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OC student trades her digital skills for an apprenticeship

Okanagan College Media Release

Today marks an important step toward a new career path for close to 90 students in various Okanagan College trades programs, who will cross the stage at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus.

Jess de GrootFor one Collision Repair and Refinishing Prep Technician student, Jessica de Groot, commencement serves as the start to a second career that blends her passion for creative pursuits with technical capability.

“There has been so much to learn and process,” says de Groot. “I’m excited to complete this program and honour that completion, as well as move forward into the workforce.”

After spending the last six years working at a craft beer brewery in media and graphic design, de Groot decided to take her artistic abilities from the computer screen and apply them in the collision repair shop.

“I felt I had made it as far as I could in my position, and wanted something more for myself,” says de Groot. “I started to research the trades and quickly found that auto refinishing really appealed to my artistic sense.”

Today’s ceremony marks the completion of de Groot’s nine-month program. Her future plans are to move home to Invermere and work towards completing her ticket as a prep and paint apprentice.

“I really enjoyed the painting part of the program,” says de Groot. “The process of taking a car from the completed body repair to looking back to new is very satisfying for me.”

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 this academic year. All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at

“Today’s graduating class includes our future welders, chefs, electricians, plumbers, and heavy-duty mechanics, to name just a few,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “These are the people who will construct our communities, advance sustainability and change the way we work, learn and live.”

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province, and the largest in B.C.’s Interior. For more information visit