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Records 1 to 4 of 15
OC student engineers a new career path
Okanagan College Media Release

keyvan KhademCivil 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

Rise project lifts student learning and trades program
Okanagan College Media Release

For Okanagan College carpentry student Brittany Couchman building a new home from the ground up has been “an amazing experience.”

“I've learned so many skills, from reading a tape measure, to reading code and using hand tools, and lots of math,” says Couchman, a Vernon campus student.

Home For Learning May 2019She is one of 12 Carpenter Foundation program students taking part in this year's Home for Learning project, unveiled to community members and media today. This year's project marks Okanagan College's 60th Home for Learning, an initiative that involves carpentry students spending 14 weeks on a job site learning all aspects of modern construction.

“Our students have helped build daycares, condos, horse barns, sheds and beautiful homes such as this one on The Rise,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Okanagan College Associate Dean of Trades.

“There is always a certain pride when you build something with your own hands. These students will always be able to look at this house and say ‘I helped build that.’”

Keith Construction is this year's Home for Learning partner, mentoring students as they build a new duplex. Keith Construction owner Ken Dahlen says his company was pleased to get behind the project and help coach future trades students, which are in high demand.

“Our industry is struggling to find skilled workers, and forecasts say that 40,000 people will be retiring in our industry in the next 10 years,” says Dahlen.

“It's important for young people entering trades careers to understand the need for a post-secondary education. Homes today are highly engineered, and not as easy to build without understanding the building code.”

In addition to being this year's Home for Learning partner, Keith Construction was a major sponsor of Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Centre in Vernon. Dahlen says local facilities and programs are important for the community, providing an opportunity for young people to stay at home and get an education. Dahlen announced that Keith Construction and other trades are adding a special fundraiser to the Home for Learning project.

Dahlen says a number of trades are providing preferred pricing on their products and services. Once the home is completed and sold, Keith Construction will donate a portion of its proceeds to future trades training at the College.

“Construction has been very good to our family, and I'm happy to support students,” Dahlen says.

Michael Collins from Quad-Lock was one of the suppliers to offer its product, airfoam (insulated concrete forms) at cost to the project. An engineer on his team also provided a full day of learning on their products with students.

“Anytime you can give back to the community where we live, we are all the better for it,” says Collins.

Vernon's Home Building Centre is supplying a number of products at or below cost, including windows from Gentek Building Products and exterior doors from Masonite. Other companies offering preferred pricing include JP Garage Doors, Livingwood Floors and D & B Home Fires.

“We are training our future clients, and we are happy to be involved,” says Gary Gilchrist, Home Building Centre Owner.

For students, meeting experienced trades gives them a glimpse into the near future.

“I am so glad I chose carpentry. It is so interesting, and it gives me the opportunity to have a career that will support my kids,” Couchman says. “I am really proud of this project.”


College honours Banham with Distinguished Service Award
Okanagan College Media Release

Dr. Heather Banham, retired Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, will be recognized by the College with the Distinguished Service Award.Heather Banham May 2019

“Under Heather’s leadership, business programming was expanded on our Vernon and Penticton campuses, providing more access for students in the region,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “She worked to continue to develop the Okanagan School of Business national reputation and distinguished herself as a vital member of the accounting community. Heather is incredibly deserving of the Distinguished Service Award.”

The award is the highest honour bestowed upon a former employee and recognizes those who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support its mission, vision and values, and are active within and outside the College community.

Banham worked at the College for 24 years and wore many hats. She was a professor, department chair, Associate Dean and Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. Upon her retirement in 2017, the business program boasted more than 2,000 students on four campuses.

“She is and was well respected by colleagues, bargaining groups and students who she worked closely with to grow the international exchange program OC offers and to foster student clubs and team competitions,” says Hamilton. “Heather is truly an inspirational leader and mentor who prioritized creating a culture of collegiality and cooperation.”

This isn’t the first time Banham has received accolades. In 2014, she was recognized nationally for receiving the Fellowship designation by the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association, the highest honour that can be given to a member of the association. The award acknowledged her time on the B.C. CGA board of directors where she served from 2011-2015 as second Vice Chair Board and First Vice Chair. In 2016, Banham was appointed as Chair, CPABC Board of Directors for 2017/2018.

