for our community, when we need it most.”
The B.C. government has contributed $15.4 million toward the $18.9-million Centre, which will be equipped with leading-edge technology to mimic modern health care workplace settings. It replaces health labs and classrooms built in the 1960s, and will attract students to study and work in the region.
With more than 10,000 skilled worker vacancies expected in the Thompson Okanagan’s hospitals and care homes in the next 10 years, these students will be crucial to addressing the looming skills gap.
“I’ve seen first-hand the contribution of Okanagan College’s graduates to our community’s hospitals and health care settings,” says Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador for Our Students, Your Health.
“Clearly, the Stober family recognize the importance of community support for the College and the development of facilities and programs that will serve our health needs in the years to come.
“Thanks to the Stober Foundation, we’ve now raised $2.5 million, and are halfway towards our $5-million campaign goal,” observes DeHart.
“This kind of leadership at a time of economic fragility is exceptional. These are extremely challenging times both in terms of our health and the economy, but I hope those who can will consider supporting the campaign. We need this new Centre more than ever and we can’t complete it without community support.”
From local creators to international headliners, musicians around the world are rallying to provide sweet sounds of hope amid troubled times during the COVID-19 pandemic. And if a common thread runs throughout these live shows, between the trends and among the shares, it’s an increased awareness for the value music brings to our lives.
Okanagan College students Noah Potenteau and Logan Larocque are among those brightening the digital space with their talents.
The pair recently completed the Audio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) program at Okanagan College and just released their very first EP at the end of March.
AEMP is a full-time Continuing Studies program where students gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the field of audio engineering and music production. The program has gained traction with the guidance of Corey Bell who believes in giving students extensive hands-on experience with industry-standard recording and studio systems.
Logan Larocque began playing and creating music at the age of six, even though his fingers were too small to play the chords on the guitar. His passion and creativity for music grew over time, but he never thought he could turn it into anything more than a hobby. When Larocque finished high school he had the goal of entering a business program, however in December of 2018, something changed.
“I attended my first music festival and it opened my eyes,” Larocque recalls. “I had an epiphany on the dance floor and I realized what I wanted to do with my life, which is produce and perform electronic music.”
Noah Potenteau’s motivation in applying to the program was similar: he wanted to solidify his hobby as a full-time job. While they took different paths to the College, both agree that the program has changed their lives.
“I found a program that doesn’t feel like school,” says Potenteau. “I’m so happy to come here every day. The whole academic side of this place is amazing and everybody is so supportive.”
Both Larocque and Potenteau speak highly of their instructor Corey Bell.
“Corey is the god of mastering. It’s so easy to have a thin mix and you think it’s great, but you want it to be bricked,” says Potenteau, indicating the definition of a full and loud sound.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell commented on how the program has coped with the transition to online learning: “We were really fortunate when it came to the transition. The course that we were beginning was a directed study, so we are able to communicate to the entire class in small groups through some of the technology tools at our disposal like Blackboard Collaborate and Moodle. Students were also able to communicate via phone and text if needed.
“Unfortunately, the AEMP studio had to be closed. However, this was one of the best groups I have ever had the pleasure of working with and everyone has stuck to it and continued their efforts even in this time.”
Not only has Bell been instrumental at helping students with their musical knowledge, but also with their ambitions to enter the music industry. Potenteau praises the courses at the College, saying there are “so many valuable lessons that you can take from the class.” Larocque appreciates that “the College looks after students first.”
As the class wrapped up in mid-April, Larocque shared a post on social media with a message of gratitude for his AEMP instructors and program administrators. He summed up his experience with the program as, “the most fun I’ve ever had in a classroom throughout the last eight months.” Having started the year together, the group of students in the program had become one big family adds Larocque.
In addition to spending time in class, both Larocque and Potenteau spend time learning about music through other artists’ work.
“We dissect other people’s music to listen to what parts they are putting where and what kind of sound design they’re doing where,” adds Potenteau. It’s crucial for both students to stay ahead of the curve, noting that “we are in the innovation and creation process when it comes to making new sounds.”
As they began working more closely with each other this past November, they found that their fusions of sound worked well together and Logan commented that their music “is beyond what we thought we would create.” Cementing their partnership, they combined their love of space exploration, calling themselves the Sykonauts.
“We want our music to take you on an out-of world journey,” says Larocque.
Their first EP was released on March 27, named Syko EP, and now their sights are set on what comes next: sending their EP to music festivals and shows, with the goal of performing. As for their partnership, Noah says, “I don’t really see an end in sight. I want to make people have an epiphany on the dance floor.”
