Previous Posts(1)
OC Salmon Arm hosts virtual info session to showcase expanded opportunities for students this fall
July 2020 (1)
June 2020 (8)
May 2020 (10)
April 2020 (12)
March 2020 (22)
February 2020 (18)
January 2020 (21)
December 2019 (8)
November 2019 (17)
October 2019 (16)
September 2019 (9)
August 2019 (10)
July 2019 (8)
June 2019 (11)
May 2019 (15)
April 2019 (13)
March 2019 (13)
February 2019 (17)
January 2019 (13)
December 2018 (7)
November 2018 (12)
October 2018 (12)
September 2018 (12)
August 2018 (15)
July 2018 (6)
June 2018 (16)
May 2018 (6)
April 2018 (9)
March 2018 (12)
February 2018 (6)
January 2018 (5)
December 2017 (9)
November 2017 (10)
October 2017 (6)
September 2017 (13)
August 2017 (6)
Blog Topics(0)
Records 1 to 4 of 25
OC Salmon Arm hosts virtual info session to showcase expanded opportunities for students this fall

One silver lining for students during the pandemic might be greater choice of College courses this fall.

Okanagan College is hosting a virtual info session at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7 to inform students and parents about the greater array of courses available to students attending the College in Salmon Arm and Revelstoke.OC SA web

To register for the info session, click here or visit 

“The shift to online learning for many courses this fall has opened up the array of offerings that students can tap into,” explains Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean for the Shuswap-Revelstoke. “That’s going to be a huge benefit for recent high school grads and mature students alike in the Shuswap-Revelstoke area. They can stay local, learn from home and access courses which normally they would have to travel to Vernon, Kelowna or Penticton to pursue.”

“It’s particularly exciting for students in Revelstoke, as they’re going to be able to enjoy a wider range of academic courses,” adds Ragsdale.

“We’re encouraging students to chat with one of our education advisors as soon as possible so we can help them plan their fall schedules.”

One program of note coming up in Salmon Arm this September is the College’s Human Service Work diploma, which is offered annually in Kelowna and on a rotating basis in Salmon Arm and Vernon.

“It’s very timely that we’re able to offering this program this year, as we know there is huge demand for Human Service Work graduates locally,” says Ragsdale. “It’s a health care career that you can train for in Salmon Arm and find work in Salmon Arm, so it’s a great opportunity for students looking to step into the health care field now.”

And while many courses have moved online in response to the pandemic, Ragsdale notes that the College will still offer limited physically-distanced, in-person instruction in a host of trades, science and health courses that rely on that hands-on, practical training.

“As you would expect, the College will be closely following the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer, Interior Health and the Ministry of Advanced, Education, Skills and Training to ensure the safe delivery of those in-person classes, recognizing that they are critical for students’ education and training in some disciplines.”


OC Education Assistant grads ready to support learners in new and ever-changing world of education

The phrase “going back to school” is exciting on many levels for Okanagan College Vernon graduate Toby Griffin.Toby Griffin

When she took the leap of returning to College at age 48 to pursue her dream of becoming a certified education assistant, Griffin never could have imagined she’d finish off her studies during a pandemic – nor could she have anticipated how much this experience would inspire her and her fellow students to support learners in new and innovative ways.

Education Assistants (EAs) are trained to help students be successful in meeting their educational goals. Griffin is one of a class of 27 new OC EA graduates who took time recently to show their appreciation to their instructor for helping them meet theirs.

On Friday, June 19, grads from the EA program at the College’s Vernon campus came together – in a physically distant way – to mark the completion of their program. 

They held an informal graduation send-off at an acreage in the Vernon area belonging to the family of student Karissa Goodrum. Griffin gave the student address.

“I’m a proud mother of five children and I’ve always been passionate about supporting young learners,” explains Griffin. “I’ve been a Montessori pre-school teacher, a basketball coach, and held others roles in the community. It felt like it was my time to be able to go back to school to do this, to continue putting my love for education and supporting learners to work, and, hopefully, to inspire others around me to pursue their dreams.” 

Griffin notes that while the pandemic presented challenges – such as the rapid shift to online learning in March – it brought students together and offered up lessons that will be invaluable for them going forward.

“Now that we’re finished, I can definitely say I appreciate the experience so much more, and took so much more away from it. I have a much deeper appreciation for children in the school system who have exceptionalities. I think we’ll all be better EAs for experiencing what we went through as learners during the pandemic,” says Griffin.

“We really built a bond as a team, and I know we’ll collaborate for a lifetime as professionals. It was very special that we could take this opportunity to have a kind of grad ceremony, to celebrate each other for making it through, for supporting one another, and to reflect on what we’ve all accomplished.” 

Michelle Howe, the class’s lead instructor, also relished the opportunity to celebrate her students’ achievements. 

“This truly was a special group of students. They faced the challenges that came their way, transitioned to online learning without missing a beat and supported each other in ways that left me so inspired and amazed,” says Howe. 

Following the theme of celebrating diversity and inclusion, a topic that occupied many of their virtual discussions in recent weeks, the students swapped grad gowns for funky dresses at the celebration – giving them all a chance to showcase their individuality and perspectives, notes Howe. 

“We talked a lot in recent weeks about the value of diversity and inclusion, and what it means for the future of the classroom and how we can all be champions and allies,” notes Howe. “I was incredibly inspired by the way they gravitated to that topic and carried it forward in so many ways.”

Christy Gelz, Program Coordinator for Continuing Studies at Okanagan College, says the students’ gratitude toward each other and their instructor was evident throughout the night – and was perhaps best exemplified in a kind gesture. 

“The students dropped off gifts and cards at Michelle’s house to show just how much they appreciated the way she went above and beyond in getting them through the program during a semester nobody could have ever anticipated would turn out like it did,” says Gelz.

The gesture was deeply appreciated by Howe, who looks forward with interest to see what her students will accomplish as they step out into the new and ever-changing world of education in the Covid era.

“I look forward to see what they will all do in future when they step back into their next classroom, working with students,” says Howe. “They are going to be a phenomenal group of EAs.”

Education Assistants are in high demand across the province.

The College offers its EA Certificate program in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke.

Over the past five years, the College has sent more than 700 EA graduates out into the world.


OC business students adapt FruitSnaps project to feed those in need during pandemic
Okanagan College Media Release


FruitSnaps Team March 2020When the pandemic hit, they adapted. When greater need appeared, they collaborated. When an unthinkable tragedy struck, they supported each other through it. And when the chance came to share their idea with the country, they rose to the challenge.

It all started in the fall of 2018, when Okanagan College business student Abby Lagerquist noticed apples still on the trees at the end of harvest season. After inquiring with the orchard owners, she discovered that these apples were imperfect and would be left on the trees to rot (sadly, the fate of a half a billion apples across the country each year).

Before long, Lagerquist and her Enactus OC teammates formed an idea to pick and transform the apples into FruitSnaps, a healthy apple chip, that could feed children facing food insecurity in the Okanagan.

“In BC, 1 in 4 kids live with food insecurity, and for indigenous children it’s 1 in 2,” explains project manager Karsten Ensz. “FruitSnaps started out with Enactus OC delivering servings to schools, which also gave us the opportunity to teach the children about responsible consumption and sustainability.”

The team forged a partnership with the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners, a not-for-profit organization that dehydrates vegetables for soup mix to send to developing countries. The Gleaners allowed the team to use their facilities to dehydrate the unsellable apples.

BC Tree Fruits donated more than 10,000 lbs of apples that would have otherwise gone to waste.

In a little less than two years, the idea has grown into a project that has provided more than 4,000 students with access to a healthy snack, engaged 33 community partners, diverted more than 8,300 kilograms (18,500 pounds) of food waste, and helped to conserve an estimated 3,885,000 litres of water (a figure based on the amount of water required to grow an apple, multiplied by the number of apples spared from going to waste). The team has produced more than 35,000 servings, including 12,000 distributed internationally.

But that success has not come without adversity.

In February, the team earned top project at Enactus Canada Western Regionals, which earned them a berth to compete at Nationals.

Then the pandemic hit. Schools closed.

The team knew their distribution model, which had worked so perfectly for more than a year-and-a-half, would need not only to adapt but somehow also to expand, as students from across the region who counted on these healthy snacks would need them now more than ever.

