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Enrolment challenges mean that a prospective donation of land proposed as a potential site for a new campus of Okanagan College in Salmon Arm will not proceed. (The land identified for the potential donation is located between 10th Street SW, 10th Avenue, Foothill Road and Shuswap Street.)
“We very much appreciate the generous offer of 20 acres of land for a campus closer to Salmon Arm’s downtown, but the agreement around the proposal included some conditions that we will be unable to meet,” explained Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It would be unfair to Jerry Thompson (the prospective donor) and municipal planning processes to tie up the land by suggesting that we might be able to meet them in the near future.”
The offer of land to the College and the City of Salmon Arm’s commitment to servicing were contingent on a number of factors that the three parties agreed to in 2013.
Those included developing education and business plans that would warrant building a downtown campus. Because the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, the eventual donation would hinge on having the Agricultural Land Commission approve removing the parcel of land from the ALR, based on the education and business plans.
“We worked hard to identify programs and circumstances that would take us past those conditions, but we have been unable to do that,” said Hamilton. “One of the reasons is because we have not experienced the enrolment demand for programs in Salmon Arm that was anticipated, mainly as a consequence of changing demographics and declining school populations regionally. In order to proceed with an application to the Agricultural Land Commission we would need a compelling case based on a lack of space at our current facilities. That is not the case at this time or within the time frame anticipated by the agreement.
“We have been working closely with both the prospective donor and municipal officials, who have been gracious in their appreciation of our circumstances. While we regret that we are unable to proceed, the College remains completely committed to growing its activities in the Salmon Arm region.”
The City of Salmon Arm is understandably disappointed that Okanagan College will not be proceeding with the downtown College campus, at least in the short term, due to enrollment challenges,” said Mayor Nancy Cooper. “The City remains committed to the concept of an expanded campus in close proximity to the downtown. The City is here to support the College in continuing to grow the Salmon Arm campus. Thank you to the prospective land donor, Mr. Jerry Thompson, for his vision and generosity. Thanks also to the many volunteers and the Economic Development Society for their passionate work on this project to date.”
“We would like to thank all the people (including the City staff) that were associated with the effort to make the downtown College a reality,” said Jerry Thompson. “It may have been a big dream for all of us at this time but in the future it will happen, it just was not the right time. We do not attach any blame to the Okanagan College staff, as we think they did what they could in this environment. But as we move forward and we must, other opportunities will present themselves.”
Hamilton said Okanagan College’s efforts are focused on increasing enrolments and developing new programs to take advantage of the capacity at the current Salmon Arm campus and the associated trades facility (located in the industrial area).
“We also remain committed to meeting the needs our community and ensuring we are offering relevant programming,” he said. “Our new Regional Dean, Joan Ragsdale, will bring fresh eyes to those objectives and will work closely with College personnel, our partners and the community in that regard.”
An example of what that may look like is the recently-announced development of a new Environmental Studies diploma option in Salmon Arm that builds on existing geographical information systems expertise and programs at the campus, says Hamilton. The College is also pursuing other programming options, all with the purpose of offsetting declining high school graduating classes over the next few years by attracting students both from out of region and from other groups within the area.
The College’s two-year program, run in concert with flight partners Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC), recently celebrated a quarter-century of operation. This month, Jazz and the College signed an agreement that will see OC participate in the Jazz Aviation Pathways Program (APP), which can serve as a fast track for the OC pilots to land flying careers with the national airline. It is among the first aviation schools in Western Canada to participate in the program. Five colleges and universities in Ontario participate as well as Mount Royal University in Alberta.
“We have worked closely with Jazz regarding our program’s curriculum, and expected outcomes for students,” said Dr. Barry McGillivray, Okanagan College’s Acting Dean of Business. “Our program and our graduates have a good reputation in the industry, and this affords them some advantages in terms of advancing their careers.”
Jazz Aviation LP has a strong history in Canadian aviation with its roots going back to the 1930s. Jazz is owned by Chorus Aviation Inc. As the largest regional carrier in Canada, Jazz has a proven track record of industry leadership and exceptional customer service, and has leveraged that strength to deliver value to all its stakeholders.