And although summer festivals and music events have been cancelled for the time being, listeners can still jam to the Sykonauts’ beats on Spotify and Apple Music, with songs titled, “Wombo Combo”, What It Do” and “Pizza Time”.
Their final thoughts for anyone thinking about the AEMP program at the College are clear: “it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be 17 or 60, if you want to take this program, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.”
Okanagan College will welcome a new member to its executive leadership team when Meri Kim Oliver assumes the role of Vice President Students this summer.
Oliver comes to the College from Durham College in Oshawa, ON where she has served as vice-president Student Affairs since 2013. Prior to that appointment, she served as assistant vice-president, Student Academic Success Services at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.
“As someone passionate about student development, I could not be more excited to be part of an institution with four campuses and other learning centres across the region, each with a distinct identity but all focused on providing a supportive student experience.
“When you add in the fact that the College also has one of the highest populations of Indigenous students of any college or university in the province, and that each of its campuses is home to international students from a growing number of countries, I am really looking forward to playing a role in supporting such a diverse student population.”
She is expected to assume her role at the College on August 1 or as soon thereafter as COVID-19 conditions and travel advisories will allow.
“It’s clear from speaking with a few members of the OC community already just how much people care about students here. That aligns with who I am and I am eager to be a part of that community and contribute to that culture,” adds Oliver.
“Meri Kim’s depth and breadth of experience, her knowledge of the Canadian post-secondary landscape, and her proven dedication to fostering exceptional student experience all gave us tremendous confidence that she would be a great fit for the role and an asset to the College,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“Our search for a new Vice President Students garnered interest from across the country, and we feel fortunate to be able to add her voice to the College’s senior leadership table.”
Oliver holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts and Master of Theological Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University.
She is also a published author and co-author of several works focused on student development, including Wellness as Raising Consciousness for Student Development and The Ethics of Access.
College president steps up with 5k incentive
Shaggy beards and untamed locks are an inevitable consequence of almost six weeks of physical distancing and the closure of all non-essential businesses, including our community’s beloved salons.
However, as people take the necessary steps to flatten the curve, many will be tempted (required!) to take their unkempt hair into their own hands. A new community fundraiser launched by the Okanagan College Foundation is encouraging those who want to take matters into their own hands, to do so for a good cause.
Haircuts for Health Care is inviting people to open up their own self-isolation salon, and hand the scissors to their spouse or children. Every chop, snip and buzz will help raise vital funds to open the doors to a state-of-the-art new Health Sciences Centre currently under construction at the College’s Kelowna campus. The new facility will help the College continue to train frontline health care professionals, as it has since the early 1960s.
The B.C. government has contributed $15.4 million toward the $18.9-million Centre, which will be equipped with leading-edge technology to mimic modern health care workplace settings. The OC Foundation is seeking to raise $5 million in total toward construction of the project as well as support for programs and awards for students.
The Foundation is encouraging people to either donate what they would typically pay for a cut, or set a fundraising goal for their network if they go for a more creative new do.
Scott Millard, Senior Executive Consultant at IG Wealth Management, was one of the first people to get involved. Preferring his hair very short, he’s set a $1,000 goal and will let his six year-old son Ross use clippers when he hits the milestone. He’s already raised more than $800.
“It feels great to see the support,” says Millard, adding many of his colleagues at IG have been contributing to the fundraiser. “My wife is a nurse, and knowing that we’re going to have more quality trained nurses in the valley is a good thing.”
Scott also dared his brother, Brett Millard, who is aiming to raise $1,001.
Haircuts for Health Care launched last weekend, has already raised more than $3,000 with nearly 90 people donating. It’s now on track to receive a major boost from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“During this difficult time, it’s great to see the community pulling together in support of education for the next generation of health care heroes,” says Hamilton.
“I’m not blessed with much hair these days so I doubt a cut would inspire significant support. So, I’m challenging the community to get involved. When the campaign reaches $10,000, I will personally donate $5,000.”
Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman says the fundraiser is a fun way to support and celebrate those working on the frontlines.
“Haircuts for Health Care reflects the reality that our collective hair is getting out of control. Combine that with the desire to support health care in the Okanagan and voila, the self-isolation salon was born. Every dollar raised will help Okanagan College open the doors to the new Health Sciences Centre and prepare the next generation of health care professionals.”
