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Health care assistants are in high demand across B.C., and the Revelstoke District Health Foundation is supporting the education of students in its own community who choose to pursue this path to a career in health care.
Earlier this year, the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education (AVED) announced $64,000 in one-time funding for Okanagan College to support 12 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) seats in the Health Care Assistant program scheduled to start in August at the Revelstoke campus.
Now, each student in the program is eligible for a $1,000 bursary toward their certificate, thanks to the Foundation.
“This is a collaborative effort with Okanagan College to fulfill a need for HCA workers,” says Steven Hui, Chair of the Revelstoke District Health Foundation. “We regularly provide funding for scholarships and bursaries to support education in healthcare, and this is also an opportunity to do that in our community.”
The Foundation is providing up to $12,000 in bursaries for students if they meet certain criteria. Potential students apply through the Foundation, and must be a resident of Revelstoke or the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, provide a budget, cover letter, and photo by Friday, August 4, 2017.
If awarded a bursary, $750 will be paid directly to the College to offset course fees, with the remaining $250 paid to the student, paid upon completion of the course.
“Bringing this program to Revelstoke will help us ensure we have skilled staff available to support our clients and residents at a time when we know the population is aging and demands for health care services are increasing,” says Julie Lowes, Acute Health Services and Site Manager for Queen Victoria Hospital.
“Having the course provided locally eliminates the need for students to travel out of town, which is a huge financial assistance to prospective students as it removes the need for costly alternative living arrangements and travels costs. Together with the Revelstoke District Health Foundation’s support of scholarships, this has proven to be a successful strategy as we experienced in the 2013-14 course. It is the partnership of Okanagan College, Interior Health, and the Revelstoke District Health Foundation that has made this program so successful – a great community team approach.”
The 25-week program prepares students to provide care that promotes and maintains the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being of clients. It combines theory classes and an eight-week clinical practicum that allows students to gain the skills and training they need to serve their communities, including Revelstoke.
“Striking the right blend of classroom learning and practical experience is critical,” says Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “Pursuing training as an HCA is an excellent career path, and the College is pleased to bring the program back to Revelstoke.”
This July, Camp OC is inviting teens in Grades 9 through 12 to explore coding at Tech Gateway, a two-week summer camp hosted at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus that will give students a glimpse into College life and careers in the technology sector.
“Coding education is already being integrated into school curriculums in B.C. and likely that trend will continue to grow,” explains Cindy Meissner, Camp OC Coordinator for Vernon. “This camp offers a fun way for students to understand what coding is all about, as well as explore future careers as coders, web designers, and app developers.”
Canada needs 10 million skilled coders in the next 10 years according to the 2016 ICTC Digital Talent Strategy Report. In addition to learning the skills to prepare for careers in coding, students will also benefit from entrepreneurship workshops with industry guest speakers who will talk about the potential for self-employment.
Sarah Foss is a recent Okanagan College graduate and will be on the of instructors of the camp. Foss graduated with a diploma in Computer Information Systems in early June, earning a President’s Award for having the highest graduating average of a student completing a full-time diploma program.
“The program at the College showed me all of the possibilities for jobs working with computers and coding, and how accessible technology has become,” says Foss. “Once you have the education, the concepts become easier to understand. I’m excited to show the students that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist or a master programmer to code. And it’s really cool.”
Foss will be back in the classroom at the Kelowna campus this fall to complete her Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree. She plans to pursue a Master of Computer Science degree after that, and describes coding as “one of the few things that lets you create something from nothing – it’s words that become a website, or an app or just about anything.”
“Programmers are needed not just in the Okanagan but across the province and beyond,” explains Dr. Youry Khmelevsky, Chair of the Computer Science program at Okanagan College. “Opportunities like this are a great way for students to try out coding early on, whether they have previous experience or are starting from scratch.”
Tech Gateway takes place in Vernon, from July 17 to 28, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. More information about Camp OC is available at www.campoc.ca.
REIDCO serves a variety of industries, including electronic and communication equipment, agriculture, lumber, mining, oil and gas, and the military by providing custom manufacturing in the fabrication of precision steel, stainless steel, and aluminum products, and has been in business since 1981.
“Okanagan College provides a good foundation of training that we can then contour for our purposes and projects. We are working on truck parts, military parts, and seeing more from the resource industry,” says Bryan Johnston, president of REIDCO. “The job prospects are good, and there are a growing number of well-paying opportunities.”
The company’s support for students starts long before they graduate.
Students can spot the REIDCO sign hanging in the Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus in recognition of their donation to the new building. Johnston says this is a beneficial connection for both. “We’re pleased to support the College and it’s a great dividend to have well-trained employees coming to us.”