“I sincerely appreciate this recognition from Okanagan College,” says Banham. “It was really a privilege to work at the School of Business during those years and to be part of the team that was so committed to building strong programs and creating opportunities for students to gain the skills, knowledge and experience to be successful.”

Banham joins five other past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award; Rick Gee (2016), John Lent (2014), Catherine Williams (2012), Gary Dickinson (2011) and Lynda Wilson (2010).

Banham will receive her award at the College’s spring convocation ceremony on June 1. She will address the graduating business students during the ceremony, which is held at 1:30 p.m. at the College’s Kelowna campus.


College Enactus students win big at Nationals
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College Enactus students won big at the 2019 Canadian Enactus National Championships competition, taking home both a gold and bronze medal for creating real-world solutions to problems that face many Canadian communities, financial literacy and environmental waste.

OC Enactus students competed in the national championships, held from May 7 to 9 in Vancouver. Over the course of the three-day event, students showcased how their community outreach projects and business ventures are enabling progress through entrepreneurial action.

Enactus OC FinLit May2019A team of four OC students won a first-place finish in the Canadian Western Bank Financial Education category. Their project, CANsave, inspires kindergarten and elementary-level students to learn about budgeting, saving and distinguishing good debt from bad debt.

The CANsave project was presented by Okanagan College School of Business students Mitchell Folk, Iris Pham, Carmen Larder and Zachary Plaxton.

“It was an incredible send-off to my degree to have a first-place nationals finish,” says Folk. “Enactus offers such a unique experience. You get to put your business skills to use while contributing to a team and the community. It’s a great opportunity to build relationships and network. I encourage any student to take part if they have the chance.”

OC Enactus students also earned a third-place finish in the Environmental category for the FruitSnaps project, which repurposes fruit that was destined for the landfill into delicious and healthy snacks. FruitSnaps was also awarded the Hellmann’s Real Food Rescue Best New Project award. The presenting students were OC’s Jessica Egyed, Karsten Ensz, Relan Johanson and Sean Rossouw.

Egyed was recognized for her outstanding leadership and received one of the 10 coveted founder’s bursaries worth $2,500.

OC’s Abby Lagerquist also received top recognition and took home the top Project Leader of the Year award for her work on the FruitSnaps project.

“The students’ success on the national stage is a result of the hundreds of hours poured into a project that is having a direct impact on the lives of young Canadians,” says Devin.Enactus OC May 2019

Rubadeau, OC Enactus coach and Okanagan School of Business professor. “The students should take pride in knowing that their entrepreneurial solutions to real-world issues are being viewed favourably by Canada’s top business leaders.”

Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business, speaks to the value of the hands-on learning students receive from Enactus.

“Unlike academic case competitions, the Enactus awards are based upon the significant contributions to improving the lives of members of our local communities and in communities across Canada,” says Gillett. “The OC team has not only earned awards for the implementation of their innovative projects, but also made a real difference in the lives of literally thousands of Canadians. The recognition of the CANSave and FruitSnaps projects, in particular, and all of the projects by the Enactus team at Okanagan College is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and their mentors.”

For more information about Okanagan College’s Enactus program, visit


New OC program lives at the intersection of marketing and big data
Okanagan College Media Release

Your supermarket does it. Amazon thrives on it. The websites you visit are doing it all the time.

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:

  • Apply mathematical, statistical and machine-learning techniques to support organizational decisions, and point to new data-driven opportunities
  • Manage and manipulate data and create data visualizations
  • Understand digital marketing and the business application of marketing analytics
  • Perform primary and secondary marketing research

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

OC student trades her digital skills for an apprenticeship

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.

Jess de GrootFor 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

“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

Training for tourism jobs to meet local demand

Revelstoke CentreFrom 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 or call 1-800-505-8998.



Business graduate sets up award to celebrate perseverance
Okanagan College Media Release

A new student award at Okanagan College will celebrate the perseverance and determination needed to be successful in school.

