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Civil Engineering Technology graduate Keyvan Khadem has found that Okanagan College is helping him build the career and future that he’s seeking.
Khadem is one of more than 600 students who will be acknowledged at OC Convocation ceremonies this weekend.
He originally moved to Vancouver from Iran to pursue a career in medicine. After exploring that career path, he realized it wasn’t quite the right fit and decided to pursue his other passion, construction.
“I’ve always really enjoyed construction, and decided to start my own company,” says Khadem. “I knew I would be more respected in this field if I gained more knowledge in it, so I decided to enrol at Okanagan College. I love the lifestyle here so much that I’ve decided to move my company here.”
Khadem owns a construction and development company, Bosso Developments Ltd., that’s currently located in Vancouver and specializes in residential development.
This Saturday at the Kelowna campus, Khadem will graduate with distinction from OC’s Civil Engineering Technology Diploma program at the Spring Convocation. He is among students graduating from academic and vocational programs receiving certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and bachelor degrees.
An exemplary student, Khadem was selected as the student speaker to address the 2019 graduating class as they embark on their future endeavours.
“There’s so much happening around us in this chaotic world that the news portrays to us,” says Khadem. “It can be scary. You feel hopeless and wonder what you can do. The set of skills we learn at this institution are what will help us be better people. Institutions like this help shape the people who will assist in environmental issues, the people who will go into politics, and help the people who will help build your dream house.”
The journey to graduation can be different for each student. Khadem notes that it’s not always an easy one, and advises his peers to never lose sight of their goals.
“Being a student is hard work,” says Khadem. “There are so many different pressures that people experience whether it’s financial, or the stresses of having a family. The most important thing that I want to say to my peers is to not lose hope…hope for the future, hope for yourself.”
After completing his two-year diploma program at OC, Khadem has now chosen to bridge his education into a four-year degree and will attend the University of British Columbia Okanagan for Civil Engineering. (OC offers a bridging program specifically focused on allowing people to move from the diploma program into the UBC degree program.)
“I’m not the same person that I was two years ago,” says Khadem. “OC shaped me into a better version of myself. The way I speak, the way I carry myself, the way I present myself to people, and to my industry…I’m just so grateful for this experience.”
Saturday’s ceremonies mark the fourth and fifth of eight convocation ceremonies that the College will host this year. The ceremony is split into two celebrations. The first begins at 10:30 a.m. and will honour students from arts, health, technologies, science and computer science programs. The afternoon ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. and will recognize students from the Okanagan College School of Business.
Students attending the morning ceremony will hear from Robert Louie, who will formally be announced as one of OC’s 2019 Honorary Fellows. After being recognized with the Distinguished Service Award at the afternoon ceremony, retired Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, will address the next wave of business leaders.
“My advice to the 2019 graduands is to see the value and importance in lifelong learning,” says OC’s President Jim Hamilton. “If they keep learning and keep applying what they’ve learned, they’ll transform their own lives and the communities around them.”
Both of the ceremonies on Saturday will be livestreamed on the College’s Facebook page and viewers can tune in from across Canada. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend, be sure to follow along on our Facebook page.
For more information on convocation and upcoming ceremonies, visit okanagan.bc.ca/convocation.
They’re blending marketing and data analytics and using the results to tailor their special offers, the websites you see and their recommendations for your next purchase.
Okanagan College will be offering a new program this fall that speaks to the growing role of marketing and big data in our lives, and the increasing demand for people whose skills and education position them at the intersection of the two areas. The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Marketing and Data Analytics will combine courses from mathematics, statistics, business and data science to provide students (who already have Bachelor degrees in business or science) with the knowledge to carve a career in the growing field.
“It’s difficult to think of an area of our lives that hasn’t been affected by the growth in data being collected and the marketing it drives,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “While some people are rightfully concerned about the privacy implications of all that data, it’s an undeniable reality that the data begs for analysis and application. Companies, organizations, and governments all recognize the value of the insights that are possible. This program is an example of our institution again responding to employer needs and career opportunities for students.”
The program, which was developed by the Math & Statistics department at Okanagan College, with support from the Business department, was approved by the Board of Governors in late April.
“We know that there’s a growing appetite for the people who can mine all the data that is collected these days, and translate it into applicable marketing tactics and strategies,” explains Yvonne Moritz, the College’s Dean of Science, Technology and Health. “There are employers throughout the Okanagan who are looking for the skill set that this program can provide students.”