In a matter of weeks, the students rapidly cultivated new community partnerships:

Starfish Pack in Penticton distributed packs across eight schools, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Vernon, supported 25 families with kids at Mission Hill School, the Salvation Army in Vernon and Salmon Arm arranged for deliveries to families, as did the Community Resource Centre in Salmon Arm.

The list of partners engaged and families supported continued to grow.

Along the way, they somehow found time to spark another innovative partnership – a collaboration with Enactus BCIT. The two teams are now working together to explore how they can bring solar technology into the dehydration process to up the sustainability factor even higher.

Their faculty advisor, Andrew Klingel, who is a professor with the Okanagan College School of Business, has been in awe of their efforts.

“Seeing the students adapt to all these challenges and to find ways to continue to bring this project to people in need in our communities has been incredible,” says Klingel.

“I think a lot of their success can be traced to their collaborative approach. It takes courage and it takes a lot of work to build strong partnerships like these, and they’ve been exemplary in the way they’ve gone about that. The partnership with the Gleaners is a phenomenal example, and the collaboration with BCIT is another. These students are used to competing against each other in regional and national competitions, and so to see the way they took a different approach and worked together has been very inspiring.”

Klingel also notes that the greatest challenge the students faced this year was not the pandemic, nor its ripple effects. It was the loss of one of their own.

In the early hours of March 18, OC Vernon student Sheryl MacIntosh tragically passed away in a motor vehicle accident.

It was a devastating blow for the FruitSnaps team and for the whole Vernon campus community, notes Klingel. She had been a pillar of the triumphant team that topped the podium at Enactus Regionals mere weeks before she died.

“I had the opportunity to teach Sheryl in several classes. She was an excellent student and a positive influence in the classroom, with boundless energy and a great sense of humour,” says Klingel. “I really enjoyed seeing her getting involved in Enactus, where she quickly became a leader. She ran the first pub night fundraiser on campus and made a huge contribution to the FruitSnaps project.”

“She was also a key member and a rock for the team at Regionals. She was always ready to help out a team member or crack a joke at just the right time.”

To commemorate McIntosh’s life and her dedication to her studies, her family is working with OC to put in place a lasting tribute.

“Sheryl has left behind a trail of beautiful memories. To honour Sheryl, the family, with the support of Okanagan College, will be placing a memorial bench at the Vernon campus,” said the McIntosh family.

Her teammates also rallied together to compete in her honour.

In late May, the team, comprised of Karsten Ensz, Abigail Underwood and Marin Carruthers, backed once again by their advisor Andrew Klingel, presented virtually at Enactus National Exposition. They faced peers from universities and colleges across the country.

Their passionate presentation earned them third place in the country for the Scotiabank Climate Change Challenge, just behind impressive projects by teams from Wilfred Laurier and University of Alberta.

“Our team put in a lot of hard work to make the project what it is today,” said Ensz. “We spent countless hours brainstorming new ideas and solving problems. It became very tiresome at points, but when we would deliver the FruitSnaps to schools and got to see the impact we were having it made us really appreciate the project. It is so rewarding to see kids get excited to eat FruitSnaps, nothing compares to that.”

Their efforts to adapt, overcome, and innovate were not unnoticed.

The project garnered two other awards: a newly minted Collaboration Award, which recognized the unique partnership between OC and BCIT on the project. Brad Egerton from the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners was honoured with Team Advisor of the Year. Additionally, Nicole Sapieha, the new President of Enactus OC, took home the Founder's Bursary for her superior leadership and team development skills; one of only 16 awarded across the country by the John Dobson Foundation.

“This project is yet another shining example of the resiliency of our students and the tangible positive impact they bring to their communities,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“They found a way to adapt and fulfill a pressing need for many youth and families. We are deeply proud of them for what they’ve accomplished, and we watch with admiration and excitement to see how they’ll continue to grow the project.” 

Any orchardists anticipating they may have apples to donate this year can contact Andrew Klingel at Okanagan College at


College and Westbank First Nation sign new MOU, continue to deepen partnership

Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation (WFN) recently signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, building on a long history of working together to increase access and support WFN members in achieving their post-secondary education goals.

2020 WFN OC mou signing

In all, the new MOU outlines seven ways in which the partners will continue to collaborate on projects and programs that will benefit learners from the WFN community, while helping both organizations learn from one another and build professional capacity.

Signing on behalf of Westbank First Nation was Chief Christopher Derickson and Councillors Andrea Alexander, Jordan Coble, Lorrie Hogaboam and Fernanda Alexander. Representing Okanagan College was President Jim Hamilton, Interim Vice President Students Allan Coyle and Director of Student Services James Coble.

The agreement notes how the College and WFN will work together to embrace the spirit and intent of reconciliation in developing culturally appropriate, meaningful, and quality education and training that meets the needs of Indigenous learners and responds to key skills gaps in the region.

“Our members have been accessing post-secondary education and training opportunities at Okanagan College for decades and in growing numbers, and so we value being able to provide input and guidance into how the College can continue to make good on its commitment to providing welcoming, inclusive and supportive spaces for Indigenous students to thrive. I’m encouraged by the way we continue to add more and more examples of collaborative programs and projects that are benefitting students with each passing year,” said Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson.

2020 WFN OC mou signing 2

The announcement of the new agreement comes on National Indigenous People’s Day in Canada.

It also comes during what would have been Convocation season at Okanagan College, with hundreds of graduates usually crossing the stage to collect credentials in June.

After surveying students on their preferences, the College postponed Convocation until COVID-19 conditions will allow for in-person ceremonies.

“Given all that’s going on in the world and in our community, it’s very timely for us to be thinking about how we can support learners. Congratulations to all the new graduates at Okanagan College who will be stepping out into our communities and sharing their knowledge and skills at a critical time,” said Chief Derickson.

The MOU also describes how Okanagan College will continue to turn to WFN for guidance on how First Nations ways of knowing, doing and being can be incorporated to enrich the educational, organizational and cultural fabric of the College. 

“This agreement is the continuation of a very positive and deeply valued relationship between Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It’s a collaboration that has benefited many students – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – over the years. The partnership has provided us with valuable insights into how we can continue to support WFN learners, how we can learn from Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, and how we can build on this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Okanagan College has one of the highest and fastest growing rates of Indigenous student participation of any institution in the sector. In 2018-19 the College delivered educational programming to 1,825 Indigenous students.

Working with and Learning from the Indigenous Community is one of the College’s key directions outlined in its Strategic Plan 2016-2020. As a result of that plan, the College created an Indigenization Task Force in 2016 and has since collaborated with Indigenous communities, student learners (past, present and future) and Elders from across the region to inform and guide that effort.

The MOU continues a long history of collaboration between OC and WFN that dates back decades and includes of a host of collaborative initiatives and projects that have benefited WFN members, while also fostering understanding and appreciation for Indigenous ways of knowing and doing among the College’s non-Indigenous students.

In 2016, the College and WFN signed a formal MOU to work together on collaborative projects, programs, cultural events and ways in which to support learners.

“The agreement signed this spring renews and expands on that commitment,” adds Hamilton.

Last year, the flag of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was raised at Okanagan College’s Kelowna and Vernon campuses to acknowledge that those campuses reside on unceded territories of the Syilx Okanagan people. A Secwepemcúlecw flag was raised at the Salmon Arm campus, located on the unceded territories of the Secwepemc.


College working with students, employers and communities to enhance co-op opportunities for Indigenous learners
Okanagan College Media Release


Jewell Gillies June 2020How can Okanagan College enhance support for Indigenous students stepping into co-op work terms with employers? And in turn, how can OC better assist employers looking to hire students and set them up for success during their time in the workforce?

These are just two of many questions inspiring Jewell Gillies as she consults with students, employers, other post-secondary institutions and Indigenous community members in the region and beyond as part of a 15-month long research project.

“This project delves into many aspects of co-operative education or work-integrated learning, with the goal of better understanding Indigenous students’ experiences, what their questions and concerns are,” she explains. “These conversations with students and community are invaluable – they are helping to shape recommendations for how we can better serve Indigenous students and our employer partners.”

Gillies is drawing on years of experience in supporting Indigenous learners in post-secondary.

She’s worked with the College since 2017 as an Aboriginal Transitions Planner. The service improvement project finds her currently supporting the Student, Graduate & Co-op Employment office.

She was in the planning stages for the project when COVID-19 arrived, but she says the pandemic has presented a speedbump rather than a stop sign, as she’s been able to continue her outreach virtually.