Suzanne Newton completed her business degree at Okanagan College Penticton campus last year, and is now a College employee working as a Division Assistant in Advancement & Alumni.

Newton says she established the $1,000 annual award to recognize the challenges some people experience when returning to school, especially students who rely on student loans.

Suzanne Newton accepts the Bruce DeHart Award.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.”

College names Christensen, Louie and Galbraith as 2019 Honorary Fellows

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 honorary fellowTom 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 Honorary FellowRobert 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.”

George Galbraith honorary FellowGalbraith, 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

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.


Women in Trades students help house winged wildlife
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College Women in Trades Training (WITT) students joined forces with Elementary students to help house some of the busiest builders in the community who work around the clock, day and night.

WITT at Peter Greer May 2019Grades 4-6 students at Peter Greer Elementary stepped outside of the classroom for a day to learn about the bats and the bees from WITT students. Together they built four bat houses with nurseries, and one large bee pollinator hotel. The residences will be placed in the green space surrounding Peter Greer, helping meet the ecological needs of creatures in risk of endangerment.

“Our Grade 4-6 students have been spending a lot of time outside focusing on ecological literacy,” says Clint Maltais, a teacher at Peter Greer. “The kids are really passionate about animals and wanted to do something that would actually help the environment. We knew we needed help.”

There are great efforts in the Central Okanagan in supporting bee and bat conservation, and the teachers and students at Peter Greer were eager to get the WITT students involved.

“This is a great opportunity for the WITT students to be mentors, and to apply what they’ve learned so far in the program,” says Nancy Darling. “It’s empowering for these women to share their skills and build confidence that they can take those skills forward into the workplace.”Bat and Bee House

This isn’t the first time that Okanagan College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department has supported the community and mentored youth along the way: they built the bunny hutches at Warren Peace, and they’re currently building locker rooms for the OC Coyotes basketball teams.

“The community has supported our program since inception,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Returning that favor and playing a prominent role in our community is important to us.”

Amanda Gilbank is one of the WITT students who helped.

“The kids were all amazing to work with and eager to learn,” says Gilbank. “It’s great to be able to teach them to build something that is helping the environment and then watching how proud they become when they see what they’ve built.”

There were lots of happy faces and enthusiastic learners, some of whom are already thinking about a future in Trades.

“I really liked having the chance to saw and hammer away at something,” says
Grade 4 student Ryder Atherton. “I want to go to Okanagan College one day…maybe become a mechanic or something.”

WITT offers a Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program that allows women to explore each skilled trade before deciding which is the best fit for them.

For more information visit:


College employee receives national recognition at CICan awards
Okanagan College Media Release

Marilyn Alexis May 2019Okanagan College’s Marilyn Alexis is being honoured by colleagues across Canada for her work helping to build connections between the College, the North Okanagan community and Indigenous people and their culture.

This week Alexis, an Aboriginal Transition Planner at the College’s Vernon campus, was named the gold medal winner for the Leadership Excellence Award for Non-Managerial Staff at the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) 2019 Awards of Excellence in Niagara Falls.

“Marilyn has brought incredible energy and vision to Okanagan College,” says Jane Lister, Regional Dean of Okanagan College Vernon campus. “She has been instrumental in recruiting Indigenous students, she’s dedicated hundreds of hours to create a beautiful indigenous garden on our campus, and she’s been a leader in hosting events in honour of women who have experienced abuse or trauma.”

The CICan Awards of Excellence recognize best practices from institutions across the country, as well as individual leadership and achievements. There are three levels of recognition: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Alexis was grateful to be honoured at the awards.

“Thank you CICan, it is a great honour to accept this award,” says Alexis. “I’m still in complete disbelief…winning this award is my biggest accomplishment.”

Alexis has been an integral part in championing the College’s Indigenous initiatives and has made tremendous efforts to share the indigenous culture and build lasting relationships between OC and the community. One of Alexis’ greatest achievements is leading the creation of the Kalamalka Garden, located at the Vernon Campus. It contains indigenous food plants from the Okanagan territory, as well as other native species indigenous to this area, and it was developed to be a community teaching resource of the region’s indigenous plants used by the Okanagan Indian Band.