“Further strengthening our Jazz APP program with the addition of OC, and our first B.C.-based college, is an exciting development,” said Steve Linthwaite, Vice President of Flight Operations at Jazz. “Our goal is to create a strong future for Canadian professional pilots and engaging with academic institutions from coast-to-coast is an important part of delivering on that. We’re very pleased to welcome OC to the Jazz APP and look forward to working together toward these common objectives.”
Okanagan College becoming a Jazz APP institution establishes a direct career path for qualifying graduates; including flight simulator evaluations, student scholarships, and the opportunity for OC’s top-performing Commercial Aviation graduates to transition to first officer positions at Jazz.
In addition to the Jazz APP program, any OC student who passes his or her Intermediate Airline Transport Rating (IATRA) exam can qualify to work for Jazz with 1,000 hours flying time and 250 hours multi-engine flying time. If the student graduates from a non-partner institution, he or she would need 1,500 hours flying time and 500 hours of multi-engine time to qualify.
“That can mean a significant savings and a head-start on a career for a young pilot,” notes SIFC’s Flight School Director Marc Vanderaegen.
As a partner school with Jazz, Okanagan College pilots also find themselves eligible to apply to two Jazz-supplied scholarships: the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and Diversity (open to any student who has self-identified as Aboriginal, a person with a disability, a visible minority or female).
Jazz operates more flights and flies to more Canadian destinations than any other airline, and has a workforce of approximately 4100 professionals, highly experienced in the challenging and complex nature of regional operations.
There are two airline divisions operated by Jazz Aviation LP: Air Canada Express and Jazz.
Air Canada Express: Under a capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada, Jazz provides service to and from lower-density markets as well as higher-density markets at off-peak times throughout North America with a fleet of 113 Canadian-made Bombardier aircraft.
Jazz: Under the Jazz brand, the airline offers charters throughout North America with a dedicated fleet of five Bombardier aircraft for corporate clients, governments, special interest groups and individuals seeking more convenience. Jazz also has the ability to offer airline operators services such as ground handling, dispatching, flight load planning, training and consulting.
Eight students hailing from three different high schools assembled at the College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 16, to receive their entrance scholarships.
“Meeting students and their parents is rewarding for us,” says Yasmin Thorpe. “The parents appreciate the assistance and the students are keen to talk about what they hope to achieve with their studies and their futures.”
“Education opens so many doors,” says Rick Thorpe. “Yasmin and I feel incredibly proud to have been able to make a difference in the lives of students over the years.”
Scholarship recipient Hector Carlos of Penticton Secondary is one of those students reaching for the stars with a little help from the Thorpes.
“I am determined to obtain a degree in Physics and Astronomy,” says Carlos, who plans to complete the Associate of Science Degree program at the College before heading to the University of Victoria to finish his Bachelor of Science. “This scholarship is going to motivate me even more to achieve my goal and will reduce my stress along the way, so I can focus on my learning instead of student debt.”
Born in Mexico, Carlos immigrated to Canada in 2002 and moved the Penticton in 2008.
“I am excited to make my own way in the world; this scholarship is going to help me to transfer my acquired knowledge and skills into a profession that will allow me to lead a productive life.”
Honor Hollman, also a Grade 12 student at Penticton Secondary, is considering a career in education, social work, or nursing; she will take the first step toward that future when she begins the Associate of Arts Degree program at the College in September.
“I am very excited to receive this award,” says Hollman, “and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future.”
“I really hope to give back to the community through my future career, so I look forward to paying it forward and using this award not only to benefit myself, but to get to a place where I can benefit others one day.”
The Thorpes have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade.
2016 marked the 10th anniversary of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Entrance Scholarships for Okanagan College, which were established in 2006. To mark the occasion, the Thorpes awarded 10 $2,500 bursaries.
Since inception, $92,750 has been awarded from the Thorpe’s fund to 43 recipients at Okanagan College.
The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship assists students who are graduates of, or will be graduating from, a secondary school located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton to Killiney Beach, registering in full‐time studies at the College. The award also supports students already enrolled at the College who are continuing their studies. Recipients must be undertaking courses in business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism/hospitality, trades, technologies, English or creative writing, science, and nursing.
