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For one Okanagan College graduate, the diploma he’s receiving this Saturday marks the end of a long journey—both figuratively and literally.
John Partanen, age 45, decided to come to the College in 2010 when he saw a posting for a job as a Water Engineering Technologist with Metro Vancouver.
“It was a detailed job description and it described exactly what I wanted to do,” he says.
While Partanen had a lot of relevant experience—he had been working at a pulp mill just outside of Fort St. John for 16 years, the last six as an environmental technician—he lacked the necessary credentials. As it was, the plant he was working at was facing cutbacks, so Partanen and his wife, who were recent empty nesters, decided to change careers.
After researching Water Engineering Technology programs, he chose to apply to Okanagan College because of its reputation, practical training, and proximity to family in the Salmon Arm area.
He was accepted and in the summer of 2011, he packed up his family and moved to Kelowna. He completed the two-year diploma program in December 2013 and already had a job lined up with United Water in Lake Country when he finished.
“What I learned at Okanagan College gave me the technical knowledge and applied skills to get the job, but also the ability to think critically and have the confidence to apply that knowledge to new situations in the job,” he says.
This weekend Okanagan College is honouring nearly 1,400 students who will earn credentials in academic, vocational and trades programs.
Partanen will be attending Convocation on Saturday, June 7, when the College will confer 483 credentials, comprised of 133 bachelor’s degrees, 56 associate degrees, 271 diplomas, and 23 certificates, during two ceremonies.
The morning ceremony 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.
At 1:30 p.m., the College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands of the Okanagan College School of Business.
The festivities on June 7 will also recognize three of the four 2014 Honorary Fellows. In the morning ceremony, Margriet Ruurs will be honoured for her work in promoting children’s literacy, while Kelowna entrepreneur Raghwa Gopal and Penticton business owner Jim Henderson will both be recognized in the afternoon.
Nearly 900 Trades and Apprenticeship students will be recognized at a ceremony on Friday, June 6 at 6 p.m.
This weekend’s ceremonies include students from three of the College’s six Convocation ceremonies for 2014. The first Convocation of the year was held in January and honoured 299 students. Later this month, the College will hold two more ceremonies – one in Vernon on June 25, the other in Kelowna on June 26.
The Vernon ceremony will also recognize the 2014 Distinguished Service award recipient, author and retired Okanagan College Regional Dean John Lent.
The final summer convocation in Kelowna on June 26 will confer approximately 430 diplomas and certificates and recognize lawyer Garry Benson QC, the fourth Honorary Fellow recipient of 2014.
More than 2,100 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2014 before the end of the month.
To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.