Response to her efforts has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I’ve been really struck by the positive response. I wasn’t sure initially how employers might respond but they’ve been very keen to engage with the work,” says Gillies.

“Many are very appreciative of the opportunity to hear what others are doing and to gain insight into best practices they can put in place to better support Indigenous employees. Many are also looking for ways to support their non-Indigenous employees in learning about and engaging with Indigenous culture.”

The project received funding from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for work integrated learning initiatives.

Gillies says she’s encouraged by the way in which the project has also been an opportunity for the College to build on existing relationships with employers, and to foster new relationships.

The challenges of remote working and learning during the pandemic hasn’t stopped students from voicing their experiences and perspectives Gillies is pleased to report.

“I want to hear from any OC students and alumni who self-identify as Indigenous and who are interested in sharing their thoughts or questions about work-integrated learning,” she says.

“We are calling it a survey, but in truth it’s a conversation. Some conversations happened in person before the pandemic, but whether it’s a phone call or an online video chat, it’s about two people hearing each other’s voices, sharing and learning from each other’s experiences and perspectives.”

One of those students who has been a contributor of insights and a keen supporter of the project has been OC business student Jillian Seronik.

A strong advocate for inclusivity in the classroom, Seronik notes that she hopes her experiences could inspire other Indigenous students to follow in her footsteps in pursuing post-secondary studies and thinking about co-op.

“I never thought I’d do a co-op but a friend of mine encouraged me and I’m so glad I did,” explains Seronik, who completed a term with RBC in Kelowna during the Winter semester and was hired back for the summer.

“My co-op experience has been great. RBC has been great to work for. I’ve personally felt supported and that they care for their employees,” says Seronik. “They have initiatives for their Indigenous employees. I’ve also really appreciated and seized opportunities to share my culture with my non-Indigenous colleagues.”

Seronik also credits her co-op experience in helping her identify her goals after graduation: she now hopes to find a role within RBC in HR or Marketing.

“I’ve been excited to share my experience because I think there needs to be more support, encouragement and opportunities for Indigenous youth to get into co-op.”

Anyone wishing to connect with Gillies to learn more about the project or engage in the consultation process, can reach her at or 778-715-6864.

Sunday, June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.


Haircuts fundraiser caps off with a ‘Pinky Blinder’
Okanagan College Media Release


It was supposed to be a Peaky Blinders inspired haircut, but a miscommunication resulted in what may turn some heads this week: the Pinky Blinder.Pinky Blinders June 2020

Grant Lawrence, Valhalla Angels Kelowna President and Vancouver Co-President, and Phil Ashman, Okanagan College Regional Dean for the Central Okanagan, are sporting the infamous Peaky Blinders ‘Tommy Shelby’ haircut gone pink after raising more than $5,400 from their friends and colleagues.

Peaky Blinders is a popular, gritty drama available on Netflix.

With salons reopening, Lawrence and Ashman helped wrap up the Haircuts for Health Care fundraiser in style, which invited people to go for a creative home haircut and fundraise from their network. All proceeds support the education of future health care professionals by contributing to the $5-million goal for the construction of a new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Most people who took part in Haircuts for Health Care shaved their heads. As one of the final fundraising campaigns, Lawrence and Ashman knew they needed to get creative with their haircuts.

“I enjoy the Peaky Blinders series so I thought this could be a fun campaign while supporting our community and students during this time,” says Lawrence.

Lawrence originally suggested the two go for a Peaky Blinders haircut, but Okanagan College Foundation Executive Direct Helen Jackman heard “Pinky Blinders,” and a trendsetting haircut was born.

“With COVID-19, generating funds to support the education of health care professionals was an easy cause to get behind,” adds Lawrence.

The two also waxed their chests, as part of a tiered fundraising challenge, and Ashman was also tasked with waxing his legs. Ashman’s waxing services were donated by Talking Tree Spa. According to Ashman, the fundraiser shows that he will do almost anything to help students.

“When we started talking about this, I didn’t think it would get this far,” says Ashman.

“Thanks to generous benefactors we were able to raise more than $5,000 to support our future health care workers. The haircut and the waxing seems like a small price to pay for such a great cause.”

Since the Haircuts for Health Care campaign began in mid March, more than 400 people donated to the various campaigns raising $44,600 in total. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson shaved their heads recently after raising more than $10,000 each.

“This community fundraiser gave us many smiles during the last several months as we watched people bravely pass the clippers to their spouses or even their kids,” says Jackman.

“During an uncertain time, we’re grateful to the community for embracing this fundraiser that will ensure we continue to have the skilled, essential health care professionals we need for our hospitals, seniors homes, and other health care settings.”

While the Haircuts fundraiser is complete, the Okanagan College Foundation is encouraging the public to donate and help meet their $5-million community fundraising goal to open the Health Sciences Centre this fall. The Foundation has raised $2.5 million to date. To learn more or to donate visit

About Valhalla Angels
Valhalla Angels, established in 2003, is an investor-only membership group committed to supporting the startup ecosystem through early stage angel investing; we bring founders and investors together. Valhalla also runs monthly events open to the public which can be found here:


College spotlights new Common First-Year Engineering and other tech programs via virtual info session
Okanagan College Media Release


Myles and Chase June 2020Future engineers and technologists take note: Okanagan College is opening up a new pathway to engineering next year, and in the meantime is opening students’ eyes to other technologies careers in high demand.

The College will welcome its first intake of students to its new Common First-Year Engineering (CFYE) program in Fall of 2021.

The one-year CFYE certificate provides a comprehensive applied science foundation and sets students up to transfer into second-year university engineering studies. Students will complete courses in a variety of subjects, from chemistry to computer programming and gain the skills for success in upper level engineering courses.

“With the Okanagan being such a dynamic and growing hub for technology and engineering, this new program is yet another way we can provide access to learners looking to start their engineering education,” said Laura Thurnheer, Associate of Dean of Science, Technology and Health and Social Development at the College.

“We designed the program with an emphasis on transferability, so students can take confidence knowing that they can complete first year studies at OC and can go on to complete their engineering degree at a number of universities in B.C. They can expect to receive a world-class engineering education and training experience with us that will set them up for success in their future.”

The one-year certificate joins the current lineup of technologies programs at OC, which includes diplomas in Civil, Electronic, Mechanical, Network and Telecommunications, and Water Engineering Technology. The College also offers a diploma in Animation, based out its cutting-edge lab in the Okanagan Innovation Centre, and the unique Sustainable Construction Management Technology diploma offered at OC’s Penticton campus.

Students thinking about any of the above educational paths can have their questions answered this week.

On Tuesday, June 16 at 1 p.m. prospective students and parents can connect with Okanagan College’s advising and financial aid teams during a virtual info session to learn more about the CFYE program and other technologies programs. Advisors and instructors will be on hand to lead the session and participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. 

Dinushi Fernando is a part of the Kelowna campus recruitment team and offers some insight on the info session.

“Prospective students and parents can expect to hear about the new CFYE program here in Kelowna and get a taste of what the College has to offer in its technologies department,” she says.

“A question everyone wants answered is, ‘what does the fall look like?’ We will review what students can expect for delivery. With a host of options to choose from in the area of technology, students can certainly use this session to get a better sense of what the fall will look like at the College.”

Students and families can register for the info session here and can contact Dinushi Fernando here for a recorded playback of the session if unable to make the June 16 session. For more information on the Common First-Year Engineering program, start dates and course details, go here.


Kofoed family celebrates the role of nurses
Okanagan College Media Release


A $60,000 gift from the Kofoed family will honour a very special nurse in their life, and a generation of new nurses entering the field.Kofoed Family June 2020

Jack Kofoed, and his children Jacqueline, Leah, Jillian and Jeremy are giving to the Our Students, Your Health campaign to help complete construction on a new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Jack’s wife Leona was a nurse. She passed away in 2017, and this gift recognizes her life’s work and the special care she received during her final days, according to her family.

“Mom was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. She would be so happy with this gift,” says Jacqueline, adding that she and Jeremy attended Okanagan College, which holds a special place in their family’s hearts.

“She loved knowing people are going into health care careers so this gift recognizes her passion.”

“In mom’s last years we had a wonderful home care nurse that came to our home,” adds Leah. “Her name was Cindy, and she was a light in mom’s life.

“We’ve benefited hugely from having someone care for our mother and we’re so thankful for home care nurses.”

