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Students get head start with Thorpe and Friends Scholarships
Okanagan College Media Release

With three older siblings already attending post-secondary, Miya Stel is grateful to receive a $2,500 scholarship to help her attend Okanagan College this fall.

She is one of three Penticton high-school students who received a Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship during a special ceremony June 26.
 Thorpe Scholarship June 2019

“It means a lot to be chosen for this award and it’s going to make my education more affordable,” says Stel, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School and will be pursuing a Criminal and Social Justice diploma.

“Okanagan College was my first choice and I’m super grateful I was awarded the opportunity to stay at home.”

Joining Stel in receiving scholarships are Maximus Mandaione from Princess Margaret Secondary School and Emily Caruso from Penticton Secondary School.

The main criteria for the annual awards is that the students demonstrate good grades and contribute to their communities.

For Stel, this meant hosting bake sales with the funds supporting a clean water and sanitation project in Haiti, as well as raising money to support the introduction of a new recycling and composting program at her school.

Seventeen-year-old Mandaione volunteers with several programs which enriched his life when he was younger: the Young at Art program run by the Penticton Art Gallery and the Salvation Army’s Fresh from the Farm program. The farm program sees children learn how to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for residents in need.

“It’s rewarding to see the work I do in the community is being recognized in this way,” says Mandaione, adding the funds are a relief and will help him pay for a four-year business degree at the College.

Helping young people is meaningful for the Thorpes, who have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for 13 years.

“These young students are our future,” says Rick. “We are very pleased to support them and we wish them all the best in their careers.”

Yasmin notes, “Our scholarships give students a springboard to help them reach their goals and also assist in reducing their costs for post-secondary education.”

Since 2006, the Thorpes have awarded 65 awards totalling $139,250 to South Okanagan College students.

“The contributions of Rick and Yasmin Thorpe to students in the South Okanagan are exceptional,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“They’ve opened doors for students who might not otherwise be able to attend school and recognized students for getting involved and improving their communities. We are deeply grateful for their continued support of students at the College.”


Therapist Assistant program helps mature student get moving on her career
Okanagan College Media Release

Katie Woznow June 2019Katie Woznow always knew she wanted to further her education and apply for her master’s degree in occupational therapy. But when the time came to apply, she didn’t feel quite ready to make that commitment, and instead found a program that could get her into the same working environment much sooner.

“I found the Therapist Assistant Diploma program, and thought it would be a great way to learn more about the role of other disciplines,” explains Woznow. “It also allowed me to work directly with clients and patients much sooner than I would have been able to.”

Okanagan College has been educating physio, occupational and recreation therapist assistants for over 25 years. The Therapist Assistant Diploma program (TAD) was one of the first of its kind in Canada to be nationally accredited.
It originally launched as a one-year certificate in 1990, transforming into a two-year diploma in 2005.

“I really enjoyed the variety of what we learned and the sense of community that the program offered,” says Woznow. “The instructors are amazing, always caring and there to support you when you need it. They have such an abundance of knowledge, and are so willing to share it with us that it made for such a valuable learning experience.”

TAD includes 18 weeks of practical experience in clinical settings, giving students an idea of the vast positions that await them post-graduation.

“Two of my placements were in acute care and it really showed me how fast-paced a hospital environment can be,” says Woznow. “There can be so much variety in the conditions you encounter that each day might be something new. It is also a really great place to practice and gain confidence in your skills because you are surrounded by other professionals that are often willing to help answer any questions you may have and offer different perspectives.”

In April, Woznow was awarded the Bonnie Thiessen Award. This award is determined by the graduating TAD class for a student they feel has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude, perseverance, and has fostered goodwill, respect and support among classmates.

“Katie thrives in environments where she is challenged to use and grow her knowledge and clinical skills, and interact with clients, families and team members,” says TAD Chair Jennifer Stephenson. “Her enthusiasm and commitment to the program could be seen by all of our instructors at OC. She is a wonderful ambassador for the Therapist Assistant program.”