“We are constantly amazed at the generosity of our donors in Penticton,” says Donna Lomas, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “The Thorpes have been deeply supportive of the College over the years, including spearheading the fundraising campaign for the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.
“Awards like these send a message to students that the community and the College are behind them and invested in their futures.”
The application deadline for the 2017 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarships will be in early March 2017. Students are encouraged to review the application guidelines at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards or email@example.com for more information.
Students and their families, alongside College officials and donors from the community, gathered on Wednesday, June 15 for the annual Salmon Arm campus awards ceremony. And for a number of students training toward helping careers, a helping hand from those around them is bringing big dreams within reach.
As new Salmon Arm resident and mature student Shayda Yazdanmehr attests, receiving a bursary has done far more than reduce financial strain—it has validated her decision to return to school.
“Receiving an award from the College is incredibly motivating,” says Yazdanmehr, who took home the Salmon Arm Campus Adult Academic and Career Prep Award. “Since moving here, the College and this community have been so supportive. And thanks to that, I’ve been able to get on the fast-track towards my career goals far quicker than I ever expected.”
Originally from Yellowknife, NWT, Yazdanmehr moved to the Shuswap two years ago after visiting family in the region. She soon decided to pursue upgrading as part of the College’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) offerings, which are designed to assist students in obtaining the prerequisites needed to enter one of the College’s degree, diploma, or certificate programs. After completing the necessary upgrades, she plans to enrol in one of the College’s Health and Social Development programs and has already begun shadowing local health industry professionals to get a sense of the day-to-day work in a variety of fields.
“I am very interested in blending a program in healthcare with various healing arts and hope to work with children,” explains Yazdanmehr. “OC has many opportunities for me to get started on that path.”
Salmon Arm-born Julia Agassiz echoes her fellow student’s comments about the cost-savings of being able to pursue her education in the Shuswap community. Agassiz will graduate from the 18-month Practical Nursing diploma program in January. A mother of twin five-year-olds, she says being able to stay close to home has made all the difference in her being able to pursue her nursing dream.
“Having the opportunity to stay in Salmon Arm and not have to commute elsewhere, or move, has been tremendously helpful,” notes Agassiz, who also credits receiving an award as inspiration to finish her program strong over the next six months.
“As a mother of two young children, any additional support I can bring in for my education is a huge relief and goes a long way. I am so grateful for this award. I hope as I enter into a career where I’ll be helping people day in, day out, that I’ll be able to pay it forward and make an impact in the community.”
At the ceremony, Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of the Shuswap-Revelstoke, acknowledged the hard work and determination of students, and the role that community support plays in enriching the learning and teaching experience in Salmon Arm.
“I extend a heartfelt congratulations to all of the recipients,” says Ragsdale. “Although I have been here only a short while, I have seen and experienced firsthand the personal commitment to students and excellence that exists at this campus.
“The support from community and the donors is the strongest I have seen anywhere in the province, and I am delighted to be a part of an event which supports and honours student achievement.”
This year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.
Lambert Schmalz, owner of Lambert & Paul Construction Ltd., has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus. The new three-storey tower opened to students in April, as part of an overall $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project.
“The College and this region are very dear to me,” says Schmalz, who was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1956 after completing his training as a journeyperson Carpenter. “I am proud to support the place where our future tradespeople will train.”
At that time, there were only 9,600 people in Kelowna and very few residential or commercial builders. He says the opening of the College (then BC Vocational School) in 1963, helped spark the growth of the construction industry in the years that followed, and was critical in developing a culture of apprenticeship in the valley.
“Having come up through the European system of apprenticeship which has been going strong for hundreds of years, I was surprised by how little apprenticeship there was in the valley when I arrived,” explains Schmalz. “I am pleased with the progress that has been made to change that over time, and the College has played a big role in that development.”
Schmalz’s involvement with the College has taken many forms over the years. As a student, he took business courses in the mid-1960s, adding bookkeeping, drafting, and estimating to the skills he learned as a journeyman Carpenter travelling Europe. He also served on the Program Advisory Board for the Carpentry program for more than a decade beginning in the 1970s.