The Kofoed family’s generous gift will support a Home Care Lab in the Health Sciences Centre. The Home Care Lab is a new space that wasn’t previously available and will allow students in nursing, Therapist Assistant and Health Care Assistant programs the opportunity to practise supporting clients in a real home environment.

Jack, who is the former owner of Kelowna Toyota, says he’s always felt a responsibility to give back. He donated to the College when the institution was building its new Trades Complex, and felt the same kind of connection for a state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre.

“Nurses play an integral role in our communities. We want the best support and the best education possible for nurses,” says Jack.

Jillian adds the gift recognizes a growing demand on the health-care system.

“In the Okanagan we have many retired baby boomers so there is a huge need for health care workers,” says Jillian. “We need to educate more caregivers to meet the demand.”

Okanagan College’s $18.9-million Centre will train frontline health care professionals in eight disciplines and provide much-needed modern lab spaces to provide hands-on learning for students.

“We are honoured that the Kofoed family is recognizing Leona in this way,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“The students I speak with all share a passion to help others, especially in this challenging time. This gift will equip our future nurses with the best education to continue a tradition of quality care for our community.”

The Okanagan College Foundation urgently needs the community's support to open the doors to the Health Sciences Centre this fall. The Foundation has raised $2.5 million and is halfway to reaching its $5-million community fundraising goal.

To learn more or donate, click here.


Okanagan College hosts virtual info session on Tourism Management diploma program
Okanagan College Media Release


Downtown RevelstokeSet at the foot of the picturesque Columbia Mountains and home to a growing array of four-season tourism operators and activities, where better to advance your career in the tourism industry than Revelstoke?

The program, which debuted last year, is set for a September start at the College’s Revelstoke Centre and combines hands-on learning in the tourism sector with applied business courses.

The virtual information session offers an inside look at the program: from scheduling to course offerings, transfer options and co-op components. College admissions counsellors and financial aid advisors will lead the presentation, sharing what students can expect come September in addition to modified delivery in light of COVID-19.

“The Tourism Management diploma is a fantastic option for those looking to gain practical and hands-on experience to advance in this industry,” says Danielle Tighe, Manager of OC’s Revelstoke Centre. “Revelstoke is home to world-class tourism employers who, from the very beginning, have helped us create and offer a program that is truly geared toward training the skilled tourism managers and workers desperately needed in this sector.”Revelstoke Mountain

In British Columbia, the tourism industry accounts for more than $20.5 billion in provincial revenue, employing over 161,500 people. Home to Revelstoke Mountain Resort, the most skiable vertical in North America, Revelstoke is known for being an outdoor enthusiasts’ destination. From downtown, students and tourists alike are only a short drive away from hub cities like Kelowna and Calgary. Whether it’s biking or hiking, water sports or backcountry touring, students are set up for success in the vibrant mountain culture and business savvy community.

Even amidst COVID-19, Associate Dean of the School of Business and Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College, Jonathan Rouse, says there’s never been a better time to enrol in the program.

“We can see the anticipation from our industry partners for skilled workers despite the slowdown from the pandemic,” he says. “The sector needs creative and dynamic talent, and right now is a great time to be training to jump back into the sector when it’s roaring back to life.”

To learn more about the Tourism Management diploma program, including start dates, course offerings and program outlines, go here.


Kelowna Mayor, WFN Chief shave their heads for health care
Okanagan College Media Release


Basran and Derickson Post HaircutWith their wives wielding clippers, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson e
xpressed a hint of apprehension for the looming buzz cuts they’d committed to, but not an ounce of regret for the profile they’ve been able to raise for a cause near and dear to their hearts.

Both leaders were able to raise more than $10,000 each for Okanagan College’s Haircuts for Health Care campaign and, having met their fundraising goals, met up in the College’s courtyard recently for a physically-distanced buzz cut from their partners, Leanne Basran and Jordan Derickson. (Click here to see a video of the haircuts.)

“I’m a huge supporter of Okanagan College and I wanted to do my part in helping this campaign,” says Colin. “I know Christopher serves on the College’s Board and I thought the two of us could lend our names to this amazing campaign to raise some money.”

In less than two weeks both leaders exceeded their goals, helping raise more than $23,000 for Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre that will train students for eight frontline health care professions. The Chief and Mayor’s involvement also unlocked another gift. Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton donated $5,000 after the campaign surpassed $10,000.

“This is a very worthy cause, I’m glad to have been a part of it. I’m excited to see the amount of support we generated from this campaign and they still need to raise money, the campaign itself isn’t over,” says Christopher.

“While we all might be getting our haircuts now with our regular salons and barbers you can still give to the campaign, they still need to raise money for this wonderful Health Sciences building.”

Haircuts for Health Care launched in mid-April, nearly a month after non-essential businesses including salons were forced to close. The fundraiser invited people who were in desperate need of a haircut to open up their own ‘self-isolation salon’ and hand the clippers to their kids or spouse. People could donate the cost of a typical haircut or go for a creative cut and fundraise from their friends.

While some people chose to simply cut their hair and donate, many more people set up fundraising pages with plans to go for a less conventional haircut (dubbed a Corona cut) or a shaved head once they reached their goal.

“We are so grateful to Colin and Chris for supporting this campaign. In the process of sacrificing their hair, they have given our campaign a major boost and underlined the importance of health care education for our community,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

Since Haircuts for Health Care started nearly two months ago, more than 380 people have contributed, raising more than $38,000.

“We’d like to thank everyone in the community who donated. Your generosity and community spirit at this extraordinary time is inspiring,” says Jackman.

To learn more or support the Our Students, Your Health campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre, click here.


Kelowna Chevrolet invests in health professionals
Okanagan College Media Release


Kelowna Chevrolet is investing in future health care professionals, with a $50,000 donation to the Our Students, Your Health campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College.Ian Speckman May 2020

Kelowna Chevrolet Dealer Partner Ian Speckman says he felt a responsibility to support the state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre that will train health care professionals for the region.

“As we’re all realizing, health care professionals are essential for our community,” says Speckman.

“This is about supporting students so they can get the right training and literally go on to save lives, that is impactful.”

Kelowna Chevrolet is donating in partnership with Kelowna Toyota for a total of $100,000. Each local dealership is committing $50,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s $5-million fundraising goal.

Speckman and Kelowna Toyota General Manager Jamie Kaban also produced a radio commercial encouraging others in the community to donate.

“Did you know we’re already facing some critical health care staffing shortages?” says Speckman.

“Health care professionals are there when we need them the most, so now let’s be there for them.”

“This generous gift will help us open the doors to a world class Health Sciences Centre, set to open later this year,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“But, as Ian mentioned, it also does so much more. By supporting the education of health care students, Kelowna Chevrolet and Kelowna Toyota are creating a legacy of excellent health care for our community.”

Jackman is compelling the public to donate and help the College meet its fundraising goal to open the Centre and continue educating health care professionals. Thanks to generous donors, Okanagan College Foundation has raised $2.5 million and is now halfway to reaching its goal. To learn more, or to donate, visit


Contest winner inspired to help others
Okanagan College Media Release


Brittani Sali May 2020When Brittani Sali answered the phone and learned she was the winner of a $5,000 tuition giveaway contest, she thought she might be dreaming.

The 22-year old was just waking up, and she hadn’t been expecting the call from local radio announcer B Mack.

Lucky for Sali, winning the tuition giveaway towards any health program at Okanagan College wasn’t a dream. The 22-year old was among one of 80 people who entered the contest, which was sponsored by the Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Fund, in partnership with Virgin Radio and the Okanagan College Foundation.

Sali had applied to the Therapist Assistant diploma program at the College before learning about the contest. Winning the funds will almost pay the full tuition for the program, and has helped bring a sense of relief and clarity to Sali’s next steps after recently graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

“The health care field was always something I wanted to go into and there are so many options beyond the well-known role of nurses or doctors,” says Sali, “and COVID-19 has only made it more clear how important health professionals are to our lives.”

Okanagan College’s two-year Therapist Assistant diploma was one of the first of its kind in Canada to be nationally accredited, and recently earned a new and enhanced national accreditation. The program trains people to work in three different disciplines: physiotherapy, occupational therapy and recreational therapy.

Sali says she was drawn to the program because of the number of options and the ability to help people in their day-to-day lives. Sali adds she’s thrilled to learn she will be training in the College’s brand-new Health Sciences Centre, set to open later this year.

“I started my degree at OC and I was impressed by the new Trades building. To have a new Centre dedicated to Health programs is really exciting.”