“Forestry manufacturing companies, like Tolko Industries, rely on big data and analysts to provide proactive business information and financial and operational analyses in achieving the optimal investment return for Tolko,” confirms Pino Pucci, Tolko Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Logistics. “Our business analysts use data to evaluate product placement, channel strategies, benchmarking (customer and competitor), and logistic and strategic capital investment analyses. The demand for this expertise within the industry is increasing and we’re fortunate to have our local college offer this program.”
When they graduate from the four-semester program, students will be able to:
“The development, interpretation and use of data today informs all fields of business and commerce. But as the quantity of data has grown exponentially in recent years, the skill set and knowledge required to take full advantage of that information have changed,” notes Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business. “Our program recognizes that.”
For more information on the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Marketing and Data Analytics, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/pbmda
Okanagan College Media Release
Today marks an important step toward a new career path for close to 90 students in various Okanagan College trades programs, who will cross the stage at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus.
For one Collision Repair and Refinishing Prep Technician student, Jessica de Groot, commencement serves as the start to a second career that blends her passion for creative pursuits with technical capability.
“There has been so much to learn and process,” says de Groot. “I’m excited to complete this program and honour that completion, as well as move forward into the workforce.”
After spending the last six years working at a craft beer brewery in media and graphic design, de Groot decided to take her artistic abilities from the computer screen and apply them in the collision repair shop.
“I felt I had made it as far as I could in my position, and wanted something more for myself,” says de Groot. “I started to research the trades and quickly found that auto refinishing really appealed to my artistic sense.”
Today’s ceremony marks the completion of de Groot’s nine-month program. Her future plans are to move home to Invermere and work towards completing her ticket as a prep and paint apprentice.
“I really enjoyed the painting part of the program,” says de Groot. “The process of taking a car from the completed body repair to looking back to new is very satisfying for me.”
Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world this academic year. All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at www.facebook.com/okanagancollege.ca.
“Today’s graduating class includes our future welders, chefs, electricians, plumbers, and heavy-duty mechanics, to name just a few,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “These are the people who will construct our communities, advance sustainability and change the way we work, learn and live.”
Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province, and the largest in B.C.’s Interior. For more information visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades.
From skiing and snowmobiling to mountain biking and hiking, Revelstoke is attractive to visitors for many reasons and tourism is important to the community’s economic health. To support this industry and people seeking careers in it, Okanagan College in Revelstoke is launching a new two-year Tourism Management Diploma and is receiving $40,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust for a virtual classroom.
“This mobile lab is part of a new program that will help address the shortage of trained staff in the tourism industry, a sector that we heard is a priority for Revelstoke,” said Aimee Ambrosone, Columbia Basin Trust Director, Delivery of Benefits. “Kudos to the College for creating an innovative, collaborative learning environment that will provide access to training locally to help meet the workforce needs of local tourism-based businesses while supporting the economic well-being of the community as a whole.”
The funding will go toward setting up a high-tech lab equipped with digital equipment that will enable students to access blended-learning resources like online content and videoconferencing. Instruction will be flexible and up-to-date, will draw from the best resources and instructors, and will better represent today’s technology-based work environment.
The lab will also be mobile, meaning it can be set up at off-campus locations to meet a variety of training needs. Students will be able to learn at different job sites, while employers and community organizations will be able to receive on-site training customized to their needs.
“Launching this full-time program in Revelstoke will answer significant industry demand for managers in the tourism and hospitality industries,” said Joan Ragsdale, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for Shuswap Revelstoke. “Together with a donation from the Revelstoke Credit Union, the Trust’s contribution has made this mobile lab possible.”
Launching in fall 2019, the program will allow students to attend school in the tourism sector’s shoulder seasons and build work experience during the busier winter and summer months. Learn more about Revelstoke centre and the Tourism Management Diploma program.
Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.
It’s a challenge Newton knows well. Initially, she tried to work while going to school full time and raising her son. Juggling work, school and family landed her on academic probation.
Once she realized she could not manage work and her studies she turned to student loans, which didn’t fully cover the costs of attending school.
This spurred Newton to begin applying for student scholarships and bursaries, which were instrumental in helping her achieve her goals. During her four-year degree, she received $15,000 in student awards, a major support that still brings tears to Newton’s eyes when she thinks about complete strangers helping her achieve her dreams.
“I know the crunch of relying on student loans and worrying about money,” says Newton. “When I saw other people were willing to invest in me and my future, I said to myself that one day I would be in a position to do the same for another student.”
The Suzanne Newton Perseverance Inspires Success Award will be available to any student on the Penticton campus. Applicants will be asked, “What have you had to overcome to be here?”
