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Diverse experience distills choice for beverage centre manager
Local Enactus initiative launches into third year
Students encouraged to take the leap as business program launches at College’s Revelstoke centre
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Diverse experience distills choice for beverage centre manager

Okanagan College Media Release

Wes PetersonWes Peterson knows he has a challenging task in front of him.

He has been hired as manager of the recently-announced British Columbia Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC), which is scheduled to open its doors for service in Penticton this fall.

“The plan for the BCBTAC has been well laid out,” says Peterson, who brings with him experience in owning and operating a successful and growing brewery in Seattle. “The challenge will be in bringing it to life as envisioned, acquiring and setting up the equipment, and developing the processes and policies that will guide the technology access centre.”

The BCBTAC, which will be headquartered in Penticton, is an Okanagan College initiative that is supported by five years of funding, totaling $1.75 million, from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. It is also supported by the College and by industry as well.

Peterson is the centre’s first employee. The BCBTAC’s mission is to provide technical, analytical and business services to small- and medium-sized distilleries, cideries, breweries and wineries, focusing first on the businesses in the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen region. It will draw on expertise resident at Okanagan College and elsewhere to help those businesses grow.

Peterson has significant executive experience, having worked with Expedia in Europe as a vice-president, and with Air Canada as Branch Financial Officer. Since 2011 he has co-owned Odin Brewing Company in Seattle. Peterson was educated as a Cytogenetics Technologist at BCIT, has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from UBC, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Calgary in Finance and New Venture Development.

“Wes’ management experience with customer-focused enterprises, his background as a technologist, and his approach and leadership with a successful craft brewery in an intensely competitive environment commended him for this role,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education.

The BCBTAC is the second technology access centre in British Columbia. The other is in Victoria, at Camosun College. The network of technology access centres across Canada is funded by the federal government, and are focused on addressing the applied research and innovation needs of local companies.

When Okanagan College’s successful application for a TAC was announced in June, there were 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries and 24 craft breweries within the College’s catchment area, which stretches from Revelstoke to the U.S. border.

For more information on BCBTAC, visit

Local Enactus initiative launches into third year
Okanagan College Media Release

Good things come in threes, and after two successful years, Okanagan College’s Enactus team is ready to launch Accelerate Youth into a third year of growth this fall.

Designed by Enactus students and led by third-year business administration student Jessica Egyed, the Accelerate Youth project teaches practical life skills in the areas of financial and nutritional literacy to students within the alternative school system. Piloted at the Westside Learning Centre in the fall of 2017, the program saw rapid growth after eager students jumped at the chance to learn new skills.Accelerate Youth Aug 2019

Receiving a $6,000 grant from the TELUS Thompson Okanagan Community Board in the fall of 2018 provided the Enactus team with the funds necessary to expand in their second year at two additional locations, Central School and the Rutland Learning Centre.

In response to enrolment jumping from 25 students in the pilot to 72 students across all three locations, the Accelerate Youth volunteer team also grew from four to 17 volunteers. Over the past year alone, they put in over 1,000 hours and facilitated 50 in-class sessions.

“The impact our team has been able to have in the lives of the students has been amazing and extremely rewarding,” says Egyed. “As the students realized what Accelerate Youth was teaching them was relevant to the challenges they face day to day, they really embraced the program.”

As the program grows, so does the curriculum, enhanced this past year to include a comprehensive budgeting project, career preparation, social responsibility and project management elements. A continued partnership with a local non-profit organization, Start Fresh, provides students with hands-on opportunities to enhance culinary knowledge and skills and a new partnership with CIBC sees representatives lend their expertise on everyday banking.

At Central School, the curriculum focused primarily on social responsibility and project management. Students learned the importance of how simple actions can have a lasting impact in their communities. Accelerate Youth’s team guided the students through the process of planning and executing an event to raise funds for a beneficiary of their choice. Their event, “Shout Out for Youth” raised a total of $790 for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs’ Youth Shelter. The shelter is a voluntary resource for youth ages 13-18 that are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have no safe alternatives. The connection between the Accelerate Youth program and shelter is also a personal one; several of the students participating have accessed the shelter in the past.

“When young people lead an initiative that benefits young people they set an example for all of us to follow,” says Sarah MacKinnon, Youth Housing Director of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club. “It takes a village to house a child and we are thrilled that the students who participated in this project are part of our village.”

The Enactus team regularly competes in regional and national expositions, and recently earned a second place finish in the Youth Empowerment category at the Enactus Canada Regional Exposition for the impact of Accelerate Youth. These competitions provide opportunities for Enactus teams from across the country to showcase the impact of projects to panels of business professionals. The team hopes to continue building on their success as they anticipate more growth this fall

For more information on Accelerate Youth or Enactus Okanagan College, contact Enactus OC President, Jacob Pushor


Students encouraged to take the leap as business program launches at College’s Revelstoke centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Carolyn Gibson July 2019_2Carolyn Gibson and her family moved west for the mountains, but it was the business landscape that connected her closely to the Revelstoke community.

The long-time Okanagan College instructor says there are plenty of prospects for budding entrepreneurs and business people looking for four-season opportunities in Revelstoke – and now couldn’t be a better time to take the leap.

The next generation of managers and entrepreneurs will learn the skills needed to succeed in business this fall, when the Tourism Management Diploma kicks off at the Revelstoke centre.

“Management studies are so valuable, because it creates an understanding of what a manager role involves, but also the importance of those small tasks and actions, the little things, that can impact the overall operation,” she says. “The tourism management piece is understanding that your actions impact somebody’s experience.”

