The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is a non-profit organization that celebrates alumni by creating connections and opportunities.
The OCAA was founded in 1988. Since then, the goal of the Association has been to connect alumni with each other and with the College, while supporting the College's mission statement of transforming lives and communities.
Since early inception, the Association has engaged in extensive fundraising activities on behalf of the College; however, in January 2020 the Association transferred from the Advancement department to the Public Affairs department, and the fundraising activities remain under Advancement.
Empowering your future.
Celebrating alumni by creating connections and opportunities.
“We don’t sell, we help you buy.” That’s a slogan that you may have heard Sareena Sharma-Nickoli say on television or radio ads. Nickoli didn’t grow up dreaming of joining the family business. She actually entered university to become a pharmacist – a path she admits, she didn’t pursue for long. However, after returning to the Okanagan to complete her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, Nickoli joined her family’s company and is now the Purchasing and Marketing Director for City Furniture.
I began my job by selling on the floor. Today I am the furniture, mattress and accessory buyer for the company, and I get to travel the world to various furniture shows,” says Sharma-Nickoli.
Some of the places Sharma-Nickoli has travelled to include Las Vegas, North Carolina, Toronto, Italy and China. After completing her degree, she returned to the College to pursue an Interior Design Certificate, a program that directly helped her in the challenge of designing a 30,000 square foot show room on Anderson Way in Vernon, an achievement for which she is especially proud.
When Nickoli isn’t at City Furniture, she is engaged in her passion for Zumba® Fitness, a dance-based exercise program that combines hip hop with a variety of Latin dance inspired choreography. In 2008, Nickoli received certification in Zumba Fitness, started her own business “Zumba with Sareena” in 2009 and was a former Zumba Jammer, one of nine selected from Canada and the only one from the west.
Sharma-Nickoli is very civic-minded and uses her passion for Zumba to support the community. Organizing several “Zumba for a Cause” fundraisers, she helped raise $11,000 for the maternity tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and coordinated two Zumbathons co-sponsored by Zumba and City Furniture Vernon that raised $22,000 to help purchase the land for Habitat for Humanity.
Sharma-Nickoli is no stranger to accolades. In 2015, Sharma-Nicoli was the recipient of the OCAA’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She was nominated in 2016 and 2017 for Vernon Women of the Year and was Top 5 for Canfitpro Fitness Instructor Specialist of the Year in Canada in 2018. She is also a two-time nominee for the RBC Women of Influence in 2018 and 2019.
During the pandemic Sharma-Nickoli quickly adapted her business and began offering virtual livestream classes to keep people moving during this stressful time. Her team of 20 professional fitness instructors have been able to provide a huge variety of fitness classes to give people a well-balanced workout at one stop. Soul Studio is one of the first fitness studios to be offering in-studio classes livestream to anyone in the world.
OC alumnus Adam Relvas was recently announced as an honouree by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce as a BDO Top 40 Under 40.
Relvas, a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at the College, grew up in the South Okanagan and gained a passion for food through many food-focused family events.
After graduating from OC, Relvas worked as a line cook for Waterfront Wines in Kelowna, Sous Chef at Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Lake Country, Sous Chef at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna, and later Executive Chef at Monashee’s Bar and Grill and The Kal’s Sports Bar in Vernon.
Now, the certified Red Seal Chef is the Chef and Owner of Relvas Catering and The Sandwich Company by Relvas Catering in Kelowna, which was voted as one of the top 3 caterers in the Central Okanagan by Okanagan Life Magazine’s Best Restaurant Edition in 2017.
Relvas was also voted top chef in the North Okanagan by the same magazine in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Most recently, he was voted the 2018 Chef of the Year by the Okanagan Chef’s Association.
Relvas is passionate about lending a hand and has had the privilege of being a part of many different charity events across the city from the Dream Rally raising money for Ronald McDonald House, Food Bank fundraising dinners, events for Kelowna Hospice, JoeAnna’s House, as well as Christmas Day Dinner at Parkinson Recreation Centre, Back to School Bash and Easter Pancake Breakfast events with Victory Life.
Right now, many local restaurants and businesses are struggling due to the impact of COVID-19, Relvas included.
We are currently doing our best to adapt to the ever-changing demands and requirements of COVID and doing our best to stay positive through it all,” he says. “We have transitioned from a la carte service to pre-made meals that guests can pick up and take home to have at a later date. We thought with the craze in grocery stores and limit of available products, why not try and provide something that allows people to have restaurant quality food in the comfort of their own home whenever they want to?"
“Catering is non-existent at this time with gathering restrictions but we look forward to working with our amazing clients when this is all over and being there to cook amazing meals for all their parties, weddings and celebrations.”
Since graduating from the Sterile Processing Certificate program (which has since been renamed Medical Device Reprocessing Certificate) in 2006, Christina Fast became an International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) certificated educator and began teaching internationally trained health care workers, unable to be licensed in Canada, how to sterilize surgical instruments.
In 2011 she volunteered to work as a sterile processor on the Africa Mercy ship, stationed in Sierra Leone. Not only did she improve sterile processing practices on the ship and ran education sessions in the evenings to ensure staff were appropriately trained, but she also visited local hospitals. Finding no organization that worked to address the obvious need for proper sterilization, Fast founded SPECT, a Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust.
Over the last eight years, SPECT has worked with staff from more than 100 hospitals and 60 clinics in African Nations. Fast has educated and mentored over 500 workers as well as advocated with local and national governments to address standards to improve sterile processing.
I would have never dreamt that a sterile processing certificate would lead me to starting a charitable organization that has now gone on to impact thousands of lives in 14 low-income countries. I'm so proud to have begun this rewarding career at Okanagan College.
Distinguished & Young Alumni Awards
Since 2002, Okanagan College has been conferring awards upon graduates who contribute to their communities and industries in countless ways. The Alumni awards are an opportunity to honour the extraordinary contributions and recognize the positive impact that our graduates have in improving the lives of those around them.
Stay in touch with your Alumni Association and sign up for our newsletter.
Alumnus is a person who has either graduated or completed a specific number of credits at Okanagan College. Alumni is the plural of alumnus.
Anyone who has graduated from a certificate, diploma or degree program or completed 30 or more credits from Okanagan College or OUC.
For those who have not graduated from an OC or OUC program but have completed 30 or more credits and would like to be a member of the Association, you must contact the Alumni office to register.
No, it does not cost money. As soon as you have completed your program, you are automatically considered to be an alumnus.
For those who have not graduated from an OC or OUC program but have completed 30 or more credits, you are considered an alumnus but you must contact the Alumni office to register as a member.
Greater than 60,000 people who have received a certificate, diploma or degree from Okanagan College and 22,537 people who graduated from Okanagan University College (OUC) between 1993 and 2005.
There are many opportunities throughout the year for alumni to volunteer. Contact the Alumni Association office to talk to someone about upcoming events the fit your calendar and interests, or become a mentor through OC Connects.
We encourage you to join our Alumni LinkedIn group to get in touch with fellow alumni. You can also follow our LinkedIn page, Facebook page, or Instagram to stay up to date with what we're up to, alumni events and reunions for opportunities to engage and network with former classmates.
You can also join OC Connects, our connection hub powered by Ten Thousand Coffees and RBC Future Launch where you can mentor current OC students or connect and build your network with fellow alumni.