“I really feel I have chosen a career that I can be excited for, and I no longer feel lost or unsure which is such a great feeling,” says Woznow.

Woznow was chosen to address the graduating class at tonight’s convocation. Tonight marks the final graduation ceremony for Okanagan College in 2019. By the end of the evening, the College will have sent out over 2,000 graduates into the world to embark on their next journey.

For more information on the Therapist Assistant Diploma visit


Students savour traditional flavours and practices on Indigenous Culinary Arts field trip
Okanagan College Media Release

Salmon fillets roast on stakes over an open fire while roe bubbles up in a steaming pot of vegetable and fish soup nearby. These are signs of a finished and ready-to-eat meal, yet indicate the start of something special cooking here at Okanagan College.Fish

On a field trip to the Westbank First Nation late last month, OC’s Indigenous Culinary Arts class had the opportunity to learn about the traditional Okanagan-Syilx style of cooking in a hands-on experience, hosted by Elders Pamela and Grouse Barnes. The gastronomic outing contained a variety of chopping, mixing and other culinary techniques all aimed at producing a final meal for the class to enjoy together.

The field trip to the Barnes’ property felt like home for many of them, despite the differences in style and practice.

“This has been quite the experience,” says Ruby Pahtayken, a student from the Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. “All of this is new to me. Back home, we don’t have the same fish, but this is how we uniformly cook it, over the open fire. Cooking like this in your own backyard and learning the teachings from our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers, brings me back home.”

The field trip is an important ingredient of the brand new intake which launched this past March, as part of the broader Culinary Arts program offered at the College. With tradition at the heart of the new program, students follow the same curriculum to that of their counterparts in other intakes, but the flavour of Indigenous culture is heavily infused.

Walking with the students at each step in the process, the Barnes’ passion for teaching future generations lies in the sharing of knowledge, and in this case, hands-on learning. Together with family, they run Wildrose Native Traditions, where they lead field trips for students in the area, teaching about Indigenous culture.

“For me, it’s about sharing knowledge, sharing the stuff that we do,” Grouse explains. “We share because we know that the knowledge we share is like a calm pond. When you throw a pebble in the middle, the ripple affects not only students here, but whoever they’re going to teach: their kids, grandbabies, where they take this knowledge.”

Ruby Pahtayken June 2019Pahtayken adds that the gathering and foraging of plants serves as a metaphor for her returning home to Saskatchewan with new knowledge.

“What I can utilize and gather here in the field is similar to the gathering of information. I can take it back home to Saskatchewan and I can share it with my community.”

These values of applied learning are integral to the program, something Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at OC, Jonathan Rouse, says acknowledges the value of Indigenous culture in the area and within the food industry as well.

“The culinary world is still predicated on very historical European practices. We’re moving much farther than that,” he explains. “Here’s an opportunity for us to take local Indigenous values and practices and see how we can embed them into the curriculum and learn from that.

“The Okanagan is so rich and diverse; it’s really a classroom. It brings the whole food and culinary scene alive.”

The program is open to anyone, however, every student in the inaugural class is from a Canadian Indigenous background. The pilot is supported by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and the Okanagan Training and Development Council (OTDC), which also plays a part in assisting students from the moment they enrol to the time they begin searching for a job.

As the pilot program continues, the Culinary Arts department will look to both current and prospective students to gauge the growth and progression of the program. With more field trips like this one planned for the future, prospective students can learn more about the Indigenous intake at


Geoscientists roll into Penticton for NAGT conference
Okanagan College Media Release

Geoscience Conference June 2019Did you know the Okanagan Valley is divided by a fault line?

Maybe not. But if you did, then you’d be right in line with the college instructors who arrived in Penticton for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers annual conference yesterday. Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence filled with some of the Pacific Northwest’s best and brightest rock enthusiasts, keen to dig into the region’s geological landscape for the next two days.

Heading the three-day conference is Todd Redding, Okanagan College’s Professor of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Based out of the Penticton campus, Redding saw the potential in bringing the conference to the Okanagan for the first time.