Gibson’s family owns and operates Revy Outdoors and The Pines B&B. Those are her visible enterprises in addition to business consulting in the region as well as mentorship/coaching work for Startup Revelstoke.

“We’re not a resort town, we’re a mountain community,” she says. “My family is focused on tourism, but we have all these different industries here that make it a diverse community.”

“What’s amazing is that we have such support from a networking perspective, but also a philosophy where a lot of people in town want to support other local entrepreneurs. It’s a great place,” she says. “Through Startup Revelstoke, I am running into people with a range of ideas in different industries.”

Gibson has been a long-time Continuing Studies instructor, offering Leadership Essentials classes in the Shuswap for many years, in addition to offering advising services to Queen’s University on its Master of Business Administration program. This fall, she will be teaching a Computer Basics course, building critical skills for business students to navigate a tech-savvy world.

“Being able to take your idea and get it down on paper in a logical way that people can read and understand it is vital. Are you familiar with online templates to help you save time? Do you know how to use a PowerPoint to quickly tell potential investors what your business idea is about? You’re going to need to be able to track financials using Excel,” she says.

And while technology can provide solutions, she explains, it is still critical for students to understand the concept behind its use. “Google Forms are emerging and can be very useful. The templates are there, but how do you use them? Getting the most out of those forms and technology is so important.”

Students in TMD will cover a broad array of business topics like accounting, financial management, marketing and digital applications. The program also serves as a two-year diploma in business, which students can use to ladder into additional studies at Okanagan College for the Bachelor of Business Administration Degree.

There are a few spaces available in the program. For information, visit
 or call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259.


Tom Foord’s plane donated to Okanagan College

A plane representing a lifelong passion for flying from one of Vernon’s most successful entrepreneurs will find new wings as a training tool at Okanagan College.

Robert Foord along with family members, donated Tom Foord’s plane to the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) program during a small ceremony at its Vernon Aerospace campus today.

Group shot of Foord family and OC representativesTom was the co-founder of Kal Tire, which grew from a small tire shop in Vernon to an international business.

“My dad loved flying and he loved this community,” says Robert, Kal Tire President and one of Tom’s five children.

“He also put enormous value on education and hands-on training and would be proud that his plane has been donated to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer students for that very purpose.” 

The keys to the Cessna 210G – Centurion plane were turned over to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.

Hamilton thanked the Foord family and explained how the aircraft will provide new training opportunities while inspiring students.

“We know how important hands-on training is for students to solidify their learning and this plane will provide that. This Cessna also demonstrates to our students that the community supports their education. Tom Foord exemplified hard work, determination and community spirit. We hope his legacy of reaching for the sky inspires students,” says Hamilton.

“I want to express Okanagan College’s sincere gratitude to the Foord family for their continued support of trades training in the North Okanagan.”

In addition to the plane, Kal Tire donated $250,000 to Okanagan College’s Trades Training Centre in Vernon, which opened one year ago. 

A decal in memory of Tom was placed on the plane and a plaque sharing his story will be on display in the training hangar.



New bursaries make Health Care Assistant program accessible to all

Okanagan College Media Release

New bursaries established by BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) will provide nearly a full scholarship for aspiring Health Care Assistants (HCA) at Okanagan College.

HCAGlenmoreLodgeThe non-profit that represents non-government operators of long-term care, assisted living and independent home care and support, is allotting $25,000 this year to set up eight student awards at the College valued at $3,125 each. The awards almost completely pay the tuition for the 6-month HCA Certificate program, which costs $3,300.

"Health-care assistants play a significant role in our health system by providing day-to-day care to seniors and people with disabilities," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“These positions are in demand throughout the province and these bursaries will provide people with an opportunity to enter into a rewarding career that makes a real difference in peoples’ everyday lives."

In total, BCCPA is committing $100,000 to bursaries at post-secondary institutions across the province over the next three years.

The Okanagan College bursaries will give preference to Aboriginal students and anyone with past experience working or volunteering in health care.

“We want to attract more people to meaningful careers in seniors care,” says Aly Devji, BCCPA board chair.

“These bursaries will make it possible for anyone, regardless of financial ability, to become an HCA. We’re excited to be able to launch more people into rewarding careers working with seniors.”

The $25,000 gift will support Okanagan College’s $5-million fundraising campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre on its Kelowna campus. In addition to raising funds for the modern Centre, the fundraising campaign aims to create new student awards to encourage more people to enter high-demand health care careers. 

BCCPA is deeply aware of the staffing shortages for health care professionals in the province, and especially the Okanagan. In 2018, BCCPA released a paper highlighting the issue called “The Perfect Storm: A Health Human Resource Crisis in Seniors Care.”

The paper outlines how an aging workforce, low-recruitment rates, high incidence of worker burnout and injury, funding challenges, and the increasing acuity level of seniors in care, are all factors that have contributed to create a perfect storm.

The report also recommends a number of solutions to address the issue, including attracting a younger generation of workers by providing tuition relief and bursaries for students.

“We’re very grateful to BC Care Providers for providing such significant support for students,” says Yvonne Moritz, Okanagan College Dean of Science, Technology and Health.


"Many mature students and single parents are attracted to the HCA program because of its short duration and the good paying jobs available, but for many, the cost of the program is a barrier. These awards will provide a significant stepping stone into a gratifying career.”

Teresa Wyman (right) knows first-hand the importance of awards for HCA students. Wyman, 51, was working at Superstore for 20 years when she decided to follow her passion for caregiving and enrol in the HCA program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Wyman took out student loans to pay for her tuition and received several student awards that helped her pay for the costs of the education. She says the new awards will go a long way in helping attract more students.

