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When setting off to pursue a career change, business student Hannah Griffin was surprised by the opportunities that came knocking during College.
Griffin thought she would have to wait to finish a diploma before embarking on a new career path, but a series of opportunities to enhance her education presented themselves the minute she became an Okanagan College business student.
Griffin will be one of 369 students who will receive credentials at the College’s first convocation ceremony of 2017 this Saturday and will graduate with a Post-Baccalaureate diploma in Accounting from the Okanagan College School of Business.
While still in the first semester of the business program, Griffin was offered a position as a financial administrator with local tech success Vineyard Networks and jumped at the chance.
“Working during my studies has taken me longer to complete my diploma, but it was a win-win,” she explains. “I took distance courses part-time and gained experience in private and public accounting while being able to support my daughter.”
Born and raised in West Kelowna, Griffin completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UBC Okanagan. While making a living as an artist, the economic recession hit and she sought out a more stable career. The reputation of the College’s School of Business enticed her to enrol in the two-year Post-Baccalaureate diploma program in 2011.
Following the sale of Vineyard Networks and subsequent relocation of the company’s accounting office in 2015, Griffin took the opportunity to accelerate her education by continuing at the College on a full-time basis.
“One of the highlights of the program was the accessibility of my professors,” she says. “I knew I could go to anyone in the department and they would happily take the time to help me and answer questions.”
With the encouragement of her professors, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and joined the School of Business’s debate team and Enactus Okanagan College, where she co-founded CANsave, a financial literacy program for elementary school students.
Her involvement in the two groups brought about regional and national travel and industry networking opportunities. In January 2016, Griffin competed at the finals of the prestigious Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) at Queen’s University in Kingston and in May 2016 she flew to Toronto for the Enactus National Competition, where CANsave earned the title of Canada’s second-best Financial Literacy program.
When Griffin completed her studies in August, a connection from one of the College’s networking events led to a full-time position as an articling student at Crowe MacKay. She is concurrently pursuing her CPA designation.
On Saturday, Griffin’s three-year-old daughter Lucia will watch her don a cap and gown to receive her diploma.
“Balancing my education with providing the best life for Lucia has been a challenge, but also very rewarding.” says Griffin. “She will be able to look at me and see what a single mom is – a hardworking woman who can give back to others and be ambitious in chasing her dreams.”
Winter Convocation is the first of the College’s seven convocation ceremonies that take place this year. Students from all four campuses will cross the stage at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials. The College will confer 60 bachelor’s degrees, 17 associate degrees, 191 diplomas and 101 certificates.
The morning ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 and will stream live on the College’s Facebook page.
In 2016, Okanagan College graduated more than 2,100 students from its programs.
Watch the ceremony live on facebook.com/okanagancollege.ca