To learn more and get involved, visit https://trellis.org/haircutsforhealthcare
A new initiative from an Okanagan College staff member is not only stamping out quarantine blues, but raising funds for much-needed mental health resources.
Katie Maryschuk works in the Public Affairs department, tasked with updating the Okanagan community about news and events happening at the College. In her spare time, she collaborates on creative projects with two friends, and the trio had been discussing earlier this year new ways of sharing their work with the online community.
That’s when the idea struck of how she could marry a few of her passions – photography, design and old-school communication – to create a positive in the dark times of quarantine.
“I love snail mail. It’s so fun to write something to someone, even if it’s just something short and sweet,” explains Maryschuk with a laugh. “And I have all these photos from my travels that I thought maybe I could do something with them.”
With the help of family members, Maryschuk selected over a dozen photos from her travels to New York, Santa Monica, Montreal, Mexico and Vancouver locations. Her blog companions encouraged her to add text to give the images more of a post-card feel, so she spent some time designing cards with inspiring and hopeful messages like “We’re in this together,” and “This too shall pass.”
She launched an online store with two different layouts, a colour-block and type series. People can purchase packs of 5 postcards, and there’s an option to donate funds to the Canadian Mental Health Association – a cause that really hits home for Maryschuk, who has dealt with mental health challenges in the past.
“Where I was this time last year feels very different, and that’s really what is driving this. I’m grateful that I have the support of my family, having a meal together at night, and having a foundation that frees up time for self-care,” she says. “Having that support system is such a blessing. It’s so important to have community. We’re not supposed to process this stuff alone, and even having small supports from organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association can make a big difference.”
Once the shop was online, she started sharing the Postcard Project on social media. She has already received a flurry of orders, and raised $500 for the Canadian Mental Health Association in just one week. Now she is working with a local supplier, Source Graphics, to get customers their postcards.
It’s the stories that people are sharing, though, that are propelling Maryschuk forward. One customer from Saskatoon, who she has never met, shared that she was working as a social worker in a hospital and could see the dire need for mental health resources right now on the frontline.
“It’s been phenomenal. I have been blown out of the water by everyone’s reactions. I feel like people understand the mission and cause, and that’s so encouraging,” she says. “This is a gamble and you never know how it will pan out. But I think it speaks to the power of social media and using that tool for good. I know people are having to limit their social media exposure these days, but this is my way to try using it for good.”
People interested in learning about the Postcard Project can visit the shop online.
With organizations of all sizes in our communities facing uncertainty and disruption or adaptation to the way they conduct business in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Okanagan College is stepping up with resources to help individuals and employers tap into professional development offerings.
The College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department has published a new online Professional Development Resource page on its website to help people tap into free OC courses, webinars and panels. It will also point them in the direction of educational content, resources and helpful links to online education offered by others.
“It’s our aim at all times to provide relevant professional development and to be a source of positive transformation in our communities,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training for the College. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities are obviously facing challenges never anticipated. The business landscape has been unequivocally transformed. That said, our commitment to the communities we serve remains, and finds expression in this new page.”
Offerings range from webinars and courses on Small Business Strategy during COVID-19 and other crises to Working and Managing a Workforce Remotely to social media marketing, psychological first aid and other opportunities.
Continuing Studies will continue to add to the resource page in the coming weeks, and is inviting feedback from individuals and employers in the region on the types of offerings and formats that would be beneficial.
“It’s our intention to continue to enhance and diversify what we’re able to offer the community, and we hope it will be a helpful and well-utilized resource to employers during an uncertain time,” adds Silvestrone.
To find the full array of courses offered, and to register, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/pd.
OC alumnus Adam Relvas was recently announced as an honouree by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce as a BDO Top 40 Under 40.
Relvas, a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at the College, grew up in the South Okanagan and gained a passion for food through many food-focused family events.
After graduating, Relvas worked as a line cook for Waterfront Wines in Kelowna, Sous Chef at Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Lake Country, Sous Chef at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna, and later Executive Chef at Monashee’s Bar and Grill and The Kal’s Sports Bar in Vernon.
Now, the certified Red Seal Chef is the Chef and Owner of Relvas Catering and The Sandwich Company by Relvas Catering in Kelowna, which was voted as one of the top 3 caterers in the Central Okanagan by Okanagan Life Magazine’s Best Restaurant Edition in 2017.
Relvas was also voted top chef in the North Okanagan by the same magazine in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Most recently, he was voted the 2018 Chef of the Year by the Okanagan Chefs Association.