“I think it’s a great idea as there is a need among students in the program,” says Wyman, who adds she feels grateful to be following her dream.

“I go home on the weekend and can’t wait to go back to school on Monday. When I graduate I get to go out and help people, which is so nice.”



New College camp introduces girls to carpentry

Okanagan College Media Release

Malaika Dutta 2019A fresh addition to Okanagan College’s inventory of summer camps is cultivating wood-be carpenters among girls aged nine to 12.

Carpentry Projects for Girls is a camp that offers girls a chance to be creative in the woodworking shop at the College’s Kelowna campus, and gives them an introduction to trades.

“I was in the go-kart camp a couple of weeks ago, and on the last day of camp, I told my parents I wanted to come back,” says Malaika Dutta, a nine-year-old participant. “I really liked the idea of learning how to build things. I’ve never made anything like this before, but now I’m starting to think about things that I can make at home.”

The camp is led by Red Seal endorsed trades instructors, and Women in Trades Training (WITT) mentors have been stopping in to lend a helping hand.

“It’s fantastic to have the girls in here this young,” says Mary-Jaye Salmon, Red Seal Endorsed Carpenter and WITT mentor of 11 years. “They’re smart and in tune with health and safety. It’s great to show them the possibilities they have for their future. Maybe they won’t end up making a career choice of trades, but it definitely shows them that they can, and maybe sparks another interest of theirs that they will go on to pursue.”

This week, the girls have been building a number of small pieces including bird-shaped doorstops and planters, and will work together building oversized, outdoor games such as Jenga, dice, and corn hole.

“This camp is a great addition to CampOC,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “Our WITT program does a tremendous job of providing opportunities for women to pursue a successful career in the trades, and this camp allows us to introduce these same possibilities to the next generation.”

This pilot project was funded by the Government of Canada's Union Training and Innovation Program – Women in Construction Fund, delivered through Industry Training Authority (ITA).

“This camp puts the tools in girls’ hands, letting them be creative in a fun, safe, and educational setting,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of ITA. “They are able to explore their own skills and hopefully find their passion in the skilled trades.”

As the camp came to a close today, parents, ITA and OC staff joined the girls for a barbeque and an afternoon of playing the games they built. 

With camps spanning from Revelstoke to the South Okanagan, CampOC offers a variety of camps each summer for students in Grades 2-12.

For more information on CampOC, visit

More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at

UBC and Okanagan College create green construction centre


A formal partnership between UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College has established a Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) that will provide new research options and create hands-on practical training opportunities for students.

GCRTC July 2019Professor
Shahria Alam, with UBCOs School of Engineering, has been appointed the first director of UBCs newest research and training centre. Ashley Lubyk from Okanagan Colleges Sustainable Construction Management Technology program has been appointed as the co-director for the centre.

Our goal is to create a hub where innovation in green construction is fostered,” explains Alam. “We are already starting to develop shared capstone projects for our students and establishing a speaker series that focuses on green construction and smart energy use.”

GCRTC will generate and expand knowledge in the areas of green (environment-friendly) constructionincluding materials, structural components and systems, and construction management. The objectives are to create civil infrastructure that is safe, durable, energy-efficient and affordable through innovative technologies, he explains. Industry collaborations are already underway with anticipated spin-off companies creating a community that supports self-sustainability and local economic development.

This centre ties in extremely well with our institutional focus on sustainability,” notes Andrew Hay, Okanagan Colleges vice-president, education. “We are looking forward to furthering our collaboration with professor Alam, his colleagues and UBC Okanagan to advance the green building agenda.”

s research focuses on smart materials and their structural applications in infrastructure including seismic rehabilitation of structures and performance-based design. He is the chair of the Engineering Mechanics and Materials Division of Canadian Society of Civil Engineering and an associate editor of the Journal Bridge Engineering.

more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, Alam stresses the importance of continuing to grow this sector in the Okanagan and its potential for a national and global impact.

This joint initiative with Okanagan College will equip our students and researchers with the tools necessary to continue to innovate in the areas of green construction with a focus on sustainability,” he adds.

collaboration with various municipalities, provincial bodies, Infrastructure Canada, construction associations and a large team of faculty members (from a range of disciplines including structural engineering, materials science, robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, management, environmental science, economics and sociology), the centre will seek to develop transformative, paradigm-changing research that will be strategically vital to the construction industry.

of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq says the centre is well-positioned to address the needs of the construction industry.

Bringing together the expertise of our research faculty along with our colleagues from Okanagan College, we are confident that the centre will have a long-lasting positive impact into the future,” he adds.

UBC and Okanagan College have existing trades and technology programs and projects related to design and construction of future buildings. According to Alam, the Green Construction Research & Training Centre will find synergies between the two institutions wherever possible.

Sharing ideas and expertise will be at the forefront of our success moving forward,” says Alam.

centre has already launched a speaker series. More information can be found



Gladys Fraser named new Chair of Okanagan College Foundation
Okanagan College Media Release

Thirty years of experience working with Okanagan College will serve Gladys Fraser well as she takes on the role of Chair with the Okanagan College Foundation Board of Directors.Gladys Fraser July 2019

Fraser began hiring Okanagan College graduates in the 1990s in her role as branch manager of Scotiabank in Kelowna. Impressed by the quality of the graduates, she began collaborating with the College further, including helping write the curriculum for banking and customer service and teaching a Continuing Studies course on exam preparation.

She joined the Okanagan College Foundation Board four years ago, to support its fundraising efforts for student scholarships, bursaries and capital projects.

“I’m delighted to be named Chair of the Foundation Board as I believe in the work the College is doing for students and our economy,” says Fraser.

