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College celebrates the first graduates of 2016 at Winter Convocation
Okanagan College Media Release

Amanda Schuffels Jan 2016Crossing the stage this weekend at Okanagan College’s first Convocation ceremony of 2016, 20-year-old Amanda Schuffels from Kelowna will be one of 310 students starting the year on the right foot with a valuable credential to help launch her dream career.

Schuffels is graduating from the Water Engineering Technology (WET) diploma program. While classes for the two-and-a-half-year program only ended in December 2015, she’s already hard at work submitting applications and interviewing with local companies in the Okanagan. Born and raised in Kelowna, she hopes to stay close to home, which was a key deciding factor for studying at Okanagan College, along with the quality of education she received.

“Okanagan College afforded me a hands-on education in labs and the co-op terms were hugely beneficial,” said Schuffels. “I was able to take pumps and valves apart, conduct chemical deliveries off of trucks, troubleshoot problems, and engage in lots of lab work. It gave me real examples to speak about during interviews and I feel prepared for the job ahead.”

In her first co-op term she spent eight months at the wastewater treatment plant in Trail. Her second co-op term was a four-month position at the water treatment facility in Lumby. Both allowed her to dive right into the industry and put to practical use the technical knowledge taught in class and labs.

“Pursuing the WET program just made sense. Every city has irrigation plants, and water and wastewater treatment facilities, with jobs that require specialized training. I know it’s a stable career choice,” she adds.

Gaining an education was top priority for Schuffels, who as a single mom cares for her three-year-old daughter Scarlette.

“When I had my daughter at 17, lots of naysayers told me that I couldn’t pursue any further education. I didn’t let that stop me,” said Schuffels. “I love to learn and education is important to me. I wanted to do something that had purpose. It’s about providing for my daughter, but also being a role model to her.”

Juggling the responsibilities of being a single parent, with a full-time student workload, and holding a part-time job was not easy, but resources at the College facilitated Schuffels’ ability to balance it all, along with support from her family.

“There are these great study rooms you can book for free at the College. It was a way to have my own space to study with no distractions and get the work done I needed to,” she reflects.

Schuffels’ hard work has paid off and she will celebrate this Saturday, Jan. 16, when the College will confer 310 credentials, comprised of 54 bachelor’s degrees, 18 associate degrees, 201 diplomas, and 37 certificates, at the convocation ceremony.  

The morning ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Business, Computer Science, Engineering Technologies, Health and Social Development, and Science programs receive their credentials.  

This winter ceremony marks the first of six to be held in 2016. In June, the College will celebrate Trades Commencement, Spring Convocation, Vernon Convocation and Summer Convocation in separate events.

In 2015 Okanagan College graduated more than 2,000 students from its programs.