“I am impressed by Brittani’s passion and I’m so happy my fund can help her pursue a career in health and helping others,” says Tom Budd, a local philanthropist who funded the tuition giveaway. Budd created the Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Fund to honour his two sons, who both lost their lives to suicide.

While the fund’s primary focus is mental health, Budd notes that our physical health directly affects our mental health, motivating him to fund the tuition contest for a student entering a health care career.

Budd’s gift is in support of the Our Students, Your Health campaign, a fundraiser to complete a state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre and provide support for students entering high-demand health care careers. The Okanagan College Foundation is halfway to reaching its $5-million campaign goal. To learn more about the Our Students, Your Health campaign or to donate, visit


College’s Camp OC cancelled for 2020
Okanagan College Media Release


COVID-19 concerns are leading Okanagan College to cancel its Camp OC summer camp offerings for 2020.

“We have been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation,” said Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training for Okanagan College. “And given what we understand about safety and limitations, we have made the decision to cancel Camp OC this summer.”

“It is a very difficult decision for us, and one made with the best interests of all our campers, students, staff and our surrounding communities in mind. Given the nature of our camps, the vast array of indoor and outdoor activities – which make physical distancing impossible to guarantee – we determined we simply could not facilitate Camp OC this year in a way that would ensure everyone’s health and safety.”

Camp OC offers educational, fun and interactive camps to students from Grades 1-12, with a unique array of offerings at each of the College’s campuses from Salmon Arm to Penticton, as well as its Revelstoke Centre. This summer would have marked the 16th year the camps were offered.

“We know Camp OC is a much-loved resource in our communities and it saddens us not to be able to offer it,” says Silvestrone. ”We hope people will take heart in knowing that Camp OC will return. We are now starting to explore new youth program opportunities and build our plans for summer 2021.”

All registrants will receive a full refund. The College has reached out to registrants and will begin issuing refunds as soon as possible.

More information about Camp OC 2021 and any other new youth programs will be posted on as it is known.


College’s Therapist Assistant program earns new national accreditation
Okanagan College Media Release


TAD Students 1As career goals go, what could be more meaningful than improving someone’s quality of life?

For therapist assistants, it’s more than a goal, it’s a daily reality – and you’ll find these in-demand health professionals supporting people’s rehabilitation in a vast array of settings.

This spring, Okanagan College’s Therapist Assistant Diploma (TAD) program – which has been educating Physical therapist assistants (PTA), Occupational therapist assistants (OTA) and Recreation therapist assistants (RTA) for almost 30 years – has earned a new feather in its cap.

The TAD program was recently awarded full accreditation status by the national accrediting body comprised of the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP), Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).

For TAD program Chair Jennifer Stephenson, the accreditation, effective now through April 2025, is the culmination of months of work by the instructor team with support from administration to rigorously evaluate and continue to enhance every aspect of the program.

“What is most rewarding about this accreditation is that the evaluators studied every aspect of how we educate our students, how we collaborate with other departments at the College and how strong our relationships are with our community partners, who in turn work with us to provide clinical placements for students.”

Adds Stephenson: “It’s an evaluation of every facet of the program, and every person it impacts – from students to partners to our clients and patients in the community.”

“This accreditation demonstrates that our program is aligned with the very latest practices and standards of care,” notes Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “It affirms that we are delivering the highest quality education, which translates to the highest quality care for people in the community. That in turn gives our students confidence knowing that when they graduate, they are going to be looked upon by employers as well-trained, ready to go, and they are going to be in-demand.”

The program has a long history of producing skilled graduates to serve the region and beyond.

TAD Students 2

It launched as a ten-month certificate in 1990, before evolving into a two-year diploma in 2005 and was one of only a few OTA/PTA programs to be piloted by the newly formed accreditation body.

And while national accreditation is nothing new for the program, this latest enhanced recognition is proof that the training is more relevant than ever – a message that is an important one for students to hear, notes Stephenson.

“Along with accreditation comes the continued evaluation and refinement of the program, which ensures currency of knowledge and skills and helps students better understand their evolving role and scope of practice.”

The TAD program includes four full semesters of course work, along with 18 weeks of practical experience in clinical settings, giving students an idea of the vast positions that await them post-graduation.

The arrival of COVID-19 in the province earlier this spring forced instructors and students – like so many other health care providers – to find innovative ways to support clients virtually to gain those much-needed clinical hours.

“It wasn’t long before the instructor team was able to create alternative online learning activities and virtual clinical experiences for the students,” explains Stephenson. “Students and instructors alike embraced that challenge, and the feedback from those they are working with in the community has been very positive.”

One of the most inspiring ways students have connected with people in need of online assessment or treatment has been through program alumni, notes Stephenson.

When TAD instructors reached out to past grads, they were met with an overwhelming response as many alumni stepped up to spread the word and help current students get their much-needed hours.

“Thanks to our alumni, our students have been connecting with people all across the province from the coast to 100 Mile House to the Kootenays. We’re deeply grateful to our alumni and feel very inspired by the fact that they stay in touch, they’re connected with the program and want to support students following in their footsteps.”

You don’t have to look far to find evidence of students’ commitment to supporting their communities. They recently made headlines for their T-Glove project designed to help quadriplegics. Their efforts to sew hundreds of face masks for those in need during COVID-19 also garnered positive attention in the community, as well as a shoutout on Twitter from the Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training and a retweet from Premier John Horgan’s constituency twitter account (Saanich North & the Islands NDP provincial constituency).

The TAD program is offered at the College’s Kelowna campus. More information about the program is available at


Drawing together: College and industry gather virtually to celebrate animation students
Okanagan College Media Release


If there was ever a time to get animated, this was it – albeit with a virtual twist.Isabel Fabian Animation May 2020

While COVID-19 may have altered the format for the ceremony, it couldn’t dampen the excitement as studios from across the valley joined Okanagan College last week in recognizing the newest soon-to-be grads from its Animation diploma program.

At the OC Animation department’s second-annual Industry Night on May 13, a group of second-year students on their way to graduation and first-year students who have now crossed the half-way mark of their program were celebrated.

Attendees had a chance to tune in for a livestream of students’ work, hear their presentations and chat with them during breakout sessions hosted on the online meeting tool Blackboard Collaborate. You can watch the recorded livestream and view students’ portfolio websites here.

“While we wished we could all be together to celebrate our students in person, we were so pleased that we could still gather virtually to honour them and showcase their work with industry,” said Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College.

“The efforts invested by our students and faculty are always inspiring, but I particularly want to acknowledge how hard they worked in recent months when COVID-19 forced the shift to online learning mid-semester. Students faced that challenge and uncertainty and went on to produce incredibly creative and polished work. I think that speaks to their talent and work ethic, and is evidence of the very bright future in the animation industry that awaits them.”

Isabel Fabian gave the address on behalf of graduating students during the livestream.

Isabel Fabian Artwork May 2020“It was so exciting to be able to see everyone get together, despite all odds,” said Fabian, who has her sights set on becoming a visual effects artist. “It feels unreal to be finished the program.

“Not many people have the privilege to enjoy what they do so much, and I know I will always be excited to go to work. To pursue what has been a lifelong passion for so many of us, in a place as beautiful as the Okanagan, and to have so many opportunities to follow, I’m thankful every day that my classmates and I have ended up where we are.”

Added Fabian: “The program and the support of our teachers have helped shaped us into the people and the animators we are. Thank you to all our teachers and mentors for giving us this opportunity, this privilege, to be the future of animation in the Okanagan.”

Jessica Faye moved to Kelowna from Edmonton for the program two years ago. Today, she’s feeling proud to be stepping into an industry that inspires her.

“I really like seeing art come to life. It's amazing what one can create with just their imagination, and I hope that one day I can create characters and stories that people can grow attached to,” said Faye. “I hope to one day become a successful storyboard artist, but honestly, I'd really like to try my hand at any job in the industry and hopefully climb my way up.”Jessica Faye Animation May 2020

In addition to family, friends and their instructors, the students also had the attention of leaders from more than 20 studios and industry partners throughout the evening.

Todd Ramsay, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Yeti Farm was among those in attendance providing congratulations, encouragement and feedback to students and grads.

“Yeti Farm would like to congratulate the 2020 Okanagan College animation graduates,” said Ramsay. “We currently employee several alumni from the Okanagan College animation program who have quickly become some of our best animators. Their talent, great work ethic and strong understanding of animation fundamentals speaks volumes about the program. We are fortunate to have such a great program right here in Kelowna.