“The College creates great opportunities for people to get a world-class education and not have to travel outside of the valley.”

Fraser’s passion for education also has her serving as the President of the District Parent Advisory Committee in School District 22. Her community involvement spans a variety of sectors, including previously serving as President of the North Okanagan Hospice Society, Leadership Chair with the United Way Southern Interior B.C., and the Vice-President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

“Gladys brings a passion for the transformative power of education and a depth of governance experience which will guide the Foundation during this time of renewal and growth,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“This is an exciting time for the Foundation, as we work with the community to enhance Okanagan College’s campuses and our students. I’m looking forward to working with Gladys as we lead the Foundation together.”

Fraser takes over the leadership position during the early stages of a new fundraising campaign for a Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus. According to Fraser, the College fills an important gap in providing skills training, including health-care practitioners to serve the region.

“A new Health Sciences Centre is part of the renewal at the College that is so critical as our current health building is more than 50 years old,” she says.

“In the Centre, students will learn in labs and simulation spaces that mimic today’s health-care settings. Our entire region will benefit from having a modern training centre.”

Fraser succeeds Sharron Simpson, who served as President since 2017, and as a Board Director since 2013. Fraser says she is following great leadership, as Simpson oversaw the Foundation during four capital projects and a time of extensive growth at the College.

Current Board Directors Kimberly Gilhooly (Vernon) and Alan Sanderson (Kelowna) were elected Vice-Chairs of the Okanagan College Foundation.

Gilhooly has leadership experience in community development and facility management, having helped oversee the operations of three new facilities. She also has extensive background in leading non-profit sport organizations, having started a national women’s coaching program for Coaching Association of Canada and founding Pacificsport Okanagan, which helps lead athlete, coach, and community sport services in the valley.

Sanderson is currently a partner with BDO Canada and previously a partner of Sanderson & Company Chartered Accountants. Sanderson is actively engaged in the community and philanthropy in the Okanagan, having supported numerous charities and philanthropic projects.

More information about the Foundation’s current Board, mission, and projects is available at


OC’s Vernon campus flies Syilx flag permanently
Okanagan College Media Release

Vernon ONA Flag Raising July 2019A Syilx Okanagan Nation flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, after a historic ceremony today.

Representatives of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), Okanagan Indian Band and Okanagan College gathered today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

“We are very pleased that Okanagan College has chosen to recognize our people and our legacy through this important and permanent symbol,” says Okanagan Indian Band Councillor Allan Louis. “For centuries our people have thrived in the area. And for many decades we have weathered injustices that have taken a huge toll on our nation. It is gestures like this event today that help move us all toward a more equitable and mutually beneficial relationship.”

“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. Today’s flag raising is a symbolic gesture, as well as an incremental step toward Indigenization and authentic partnership that can enrich the education of learners,” says Chris Derickson, Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair.

Today’s flag raising is the second ceremony recognizing Indigenous peoples in whose lands the College resides; last month, the College raised a permanent ONA flag at the Kelowna campus.

“Indigenization is about learning more about Indigenous knowledge, people and place, and it starts by acknowledging the Syilx Okanagan people on whose traditional territory we live, learn, work and play,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Every day moving forward, our students, staff and community will see this flag and feel inspired by this symbol of respect and reconciliation.”Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip July 2019

Dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and the ONA. Elder Pauline Archachan opened the ceremony with a blessing. Amber Cardenas sang The Okanagan Song as the flag was raised by Okanagan Indian Band students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag features animals, water and the landscape significant to the area, as a representation of Syilx Okanagan people’s understanding of living in reciprocity and harmony with the natural world.

The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Vernon campus, which includes the Kalamalka Garden – green space containing indigenous food plants from the Okanagan territory, as well as other native species that are significant to Indigenous people of the region.


New technology training program at OC set to expand
Okanagan College Media Release

A new program at Okanagan College is helping high school students understand how current technology will shape their careers.

Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the Gateway to Technology program provided 13 School District 67 students in Grades 10 – 12 with an enhanced understanding of how various technologies function.

The pilot program, which included students from Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, wrapped up at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 20.Wilcox and Moore July 2019

“Code seemed like magic,” says Tealya Wilcox, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School last month. “But our instructors explained how things work during lectures and we have the chance to apply what we learn in hands-on sessions. While this may not be key to the heavy mechanic training I hope to pursue, having the skills to understand technology and its many applications is important.”

The diversity of the program is what piqued Erik Moore’s interest. “I think an understanding of how technology works, from hardware to programming, will be useful to me and my classmates as we’re looking for jobs,” says Moore, who also recently graduated from Penticton Secondary School. “In the future, I may pursue specific technical training to supplement my chosen area of study in economics.”

“We have had a wide range of students in the program and the common theme throughout is their enthusiasm for technology,” says Trevor Knowlton, Career and Apprentice Coordinator for SD67. “It has been great to partner with Okanagan College to provide this Tech Gateway program for our students. Showing them the many different career opportunities that are available to them with these skills has been a huge success.”

With the initial success, Okanagan College has been working with other school districts to set up similar training. The next cohort is scheduled to begin in Vernon this September, with plans for School Districts 23, 53 and 83 in the works for February 2020.

Gateway to Technology programming will be one of the electives offered within each school district and students will receive credits towards graduation.

“The opportunity to teach the students in the Gateway to Technology program has been truly rewarding,” says Troy Berg, Professor of Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology at Okanagan College. “The students have been exposed to a fascinating variety of technologies and concepts, and it has been exhilarating to see them find excitement and passion in areas they can use to create a vast range of dynamic and fulfilling career opportunities for themselves in the years to come.”