Nathan Kleger is one of REIDCO’s recent hires from Okanagan College.
“My job has been the perfect complement to the Welding Foundation course,” says Kleger. “REIDCO has a core of experienced workers who have gone out of their way to help us transition from what we learned in school to doing quality production work in the shop.”
“If you’re looking for a good job and are willing to train and work hard, apprenticeship trades training in welding at Okanagan College may be an ideal option,” says Sean Jarvis, Chair of the Welding program.
The College offers a number of program options leading to careers in the welding industry, and has rotating start times for the Foundation program at their Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, and Salmon Arm campuses. The Kelowna campus offers Welder Apprenticeship training, Multi-Alloy metal welding, and Metal Fabrication.
“I'm still learning every day but now I'm also part of a team and building a career at the same time,” says Kleger.
For more information on welding, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/welding
Simpson, who joined the Foundation Board in 2013, sees the College as an integral part of keeping communities in the valley connected and hopes to foster those relationships in her new role.
“The College does a superb job in providing education that truly transforms the lives of the individuals in our communities,” says Simpson. “It’s hard to think of anything better than helping students open the doors to opportunity through the support of the Foundation and our donors.”
Simpson, a former Kelowna city councillor, was born in Kelowna and worked as a social worker for several years before becoming a stockbroker and financial advisor. She has been an active community leader in a volunteer capacity for many years, working with the Kelowna Rotary Club and the British Columbia Historical Federation.
“Sharron is a very seasoned, skilled board member with a strong vision for the direction of the Foundation,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “It is an especially exciting time to be involved with the Foundation. We have four capital campaigns running concurrently, plus the growing need to support student scholarships and bursaries.”
Simpson succeeds Alf Kempf, who served as President since 2013, and as a board director since 2011. Kempf and directors Bev Busson and Lynda Wilson have retired after a combined 24 years of service.
Butler says the board is very grateful to those retiring for the active roles they took in cultivating and stewarding donors, and the powerful connections they developed between the Foundation and community.
The Okanagan College Foundation Board is welcoming three new directors with the addition of Colin Edstrom, Susan Ewanick and Tom Styffe.
An associate lawyer at Pushor Mitchell LLP, Edstrom was born in Kelowna and attended Okanagan University College before going on to complete law school at the University of Victoria.
Ewanick is President of Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, one of Canada’s leading credit unions, and has served as Board Chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, on the Board of Governors for Vancouver Community College, and was recently appointed to the Canadian Cancer Society Board of Directors.
Styffe has an extensive background in project management of residential, commercial and institutional construction. He has long been connected to the College, serving first as a member and then Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors (2010-2015.)
Edstrom, Ewanick and Styffe join current board directors Anne Clarke, Roy Daykin, Connie Denesiuk, Gladys Fraser, Raghwa Gopal, Keith Grayston, Jim Hamilton, Mary Ellen Heidt, Rob Phare, Allan Sanderson and Kimberly White-Gilhooly.
More information about the Foundation’s current board, mission, and projects is available at www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca.
The Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur program received the Community Project Award at the 2017 BC Economic Development Awards in Victoria last Tuesday, June 13. The prestigious awards honour organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
Launch-a-Preneur is a joint project hosted by Okanagan College, the College’s Enactus team, Community Futures Shuswap and the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society. The popular program provides support, resources and mentorship to assist individuals with a business idea to successfully launch in the Shuswap.
“The most powerful part of this program is how it brings the community together to support and encourage local entrepreneurs,” says Andrew Klingel, a professor with the College’s School of Business who also serves as a faculty advisor to Enactus OC. “It’s exciting to see all the new business ideas and watch how the community rallies around them.”
May marked the fourth season for Launch-a-Preneur, which runs every other year. It includes both a workshop series and a final event night, which gives teams the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.
This year 10 teams competed in front of a sold out crowd of 285 people at the Salmar Classic Theatre. Six teams took home more than $36,000 worth of prize packages designed to help them launch or grow their businesses. First place went to the team from WineBox Sweets Co., who also garnered People’s Choice.
Over the past four years, nearly $100,000 in prizes have been donated by local sponsors. That investment has allowed the project to continue to grow and support more entrepreneurs each year.
“Community support for the program has been overwhelming from day one,” explains Lana Fitt, Economic Development Manager for the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society and one of the event’s organizers. “And the ripple effect of that support has been deeply felt by the many entrepreneurs who have participated over the years. We are very proud to receive this award. It’s an honour to be recognized among some of B.C.’s best economic development efforts.”