Relvas is passionate about lending a hand and has had the privilege of being a part of many different charity events across the city from the Dream Rally raising money for Ronald McDonald House, Food Bank fundraising dinners, events for Kelowna Hospice, JoeAnna’s House, as well as Christmas Day Dinner at Parkinson Recreation Centre, Back to School Bash and Easter Pancake Breakfast events with Victory Life.
Right now, many local restaurants and businesses are struggling due to the impact of COVID-19, Relvas included.
“We are currently doing our best to adapt to the ever-changing demands and requirements of COVID and doing our best to stay positive through it all,” he says. “We have transitioned from a la carte service to pre-made meals that guests can pick up and take home to have at a later date. We thought with the craze in grocery stores and limit of available products, why not try and provide something that allows people to have restaurant quality food in the comfort of their own home whenever they want to?”
“Catering is non-existent at this time with gathering restrictions but we look forward to working with our amazing clients when this is all over and being there to cook amazing meals for all their parties, weddings and celebrations.”
This year marks the 6th annual BDO Top 40 Under 40 with Relvas being one of six who were honoured this year. Ross Derrick, OC Culinary Arts instructor, was also recognized in this category. Derrick has extensive experience throughout the valley and is the owner/operator of The Table Cafe and Broken Anchor Food Truck and general manager of Codfathers Seafood.
For more on Adam Relvas, Ross Derrick and the Top 40 Under 40, visit https://bit.ly/3afvbPU.
There have been many rapid changes to protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even depressed as a result, know that you are not alone and that help is available. In times of transition and uncertainty, taking good care of ourselves is more important than ever and Okanagan College Counselling Services has some tips and resources to share.
Essential strategies for wellness:
Resources for learning about how to take care of your mental health at this time:
Coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic – World Health Organization
COVID-19 and Anxiety - Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division
FACE COVID – How to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis. In this brief animation, Dr. Russ Harris, illustrates how to deal with the coronavirus crisis and the fear, anxiety and worry that goes with it.
Support is available:
Useful apps and websites:
In a challenging time when nearly every post-secondary institution has made the move from in-person to online classes, an Okanagan College Business professor is working to develop and put free online textbooks in the hands of students.
Announced in March, Michael Orwick, professor at Okanagan College’s School of Business was awarded one of four BCcampus Marketing OER grants. With aid from the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the grants will help the development of open educational resources in marketing across the province.
Other grant recipients included Andrea Niosi from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Rochelle Grayson from Langara College as well as Mike Walmsley from British Columbia Institute of Technology. Each cited common themes of supporting students, connecting learners and excitement for the future of online educational resources.
For Orwick, the journey to the BCcampus grant was not a short one. While free textbooks are just that, free, Orwick quickly discovered various trends among his students that would help propel the initiative at Okanagan College.
First, there was an indicated need for free textbooks.
“There is a stunning number of students who are simply not buying textbooks,” says Orwick, acknowledging varying financial situations, and the second-hand textbook market as potential hurdles for purchasing. Often expensive to buy with little to no promise of retaining a resell value, students made it clear that there were barriers to buying.
“An online version costs nearly as much, but you can’t resell it.” The verdict was clear – if students weren’t buying textbooks at all, physical copies or online, what was keeping them from doing so?
The second trend to emerge from student feedback and online interaction was that even with a free textbook, there was a lack of additional support. Even with something that was free, it became a standalone document that was often hard to navigate online. Features, add-ons, test banks, lesson assistance and teaching notes, all supplementary yet often crucial elements for students, came at a price. Again, students simply didn’t use the features.
Then came a solution. Why not create the supplementary features and make certain that they’re free? Then, ensure students can access the resources on any platform, on any device.
Orwick says student feedback on the project has been overwhelmingly positive so far. In the first semester of using the free online materials, every student had the text, some even using it on their smartphones. In short, fewer students missed out on assigned readings or course support because everything was available to them at no additional cost.
“This project is a shining example of the many ways in which our professors are innovating at all times, and one that’s particularly meaningful for students, I would expect, given the myriad of changes that have happened in the post-secondary world due to COVID-19,” says Dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillett. “Congratulations to Michael on being among only a handful of scholars in the province to receive one of these prestigious grants.”
For the upcoming fall semester, the School of Business has plans to use the Principles of Marketing textbook for the first-year Introduction to Marketing class. To learn more about the grant, BCcampus and open resources, go to the BCcampus website here.
OC alumnus, Drew Vincent knew he wanted to bring the community together during a global quarantine. His challenge: how to hold an in-person online and still generate the kind of participation needed.