“Marilyn has created a warm welcoming place where Indigenous learning can occur in a hands-on interactive environment that is directly connected to the land her ancestors used to live on,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “Her efforts have been truly admirable and we are proud that she has received this honour.”

Okanagan College believes in Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community.
The College values an authentic partnership that benefits all parties and enriches the education of learners.

“I have had many proud moments at Okanagan College,” adds Alexis. “When I see our Grassroots Knowledge Keepers sharing their gift with students, staff and community, that is what I call building authentic relationships and transforming lives.”

For more information on CICan visit


Summertime learning opportunities for youth at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

A growing demand for Okanagan College’s summer camps for youth has prompted the institution to increase capacity and expand offerings to Salmon Arm.

Camp OC, Okanagan College’s summer camp for children and teens, will be offered in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, Revelstoke and now Salmon Arm.CampOC 2019

With the addition of 15 camps and 1,000 new spaces throughout the Okanagan, more than 1,700 youth are already registered to attend Camp OC this summer.

From Robotics and Metal Fabrication to Chef Academy and Astronaut Space Training, parents and kids have a variety of programs in arts, science, trades and technology to choose from to meet a diverse set of interests.

“Summer camps at Camp OC offer opportunities for youth to spend time immersed in topics that are engaging and informative,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “In the 15 years Camp OC has been running, we’ve seen significant growth in attendance and community interest. In turn, our camps are growing to reflect the topics and needs we see in our community.”

Technology plays an important role in day-to-day life, and an emphasis on technology awareness has been incorporated into many of the camps available this summer.

“The great thing about technology is that it’s applicable to every school subject,” says Sarah Foss, Computer Science Instructor at Okanagan College. “When we code, we’re also learning about creative problem solving. When we make computers respond to our precise requests, we’re learning to think critically and can apply that to other areas. Having the opportunity to explore these ideas through subjects that are exciting to kids can have a broad reaching impact.

“We’ll be looking at the freedom and creativity that programming allows us to bring to projects, as well as the safe and responsible use of technology,” Foss continues. “As with all the camps planned for Camp OC, we want to learn and have a great time doing it.”

Camp OC is also a chance for high school students to boost their resumes and chalk up volunteer hours required for graduation. With more than 100 camps to choose from in Kelowna this year, many opportunities to volunteer in key positions are still available.

“Camp OC really values the volunteers who join us for a week or more in the summer,” says Helena Jordo, Camp OC Coordinator. “It's a great opportunity for youth ages 14 and up to gain experience in a leadership role in the classroom. With professional teachers and educators teaching the camps, this is a great opportunity for mentorship.

“Volunteers also receive hours towards graduation credits. We work very closely with SD23 to offer a good program for their students, and Camp OC would not be able to run as smoothly without the positive impact these volunteers bring.”

After camp care for students who will be entering Grades 1 to 6 this fall will be available at the Kelowna campus. Parents will once again have the option of enroling their child in week-long after camp care where qualified staff will engage them in activities until 5 p.m.

Space is still available in some camps. To find out more or to register, visit


Making the most of the water park: research aids a Kelowna firm making waves globally
Okanagan College Media Release

Children splashing themselves and each other in a water park hardly seems the topic for focused research, but you’re not Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College’s Director of Learning and Applied Research.

Waterplay 1 May 2019And neither are you the engineers and designers at Waterplay Solutions Corp., the Kelowna-based company with a growing, global clientele.

There’s lots to learn, it turns out, when children set their minds and imaginations to having fun in a waterpark. And where business is concerned, figuring out how to ensure children get the most from their play is good business for a company such as Waterplay Solutions.

“We’re passionate about play,” says Shanley Hutchinson, the Creative Manager at Waterplay Solutions. “Play, by its very nature, as a universal, inclusive language within communities, makes the world more livable and socially just. The products we create do so much more than spray water, they create moments where children explore, imagine, push their boundaries and test their theories. When a child is playing their brain is in a constant state of learning, problem solving and critical thinking – whether it’s the associated physics, the engineering that underpins the equipment, or the math that might be involved in the layout – this is where our collaboration with Beverlie has been very insightful.”

