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OC alumna sets up full tuition nursing scholarship
Okanagan College Media Release


An Okanagan College alumna is offering a student entering the Practical Nursing Diploma program at Okanagan College an opportunity to have their education costs paid for.

Sharon McKenna Dec 2019Sharon McKenna is setting up an annual scholarship that will pay the full, two-year tuition costs to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The total value of the award is more than $12,000.

As a retired Registered Nurse, McKenna knows becoming a nurse can be a life-changing experience. The career is not only meaningful it also offers a good salary and benefits.

“If tuition and student fees are taken care of, a student's chances of success are so much greater,” says McKenna, adding she hopes the award will benefit single parents.

“If we can get people who are struggling financially into this program where they can get a good job and benefits, that not only changes their future and their family's future but it benefits our society too.”

McKenna’s gift is in support of the Okanagan College Foundation Our Students, Your Health campaign, which aims to raise $5 million to build a modern Health Sciences Centre in Kelowna and support health care students.

“Sharon’s generosity is going to make an incredible impact,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“An investment in a nursing student is an investment not only in their future, but in the future health and well-being of our community. For those of us thinking of giving at this time of year, giving to health care students creates a ripple effect across our region.”

McKenna is naming the scholarship in honour of Marcia Aitkens, a founding member of the Okanagan Vocational School, a precursor to Okanagan College. Aitkens was instrumental in starting the Practical Nursing program, paving the way for other health programs to be established.

McKenna describes herself as one of the many beneficiaries of Aitkens’ vision, having been accepted into the first class of Diploma Nursing (RN) students at Okanagan College in 1976. She later went on to get her Masters and PhD and work locally as well as in the United States.


“Everything I learned in nursing started with the foundation taught at Okanagan College,” says McKenna.

“Those were the best days of my life, I loved every minute of my time at OC.”

McKenna’s fond memories have also inspired her to leave a gift to the College in her estate.

McKenna says she hopes her gift will ensure Okanagan College continues to foster a sense of excellence in its students while meeting community needs.

“You can’t expand or keep good ideas going unless you have funding,” she says. “There are so many people in this community who have been shaped by OC, I hope my gift honours this legacy.”

To learn more or donate to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, click here.