This year marks the 27th year that the BC Economic Development Association (BCEDA) has presented these awards. There are two categories, Community Project Award and Marketing Innovation Award, with two awards bestowed in each category – one award for a project serving a population less than 20,000 and one for a population more than 20,000. Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur took home the award for population under 20,000, while the City of Prince George’s Economic Development department took home the hardware for population more than 20,000.
Buoyed by the award and another round of positive feedback following Launch-a-Preneur’s fourth season, organizers expect the event to continue – and that the ripple number of businesses launched will likewise continue to expand.
“The value of the Launch-a-Preneur program can clearly be defined by the number of participants who have successfully launched their businesses in the Shuswap,” says Rob Marshall, Executive Director for Community Futures Shuswap. “Community Futures is pleased to be part of a program that engages community members on so many levels and we proudly stand with our partners in accepting the Community Project Award.”
More information about Launch-a-Preneur is available at launch-a-preneur.ca/.
Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program hosted its annual Road to Riccione Cook Off this week with a coveted prize on the menu for two winners: a trip to Italy and the culinary adventure of a lifetime.
The event kicked off Tuesday morning with Okanagan Chefs Association (OCA) Junior members serving up dishes with equal parts creativity and skill, while the afternoon portion of the competition saw OC Culinary Arts students vying for the title of Student-of-the-Year in a Top Chef-style culinary faceoff. Competitors in each round were presented with a tantalizing array of ingredients with which to prepare an Italian-inspired meal, including dessert, for a panel of judges that included OC Culinary Arts instructors and other esteemed chefs from around the Okanagan.
After a fast-paced morning of competition, Riley Eberts of Waterfront Wines was named winner of the OCA round, delivering the judges a decadent pan-seared duck and quail egg main, followed by a lemon olive oil chiffon cake for dessert.
In the afternoon round, Daniel Cardoso rose to the top with a masterfully plated Arctic char main dish, accompanied by a classic panna cotta to finish. The competition among Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts group was incredibly close. When all the judges’ marks were tallied, only .25 of a point separated Cardoso from his classmate and second-place finisher Annie Low.
“I really wasn’t expecting this, but it feels incredible – especially given how well everyone cooked today,” says Cardoso, who graduated from the Culinary Arts program in February and returned to the College for the competition.
Born in Castlegar and a Kelowna resident for more than a decade, Cardoso cites culinary classes in middle school as one of his earliest inspirations for chasing the dream of becoming a chef. He now works in the kitchen at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.
“I want to keep learning and travelling to build my skills, so this trip to Italy will definitely help me do that,” adds Cardoso. “I’m incredibly excited for it. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Morning judges for the cook off included Tina Tang, Pastry Chef at Predator Ridge Resort, along with OC Culinary Arts instructors Chef Jim Armstrong, Chef Mike Barillaro and Chef Roger Planiden. In the afternoon, OC students competed under the watchful eye of Chef Melissa Masters, Junior Director for the OCA, joined by OCA member Chef Willi Franz and OC’s Chef Jim Armstrong and Chef Reinhard Foerderer. OC Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant served as the chef organizer.
In order to qualify for the Road to Riccione Cook Off and the chance to be named Student-of-the-Year, Cardoso and five other classmates had to first pick up another honour – the Culinary Arts program’s AMA student of the month award.
“AMA stands for attendance, marks and attitude,” explains Casavant. “You can measure the first two, but attitude is that intangible quality that sets everyone – students and professionals – apart in this industry. We’re extremely proud of Daniel and all the students for the way they have progressed in their skills and how they performed this week.”
In October, both Cardoso and Eberts will accompany Casavant and Barillaro to Riccione, Italy where they will tour cooking schools and the region. They will also get to host a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner for Canadian guests at the Hotel Belvedere.
“We’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of incredible projects throughout the program, but this one is definitely a highlight for me,” says Mark Eyjolfson, one of the College’s first SCMT graduates. “It’s a great feeling knowing that something you’ve built is going out into the real world to be used by Environment and Climate Change Canada.”
Bird banding involves marking birds with a band around the leg before releasing them, and provides valuable data on population, migration and behaviour. Students were tasked with producing a space where bird banders could do their work in a secure environment. That meant creating a portable space that would discourage theft and vandalism, allow as much natural light as possible into the space and be environmentally friendly.
The observatory at Vaseux Lake is a project of the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance (OSCA). Since 2005, 17,000 birds and 109 different bird species have been recorded at the observatory. In the late summer and early fall, the station will be placed at the observatory. When not in use, it will be under the care of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“This station will be invaluable,” says Owain McKibbin of Environment and Climate Change Canada. “It was great to have students involved in planning and building it, and the product speaks to how beneficial it is to have this type of training in green building available to students in the Okanagan.”