On a personal note, as the founder of Yeti Farm and someone who was born and raised in the Okanagan, it's been very rewarding to witness the growth of the animation industry right here in my hometown. We are excited to watch the industry continue to grow and look forward to meeting the next group of talented grads!”

Trent Noble, Animation Director for Bardel Entertainment said: “Bardel Entertainment is extremely proud to be working closely with Okanagan College in helping develop, and support the animation industry here in the Okanagan. It is always an exciting time for us to be able to participate in the annual graduation ceremonies, and have the opportunity to connect with all the students, and better yet, potential hires. Congratulations to everyone on all their hard work, and the next step in your careers.”

Jessica Faye Artwork May 2020Making connections with industry, peers and mentors was one of the highlights of the program, noted student Austin Scott.

“The best part about the program was definitely the connections I've made,” said Scott. “I've made plenty of great friends and I've also had plenty of help from my teachers who were always doing everything they could to ensure we all succeeded.”

“On behalf of Okanagan College, I want to say a huge congratulations to all of our animation students for your hard work and dedication,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We hope you will stay in touch, as we greatly look forward to hearing about the many contributions you will make to this vital and growing industry in our region.”

“And to all of our industry partners and supporters, thank you for your continued support of our students. We are so proud to be able to provide you with the well-trained graduates your studios need. And we appreciate your input into how we can continue to grow this program and improve upon the world-class education and training our students are receiving at Okanagan College.”

The College will welcome its next intake of students into the Animation diploma program this September. For more information visit


Haircuts fundraiser grows new support
Okanagan College Media Release


Kelowna Mayor and WFN Chief shaving their heads for a cause

Chris Derickson May2020

In dire need of a haircut and wanting to support the training of future health care professionals, some big names are joining the Okanagan College Foundation’s Haircuts for Health Care initiative.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson are committing to dealing with their unruly self-isolation hair by shaving their heads, and in doing so, raising vital funds to help open the doors to a state-of-the-art new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College.

Mayor Basran and Chief Derickson have each set a fundraising goal of $10,000 before they forgo their locks for a buzz cut.

Nearly 20 years ago, Chief Derickson’s father, Raymond, had a workplace accident that resulted in a brain injury. “I’ve seen first-hand the difference frontline health care workers make in people’s lives. The current pandemic has only highlighted the important role these professionals play in our communities,” says Derickson, who sits on the College’s Board of Governors, and served as Board Chair in 2018/2019.

“Okanagan College’s Health Sciences Centre will provide a world-class facility to train future health care workers. As we are currently witnessing, these everyday heroes do incredible jobs and they deserve to be trained in a facility that matches their level of commitment.”

Basran says he is a huge supporter of Okanagan College but adds that this fundraising campaign also holds a special place in his family’s heart.

“My wife Leanne is a Rehabilitation Assistant (RA) at Kelowna General Hospital. She is an amazing RA in part because she took the program at what was then Okanagan University College. This program continues at Okanagan College and has a great reputation for preparing students to be job ready once they graduate,” says Basran.Colin Basran May 2020

Depending on how long the fundraisers last, Derickson and Basran will either have their wives shave their heads, or be among the first customers for the local salons once they begin to safely re-open.

“We are so thankful to have these community leaders step up to support Haircuts for Health Care,” says Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.

Jackman came up with the idea for the fundraiser in April when most people, including her husband, were already one month in without any chance of a haircut in sight.

With salons re-opening in the near future, the Kelowna Mayor and WFN Chief will bring a final boost to the campaign, helping it reach its goal of raising $25,000 for the new Health Sciences Centre.

“We are so thankful to the public for helping us raise more than $9,500 so far. We encourage the public, if they can, to support these final haircut campaigns, which will finish with both of these leaders saying goodbye to their unruly locks and sporting a buzz cut.”

The support from Derickson and Basran will help unlock other funds too. Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton will donate $5,000 personally once Haircuts for Health Care reaches $10,000.

To learn more or support these campaigns, visit WFN Chief Derickson and Kelowna Mayor Basran’s fundraising pages.


Therapist Assistant students grasp value of collaboration on project designed to help quadriplegics
Okanagan College Media Release


T-GloveA final term project for Therapist Assistant Diploma (TAD) students turned out to be a gripping example of learning.

When second-year students Tenley Csolle and Zoe Dack were paired up to work together on their TAD capstone (or final term) project, the duo quickly agreed they wanted to develop something that would help quadriplegics.

“I was looking at how to help an artist or someone who wanted to paint and hold a paint brush. I like to draw and paint. I was thinking: if I had a spinal cord injury, how could I improve the technology that’s out there?” explains Dack.

“My first thought was there has to be a better way to help someone with a spinal cord injury. Big bulky items are invasive and difficult to use. We thought we would come up with something that didn’t look like an assisted device,” says Csolle.

Nothing fits the hand better than a glove, so the pair set out to build the “T-Glove,” or a special fabric glove that helps an individual increase their grip strength while grasping an object. For those physiologically inclined, the glove would assist the “tenodesis grasp,” or extension of the wrist, which helps with grasp.

Now that the TAD duo had a concept in mind for the T-Glove, they weren’t sure how to make it a reality – and that’s when the project took an interdisciplinary turn.

Csolle approached her friend, Spencer Bell, who is in his second year of mechanical engineering at UBC Okanagan’s Applied Science program. He came up with the idea of adding high-tension cords that would help the person close their hand.

The T-Glove has low-friction cords attached to the tips of the fingers of a glove and run down the length of the hand, mimicking the natural pull of tendons in the fingers. The thumb has its own cord, which keeps it away from the rest of the fingers and in the position needed to grasp objects. Special pads were applied to the tips of fingers, thumb and palm to also increase friction, helping the individual hold on to what they have grasped.

Bell reproduced the idea in 3D computer assisted design software, and after iterating a few changes with the Therapist Assistant Diploma students, was able to 3D print a plastic device that would provide tension control.

“We came across some printing issues because as the components get smaller, it gets more difficult and complex,” Bell offers.

When they were going to put the glove together, they realized none of them have expert skills in sewing. They purchased a work glove from Rona, carefully adding the cords, grips and pulley device, and adjusted along the way.

The trio were able to complete a functioning prototype, although the pandemic response prevented them from being able to test it on the individual who came to the TAD class to discuss life with spinal cord injury.

“It was a short timeline to finish the product, but there are lots of things we’d like to expand on,” Csolle says. “This is a great thing to have in the portfolio and maybe come back to a few years down the road.”

Both agree that the capstone project component added a lot of value to the program.

“It makes you use the perspective of, ‘How can I help them?’ Understanding what individuals go through with spinal injury or stroke recovery helps you understand the deeper level of the problems they are dealing with,” Dack says.

Darrell Skinner, the TAD Instructor who helps facilitate the Capstone project, described “I particularly liked this project as it involved collaboration between health, art and technology. I am constantly impressed by the dedication and the innovation that the Therapist Assistant students demonstrate on their Capstone projects.”


New Alumni Association board members, President reelected for 12th consecutive year
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Alumni Association has elected two new board members and reelected Kara Kazimer as the Board President for the 12th consecutive year.Kara Kazimer and Bree Cawley

Kazimer, a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, has served on the Alumni Association board since 2001 and has been the President since 2008.

“I am proud to be a part of the Alumni Association and help find ways to support and celebrate the graduates of Okanagan College,” says Kazimer. “Our alumni are doing so many great things and I love being a part of sharing my fellow alumni’s triumphs.”

Joining Kazimer on the board are OC alumni Zach Webster and Doug McFee.

Webster, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, works as a Corporate Training Specialist at the College.

McFee is also a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate who went on to earn an Omnium Global Executive MBA from the University of St.Gallen in Switzerland and the University of Toronto.

Gordon Ficke has been a long time board member and continues his term along with Nick Moffatt who remains the Board Treasurer and Nick Melemenis, who was elected Vice President.

To learn more about the Okanagan College Alumni Association, you can visit


College offers virtual info sessions, online summer sessions, $5K tuition giveaway to help ease stress for potential students
Okanagan College Media Release


Summer Session 2020Physically distant but with a personal touch: Okanagan College is here to help.

That’s the message for students and parents who have found the COVID-19 pandemic has an extra layer of anxiety around what life will mean after high school.

