Okanagan College Foundation

Our Students, Your Health

Help equip the Health Sciences Centre for face-to-face learning this Fall

The current health pandemic reminds us how vital frontline health care professionals are for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. 

We celebrate our graduates working on the frontlines as health care heroes, but want you to know there are other ways you too can be a hero for health care.

We urgently need philanthropic support to ensure students have access to the very best facilities and equipment when they return to face-to-face learning in this much-needed new Centre in the Fall. 

With support from donors like you, we can prepare for our upcoming health care challenges, whatever they may be, while continuing a tradition of quality care in our hospitals, seniors’ homes and rehab settings.

Health Centre Collage

Why give?

Take a physically-distanced tour

We are offering physically-distant tours of the Centre so you can see first-hand how a collaborative space with modern labs for each program will benefit our students and community's health.

See how people like you are making a difference

John Sokolowski holding a picture of his mother, Janina.
Mother's values recognized with large gift to College
Kelowna man gives to Early Childhood Education

A $50,000 donation to the Our Students, Your Health campaign will recognize a mother who survived and found lessons in the horrors of Germany's concentration camps.

Sokolowski gift
Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation members outside the Health Sciences Centre.
Rotary Foundation gives to nursing education
$50k will support Our Students, Your Health campaign

A $100,000 gift from the Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation Reichwald Fund will support the education of Registered Nurses (RNs) at Kelowna’s major post-secondary institutions. 

Rotary Foundation gift
The Leitch family: Melanie Grant, Scott Martyna, Mac Leitch, Theresa and Ian Leitch.
Three generations give to Health Sciences Centre
Leitch family celebrates role of CDAs

A three-generation Kelowna dental family is supporting the future of dentistry by donating $65,000 to support a new dental clinic that will train Certified Dental Assistants (CDAs) at the College's Kelowna campus.

Leitch family gift

Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador

“We do not have anything if we do not have our health. With growing health-care shortages, this Health Sciences Centre will make us one of the most sought-after places for students to learn and eventually work in the region. We should all open our hearts and give what we can.”

An RN students uses her stethoscope on Maxine DeHart

Meet the students

Candice Smith with her son.
Candice Smith
Health Care Assistant program

Candice Smith was working as a housekeeper in long-term care when she realized what she wanted her future career path to be.

"I wanted to be looking after the seniors as opposed to cleaning," recalls Candice.

Yet, Candice was also nervous about returning to school as a mature student with a young son. When her mother passed away suddenly last year, Candice felt compelled to make a change. She registered for school that same week.

"It just gave me the drive. I wanted to make my mom proud and do what she would want me to do," says Candice.

Candice hails from the Oregon Jack Creek Indian Band. She feels grateful to have the band support her education and hopes at some point to work with Indigenous communities.

For now, she's also looking forward to graduating and being able to help in long-term care which has been stretched to the limit as a result of COVID-19.

"The sense I have is that Health Care Assistants are really needed and I can’t wait to start working and caring for seniors."

Amy Lausman
Amy Lausman
Bachelor of Science in Nursing program

At 18 years of age, Amy Lausman is one of the youngest students in OC's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Compassion, a desire to care for others, and an enthusiasm for biology is what led her to nursing. And while starting school during a global pandemic might feel scary to some, it felt encouraging to Amy.

"The pandemic made me want to pursue this profession even more because I feel like I can help during this time," says Amy.

"I can see there is such a need for health care workers, especially as a result of COVID-19."

During this time, Amy and her fellow students have been working in a local long-term care home practising their skills and interacting with residents. 

When Amy graduates she is excited by the opportunities for her nursing career.

Health Care Assistant student Scott Girling
Scott Girling
Health Care Assistant program

After being laid off from a job he'd worked for more than eight years, Scott Girling took the opportunity to re-evaluate his life and the direction he wanted to take.

"I’ve always had an interest in health care because I have a passion for helping people and I didn’t feel I was able to do that in my last job," says Scott.

Scott decided to enroll in HCA program at Okanagan College after an experience at Kelowna General Hospital where he was recovering from back surgery. Scott remembers a male HCA who went out of his way to help, from getting him out of bed to walk to just saying hello.

"He went above and beyond to give me a good experience and it made me wonder if I can do something like that too,” recalls Scott

"These health care professionals are truly helping people every day.”

Two months into the 6-month program, Scott says he’s loving the jam-packed curriculum and benefiting from “phenomenal instructors.”

When Scott graduates he plans to work in long-term care.

Reasons to Give

Why invest in health-care training?

With your help, the new Health Sciences Centre will train quality health care professionals for the Okanagan for decades to come. Read our Case for Support to learn how you can impact our community’s health and well-being.

Our commitment to green building

The new Health Sciences Centre will build on Okanagan College’s record of developing award-winning facilities that champion sustainability and green building practices.

The Centre will be designed to meet:

ZERO CARBON Building Standard:
Okanagan College will be one of 16 organizations nationwide participating in a pilot program that focuses on design and construction standards meant to reduce a structure’s carbon footprint. 

WELL Building Standard:
The new building will pursue a minimum of WELL Silver certification – a standard that is focused on advancing occupant health and wellbeing in buildings. It is based on 10 concepts that each comes with its own features and measures: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. 

LEED Rating System: 
Beginning with the Centre for Learning, Okanagan College has built each of its new structures since 2005 with a minimum goal of meeting Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold standard. The rating system focuses on water and energy efficiency as well as indoor air quality.

Investing in aboriginal learners

Supporting Aboriginal student access to and success in post-secondary school is essential to the future prosperity of our region. Okanagan College is committed to enhancing Indigenous education and outcomes for Aboriginal students through a number of projects and initiatives including providing culturally relevant spaces at each of our campuses.

Fast facts

  • Okanagan College has one of the fastest growing rates of Aboriginal student participation of any post-secondary institution in Canada
  • More than 1,700 Aboriginal students currently enrolled
  • Approximately 10 per cent of Okanagan College students have Aboriginal ancestry
  • Over $60,000 available in scholarships and bursaries for Aboriginal students

A holistic Health Sciences Centre

The Health Sciences Centre will strengthen the College’s commitment to providing culturally relevant spaces at each of our campuses.

The design for the new Health Sciences Centre was developed through a holistic and collaborative approach involving representatives from the College’s Indigenization Task Force as well as members of the Westbank First Nation. The concept of weaving is important to the Syilx Okanagan people and was integrated into both exterior and interior elements. Indigenous art and storytelling will be infused into the building connecting it to Syilx Okanagan perspective on health and well-being. 

  • Four Food Chiefs metal sculpture:  The feature wall in the student gathering area will include a three-storey high sculpture. The sculpture will tell the a story of the Four Food Chiefs, and will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about Syilx Okanagan ways of knowing and doing.
  • Story poles: Story poles will be carved with pictographs and painted with ochre by a local Indigenous artist using reclaimed wood from the Health Sciences Centre site. Pictographs have been used by Syilx Okanagan people for thousands of years and are found throughout the entire Syilx Okanagan Nation. The story poles will be situated in the Indigenous garden adjacent the building. The garden will celebrate and recognize the rich history and knowledge of the Indigenous people of the region.
  • Art glass panels: spaces for Indigenous art have been designated inside the building including glazed guardrail panels on all three floors. 

Learn how Indigenous art and storytelling will be infused into the building, connecting it to Syilx Okanagan perspective on health and well-being.

Virtual tour of the Health Sciences Centre

Help transform lives and communities