His ingenuity and the community’s generosity yielded results that surpassed expectations. In just five days, his idea turned into a $20,000 donation to help the Okanagan community during COVID-19. The event also laid the groundwork for an even bigger charitable effort on May 2.
A graduate of the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, Vincent is the creative mind behind the Stay at Home Gala which launched March 27. The event was organized by a group of people from the Okanagan with the intent of bringing everyone together during what has been a hard time for many people.
“The positive response we have received is a testament to our community’s values,” says Vincent. “We started calling it social distancing at its finest, but we might have to change that to community at its finest.”
The first-of-its-kind event hosted all the familiar elements of a gala: optional dinner from a local restaurant (delivered to your door), game-changing speakers, including Lane Merrifield, an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow and the newest “dragon” to join CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den and more. There were over 200 Okanagan households that participated.
Tickets were sold at three different price levels, starting at $25, with all funds going to the Community Foundations of the Okanagan which will direct funds back into the most in need charities from the Okanagan community.
“During times of uncertainty, I was so heartened to see OC alumni stepping up to think creatively about how they could create some much needed help, and promote connection in our community,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Professor at Okanagan College. “Drew has always had a passion to use his talents to help others and despite just coming back to Kelowna, he did not hesitate to step up and make this happen.”
Vincent and team’s goal was to reach $20,000, of which they reached $22,270 in just five days.
Now Vincent and team are looking at moving to a national level and encouraging people to set up their own Stay at Home Gala in their communities with the toolset they’ve created, on May 2.
“Life has changed for everyone right now but we can still come together as a community and support local businesses,” says Vincent. “We created a template and have all the resources needed to host these events on May 2 with the idea that people can use our model to raise money for their communities.”
With people already stepping up and showing interest, the team’s goal this round is to raise one million dollars to help Canadians affected by COVID-19.
Each location will stream their own local speakers and additional spots will be filled with national keynote and celebrity acts, including Hayley Wickenheiser and Erin Cebula, organized by Vincent and team.
If you’re interested in finding out more about hosting your own Stay at Home Gala visit www.stayathomegala.com.
GreenScreen is bigger than just a technology recycling program. It’s about people and helping build connections.
An initiative launched by Okanagan College’s Enactus team in 2019, the project works to repurpose technology such as phones, laptops and tablets, saving them from the landfill and connecting them with families in need.
The team consists of students Isaac Hossmann, Emily Pilon, Rachel Wehrmann and Maya Samaddar, and aided by College professor Devin Rubadeau. Working alongside Kelowna Cell Repair, Columbia Bottle Depot and Go ReCell, devices are collected at drop-off points then refurbished and recycled appropriately.
Additionally, the team works with students at Kelowna Christian School to teach them the business and marketing side of organizing the project in tandem with the environmentally sustainable elements of recycling technology.
While the ecological impacts of saving devices from sitting stagnant in the landfill are perhaps the most logical benefit of the program, seeing technology in the hands of people who need it showcases the relational side of GreenScreen.
“This is bigger than tech,” says project co-manager Pilon. In her fourth year of a BBA in marketing at the College’s Kelowna campus, she’s helped get the program off the ground this past year.
“Just because things go out of date quickly doesn’t mean those items are worthless. There’s potential there. Technology paired with a big gap of people who are at a disadvantage in education or work simply because they don’t have access to devices – we want all of these people, especially when they’re in our community, to have the same opportunities.”
Pilon references families who may be new to the country, or lacking finances to afford a new device. This is where GreenScreen fits into the puzzle. Since launching, the program has donated 14 pieces of technology to families who have immigrated to the area from Syria and Lebanon.
“Providing someone with a fifth-generation phone, they can now connect and plan. They can go on Facebook marketplace, they can use Google Maps to get around town.”
Project manager Isaac Hossmann adds, “the families we’ve connected with, they didn’t have the ability to access this kind of technology on their own. Two of the younger brothers in the family have been using their phones and laptops to complete schoolwork and find part-time jobs.”
To date, GreenScreen has hosted four collection dates and has received over 200 pieces of technology, all of which was sorted, re-purposed or recycled. The first drop-off location was set up at Mid-Town Station Kitchen in the Landmark District, although due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the team has put a pause on collection.
Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business, Bill Gillett, adds, “Even with the difficulties of our current situation, our students press on, using their time and resources to innovate ways to bring people together.
These students have shown adaptability through change, and they are providing the benefit of connection to our community. What better time for all of us to think about the part we play in building those bridges.”