In addition to OSCA and Environment and Climate Change Canada, the building of the bird banding station was supported by Penticton-based company Structurlam, which is quickly gaining an international reputation for its innovative wood structures. Among the company’s employees is Mark Eyjolfson, who will be among the first cohort to graduate from the SCMT program this year.
With nearly a decade of experience in residential construction, Eyjolfson was looking for a way to climb the ladder in the field. Specializing in sustainability offered that potential – and it’s paid off. Even before graduation, he was offered employment with Structurlam.
“I have a young family, so gaining employment and advancing my career before graduation was really important to me,” explains Eyjolfson.
He approached Structurlam to request a donation of materials for the banding station and the company agreed.
The end result is a secure tiny house purpose-built for this unique work. It is a solid timber panel structure cladded in metal siding, with minimal glazing to reduce environmental impact. It is also well-lit with natural light as artificial light can hinder the ability of a bird bander to study the pigment of a bird’s eyes.
The SCMT program is a two-year diploma program that trains construction managers and technologists in sustainable development and green building principles, to minimize the impact of projects on the environment and maximize energy efficiency.
The program launched in the fall of 2014 as a three-year pilot program. On the success of the pilot the program has been revised and will continue as a two-year diploma program with an intake being offered in September in Penticton. Twelve are graduating this year.
“We couldn’t be prouder of this first group of graduating students,” says Dr. Amy Vaillancourt, a renowned sustainability expert who instructs and chairs the program.
“They have built their knowledge and skills exponentially over the course of the program and along the way have had a chance to work with industry to advance green building in the Okanagan. It has been wonderful to watch their growth and development along the way, and we can’t wait to welcome the next cohort in September.”
Learn more at www.okanagan.bc.ca/scmt.
Graduation becomes a family affair as mom receives her College degree
Celebrations will be abundant in the Dorsey family household this June, as mother and son duo cross the graduation stage.
“I had set a personal goal of graduating College at the same time as my third child Noah would be graduating from high school,” says Julie Dorsey, a mother of three grown children who returned to the classroom after 30 years in the farming business. She is one of the 1,386 Okanagan College students who received their credentials at three ceremonies this weekend in Kelowna.
Dorsey’s journey to complete her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Honours degree included some pit stops. She started on the path of getting an education degree then got married, had three children (now aged 30, 26, and 18), and went on to run a poultry farming business for three decades with her husband where they raised 40,000 chickens every eight weeks. She stepped back in the classroom when they were done with the farming business, which enabled her to make a College education her primary focus.
“Just because I got married young, doesn’t mean I had to forgo the opportunities that education brings,” says Lake Country resident Dorsey. “If I didn’t finish my degree, I’d regret that. I am so glad I persevered.”
That perseverance resulted in Dorsey making the Dean’s list every semester. She was also awarded the Honours Prize for Progressing Non-profit Excellence: a $1,500 award founded by alumna Amanda Wright.
“Coming into the program, I was worried about how I would engage in my studies while also running a business, and how I would connect with other students who would be closer to my children’s ages,” she says. “Starting at the smaller Vernon campus afforded me a gentle start.
“I thought I’d feel more competent because of our years in business, but farming is unique. I learned that the complexities of the business world were much greater than what we did on the farm.”
Dorsey wanted to apply those learned complexities to the non-profit sector, especially after having volunteered her time on various boards, events, and at her church. Even before having her degree in hand, she has been hired as an assistant property manager at the Society of Hope in Kelowna.
“After a successful farming career, I am working by choice and I wanted a job that would give me purpose,” Dorsey explains. “In my non-profit management course, our professor, Kerry Rempel, had said that the sector needs the skills that we are building here at OC, and that’s what inspired me to go into that field.”
Always a mother, Dorsey can’t help but recount the unique experience of going to College simultaneously with her Grade 12 son Noah, who is taking the carpentry pre-apprenticeship program at Okanagan College for dual credit while finishing high school at George Elliot Secondary.
“It was neat, and helped me feel connected as a parent,” she explains. “By going to College together, we could have conversations about the experience and I was able to ask him pointed questions.”
One of her most memorable education-meets-family moments was having her son, and parents, attend her Honours presentation.
“That’s when things really came full-circle for me,” she says.
“We provide access to education to help students fulfill their career goals, and foster their passion for learning,” says Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “Our learners come from diverse backgrounds and communities and we celebrate all of their success. On behalf of Okanagan College I commend each of our 2017 graduates on their achievements.”
This weekend’s ceremonies were three of the seven ceremonies held by Okanagan College this year. The first took place in January and an additional three ceremonies will be held later in June. More than 2,450 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2017 before the end of the month.