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It was being a role model for her children that motivated Katie Reynders to return to school as a mature student. She wanted to show them it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
“There were days I wanted to give up, but I knew I had two little people not only counting on me, but looking up to me,” says Reynders.
“I think it’s really important that they got to see me go back to school while also raising them. As parents we constantly question if what we are doing is good for our kids and there was a lot of guilt when I wasn’t able to do the fun things that I wanted to do with them because of homework or exams. At the end of the day I think that when they look back, they will be really proud of what I did and about the example I set for them.”
On Saturday, Reynders will be one of about 600 students from Arts, Business, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, Culinary Arts and Health and Social Development programs to receive their credentials.
Reynders will give the student address during the first ceremony.
“I want to encourage everyone that we all need to keep trying to better ourselves,” she says. “We may have finished our programs but we need to continue to look for ways to grow and to keep learning.”
Reynders decided to return to school after almost 20 years and enrolled in the two-year Water Engineering Technology Diploma program at Okanagan College. Without any family in the Okanagan, Reynders wasn’t sure how she would manage both school and parenting.
“I am very fortunate to have a great community of friends who stepped up and offered help and support to me and my kids,” says Reynders. “I also really valued the support from our instructors. They knew our struggles and challenges in school and outside of school and they were able to support us and ensure our success in the program. This was really important to me as single mother. Sometimes there would be scheduling conflicts and they were very understanding and would try their best to accommodate in times we needed it.”
“I am really proud to have gotten through it successfully and to be able to show my children that it’s never too late to go back to school and better yourself or prepare for your future.”
Reynders is currently a casual employee with the City of West Kelowna and hopes to continue to build her career there.
“I did both my work terms with them and it’s a really great team. I am very fortunate to be able to still work with them often and to have developed some really great friendships and industry connections.”
“This will be the first graduating class of the new decade and we look forward to witness the way in which they’ll contribute to their communities now and in the years to come,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “These are the students that will go on to invent new technologies, start new businesses and meet the skills gaps facing our region and the province. Congratulations to all our graduands.”
Winter convocation is the first of the College’s eight convocation ceremonies that will take place this year. Students from all four of the College’s campuses will cross the stage receiving 66 bachelor’s degrees, 57 associate degrees, 307 diplomas and 172 certificates.
The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the second ceremony following at noon. For those unable to attend the ceremonies, both will be streamed live on the College’s Facebook page.