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Graduation brings it all into focus for College welding student
Okanagan College Media Release

After more than a decade working as a professional photographer in Ottawa, Mitchell Burton moved across the country, enrolled at Okanagan College and traded in his camera for a welding torch.Mitchell Burton May 2018

Today marks another important step toward that new career path as he and hundreds of others – from Aircraft Maintenance Engineers to RV Service Technicians – earn credentials at the College’s Trades Commencement ceremony.

“I felt I wasn’t getting any more traction in my career and didn’t know what was in store for my future in the photography industry,” explains Burton. “I was looking for something to happen, so I went back to basics and thought to myself, ‘why not find a new path that combines another one of my passions with work?’”

The answer to that question inspired Burton to get in his car and drive west across Canada to move to the Okanagan to pursue a new career path. An avid scuba diver, Burton was intrigued by the possibility of becoming a commercial level diver. Upon further research, he decided to explore a trade closely associated with commercial diving – welding – which led him to Okanagan College.


“Deciding to go to the College and enrolling in the welding program just felt right for me and now that I’m at the end of this program I can say it was the right choice,” says Burton. “Welding is such a versatile trade and you can really do so much with it and work in a ton of different venues which makes me very excited for my future because the opportunities are endless.”

For Burton, today’s ceremony marks the completion of his C-Level Welding Foundation Certificate which he hopes will propel him into the industry and open the door to future training.

“Graduating has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and I can’t wait to hit the ground running in this industry and start laying down some roots in the region,” says Burton. “I am excited to see where I’ll end up in this career.”

Burton’s next step will be to accrue the 1,000 hours of industry experience required to earn his Level 1 apprenticeship, after which he plans to return to the College to obtain B-Level Certification.

“Tradespeople play a vital role in building and sustaining our communities and trades training has always been at the heart of what we do at Okanagan College,” says President Jim Hamilton. “We commend all of our 2018 trades graduates on their achievements.”

More than 700 apprentices and foundation trades students will have received credentials since January. About 100 of those students were expected to attend Thursday’s ceremony.

Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world to become nurses, engineering technologists, business leaders, computer programmers, educators, tradespeople and more.

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province behind BCIT.