The program covers two main components – information technology essentials and an introduction to coding and web development. It is led by Berg and Sarah Foss, computer science instructor, both of Okanagan College, and combines lectures with hands-on lab learning opportunities.

“We know technology plays a significant role in our lives and that will only continue to grow in the future,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College. “With the completion of the pilot program, we’re exploring opportunities to continue opening doors for more students to become aware of the possibilities for careers and education in the world of technology. If the project builds or heightens a passion for this type of work, it will have been successful.”


Go-kart camp lets girls test-drive a career in the trades
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s go-kart camp for girls is revving its engines again this year during the College’s popular CampOC summer camps.

Girls Can Go-Kart Too! is a camp that not only offers girls in Grades 4-6 a chance to sit in the driver’s seat, but also gives them hands-on training that could steer them towards a career in trades.Skyla Golbey GoKart July 2019

The camp was created in 2018 by the College and the Industry Training Authority (ITA), who provided funding both last year and this year to help bring the project to life.

“This camp is a great opportunity for young women to learn and directly apply useful skills in a fun environment,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of ITA. “It’s a hugely enjoyable program for the young women, who we hope will become the skilled trades people of the future.”

This week 14 girls stepped into the automotive shop at the Kelowna campus, tackling everything from designing their go-karts to working on small engines, changing the oil, patching and replacing tires, testing and fixing brakes, and installing ignition kill switches – all under the watchful eye of OC Red Seal endorsed trades instructors.

“Last year I saw the girls racing the go-karts in the parking lot and it looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to try it this year,” says Skyla Golbey, a Grade 6 student. “I haven’t built one before but my uncle builds cars so I’ve been around them a lot. We’ve been learning about all the tools and how an engine works.”

Golbey agreed that knowing how to change a tire will be useful and that the highlight of the week will be “racing the karts, making sure they actually work, and getting dirty.”

While the camp was designed to help girls build their skills in the shop, connecting them with mentors is another priority.

“There was incredible interest in the pilot project,” explains Nancy Darling, Program Administrator for the College’s Women in Trades Training program (WITT). “The girls gain automotive knowledge and build confidence; they learn new skills that they will carry with them after the week is finished and they also made a few new friends.”

The camp wraps up today where the girls will take part in a friendly race around a race track that they built, followed by a BBQ with their parents, instructors and officials from the College. The race starts at 12:30 p.m. at Okanagan College Kelowna campus.

“This camp is a great opportunity for young girls to experience what the skilled trades are all about,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “It’s great to see how excited they are to get into the shop. We hope their experience at the College sparks an interest that leads them to think about the many career possibilities open to them.”

CampOC is in its 15th year in Kelowna and offers a variety of camps each summer for students in Grades 2-12.

For more information on CampOC visit

More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at


Students get head start with Thorpe and Friends Scholarships
Okanagan College Media Release

With three older siblings already attending post-secondary, Miya Stel is grateful to receive a $2,500 scholarship to help her attend Okanagan College this fall.

She is one of three Penticton high-school students who received a Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship during a special ceremony June 26.
 Thorpe Scholarship June 2019

“It means a lot to be chosen for this award and it’s going to make my education more affordable,” says Stel, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School and will be pursuing a Criminal and Social Justice diploma.

“Okanagan College was my first choice and I’m super grateful I was awarded the opportunity to stay at home.”

Joining Stel in receiving scholarships are Maximus Mandaione from Princess Margaret Secondary School and Emily Caruso from Penticton Secondary School.

The main criteria for the annual awards is that the students demonstrate good grades and contribute to their communities.

For Stel, this meant hosting bake sales with the funds supporting a clean water and sanitation project in Haiti, as well as raising money to support the introduction of a new recycling and composting program at her school.

Seventeen-year-old Mandaione volunteers with several programs which enriched his life when he was younger: the Young at Art program run by the Penticton Art Gallery and the Salvation Army’s Fresh from the Farm program. The farm program sees children learn how to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for residents in need.

“It’s rewarding to see the work I do in the community is being recognized in this way,” says Mandaione, adding the funds are a relief and will help him pay for a four-year business degree at the College.

Helping young people is meaningful for the Thorpes, who have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for 13 years.

“These young students are our future,” says Rick. “We are very pleased to support them and we wish them all the best in their careers.”

Yasmin notes, “Our scholarships give students a springboard to help them reach their goals and also assist in reducing their costs for post-secondary education.”

Since 2006, the Thorpes have awarded 65 awards totalling $139,250 to South Okanagan College students.

“The contributions of Rick and Yasmin Thorpe to students in the South Okanagan are exceptional,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“They’ve opened doors for students who might not otherwise be able to attend school and recognized students for getting involved and improving their communities. We are deeply grateful for their continued support of students at the College.”


Therapist Assistant program helps mature student get moving on her career
Okanagan College Media Release

Katie Woznow June 2019Katie Woznow always knew she wanted to further her education and apply for her master’s degree in occupational therapy. But when the time came to apply, she didn’t feel quite ready to make that commitment, and instead found a program that could get her into the same working environment much sooner.

“I found the Therapist Assistant Diploma program, and thought it would be a great way to learn more about the role of other disciplines,” explains Woznow. “It also allowed me to work directly with clients and patients much sooner than I would have been able to.”

Okanagan College has been educating physio, occupational and recreation therapist assistants for over 25 years. The Therapist Assistant Diploma program (TAD) was one of the first of its kind in Canada to be nationally accredited.
It originally launched as a one-year certificate in 1990, transforming into a two-year diploma in 2005.