A third element comes into play as the Enactus team finds their time spent on the project is beneficial for themselves too.
“Our whole Enactus initiative is a group of students trying to become better leaders and help their community out,” adds Pilon. In addition to piloting and hosting the program, the current team also presented GreenScreen at the Enactus Canada Regionals hosted in Calgary at the end of February. Coached by College instructors Mark Ziebarth and Laura Hetherington, the team placed second in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge.
With greater reason than ever before to connect people with each other, the GreenScreen team looks ahead with excitement to grow and expand the program. Despite the unknowns that come with COVID-19, the team is hopeful for September and a new school year to meet with more students and implement more drop-off dates.
“We plan on mapping out potential technology drives for the winter semester of 2020 in the event that schools have re-opened,” adds Hossmann. “We have usable technology that is re-furbished and ready to be donated, but we are still navigating how to safely donate it and practice the required social distancing.”
Pilon also has long-term goals in the back of her mind, hopeful to see GreenScreen evolve into a “sort of company that provides a service between consumers and current businesses that exist that refurbish and recycle tech.”
“We want people to think twice about where they dump their tech, and GreenScreen can be a brand that the whole community knows about. People know where to bring it, they know where our locations are, and they know exactly where it’s going and they want to donate it so it can benefit others.”
For the time being, the team invites community members to take stock of the devices they do have, perhaps lying unused in desk drawers or waiting to be taken to the recycling depot.
To learn more about GreenScreen, and stay notified of future drop-off dates, go here.
The students made an impassioned plea to instructors to allow them to continue their training without disruption. They penned a letter to the College, and rallied support from their fellow nurses at KGH, to demonstrate both the need for their skills on the front line, and the profuse safety protocols they’ll be following to minimize risk.
“Our first priority is always the health and safety of our students,” says Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at the College. “We took the time to consider the matter in great detail with Interior Health. They determined and advised us that the risk to students was low and that as long as proper safety protocols are followed, proper PPE is worn, and all the right steps are taken that our students are very much needed and should be allowed to complete the final stages of their program if they choose to. We also ensured students knew they had the option to say no if they didn’t feel comfortable going out on practicum or preceptorship right now.”
After being given the go-ahead from Interior Health, the College allowed the PN students to return to their preceptorships to complete the final days of their program. All 28 of them chose to take the step.
Kemp and her peers have high praise for both their mentors from Interior Health and their instructors at OC for the way in which they’ve prepared students to deal with the added stress of learning and working in a pandemic.
“The nurses we’re doing our preceptorships with have been incredible,” says Kemp. “It takes a special kind of person to do your job well in a situation like this, while also providing those learning opportunities, taking the time to really prepare us for what we’ll soon be doing on our own.
“I’m very grateful for the excellent training I’ve received on practicum and at OC, and now I’m just looking forward to getting out into the workforce and supporting those nurses who need us right now, who need the relief. We need them today and tomorrow they’ll need us, is the way I look at it.”
The PN students aren’t the only ones stepping up during the crisis. Students in the Health Care Assistant (HCA) program have also stepped forward to continue their practical training if they choose to.
Adds Moritz: “Our students are part of the health care system and for them to be out there at this time is a testament to their dedication to a career in helping others. While health care workers are always needed, now is the time they are needed most.”
It’s a message echoed by Interior Health.
“We’re fortunate to have access to well-trained graduates and soon-to-be graduates from Okanagan College to fill the needs for front-line health care professionals. We have scores of OC alumni working with us, and it’s inspiring to hear that those following in their footsteps are equally as passionate and dedicated to providing outstanding care in our communities,” says Mal Griffin, VP of Human Resources at Interior Health.
“These nursing students are truly an inspiration,” says Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador for the Our Students, Your Health campaign to build a state-of-the-art new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College.
“As a community we are all in awe of our front line health care professionals and to see this same commitment in the students is incredible.”
Reflecting on the importance of Okanagan College’s Health Sciences Centre, DeHart says “the impact of COVID-19 on our community has made me reflect hard on the importance of health care education. Now, more than ever, we need to invest in the next generation of health care workers. This $18.9-million Centre is vitally important to our community’s health. These are challenging times for us all, but I hope the community will continue to get behind our fundraising campaign so we can open the doors in September.
“Help us train the next generation. These are the people who will care for us. We never know when we will need that support, whoever we are.”
To learn more, or to donate, visit www.OurStudentsYourHealth.ca.