“The valley is split down the middle by a big fault, which has resulted in very different rock types on either side of the valley,” says Redding.

“On top of this we have an amazing glacial history that leads to many of the interesting landforms we see. This geology – combined with our unique climate – allows for the ability to grow excellent wine grapes and tree fruit.”

These interesting landforms include Giant’s Head Mountain, just a stone’s throw from Penticton in the nearby town of Summerland. Now an extinct volcano, this hike and the accompanying view were a part of this morning’s field trip outing.

A visit to the cliffs that sit beneath the well-known Penticton sign is part of the itinerary too, along with a drive to the Naramata Bench and Skaha Lake to explore various types of rock and glacial sediments.

However, the most intriguing geoscience element that attracted attendees to the conference is in the wine that the region is so famous for. The local terroir is a focus of the conference, with a feature keynote held yesterday on the relationship between wine, geology and the soils of the sprawling vineyards of the south Okanagan.

“Wineries take the idea of terroir very seriously. It is a key consideration that most producers take into account when choosing a vineyard site,” says Redding.

While the conference kicked off Tuesday, it continues through until tomorrow. Held on campus to start, attendees had the opportunity to present research, teaching techniques, as well as undergraduate findings. The two days following include site visits mentioned previously as well as other outings, including a highly anticipated visit to a winery or two.

All of the field trip sites are within a short distance of the Penticton campus, and are locations that provide research and learning opportunities for Okanagan College students. As instructor of first- and second-year Physical Geography, Weather, Climate and Environmental Sciences courses, Redding takes his students on field trips regularly, noting the high value in learning about processes in the field.

Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for South Okanagan-Similkameen adds that “the NAGT conference coming to Penticton is a great opportunity for both our instructors and students to learn from and collaborate with world-class geoscientists.”

“The Okanagan region has a naturally convincing pull, and we hope that by hosting this conference, we’re able to share more about diverse geography and the work our Geography, Earth & Environmental Science department is doing in the field of education and research.”

While Redding’s classes are out for the summer, he still has two students volunteering at the conference. The sessions and field trips are educational and social at the same time – an opportunity for people to meet, learn and glean from each other. Attendees will be permitted to take photos and collect rocks at certain sites, taking them back to their respective institutions for case studies and examples for classroom teaching.

For more conference information, visit
 or contact Todd Redding at


Student relearns how to take steps forward

Okanagan College Media Release

Kate Camire webAfter a motor vehicle accident that left her paralyzed and with no memory of who she was, Kate Camire was told that she would never fully recover.

Fast forward 12 years to today where Camire will walk across the stage at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus after successfully completing her Medical Office Assistant certificate.

“I had a traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on my right side,” explains Camire. “I had to relearn my name, how to read, how to spell, how to walk. After two years, I hadn’t improved much and the doctors said it was unlikely that I would make much more progress.”

But with determination, Camire relearned the skills she had lost, and worked hard to improve her memory.

“I graduated from high school that same year and went on to teach parent-tot and preschool gymnastics,” adds Camire. “I was walking with a cane at the time, but was able to get around and run if I needed to. After that, I decided I just needed to keep going and that I needed to do something with my life.”

Camire started taking first aid courses and coaching at Douglas College before eventually enrolling in OC’s Medical Office Assistant program (MOA).

“The same day I applied to the College, I had to go in and do a typing test before the program started that evening,” says Camire. “I live in Sorrento, my typing test was in Salmon Arm and my first class was at the Vernon campus,” she adds, laughing.

MOA is a 254-hour program that prepares students for employment in reception, clerical, or assisting positions in hospitals and medical offices. The program involves a lot of memorizing, as students learn medical terminology – another challenge that Camire was able to overcome.

“Medical terminology actually became one of my favourite courses,” says Camire. “Our instructor, Mag, was so great. There was always a lot of laughing in the class which made it a fun learning experience.”

“It was a pleasure having Kate in my class,” says Margaret Evans, Continuing Studies Instructor. “Kate has overcome tremendous obstacles. She has such a drive for success and a willingness to help her classmates. I am happy to have had the chance to get to know her.”