“I really enjoyed the variety of what we learned and the sense of community that the program offered,” says Woznow. “The instructors are amazing, always caring and there to support you when you need it. They have such an abundance of knowledge, and are so willing to share it with us that it made for such a valuable learning experience.”

TAD includes 18 weeks of practical experience in clinical settings, giving students an idea of the vast positions that await them post-graduation.

“Two of my placements were in acute care and it really showed me how fast-paced a hospital environment can be,” says Woznow. “There can be so much variety in the conditions you encounter that each day might be something new. It is also a really great place to practice and gain confidence in your skills because you are surrounded by other professionals that are often willing to help answer any questions you may have and offer different perspectives.”

In April, Woznow was awarded the Bonnie Thiessen Award. This award is determined by the graduating TAD class for a student they feel has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude, perseverance, and has fostered goodwill, respect and support among classmates.

“Katie thrives in environments where she is challenged to use and grow her knowledge and clinical skills, and interact with clients, families and team members,” says TAD Chair Jennifer Stephenson. “Her enthusiasm and commitment to the program could be seen by all of our instructors at OC. She is a wonderful ambassador for the Therapist Assistant program.”

“I really feel I have chosen a career that I can be excited for, and I no longer feel lost or unsure which is such a great feeling,” says Woznow.

Woznow was chosen to address the graduating class at tonight’s convocation. Tonight marks the final graduation ceremony for Okanagan College in 2019. By the end of the evening, the College will have sent out over 2,000 graduates into the world to embark on their next journey.

For more information on the Therapist Assistant Diploma visit


Students savour traditional flavours and practices on Indigenous Culinary Arts field trip
Okanagan College Media Release

Salmon fillets roast on stakes over an open fire while roe bubbles up in a steaming pot of vegetable and fish soup nearby. These are signs of a finished and ready-to-eat meal, yet indicate the start of something special cooking here at Okanagan College.Fish

On a field trip to the Westbank First Nation late last month, OC’s Indigenous Culinary Arts class had the opportunity to learn about the traditional Okanagan-Syilx style of cooking in a hands-on experience, hosted by Elders Pamela and Grouse Barnes. The gastronomic outing contained a variety of chopping, mixing and other culinary techniques all aimed at producing a final meal for the class to enjoy together.

The field trip to the Barnes’ property felt like home for many of them, despite the differences in style and practice.

“This has been quite the experience,” says Ruby Pahtayken, a student from the Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. “All of this is new to me. Back home, we don’t have the same fish, but this is how we uniformly cook it, over the open fire. Cooking like this in your own backyard and learning the teachings from our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers, brings me back home.”

The field trip is an important ingredient of the brand new intake which launched this past March, as part of the broader Culinary Arts program offered at the College. With tradition at the heart of the new program, students follow the same curriculum to that of their counterparts in other intakes, but the flavour of Indigenous culture is heavily infused.

Walking with the students at each step in the process, the Barnes’ passion for teaching future generations lies in the sharing of knowledge, and in this case, hands-on learning. Together with family, they run Wildrose Native Traditions, where they lead field trips for students in the area, teaching about Indigenous culture.

“For me, it’s about sharing knowledge, sharing the stuff that we do,” Grouse explains. “We share because we know that the knowledge we share is like a calm pond. When you throw a pebble in the middle, the ripple affects not only students here, but whoever they’re going to teach: their kids, grandbabies, where they take this knowledge.”

Ruby Pahtayken June 2019Pahtayken adds that the gathering and foraging of plants serves as a metaphor for her returning home to Saskatchewan with new knowledge.

“What I can utilize and gather here in the field is similar to the gathering of information. I can take it back home to Saskatchewan and I can share it with my community.”

These values of applied learning are integral to the program, something Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at OC, Jonathan Rouse, says acknowledges the value of Indigenous culture in the area and within the food industry as well.

“The culinary world is still predicated on very historical European practices. We’re moving much farther than that,” he explains. “Here’s an opportunity for us to take local Indigenous values and practices and see how we can embed them into the curriculum and learn from that.

“The Okanagan is so rich and diverse; it’s really a classroom. It brings the whole food and culinary scene alive.”

The program is open to anyone, however, every student in the inaugural class is from a Canadian Indigenous background. The pilot is supported by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and the Okanagan Training and Development Council (OTDC), which also plays a part in assisting students from the moment they enrol to the time they begin searching for a job.

As the pilot program continues, the Culinary Arts department will look to both current and prospective students to gauge the growth and progression of the program. With more field trips like this one planned for the future, prospective students can learn more about the Indigenous intake at


Geoscientists roll into Penticton for NAGT conference
Okanagan College Media Release

Geoscience Conference June 2019Did you know the Okanagan Valley is divided by a fault line?

Maybe not. But if you did, then you’d be right in line with the college instructors who arrived in Penticton for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers annual conference yesterday. Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence filled with some of the Pacific Northwest’s best and brightest rock enthusiasts, keen to dig into the region’s geological landscape for the next two days.

Heading the three-day conference is Todd Redding, Okanagan College’s Professor of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Based out of the Penticton campus, Redding saw the potential in bringing the conference to the Okanagan for the first time.

“The valley is split down the middle by a big fault, which has resulted in very different rock types on either side of the valley,” says Redding.

“On top of this we have an amazing glacial history that leads to many of the interesting landforms we see. This geology – combined with our unique climate – allows for the ability to grow excellent wine grapes and tree fruit.”

These interesting landforms include Giant’s Head Mountain, just a stone’s throw from Penticton in the nearby town of Summerland. Now an extinct volcano, this hike and the accompanying view were a part of this morning’s field trip outing.