“It’s heartening to see people who’ve benefited from student awards go on to help other students,” says Anne Kirkpatrick, Okanagan College Foundation Interim Executive Director.
“This award recognizes the important role a donor plays in helping students be successful and we’re grateful to Suzanne for paying it forward.”
Newton has advice for anyone questioning continuing school, which she acknowledges can be particularly difficult for mature students with families.
“Don’t just stop because you’ve hit a roadblock, very few students don’t hit roadblocks. Know that you can get through it and it will get better. I hope this award touches someone and gives them hope.”
Okanagan College Media Release
Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable Okanagan residents, each of whom has made unique and meaningful contributions through public service, mentorship and philanthropy.
Tom Christensen, Robert Louie and George Galbraith will be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College during Convocation ceremonies in Kelowna and Vernon this June.
“The accomplishments of this year’s Honorary Fellows are hard to summarize,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Their contributions have had a lasting impact on so many individuals and communities. It is a great privilege to welcome them to the Okanagan College family.”
Christensen is well-known for his contributions in the province through Aboriginal relations and reconciliation, as well as community volunteerism.
From 2001 to 2009 he was the elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Okanagan-Vernon and during that time, he served as British Columbia’s Minister of Education, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and Minister of Children and Family Development. As the province’s first Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, he had responsibility for implementing a more collaborative and less adversarial relationship with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in B.C.
Today, Christensen is a Solicitor at Nixon Wenger LLP and remains committed to public service, having served as a Director of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, a Director and Chair of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia, and Chair of Community Living British Columbia. Locally, he was a Director of the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of the North Okanagan and is currently a Director with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon Division as well as a member of the Kalamalka Rotary Club. In 2018, Christensen was selected to be member of the new Okanagan Indian Band Economic Development Corporation.
“I am humbled to be recognized as an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College,” says Christensen. “I am a big fan of our College, the leading work it is doing in the post-secondary education sector in our province, and the services it provides to residents throughout our region.”
Robert Louie is the former Chief (24 years) of the Westbank First Nation and has served on numerous boards, companies and special appointments with government and private industry for more than 30 years. He has extensive experience in real estate development and finance matters and has focused primarily on working for First Nations on land matters throughout Canada. Louie is the Chairman of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and Chairman/Director of Peace Hills Trust, the largest Aboriginal financial institution in Canada. He serves as an Indigenous advisor, representing Canada on the World Indigenous Business Forum and networks with other leaders promoting Indigenous economic development and world trade.
Louie’s connection to the College dates back to 1975 when he graduated from the Business Administration program prior to completing a law degree at the University of Victoria, and later when he was presented with the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. Countless awards and distinguished presentations - including his appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada - have complemented his successful career. Louie also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Justice Institute of B.C.
Today, Louie is the owner/proprietor of Indigenous World Winery, Indigenous World Spirits and Kelowna West Manufactured Home Park.
“I feel honored, blessed, humbled and am beaming with enthusiasm to be recognized as an Honorary Fellow with Okanagan College,” says Louie. “The past recipients are individuals of such high distinction and are deserving of the recognition. To be recognized amongst them is a wonderful and humbling experience.”
“I’m proud to be associated with Okanagan College as a former Business Administration graduate and I hold my hands up high in gratitude and appreciation to a delightful and incredibly impressive educational institution.”
Galbraith, known for his philanthropy and civic spirit, is a business leader and stalwart supporter of many projects close to his heart in the Okanagan, including the Okanagan Rails to Trails Campaign, Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation and North Okanagan Community Foundation. He is also a supporter of the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon Community Music School and The Nature Trust of British Columbia.
Galbraith has worn many hats at Okanagan College – first as an instructor at the Vernon campus in 1973, then on the College’s Board of Directors for six years. In 2017, Galbraith donated $250,000 towards the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons - Building for Skills campaign for the new Trades Training Centre at the Vernon campus. He also funds two scholarships at the College: H.W Galbraith Memorial Award and the Kieran Galbraith Memorial Award. He sees these gifts as an act of gratitude for the benefits he received raising a family and building a livelihood in the Okanagan.
Galbraith built and operated Vercom Cable Services Ltd., Vernon’s cable system, until he sold the company in 1991 to Shaw Cable, where he continued to sit on the Board of Directors for 26 years.
Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow Awards to deserving individuals as part of its annual Convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A full list can be found at okanagan.bc.ca/honourees.
Robert Louie will address graduates at the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 1 in Kelowna. Tom Christensen will speak at the ceremony in Vernon on Tuesday, June 25, and George Galbraith will deliver his address in an evening ceremony on Thursday, June 27.