Today, Camire celebrates, along with 133 other Vernon students, the end of her program, another hurdle she was able to overcome.

“Today means so much to me. It means I pulled off another success I didn’t think I could. I am absolutely thrilled,” says Camire. “I’ve applied to Interior Health in Kamloops and I hope to be working in a regular clinic soon.”

As the graduates receive their credentials, they will also be addressed by Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton.

“Regardless of their path, the graduates have one thing in common: they arrived at OC with aspirations about their future,” says Hamilton. “Now, as they cross the stage, we get a glimpse into the future of our society. These are the people that will transform the communities around us.”

By the end of this week, Okanagan College will have sent over 2,000 graduates into the working world this academic year.

The Vernon Convocation starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus. Those who cannot make the ceremony can watch the graduands receive their credentials on OC’s Facebook live stream.

OC pops the top on Technology Access Centre to benefit B.C.’s beverage industries
Okanagan College Media Release

British Columbia’s wine, beer, cider, and spirits industries have a new source of support, courtesy of an initiative by Okanagan College and funding from the federal government.

BCBTAC Announcement June 2019Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, announced federal funding for 12 technology access centres on Thursday at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Okanagan College’s proposed BC Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC) is among them. With $1.75 million in federal funding over five years, it will be headquartered at the College’s Penticton campus and will be providing testing and business services and applied research assistance to the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries in the region and throughout the province.

“This is very exciting for the industries and for Okanagan College,” notes OC President Jim Hamilton. “We have developed a significant track record of training and support for the wine industry over the past quarter century and have been focused on how we could leverage college expertise and personnel to assist all these growing industries. The industry support for the proposal we developed has been phenomenal and the input that organizations, businesses and individuals provided was invaluable.”

“From the perspective of a co-owner of a small winery, I know the BCBTAC will be a valuable asset in the development of the industries it is setting out to serve,” says Daniel Bibby, co-owner of Nighthawk Vineyards. “Whether it is consumer research or analytical services, having this asset in the region will be one of the ways that we advance the agendas of quality and reputation.”

“There were a host of people who rallied around the idea of this technology access centre – both at Okanagan College and externally – and brought it to life,” notes Dr. Andrew Hay, the College’s Vice President Education. “From our faculty researchers, to our Deans and Directors, along with many leaders in these industries – there were so many people who worked diligently to make this real I can’t begin to name them all.”

One person Hay gave special credit to was Sandra Oldfield, former co-owner of Tinhorn Creek Winery and organizer of the Fortify conference in 2018 who was brought in as a consultant to help Okanagan College put the pieces together and to ensure links with the appropriate people in the industries.

“Now there’s even more work to be done,” notes Hamilton. “We have already started renovations and been advertising for key personnel. Our goal is to have the BCBTAC begin operations early this fall.”

Okanagan College research shows that within its catchment area, there are 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries, and 24 craft breweries. The numbers are growing weekly. The BCBTAC will be providing analytical and sensory services, along with a full suite of business services to assist this vibrant and growing sector of the economy.

TACs are centres established by colleges to address the applied research and innovation needs of local companies. The federal TAC Grants are awarded for five years and are renewable. Okanagan College will receive $350,000 annually for each of those five years. The BCBTAC will be British Columbia’s second TAC. The other is at Camosun College.BCBTAC Logo

TACs provide capabilities that serve applied research and innovation needs of regional firms. TAC capabilities may include advice on specific company challenges, specialized technical assistance, applied research and/or development projects for companies, and/or specialized training.

The BCBTAC was chosen for federal funding after a thorough process (overseen by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - NSERC) which drew applications from across the country. Initial proposals last summer were winnowed down to proponents who were asked to develop full business plans for review by NSERC. A two-day onsite visit at Okanagan College involving five NSERC-appointed experts followed in February at OC.


Women in Trades Training program celebrates 1,000 student milestone
Okanagan College Media Release

We’ve reached 1,000 and this is just the beginning.

Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training (WITT) program celebrated its first 1,000 students in a ceremony yesterday at the Kelowna campus. Program alumni, current students, industry professionals, staff and special guests filled the room to near capacity to honour the program that has been redefining success in the area of trades for over 10 years.

WITT Celebration - June 2019Among those guests was the Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, who spoke to labour-market demand in construction trades and the momentum around increasing participation of women to fill many upcoming job opportunities.

“Our government is committed to cultivating winning conditions to support women in the trades,” said Mark. “We need to move the dial for women in all areas of the trades. Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training Program is creating a pathway to boost the number of certified trades people to help meet the growing labour-market demand. There are thousands of opportunities for people in the trades and we need everyone in order to build the best B.C.”

Changing the demographics of an entire industry isn’t easy, but it’s one of the very reasons the program exists. The unique “taste and see” approach speaks for itself, but it does more than simply put another student through another trades program; it opens up the doors of possibility.

“This is one of the many ways that Okanagan College is promoting access to education and training,” notes OC President Jim Hamilton. “Working with government and employers, we’re doing what we can to deliver opportunities for women and other under-represented groups.”

Since 2009, WITT has trained approximately 100 women each year in exploratory trades programs as well as foundation pre-apprenticeships. The exploratory 12-week session exposes women to the tools of five to six different trades, allowing them to find their own area of promise.

On the sponsorship side, WITT funds a number of women in Foundation programs. Upon completion of these pre-apprentice programs, which last an average of 25 weeks, the students can earn the technical training for Level I of their trade, including a number of work-based hours to be counted once apprenticed. In the past year alone, WITT supported 36 women in Foundation programs.

“The women in trades program was designed to increase the number of female apprentices in the province of B.C.,” says WITT Program Administrator Nancy Darling. “It provides support to women to address some of the barriers for them entering careers in the skilled trades.”

The Okanagan College Women in Trades Training program is funded by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) through the Workforce Development Agreement. Based on pre-selected criteria, the ITA predicts that technicians, carpenters, electricians and machinists are among the highest in demand. With an enrolment increase of nearly 50 per cent in the past five years in foundation pre-apprenticeships, the momentum is clear with promise of financial stability and job security.

Johanna Turangan-Grieve, a fourth-year carpenter apprentice, shared the impact that the program has had in her life.

“I needed options. I needed guidance. I needed something that would help me find my own identity again,” expressed Turangan-Grieve. “Women in Trades did exactly that and so much more.”

“This program highlights the power and importance of sisterhood. The bonds that I have made with my classmates and many other fellow women in trades throughout my journey has been very powerful for me.”

Now well into her apprenticeship and currently working for Greyback Construction in Penticton, she offers advice for those considering the program.

“Step outside of that comfort zone of yours,” she said. “Ask a lot of questions. Be patient and go easy on yourself and prepare to be surrounded by encouraging and supportive women from all walks of life.”

For photos from the event, head to our Flickr gallery here
. To learn more about Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training program, head here.


OC’s Kelowna campus flies Syilx flag permanently
Okanagan College Media Release

ONA flag raising June 2019The Syilx Okanagan Nation flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, after a historic ceremony today.

The Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training joined representatives of the Westbank First Nation, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Okanagan College today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

“Our people have had a long history of education with Okanagan College, which is being recognized and honoured here today,” says Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley. “As our students walk these campus lands, I hope they feel pride in seeing our flag displayed, and our Nation represented. It is truly a day for celebration.”

“I often say there is no act of reconciliation that is too small,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Today, Okanagan College took steps to formally recognize the First Nations on whose land the college resides. Flying the Syilx Okanagan Nation flag demonstrates that Okanagan College is committed to relationships, respect and reconciliation. I hope to see more of this important work happening across the province.”

The flag formally signifies the College’s recognition of Indigenous peoples on whose lands the College resides.