“Picking a post-secondary path can be challenging at the best of times, without the added stresses of COVID-19 in the mix, so we want to ensure students know that we’re here to help,” says Andrew Hay, interim Provost and Vice President Academic at Okanagan College. “While our physical offices are closed for the time being, we want students to know they can still connect with recruitment, admissions or advising staff digitally or by phone.

The College is holding (Zoom) information sessions online as well as offering on-demand advice from recruiters and advisors via phone and email to help prospective students learn more about their programs and have their post-secondary questions answered. Based on feedback from high school counsellors and parents, the first info sessions will be happening in mid-May, dates include:

  • May 12 – 1 p.m.
  • May 13 – 4 p.m.
  • May 14 – 7 p.m.

More information about the sessions and any additional dates and times will be posted to In the meantime, prospective students can check out that page to find more information about courses and programs offered this summer and fall. They can also email to connect with a recruiter directly.

Summer Session 2020_2

“They can get advice and get questions answered on everything from specifics about the programs they’re interested in, starting with pre-requisites all the way to the application or course registration process. We can also point them in the right direction for financial aid and awards and other supports available to them. We’re here to help.”

In addition to getting a jump on their post-secondary planning, there’s an added incentive for anyone who reaches out and connects with a recruiter on or before May 15: you will be entered into a draw for a $5,000 tuition giveaway.

The College is once again giving away a tuition credit in 2020 equal to the sum of tuition fees for the fall and winter semester of a full-time or part-time academic program. Entrants studying for a Bachelor degree, associate degree, diploma, certificate or completion of a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program are eligible. Full details and conditions for the Tuition Giveaway draw are available online at

Hay emphasizes that prospective students don’t have to wait until the fall to get started learning online.

The College’s two summer sessions in May-August will be delivered entirely online or via distance education this year. Recognizing that many people are new to the world of online and distance ed, the College has created a helpful guide here to explain the differences between the two delivery models.

Students can choose from an array of Business, Arts, Science and other offerings over the summer, but they may want to move fast if they plan on attending a summer session.

“We’ve seen keen interest in our Summer Session I classes, which begin on May 11,” notes Hay. “There are still some spaces available in Session 1 classes and more so in the Summer Session II offerings, which begin on July 6. We’d encourage potential and existing students to head online to explore their options and contact a recruiter to see what is available to them and get registered as soon as possible.”

The online and distance education formats means added flexibility for students in that they can tap into classes offered at any of the College’s four campuses from home. More information is available at


Stober family invests in the future of health care in the Okanagan
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Foundation has received a landmark gift to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, which will help support the training of the Okanagan’s frontline health care professionals for generations to come.Keith Brewster and Ken Stober April 2020

The Stober Foundation is committing $500,000 over the next five years to support the development of a state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, which will train 450 students per year over the next 40 years.

In recognition of this leadership gift, Okanagan College Foundation is establishing a $250,000 award fund in honour of the Stober family. The awards will provide vital financial support for 100 students, helping them achieve their educational goals and progress to careers in critical sectors of our region’s economy. 

The new Health Sciences Centre will serve as a leading-edge training hub for students across eight critical health and social care professions. Graduates will go on to provide care in the region’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, rehabilitation settings, dental clinics, and mental health services.

The Stober Foundation gift will specifically support the completion of the Centre’s Health Lab, where nurses and Health Care Assistants will be trained. It will also establish vital scholarships and bursaries, enabling students to complete their studies at a time when many are facing even greater financial uncertainty.

“This gift is a testament to the leadership and vision of the Stober family and will help us complete a world-class facility which our students and community deserve, as we continue to deliver the vital training needed to shore up our health care sector,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“Okanagan College has been educating health care professionals since the early 1960s. Our graduates – and many of our current students – are serving on the frontlines during this public health crisis. We are exceptionally proud of all of them, and of the quality of education they received.”

“Now more than ever, we recognize the critical role of frontline health care professionals,” says Keith Z. Brewster, Executive Director of the Stober Foundation.

“This is a strategic investment in our community’s health and well-being. COVID-19 continues to highlight the dedication and commitment of all those on the frontlines in our community, specifically health care professionals. We are incredibly honoured and proud to be able to support the education of those who will care for our community, when we need it most.”

The B.C. government has contributed $15.4 million toward the $18.9-million Centre, which will be equipped with leading-edge technology to mimic modern health care workplace settings. It replaces health labs and classrooms built in the 1960s, and will attract students to study and work in the region.

With more than 10,000 skilled worker vacancies expected in the Thompson Okanagan’s hospitals and care homes in the next 10 years, these students will be crucial to addressing the looming skills gap.

“I’ve seen first-hand the contribution of Okanagan College’s graduates to our community’s hospitals and health care settings,” says Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador for Our Students, Your Health.

“Clearly, the Stober family recognize the importance of community support for the College and the development of facilities and programs that will serve our health needs in the years to come.

“Thanks to the Stober Foundation, we’ve now raised $2.5 million, and are halfway towards our $5-million campaign goal,” observes DeHart.

“This kind of leadership at a time of economic fragility is exceptional. These are extremely challenging times both in terms of our health and the economy, but I hope those who can will consider supporting the campaign. We need this new Centre more than ever and we can’t complete it without community support.”


OC Audio Engineering and Music Production alums send new music and gratitude out into the world
Okanagan College Media Release


AEMP Students April 2020_1From local creators to international headliners, musicians around the world are rallying to provide sweet sounds of hope amid troubled times during the COVID-19 pandemic. And if a common thread runs throughout these live shows, between the trends and among the shares, it’s an increased awareness for the value music brings to our lives.

Okanagan College students Noah Potenteau and Logan Larocque are among those brightening the digital space with their talents.  

The pair recently completed the Audio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) program at Okanagan College and just released their very first EP at the end of March.

AEMP is a full-time Continuing Studies program where students gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the field of audio engineering and music production. The program has gained traction with the guidance of Corey Bell who believes in giving students extensive hands-on experience with industry-standard recording and studio systems.

Logan Larocque began playing and creating music at the age of six, even though his fingers were too small to play the chords on the guitar. His passion and creativity for music grew over time, but he never thought he could turn it into anything more than a hobby. When Larocque finished high school he had the goal of entering a business program, however in December of 2018, something changed.

“I attended my first music festival and it opened my eyes,” Larocque recalls. “I had an epiphany on the dance floor and I realized what I wanted to do with my life, which is produce and perform electronic music.”

Noah Potenteau’s motivation in applying to the program was similar: he wanted to solidify his hobby as a full-time job. While they took different paths to the College, both agree that the program has changed their lives.

“I found a program that doesn’t feel like school,” says Potenteau. “I’m so happy to come here every day. The whole academic side of this place is amazing and everybody is so supportive.”

AEMP Students April 2020_2

Both Larocque and Potenteau speak highly of their instructor Corey Bell.

“Corey is the god of mastering. It’s so easy to have a thin mix and you think it’s great, but you want it to be bricked,” says Potenteau, indicating the definition of a full and loud sound.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell commented on how the program has coped with the transition to online learning: “We were really fortunate when it came to the transition. The course that we were beginning was a directed study, so we are able to communicate to the entire class in small groups through some of the technology tools at our disposal like Blackboard Collaborate and Moodle. Students were also able to communicate via phone and text if needed.

“Unfortunately, the AEMP studio had to be closed. However, this was one of the best groups I have ever had the pleasure of working with and everyone has stuck to it and continued their efforts even in this time.”

Not only has Bell been instrumental at helping students with their musical knowledge, but also with their ambitions to enter the music industry. Potenteau praises the courses at the College, saying there are “so many valuable lessons that you can take from the class.” Larocque appreciates that “the College looks after students first.”

As the class wrapped up in mid-April, Larocque shared a post on social media with a message of gratitude for his AEMP instructors and program administrators. He summed up his experience with the program as, “the most fun I’ve ever had in a classroom throughout the last eight months.” Having started the year together, the group of students in the program had become one big family adds Larocque.

In addition to spending time in class, both Larocque and Potenteau spend time learning about music through other artists’ work.

“We dissect other people’s music to listen to what parts they are putting where and what kind of sound design they’re doing where,” adds Potenteau. It’s crucial for both students to stay ahead of the curve, noting that “we are in the innovation and creation process when it comes to making new sounds.”

As they began working more closely with each other this past November, they found that their fusions of sound worked well together and Logan commented that their music “is beyond what we thought we would create.” Cementing their partnership, they combined their love of space exploration, calling themselves the Sykonauts.

“We want our music to take you on an out-of world journey,” says Larocque.