In 2004 Okanagan University College conferred upon Schmalz an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his long-term involvement.
“Lambert has been a dedicated champion and supporter of the College for many years,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We deeply appreciate his significant contributions to our institution and his dedication to advancing apprenticeship in the Okanagan.”
In addition to founding multiple contracting companies, Schmalz was also a founding member of the Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), a professional organization that promotes affordability and choice in the residential construction industry.
Individuals and businesses from the construction sector have contributed more than $500,000 to the Bright Horizons campaign to date. Schmalz recently challenged the valley’s builders to reach the $1-million mark.
“These tradespeople are our future work force,” said Schmalz. “If we don’t support them, who will?”
It is a message echoed by Schmalz’s friend and colleague Gord Wilson. Wilson, owner of Team Construction, has also stepped forward with $50,000 for the campaign.
Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Complex is now open to students; a grand opening is being planned for September. The three-year capital construction project rejuvenated existing spaces to match the same sustainability standards of the new tower, which is targeting LEED Platinum, net-zero energy usage, and carbon-neutrality. The complex will allow the College to train more than 2,700 students per year in Kelowna.
The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise an additional $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment.
To learn more about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
“I was a competitive snowboarder – to compete at that level you need to take care of your body and ensure you’re getting the right nutrition,” says Galt.
After her snowboarding career ended, Galt thought about becoming a dietician but decided to study holistic nutrition instead. She was drawn to the principal philosophies of the field: prevention over treatment, and the idea that each person deserves an individual and holistic approach.
“Holistic nutrition is about so much more than simply food – although of course, that’s a large part of it – the idea that food can be healing. We also look at supplements, and lifestyle is a major piece of the puzzle,” Galt explains.
Galt graduated in March from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Vancouver, after completing a two-year program. During her studies, she deepened her understanding of the role food plays in our health, as well as learning how many physical symptoms are rooted in stress and how important it is to include activities like yoga that help “de-stress.”
“I think many people have lost a connection with food because of the fast-paced environments we live in,” says Galt. “We really only scratch the surface when we talk about ‘this food is good for you, this food isn’t.’ That’s not enough. My goal is to educate people about how essential food is to their health and help them get back in touch with their connection to the earth and where food comes from.”
How does Galt plan to achieve this goal?
“We’ve got to start with kids. That’s why I’m so excited to be teaching kids at Camp OC this year,” she says, in reference to the two camps she’s teaching: The Independent Chef and Travelling Taste Buds. “We’re going to start in the garden and see where food comes from. The kids are going to pick it, chop it, prepare it and ultimately enjoy it more. I think it’s crucial that kids develop that sense of pride and feel like they’re in control.”
The Independent Chef runs July 18 to 22 at Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus for kids entering grades 4-7. Travelling Taste Buds runs August 8 to 12 at the Vernon Campus for kids entering grades 4-7. Galt plans to share with campers her love of food from other places that she developed while travelling all over Europe, as well as the experience she’s gained working in the food industry for years.
With her mother Chris as mentor, Galt has run her own custom catering business – Basket Case Picnics – for the past four years. Basket Case Picnics started out in farmers’ markets with a food truck, branched into private catering, and is now a Culinary Service Partner with Okanagan College – offering daily food services and event catering at the Kal View Café.
“Kelsey is definitely impressive,” agrees Cindy Meissner, program coordinator of Camp OC in Vernon. “She has the education and the experience to back her up – much like many of our Camp OC instructors actually.”
Meissner explains how all Camp OC instructors match industry experience and expertise with a camper’s area of interest. For example, the instructor for Jr. Passion for Fashion is a Canadian designer and owns her own design and retail store; and, a professional photographer will be teaching the “Kids with Cameras” camp. The Camp OC instructor for “Metal Fabrication” and “Building with Wood” is a SD 22 industrial teacher.
“But I think what makes Kelsey unique is her obvious passion for what she’s doing,” says Meissner. “Whether it’s serving up delicious food in the Kal View Café here on campus or arming kids with that oh-so-important life skill of cooking for themselves. Kelsey really is on a mission to change the way we think about food.”