“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. Today’s flag raising is a symbolic gesture, as well as an incremental step toward Indigenization and authentic partnership that can enrich the education of learners,” says Chris Derickson, Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair.Chief Roxanne Lindley June 2019

Dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and the ONA. Elder Grouse Barnes opened the ceremony with a blessing. Amber Cardenas sang the Okanagan song as the flag was raised by Westbank First Nation students Janice Money and Addison Fosbery.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag features animals, water and the landscape significant to the area, as a representation of Syilx Okanagan people’s understanding of living in reciprocity and harmony with the natural world.

The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Kelowna campus, which includes the na’ʔk’ʷulamən garden – green space featuring more than 50 different types of plants that are significant to Indigenous people of the region.


Future esthetician pampered with OC Tuition Giveaway Contest win
Okanagan College Media Release

Grace Hunter had no idea that attending Experience OC would pay off to the tune of $5,000.Tuition giveaway June 2019

The 16-year-old Clarence Fulton Secondary student knew her friends were attending the annual program exploration at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus. It was an opportunity for her to check out the Esthetics & Nail Technology Certificate program at the Vernon campus, which had caught her eye early on.

“Every Christmas, I would get something new to help me practice in esthetics, like a fake hand to practice painting nails,” Grace says, adding her mom, Ami, studied esthetics out of high school as well. “I grew up with my mom and my aunt doing my nails, so it is something I’ve always been interested in.”

Grace may have grown up around salons, but she can usually be found getting dirty playing soccer, basketball or volleyball.

“She is such a sporty gal. We usually see her with a messy pony tail and shorts, so she’s the opposite of what you would think someone who is interested in esthetics to be like,” Ami laughs. “When she does put on makeup and gets dressed up, it’s a huge transformation and we all ask, ‘Who is this person?’”

During her Experience OC session May 1, Grace explored psychology and nursing in addition to esthetics. She remembers touring around the campus and how impressed she was with the psychology presentation. In her esthetics session, the class practised applying nail polish on wood.

As a Grade 10 student, she hadn’t given post-secondary education too much thought, until her principal stopped into her class and told her she had won a $5,000 tuition credit to Okanagan College.

“It was so crazy. I didn’t even realize I had been entered into the draw just by attending Experience OC,” Grace says. “I’m excited to apply and get started. This will go a long way to paying for my education.”

The Tuition Giveaway Contest runs from July to May, when high school students and others interested in going back to school can enter to win by simply attending recruitment events, going on a campus tour, or meeting recruitment staff.

“We had almost 3,500 entries into the Tuition Giveaway Contest, which shows how many people are exploring their post-secondary options at Okanagan College,” says Inga Wheeler, Associate Registrar. “We look forward to welcoming Grace to the College.”

The Tuition Giveaway Contest will return in 2019/20. For details about the contest, visit


College sign signals future success for Office Administration alumna
Okanagan College Media Release

Dana Ingram June 2019Dana Ingram wasn’t looking for a sign about her future, but when she spotted one at the Okanagan College Penticton campus, it changed her life.

The former barista from Penticton was driving to work one day when she saw the Channel Parkway sign announcing openings for the Office Administration Certificate program starting in a few weeks. That planted a seed in her mind that propelled her to pull into the parking lot.

“I stopped into the Penticton campus in late August just to see what I needed to get into the program. Once I did the research, I thought it sounded really interesting – and everyone was so helpful in getting me started,” Ingram recalls.

When she stepped into the classroom, Ingram says she met “the best instructor I ever had.”

“We had a really special bond. It made it easier to go to school every day, made it easier to ask questions if I needed and learn more,” she recalls.

The supportive pace of the program helped her grasp the material, which covered a wide range of business skills like communications, computers, office procedures, math and spreadsheets.

“English was so helpful with what I’m doing now. I have to go through so many reports and letters every day so the program helped me understand punctuation and sentence structure,” Ingram recalls. “Payroll accounting was really difficult because there were so many different things to consider. When I finally finished my project for payroll accounting, I felt so good.”

The program consists of a three-week practicum, which gives students hands-on experience to apply their learning. Ingram stepped into the Penticton Health Centre and was exposed to a variety of support roles for health care including public health, home support, kidney clinic, and more.