Beyond leading the College’s research activities, she is an internationally-known expert on early childhood education and outdoor play. She’s written and co-authored seven different books and has been a driving force in bringing the importance of outdoor play into focus for those who educate early childhood educators.

Last year, Dietze and Waterplay Solutions secured a $24,930 federal grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Engage program to work together to build business opportunities incorporating some of those outdoor play principles in design thinking at Waterplay Solutions.

Dietze, at first, was amazed at the global reach of Waterplay Solutions. “Not many people realize there’s a company like this in our midst. From Australia to Carolina, France to Fort St. John, from the Netherlands to Chile and Indonesia, you can find the company’s installations amazing children.Waterplay 2 May 2019

“What’s clear is that they give a lot of thought about children’s play and development and what goes into their product. What I’ve been able to do is highlight how Waterplay Solutions products contribute to children’s curiosity and areas of development, such as language, literacy, self-regulation skills, and foundational Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) discoveries that support later academic performance.”

An example that Dietze points to is a recent visit to a park in Australia where the waterpark features provided children with numerous play options and experiences including the interplay between shadows of some of the water park features with the space and how those might inspire children.

Hutchinson notes, “As a global company we team up with amazing people around the world who help bring our dream of connecting the world through play to reality – Beverlie is one of these people. When we can design a product to capitalize on a child’s natural curiosity and sense of wonderment we create something truly beneficial to the child, the community he or she lives in, and the world that child grows up to be a part of."


Start the presses! Writing and Publishing program returns to Vernon
Okanagan College Media Release

Publishing isn’t dead – just experiencing an explosive rebirth as storytelling undergoes a digital transformation.

To meet the content needs of the coming generation, the Writing and Publishing Diploma program at Okanagan College returns to the Vernon campus starting in September.

The program infuses the range of English, creative writing, editing and communications material with applied technical skills in graphic design, typography, coding and book publishing, producing students who can publish quality content in a range of media.

Jennie Evans W&P May 2019For second-year student Jennie Evans, who is writing a mystery novel, the program opened her eyes to a broad range of opportunities.

“I don’t know if I can put into words how much I like this program. I thought I would get into copy editing after school, but my plans have 100% changed,” she laughs. “In this program we’ve done a lot of fine arts with writing, and I see how there seems to be a lot of jobs in graphic design. I didn’t expect to like graphic design as much as I do.

“In the class, we have projects for real clients. Designing posters for a client like the Red Dot Players is rewarding, and shows real-world application.”

Studying at the Vernon campus takes advantage of the Okanagan College Print Shop, affectionately called “The Bunker” by students and staff. Located in the basement floor, the letterpress print shop features more than 20,000 pounds of vintage printing presses and metal type. Some assignments see students applying their typography and design knowledge by setting type by hand and printing that type on 100-year-old presses.

Although many people only think in terms of digital publishing, instructor Jason Dewinetz says The Bunker experience offers students a unique learning experience.

“I can’t stress enough what working in The Bunker does for students. It’s transformational. When they go back to the computer, they are thinking of things completely differently,” Dewinetz says. “We are all so tethered to the phones, that hands-on tactile activities like this really change their point of view. They’re getting dirty, they have ink on their hands, and then the real benefit comes when working in the three-dimensional world and applying it to the two-dimensional screen.”

This intricate manual work is done in conjunction with training on industry-standard publishing software like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign – preparing students to work in multiple fields.

“We have a large number of business students who take our courses because they are interested in learning the software, and it gives them valuable skills for a variety of industries,” explains Dewinetz, adding the technical skills are enhanced with broad understanding in editing, writing and graphic design, as well as what it’s like to work with real-world clients.

“This program gives students a taste of different disciplines before they specialize, and some have gone on to other programs as well,” he says.