More information about Camp OC Okanagan College is available at www.campoc.ca
Jessica Lenz is completing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Honours Degree specializing in Accounting, and for the past year has been a student researcher with the Scotiabank Centre for Non-profit Excellence located at the Kelowna campus. She recently presented her findings at the The Canadian Council for Small Business & Entrepreneurship national conference in Guelph, ON.
“It was so beneficial to have real-world opportunities to engage with and learn from business leaders in our community,” said Lenz, who now plans to pursue her CPA certification. “It was very challenging but also very fulfilling as a student to be a part of research that has application to people’s businesses and livelihoods locally, and has the potential to bring about positive change.”
Lenz is among the more than 1,450 students who will be recognized at the College’s Convocation ceremonies this weekend. She will also take the stage to give the student address and will be presented with the Silver Governor General’s Academic Medal and Bachelor of Business Administration Medal, as the graduand with the highest graduating grade average in an Okanagan College baccalaureate program and the BBA program this year.
“Receiving the Silver Governor General’s medal was one of the goals I have pushed myself toward for a long time,” explains Lenz. “It’s an incredible feeling to realize a goal like this. I can’t wait to be at the ceremony with all my fellow graduates who share the same pride of accomplishment.”
The College will recognize the achievements of nearly 1,000 trades students at its Commencement ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 3.
The following day, 481 credentials will be conferred to students in academic and vocational programs and include: 129 bachelor’s degrees, 55 associate degrees, 270 diplomas, and 27 certificates.
The morning ceremony on June 4 in Kelowna starts at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, and Health and Social Development programs receive their credentials. Local forest hydrologist, Dr. Rita Winkler, and Mission Hill’s Anthony von Mandl, O.B.C., will address the morning graduating class as Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College.
At the afternoon ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m., Okanagan College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands of the Okanagan College School of Business.
It is in this ceremony that Lenz will share some wisdom gained during her time as a business student, followed by a local business veteran who shares her feelings on the subject of perseverance.
After being recognized as Honorary Fellow on Saturday afternoon, Kelowna entrepreneur Bill Redmond will address the next wave of business leaders who will follow in his footsteps.
One of his key messages? Learn how to overcome adversity, and even embrace it.
Redmond spent four decades building his career in the wholesale food industry. He is the founder and formerly the president and CEO of HRI Supply Ltd. Redmond launched the company in 1978 and guided its growth until it merged with Sysco Corp. in 2001. HRI Supply is the only food distribution company in the B.C. Interior to merge with a Fortune 500 company in the past 30 years. After the merger Redmond continued his career as president and CEO of Sysco Kelowna until he retired from the company in 2004.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the Convocation ceremony at Okanagan College,” said Redmond. “It is a big honour and I have been thinking carefully about what I want to say to the students before they make their way into the working world.”
Distilling a career’s worth of lessons into a few short minutes isn’t an easy task but Redmond says the lesson that has been most valuable was one that he learned early.
“The difficult things and the challenging things are what you remember,” he said. “Overcoming adversity, even embracing it and seeking it out, is really what sets people apart. It is actually quite easy to be a great leader when things are going well but when things take a turn, that’s when you grow the most.”
Redmond spent a year at Okanagan College as its first Entrepreneur-in-Residence in 2007. During that time he worked out of an office in the School of Business a few days a month, meeting with students, joining lectures and working with colleagues in the department.
“I was very impressed with the business students at Okanagan College,” he said. “Working with them made me remember the pure joy of learning about business. It’s a wonderful institution and a great privilege to address the graduating class.”
This weekend’s ceremonies represent three of the College’s six annual Convocation ceremonies. The first Convocation ceremony of the year was held in January, and 310 credentials were awarded to students.
Two additional ceremonies will be held later in June. A ceremony in Vernon will be held on Monday, June 27. The final summer convocation in Kelowna will take place on Wednesday, June 29 and will confer approximately 380 diplomas and certificates. Former Okanagan College professor Rick Gee will be honored as the 2016 Distinguished Service Award recipient at that ceremony.
More than 2,100 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2016 before the end of the month.
To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.