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Awards keep coming for College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence
Okanagan College Media Release – June 26, 2012
A student from Okanagan College’s School of Business is preparing to pack her bags for an educational experience in France, after receiving one of a handful of Premier’s Scholarships granted to public post-secondary students.
Jennifer Andrews, of Kelowna, was one of 22 students across the province to receive the award, which was announced by the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society.
Andrews, who is studying Business Administration, received $6,000 and will be spending four months this fall continuing her studies in the International Business and Management Program at EDHEC Business School, one of the top 30 business schools in the world, according to a recent report from the Financial Times.
“I’m looking forward to taking international finance and accounting, a course on business culture, and then French language,” said Andrews, who has a 90 per cent grade point average and is currently on an internship with BMO in Toronto.
Andrews selected EDHEC from a collection of post-secondary institutions with existing relationships with Okanagan College. The exchange program means she will pay her regular Okanagan College tuition fee, all while gaining a breadth of experience and perspective on international business practices.
“She is an amazing student and young lady and I could not be happier for her,” said Okanagan School of Business Professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah, who taught Andrews and mentored her as part of the College’s Students in Free Enterprise program. “She is a valued member of any group for her dedication, hard work ethic and high quality outcomes. I know she will truly embrace this experience.”
Andrews said Myrah, Professor Leslie Corbett and career counsellor Christine Hawkins all played key roles in supporting her with reference letters, guidance and encouragement.
“Okanagan College is an incredible school and I’m definitely glad I made the choice to come here,” she said. “The professors really care about us students and want us to succeed.”
The Premier’s Scholarships are funded from the returns on a $13-million endowment fund established by the province for international education and are part of the One World International Scholarship program managed by the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society.
The scholarships are adjudicated and awarded once each year based on merit. To be considered for the award, students must study outside of North America and be returning to their home institution to complete their studies.
At the announcement, Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto announced an additional $2 million for the program.
“Everyone benefits from the perspectives and connections gained by B.C. students studying in other countries,” said Yamamoto. “Our International Education Strategy will ensure more students have the opportunity to study abroad.”
Hugh Gordon, chair of the Irving K. Barber B. C. Scholarship Society, noted this year marked a record number of applications and scholarships granted in the Premier’s Scholarship program. The program was established in 2008.
Beginning August 10 Okanagan College will no longer accept credit cards for a host of fees and services including domestic tuition fees.
“As funding issues persist and inflationary pressures continue to squeeze our budgets, this is one of the ways we can reduce our expenses and keep more student money working within the College,” said Bob Eby, Okanagan College Vice President, Finance and Administration.
Cash, cheques and online banking will be accepted. Payment options, an explanation of the change, and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on the College’s website at okanagan.bc.ca/creditcardchanges.
It’s all in the family for two Salmon Arm sisters who graduated from Okanagan College this past weekend with top honours for their outstanding academic achievements.
Erica Fairley and Andrea Pickard attended the Salmon Arm campus where they racked up award-winning marks.
Fairley received the Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze Medal with a graduating grade average of 95.27 per cent – the highest achievement of any full-time Okanagan College graduate of an associate degree or diploma program this year.
Meanwhile, Pickard received Okanagan College’s President’s Award in recognition of her 92.38 per cent graduating grade average. Two such awards go to students with the highest grades excluding the Collegiate Bronze Medal.
The two women received their diplomas in Business Administration and both plan to pursue careers in accounting. They were among 1,600 students recognized at Okanagan College’s Spring Convocation ceremonies held at the Kelowna campus.
It’s hard to say whether achievement is in their genes, but both women credit their supportive families and a commitment to professionalism for their success.
“This is for our children, to help them understand the importance of going to school, and that if you work hard, you will be rewarded,” said Pickard.
Her sister agreed.
“It’s been a juggle,” said Fairley, whose six-year-old son attended the ceremony along with Pickard’s husband and their two children, ages eight and 10. “Both of our husbands, and our families, have sacrificed a lot for us to do this. They were very, very supportive and took on a lot of extra roles.”
Pickard, 36, was the first to decide she wanted to return to school to expand on her bookkeeping career. At the time, Fairley, now 35, had just been laid off from her work as an electrical designer for a company that provided automated systems to saw mills.
“I thought why not,” she said.
With practical work experience already under their belts, they applied their discipline of producing flawless work to their academic performance – something both admit they never considered when they were attending high school in Salmon Arm.
“When you’re working you just don’t do things halfway,” Fairley said.
The strategy paid off, and come September, Fairley will be employed full-time in Salmon Arm at BDO Canada. She’ll spend the rest of the summer completing four more courses toward her Bachelor’s degree. After that, she plans on becoming a Chartered Accountant.
Pickard is still weighing her options between becoming a CA or a Certified General Accountant.
As for their high academic achievement, both credited the College for its commitment to supportive learning.
“The teachers, the staff, the administration, everyone makes it so easy to learn,” Pickard said. “You’d think it would feel like a business, but it’s more like a community where everyone is so focused on helping each other learn.”
Part of that supportive learning came at the instruction of Okanagan School of Business Professor Megan Mills, who taught them courses at the Salmon Arm campus in marketing, management principles, and organizational behaviour.