A visit to the cliffs that sit beneath the well-known Penticton sign is part of the itinerary too, along with a drive to the Naramata Bench and Skaha Lake to explore various types of rock and glacial sediments.

However, the most intriguing geoscience element that attracted attendees to the conference is in the wine that the region is so famous for. The local terroir is a focus of the conference, with a feature keynote held yesterday on the relationship between wine, geology and the soils of the sprawling vineyards of the south Okanagan.

“Wineries take the idea of terroir very seriously. It is a key consideration that most producers take into account when choosing a vineyard site,” says Redding.

While the conference kicked off Tuesday, it continues through until tomorrow. Held on campus to start, attendees had the opportunity to present research, teaching techniques, as well as undergraduate findings. The two days following include site visits mentioned previously as well as other outings, including a highly anticipated visit to a winery or two.

All of the field trip sites are within a short distance of the Penticton campus, and are locations that provide research and learning opportunities for Okanagan College students. As instructor of first- and second-year Physical Geography, Weather, Climate and Environmental Sciences courses, Redding takes his students on field trips regularly, noting the high value in learning about processes in the field.

Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for South Okanagan-Similkameen adds that “the NAGT conference coming to Penticton is a great opportunity for both our instructors and students to learn from and collaborate with world-class geoscientists.”

“The Okanagan region has a naturally convincing pull, and we hope that by hosting this conference, we’re able to share more about diverse geography and the work our Geography, Earth & Environmental Science department is doing in the field of education and research.”

While Redding’s classes are out for the summer, he still has two students volunteering at the conference. The sessions and field trips are educational and social at the same time – an opportunity for people to meet, learn and glean from each other. Attendees will be permitted to take photos and collect rocks at certain sites, taking them back to their respective institutions for case studies and examples for classroom teaching.

For more conference information, visit
 or contact Todd Redding at


Student relearns how to take steps forward

Okanagan College Media Release

Kate Camire webAfter a motor vehicle accident that left her paralyzed and with no memory of who she was, Kate Camire was told that she would never fully recover.

Fast forward 12 years to today where Camire will walk across the stage at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus after successfully completing her Medical Office Assistant certificate.

“I had a traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on my right side,” explains Camire. “I had to relearn my name, how to read, how to spell, how to walk. After two years, I hadn’t improved much and the doctors said it was unlikely that I would make much more progress.”

But with determination, Camire relearned the skills she had lost, and worked hard to improve her memory.

“I graduated from high school that same year and went on to teach parent-tot and preschool gymnastics,” adds Camire. “I was walking with a cane at the time, but was able to get around and run if I needed to. After that, I decided I just needed to keep going and that I needed to do something with my life.”

Camire started taking first aid courses and coaching at Douglas College before eventually enrolling in OC’s Medical Office Assistant program (MOA).

“The same day I applied to the College, I had to go in and do a typing test before the program started that evening,” says Camire. “I live in Sorrento, my typing test was in Salmon Arm and my first class was at the Vernon campus,” she adds, laughing.

MOA is a 254-hour program that prepares students for employment in reception, clerical, or assisting positions in hospitals and medical offices. The program involves a lot of memorizing, as students learn medical terminology – another challenge that Camire was able to overcome.

“Medical terminology actually became one of my favourite courses,” says Camire. “Our instructor, Mag, was so great. There was always a lot of laughing in the class which made it a fun learning experience.”

“It was a pleasure having Kate in my class,” says Margaret Evans, Continuing Studies Instructor. “Kate has overcome tremendous obstacles. She has such a drive for success and a willingness to help her classmates. I am happy to have had the chance to get to know her.”

Today, Camire celebrates, along with 133 other Vernon students, the end of her program, another hurdle she was able to overcome.

“Today means so much to me. It means I pulled off another success I didn’t think I could. I am absolutely thrilled,” says Camire. “I’ve applied to Interior Health in Kamloops and I hope to be working in a regular clinic soon.”

As the graduates receive their credentials, they will also be addressed by Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton.

“Regardless of their path, the graduates have one thing in common: they arrived at OC with aspirations about their future,” says Hamilton. “Now, as they cross the stage, we get a glimpse into the future of our society. These are the people that will transform the communities around us.”

By the end of this week, Okanagan College will have sent over 2,000 graduates into the working world this academic year.

The Vernon Convocation starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus. Those who cannot make the ceremony can watch the graduands receive their credentials on OC’s Facebook live stream.

OC pops the top on Technology Access Centre to benefit B.C.’s beverage industries
Okanagan College Media Release

British Columbia’s wine, beer, cider, and spirits industries have a new source of support, courtesy of an initiative by Okanagan College and funding from the federal government.

BCBTAC Announcement June 2019Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, announced federal funding for 12 technology access centres on Thursday at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Okanagan College’s proposed BC Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC) is among them. With $1.75 million in federal funding over five years, it will be headquartered at the College’s Penticton campus and will be providing testing and business services and applied research assistance to the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries in the region and throughout the province.

“This is very exciting for the industries and for Okanagan College,” notes OC President Jim Hamilton. “We have developed a significant track record of training and support for the wine industry over the past quarter century and have been focused on how we could leverage college expertise and personnel to assist all these growing industries. The industry support for the proposal we developed has been phenomenal and the input that organizations, businesses and individuals provided was invaluable.”

“From the perspective of a co-owner of a small winery, I know the BCBTAC will be a valuable asset in the development of the industries it is setting out to serve,” says Daniel Bibby, co-owner of Nighthawk Vineyards. “Whether it is consumer research or analytical services, having this asset in the region will be one of the ways that we advance the agendas of quality and reputation.”