Second-year student Stephen Ikesaka had a specialty, but is also considering switching gears. He has published two novelsStephen Ikesaka W&P May 2019 under the nom de plume S.K. Aetherphoxx, and is currently working on the third in his
Fatespinner trilogy. He started his own publishing company with the aim to help other writers, and found the program put him on a steep learning curve.

“There is a really clear connection between good writing and the display of that writing. Things like typefaces, margin structures and how the human eye moves all affect how work is perceived. It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if it’s presented in Comic Sans, it is going to affect my reading experience,” he says. “With writing you can get comfortable, but this program challenges you to get outside of that comfort zone. I have grown a lot, and incorporated a lot of different styles that I wouldn’t have considered before, but it’s made my writing more vivacious.”

Students who complete the Diploma of Writing and Publishing can transfer to many university programs in B.C. to attain a bachelor’s degree in their desired field. Although he hadn’t originally planned to continue his education, Ikesaka indicates the program has opened those doors for him.

“I’m having a great time learning. I’d like the ability to teach, perhaps as a buffer while I am working on writing projects, so that is why I’m considering graduate studies. For the first time in my life, I think I know what I want to be doing,” he says.

An Information Night is planned for creative individuals who are curious about the program and writing and publishing career options. On May 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Room E102 of the Vernon campus (7000 College Way), participants can meet experienced faculty members, learn about how the program blends traditional and cutting-edge publishing techniques and tour The Bunker.

Follow @ocbunkerprintshop
 on Instagram for samples of student work produced in The Bunker at the Vernon campus. For program information, visit


OC students draw a career in the animation industry
Okanagan College Media Release

Animation Grads May 2019Shaina Cook stepped into Okanagan College’s animation lab two years ago armed with pencils, paper and a life-long dream of bringing
her creations to life. Yesterday, she graduated with the inaugural graduating class from the College’s Animation diploma program, established to deliver on the growing need in the community.

The College celebrated seven students in an industry-themed ceremony last night at the Okanagan Innovation Centre, where students put on a final showcase of their work, gave tours and networked with industry professionals.

“Being part of the first class through this program has been a wild and fun ride,” says Cook. “My skills, creative abilities and understanding of animation have definitely improved. I find it really cool that I’m going to have a chance at being part of a creative team for animated media and coming up with ideas that don’t exist today – the industry is an ever-adapting field of imagination and I can’t wait to be in it.”

As part of the College’s two-year program, students were paired with industry mentors who best fit their skills, interests and career goals. Thanks to those partnerships, students were able to learn from experienced professionals and get a real-life feel for what it’s like to work in an animation studio.

“I have a more solid understanding of the industry pipeline than before and because of that I know exactly what I want to do in the industry – 3D character and creature animation,” explains Cook. “This program helped us achieve the quality and connections we needed to become employable. I’ve been interviewing and hope to be working at a studio very soon.”

A hub for creative digital arts and the tech sector, the Innovation Centre is newly opened in downtown Kelowna, placing students at the epicentre of top Okanagan animation studios including Bardel Entertainment, Hyper Hippo and Yeti Farm Creative. Most students in the program have already secured a job or are currently in the process of interviewing to begin their career in the local animation industry.

“The industry is saturated with work and there are simply not enough qualified and skilled animators, designers, storyboard artists, FX artists, to fulfill current industry demands,” says Ashley Ramsay, Partner and CEO at Yeti Farm Creative. “The industry shows no signs of slowing down and Okanagan College graduates will be fortunate to have their pick of local opportunities should they wish to stay in Kelowna upon graduation.”

Students will officially cross the stage and receive their credentials at Okanagan College’s Spring Convocation ceremony at the Kelowna campus on June 1. Wednesday, they showcased their demo reels to an appreciative crowd of potential employers, relatives and professors and mentors. Their first-year colleagues also showcased a collage of their work to date.

“I want to congratulate all of the animation students and recognize them for their hard work and dedication to their craft,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The animation entertainment industry has experienced exponential growth and I’m confident these students will play a prominent role by offering new insights, inspiring new directions and helping to further expand the industry.”

The College will welcome its next intake of students into the Animation diploma program this September. For more information visit