"Erica and Andrea are exceptional people, who were able to complete our very rigorous program, all while looking after their families," she said. "I know they will be successful in their careers. They won't settle for less."
The 2011-12 Spring Convocation marked the largest graduating class since the re-establishment of Okanagan College in 2005.
The wine tourism industry is ensuring Okanagan College’s Viticulture students receive some extra fruit for their educational labour.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has collaborated with TricorBraun WinePak to provide an annual $1,000 award to a student enrolled full-time in the College’s Viticulture Certificate program at the Penticton campus.
Eric von Krosigk, chair of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, said the award illustrates its full-spectrum support for the industry here in the Okanagan – from the vine to the wine.
“There is an old adage that we cannot make great wine unless we grow great grapes,” said von Krosigk, who is also the winemaker and viticulturist at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. “With this type of bursary, we underscore the importance of viticulture to our wine industry.”
TricorBraun WinePak, a division of the century old international packaging company, has been supplying the North American wine industry with top quality bottles since 1982.
“Our company fervently supports the education of new talent to ensure the sustainability of the grape growing practices in British Columbia,” said Heidi Cook, TricorBraun’s sales manager for the Pacific Northwest. “We hope that the recipient goes on to a successful career.”
In making the announcement, Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the two organizations’ collaboration in the creation of the award.
“Establishing an award like this will make a real difference for Viticulture students who show both academic ability and financial need,” she said.
With this contribution, there are now five annual $1,000 awards provided by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society to Okanagan College students who are enrolled in various programs necessary to a thriving wine and food region; from the Culinary Arts to Business programs with specialties in Marketing, Events and Hospitality.
Blair Baldwin, who is a professor with the College’s Okanagan School of Business and Project Manager for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, said incorporating viticulture into the awards program simply makes sense.
“We are a young industry and understand the critical importance of the science of viticulture,” Baldwin said. “With a flow of new strong viticulturists in the field, we will continue to maintain our stellar reputation for our wine region.”
Students in the Viticulture Certificate program move from studying viticulture regions in Canada and wine styles from around the world through to the scientific aspects of grapevine biology, followed by an extensive examination of vineyard management including soil and irrigation considerations, and business issues including human resources and finances.
Classroom study is supported with a practicum in one of the many vineyards in the South Okanagan.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society represents 113 member wineries and 25 tourism operators throughout the Okanagan. The society organizes four seasonally inspired wine festivals, including its signature Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, which draws close to 30,000 tourists each year.
For more information regarding the award, contact the Okanagan College Foundation at 250-862-5630.
Anyone considering getting into the recreational vehicle service industry might want to hit the books sooner rather than later.
Following a few slow years, the industry is gearing up for larger sales and with that comes a greater need for people trained in servicing motor homes and fifth wheelers.
“Whether in B.C. or across the country, industry is telling us that they are starting to experience difficulty finding technicians,” said Eleonore Hamm, president of the RV Dealers Association of Canada. “We need to start recruiting again.”To help fill the need, registration is now underway at Okanagan College for entry level training in the RV Service Technician program with information sessions taking place at all four campuses throughout the College region.
College RV Service Technician instructor Jim Ingram said he’s posting a growing number of positions on the program’s job board.
“We have approximately eight listings on the board at this time, with jobs in Victoria, the Okanagan, and into the Prairies,” Ingram said. “Things are definitely moving.”
Former Okanagan College student Rick McKague isn’t surprised.
“The training was excellent, and the employment opportunities are good,” said McKague, who graduated this spring from the Recreation Vehicle Service Technician program with his Level 3 and is now with Kelowna RVs where he has worked in both service and parts.
“One of the guys I graduated with was actually headhunted and took a job in Saskatchewan,” he said. “There’s a real boom going on there now and they are desperate for RV techs.”
Hamm admits the economy has been hard on the industry for the last few years, but that’s now changed.
“We’re forecasting a two per cent growth in the industry in the upcoming year, and while employee counts have been down, it looks like that is turning around.”
The turn-around is also being felt in the U.S., where the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says it expects a 39 per cent increase in RV shipments from the 2009 recession low.
“It’s a good time to be getting into this field,” said Ingram. “Students want to hit the books before the need for these positions peaks.”
The RV Service Technician program begins with a comprehensive 28-week program that takes students with little or no previous experience and gives them the skills to seek employment as an apprentice RV Service Technician.
This Red Seal trade covers a variety of skills including electrical, plumbing, carpentry, joinery, refrigeration, gas fitting, and even appliance repair.
Many women experience success as RV Technicians, which makes the program especially attractive for those eligible for Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative.
Information sessions take place:
Tuesday, June 12 – 6:30 - 8 p.m.Penticton, Room PC120Salmon Arm, Room 143
Tuesday, June 19 – 6:30 - 8 p.m.Kelowna campus, Room T117Vernon campus, Room E102
Registration for the program is also available online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/apply, and follow the link to Trades Foundation.
For more information on the RV Service Technician program, contact Okanagan College, at 250-762-5445, ext. 4275. For information on the Women in Trades programs, contact Erin Kavanagh at 250-575-7130.