“It was great to see how many different departments there are. I found public health is where I felt most comfortable, answering the phone and booking immunization appointments,” she says.

“The Office Administration program is valuable for learners right out of high school as well as adults who are returning to class. It is very accessible for different learning styles,” says Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “These skills are in high demand by employers in the community. Our grads go on to work in non-profits, government, legal offices and many businesses in the region in positions they wouldn’t have received without learning the fundamentals from this program.”

For Ingram, full-time employment came quickly from Interior Health. She is currently booking speech therapy appointments and the setting is inspiring additional possibilities for her future.

“Working at Interior Health has opened my mind to different areas. I’ve been thinking about going back to school later for nursing maybe. Seeing things behind the scenes and talking to nurses makes it easier to make decisions,” she says.

“I have a full-time job in health care. I love the area I’m working in, and I love the people. It was a great decision, and I hope other people take advantage of it.”


Sweet victory for OC alumna at Vancouver Chocolate Challenge
Okanagan College Media Release

The seven judges at the seventh annual Chocolate Challenge in Vancouver, sponsored by the Gourmet Warehouse, know what a winner tastes like: beer-infused ganache bonbons.

Okanagan College Pastry Arts alumna Jalayne Jones whisked her way to the highest honours earlier last month at the competition, where some of Western Canada’s top pastry chefs and chocolatiers came together to compete for a good cause.Jalayne Jones and Danny Capadouca June 2019

The style of the competition is simple – seven chocolate experts, who serve as event judges, elect a protégé and then provide mentorship leading up to the event. The competitors craft chocolates and bring them in an unmarked box that is presented to the panel of judges.

Jones, a pastry chef at Hillside Winery Bistro in Penticton, merited the invitation to compete from OC Pastry Arts instructor and event judge, Okanagan College chef instructor Danny Capadouca.

“The competition was exciting, stressful and nerve wracking all at once. Many hours of work went into dialing in the final chocolate then once it was perfected, a few days of early mornings and late nights were spent making all of the chocolates in preparation for competition day,” says Jones.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the results.”

Jones stepped up to the challenge with an original recipe inspired by locally grown – and brewed – ingredients. Her recipe achieved the perfect blend of savoury and sweet and crunchy and smooth, earning her a unanimous victory over competitors representing Chez Christophe, Thierry, Thomas Haas, Temper Pastry, Chocolate Arts, and the Fairmont Pacific Rim.

The bonbon – dubbed Beer and Pretzels – used Royal Decree English ale from one of Kelowna’s newest breweries, Vice and Virtue Brewing Co., and used locally-crafted chocolate from none other than Okanagan College.

The College is the first post-secondary institution outside of Europe to create its own chocolate recipes. Jones used OC’s milk chocolate recipe, Kalamalka Karamel, to create the smooth beer caramel with almond pretzel praline.

“Working with Jalayne was a treat in this competition and her directive on this chocolate was well-received by some of the biggest names in the industry,” says Capadouca, a former competitor turned judge. “It’s amazing because we all give the competitor free creative reign because it is their chocolate. It’s some of the highest quality chocolates you’ll see.”

Capadouca served as a judge for the competition for a second year in a row and invites an OC Pastry Arts graduate to compete every time, after previously participating himself. Jones win marks the third appearance for the College in the event.

“The competition is by invite-only and I always bring a Pastry Arts alumnus with me to compete,” he explains. “Jalayne’s put in a lot of volunteer time for the College since she graduated. She’s really shown an interest and growth in her own chocolate making.”

The Chocolate Challenge began in 2012 as a fundraiser for at-risk youth. Proceeds from the event benefit Vancouver Firefighters Charities Snacks for Kids, Project Chef and the Strathcona Backpack Program, which are local programs in Vancouver that engage kids and food. To date, the event has raised more than $125,000.

Throughout the summer, Jones can be found making chocolate and other pastries at Hillside Winery Bistro on Naramata Road. Its operating hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.