Their first EP was released on March 27, named Syko EP, and now their sights are set on what comes next: sending their EP to music festivals and shows, with the goal of performing. As for their partnership, Noah says, “I don’t really see an end in sight. I want to make people have an epiphany on the dance floor.”

And although summer festivals and music events have been cancelled for the time being, listeners can still jam to the Sykonauts’ beats on Spotify and Apple Music, with songs titled, “Wombo Combo”, What It Do” and “Pizza Time”.

Their final thoughts for anyone thinking about the AEMP program at the College are clear: “it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be 17 or 60, if you want to take this program, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.”


Okanagan College welcomes new Vice President Students
Okanagan College Media Release


Meri Kim Oliver April 2020Okanagan College will welcome a new member to its executive leadership team when Meri Kim Oliver assumes the role of Vice President Students this summer.

Oliver comes to the College from Durham College in Oshawa, ON where she has served as vice-president Student Affairs since 2013. Prior to that appointment, she served as assistant vice-president, Student Academic Success Services at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

“As someone passionate about student development, I could not be more excited to be part of an institution with four campuses and other learning centres across the region, each with a distinct identity but all focused on providing a supportive student experience.

“When you add in the fact that the College also has one of the highest populations of Indigenous students of any college or university in the province, and that each of its campuses is home to international students from a growing number of countries, I am really looking forward to playing a role in supporting such a diverse student population.”

She is expected to assume her role at the College on August 1 or as soon thereafter as COVID-19 conditions and travel advisories will allow.

“It’s clear from speaking with a few members of the OC community already just how much people care about students here. That aligns with who I am and I am eager to be a part of that community and contribute to that culture,” adds Oliver.

“Meri Kim’s depth and breadth of experience, her knowledge of the Canadian post-secondary landscape, and her proven dedication to fostering exceptional student experience all gave us tremendous confidence that she would be a great fit for the role and an asset to the College,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“Our search for a new Vice President Students garnered interest from across the country, and we feel fortunate to be able to add her voice to the College’s senior leadership table.”

Oliver holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts and Master of Theological Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University.

She is also a published author and co-author of several works focused on student development, including Wellness as Raising Consciousness for Student Development and The Ethics of Access.


Haircuts for Health Care launches
Okanagan College Media Release

College president steps up with 5k incentive

Shaggy beards and untamed locks are an inevitable consequence of almost six weeks of physical distancing and the closure of all non-essential businesses, including our community’s beloved salons.Scott Millard April 2020

However, as people take the necessary steps to flatten the curve, many will be tempted (required!) to take their unkempt hair into their own hands. A new community fundraiser launched by the Okanagan College Foundation is encouraging those who want to take matters into their own hands, to do so for a good cause.

Haircuts for Health Care is inviting people to open up their own self-isolation salon, and hand the scissors to their spouse or children. Every chop, snip and buzz will help raise vital funds to open the doors to a state-of-the-art new Health Sciences Centre currently under construction at the College’s Kelowna campus. The new facility will help the College continue to train frontline health care professionals, as it has since the early 1960s.

The B.C. government has contributed $15.4 million toward the $18.9-million Centre, which will be equipped with leading-edge technology to mimic modern health care workplace settings. The OC Foundation is seeking to raise $5 million in total toward construction of the project as well as support for programs and awards for students.

The Foundation is encouraging people to either donate what they would typically pay for a cut, or set a fundraising goal for their network if they go for a more creative new do.

Scott Millard, Senior Executive Consultant at IG Wealth Management, was one of the first people to get involved. Preferring his hair very short, he’s set a $1,000 goal and will let his six year-old son Ross use clippers when he hits the milestone. He’s already raised more than $800.

“It feels great to see the support,” says Millard, adding many of his colleagues at IG have been contributing to the fundraiser. “My wife is a nurse, and knowing that we’re going to have more quality trained nurses in the valley is a good thing.”

Scott also dared his brother, Brett Millard, who is aiming to raise $1,001.

Haircuts for Health Care launched last weekend, has already raised more than $3,000 with nearly 90 people donating. It’s now on track to receive a major boost from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“During this difficult time, it’s great to see the community pulling together in support of education for the next generation of health care heroes,” says Hamilton.

“I’m not blessed with much hair these days so I doubt a cut would inspire significant support. So, I’m challenging the community to get involved. When the campaign reaches $10,000, I will personally donate $5,000.”

Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman says the fundraiser is a fun way to support and celebrate those working on the frontlines.

“Haircuts for Health Care reflects the reality that our collective hair is getting out of control. Combine that with the desire to support health care in the Okanagan and voila, the self-isolation salon was born. Every dollar raised will help Okanagan College open the doors to the new Health Sciences Centre and prepare the next generation of health care professionals.”

To learn more and get involved, visit


Postcard Project raises funds and connects others by mail
Okanagan College Media Release


A new initiative from an Okanagan College staff member is not only stamping out quarantine blues, but raising funds for much-needed mental health resources.Postcard Project April 2020

Katie Maryschuk works in the Public Affairs department, tasked with updating the Okanagan community about news and events happening at the College. In her spare time, she collaborates on creative projects with two friends, and the trio had been discussing earlier this year new ways of sharing their work with the online community.

That’s when the idea struck of how she could marry a few of her passions – photography, design and old-school communication – to create a positive in the dark times of quarantine.

“I love snail mail. It’s so fun to write something to someone, even if it’s just something short and sweet,” explains Maryschuk with a laugh. “And I have all these photos from my travels that I thought maybe I could do something with them.”

With the help of family members, Maryschuk selected over a dozen photos from her travels to New York, Santa Monica, Montreal, Mexico and Vancouver locations. Her blog companions encouraged her to add text to give the images more of a post-card feel, so she spent some time designing cards with inspiring and hopeful messages like “We’re in this together,” and “This too shall pass.”

She launched an online store with two different layouts, a colour-block and type series. People can purchase packs of 5 postcards, and there’s an option to donate funds to the Canadian Mental Health Association – a cause that really hits home for Maryschuk, who has dealt with mental health challenges in the past.

“Where I was this time last year feels very different, and that’s really what is driving this. I’m grateful that I have the support of my family, having a meal together at night, and having a foundation that frees up time for self-care,” she says. “Having that support system is such a blessing. It’s so important to have community. We’re not supposed to process this stuff alone, and even having small supports from organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association can make a big difference.”

Once the shop was online, she started sharing the Postcard Project on social media. She has already received a flurry of orders, and raised $500 for the Canadian Mental Health Association in just one week. Now she is working with a local supplier, Source Graphics, to get customers their postcards. 

It’s the stories that people are sharing, though, that are propelling Maryschuk forward. One customer from Saskatoon, who she has never met, shared that she was working as a social worker in a hospital and could see the dire need for mental health resources right now on the frontline.

“It’s been phenomenal. I have been blown out of the water by everyone’s reactions. I feel like people understand the mission and cause, and that’s so encouraging,” she says. “This is a gamble and you never know how it will pan out. But I think it speaks to the power of social media and using that tool for good. I know people are having to limit their social media exposure these days, but this is my way to try using it for good.”

People interested in learning about the Postcard Project can visit the shop online.


College responds with free professional development offerings during COVID-19
Okanagan College Media Release


CS PD 1 April 2020With organizations of all sizes in our communities facing uncertainty and disruption or adaptation to the way they conduct business in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Okanagan College is stepping up with resources to help individuals and employers tap into professional development offerings.

The College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department has published a new online Professional Development Resource page on its website to help people tap into free OC courses, webinars and panels. It will also point them in the direction of educational content, resources and helpful links to online education offered by others.

“It’s our aim at all times to provide relevant professional development and to be a source of positive transformation in our communities,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training for the College. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities are obviously facing challenges never anticipated. The business landscape has been unequivocally transformed. That said, our commitment to the communities we serve remains, and finds expression in this new page.”

Offerings range from webinars and courses on Small Business Strategy during COVID-19 and other crises to Working and Managing a Workforce Remotely to social media marketing, psychological first aid and other opportunities.

Continuing Studies will continue to add to the resource page in the coming weeks, and is inviting feedback from individuals and employers in the region on the types of offerings and formats that would be beneficial.

“It’s our intention to continue to enhance and diversify what we’re able to offer the community, and we hope it will be a helpful and well-utilized resource to employers during an uncertain time,” adds Silvestrone.

To find the full array of courses offered, and to register, visit