“There were a host of people who rallied around the idea of this technology access centre – both at Okanagan College and externally – and brought it to life,” notes Dr. Andrew Hay, the College’s Vice President Education. “From our faculty researchers, to our Deans and Directors, along with many leaders in these industries – there were so many people who worked diligently to make this real I can’t begin to name them all.”

One person Hay gave special credit to was Sandra Oldfield, former co-owner of Tinhorn Creek Winery and organizer of the Fortify conference in 2018 who was brought in as a consultant to help Okanagan College put the pieces together and to ensure links with the appropriate people in the industries.

“Now there’s even more work to be done,” notes Hamilton. “We have already started renovations and been advertising for key personnel. Our goal is to have the BCBTAC begin operations early this fall.”

Okanagan College research shows that within its catchment area, there are 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries, and 24 craft breweries. The numbers are growing weekly. The BCBTAC will be providing analytical and sensory services, along with a full suite of business services to assist this vibrant and growing sector of the economy.

TACs are centres established by colleges to address the applied research and innovation needs of local companies. The federal TAC Grants are awarded for five years and are renewable. Okanagan College will receive $350,000 annually for each of those five years. The BCBTAC will be British Columbia’s second TAC. The other is at Camosun College.BCBTAC Logo

TACs provide capabilities that serve applied research and innovation needs of regional firms. TAC capabilities may include advice on specific company challenges, specialized technical assistance, applied research and/or development projects for companies, and/or specialized training.

The BCBTAC was chosen for federal funding after a thorough process (overseen by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - NSERC) which drew applications from across the country. Initial proposals last summer were winnowed down to proponents who were asked to develop full business plans for review by NSERC. A two-day onsite visit at Okanagan College involving five NSERC-appointed experts followed in February at OC.


Women in Trades Training program celebrates 1,000 student milestone
Okanagan College Media Release

We’ve reached 1,000 and this is just the beginning.

Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training (WITT) program celebrated its first 1,000 students in a ceremony yesterday at the Kelowna campus. Program alumni, current students, industry professionals, staff and special guests filled the room to near capacity to honour the program that has been redefining success in the area of trades for over 10 years.

WITT Celebration - June 2019Among those guests was the Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, who spoke to labour-market demand in construction trades and the momentum around increasing participation of women to fill many upcoming job opportunities.

“Our government is committed to cultivating winning conditions to support women in the trades,” said Mark. “We need to move the dial for women in all areas of the trades. Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training Program is creating a pathway to boost the number of certified trades people to help meet the growing labour-market demand. There are thousands of opportunities for people in the trades and we need everyone in order to build the best B.C.”

Changing the demographics of an entire industry isn’t easy, but it’s one of the very reasons the program exists. The unique “taste and see” approach speaks for itself, but it does more than simply put another student through another trades program; it opens up the doors of possibility.

“This is one of the many ways that Okanagan College is promoting access to education and training,” notes OC President Jim Hamilton. “Working with government and employers, we’re doing what we can to deliver opportunities for women and other under-represented groups.”

Since 2009, WITT has trained approximately 100 women each year in exploratory trades programs as well as foundation pre-apprenticeships. The exploratory 12-week session exposes women to the tools of five to six different trades, allowing them to find their own area of promise.

On the sponsorship side, WITT funds a number of women in Foundation programs. Upon completion of these pre-apprentice programs, which last an average of 25 weeks, the students can earn the technical training for Level I of their trade, including a number of work-based hours to be counted once apprenticed. In the past year alone, WITT supported 36 women in Foundation programs.

“The women in trades program was designed to increase the number of female apprentices in the province of B.C.,” says WITT Program Administrator Nancy Darling. “It provides support to women to address some of the barriers for them entering careers in the skilled trades.”

The Okanagan College Women in Trades Training program is funded by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) through the Workforce Development Agreement. Based on pre-selected criteria, the ITA predicts that technicians, carpenters, electricians and machinists are among the highest in demand. With an enrolment increase of nearly 50 per cent in the past five years in foundation pre-apprenticeships, the momentum is clear with promise of financial stability and job security.

Johanna Turangan-Grieve, a fourth-year carpenter apprentice, shared the impact that the program has had in her life.

“I needed options. I needed guidance. I needed something that would help me find my own identity again,” expressed Turangan-Grieve. “Women in Trades did exactly that and so much more.”

“This program highlights the power and importance of sisterhood. The bonds that I have made with my classmates and many other fellow women in trades throughout my journey has been very powerful for me.”

Now well into her apprenticeship and currently working for Greyback Construction in Penticton, she offers advice for those considering the program.

“Step outside of that comfort zone of yours,” she said. “Ask a lot of questions. Be patient and go easy on yourself and prepare to be surrounded by encouraging and supportive women from all walks of life.”

For photos from the event, head to our Flickr gallery here
. To learn more about Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training program, head here.


OC’s Kelowna campus flies Syilx flag permanently
Okanagan College Media Release

ONA flag raising June 2019The Syilx Okanagan Nation flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, after a historic ceremony today.

The Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training joined representatives of the Westbank First Nation, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Okanagan College today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

“Our people have had a long history of education with Okanagan College, which is being recognized and honoured here today,” says Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley. “As our students walk these campus lands, I hope they feel pride in seeing our flag displayed, and our Nation represented. It is truly a day for celebration.”

“I often say there is no act of reconciliation that is too small,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Today, Okanagan College took steps to formally recognize the First Nations on whose land the college resides. Flying the Syilx Okanagan Nation flag demonstrates that Okanagan College is committed to relationships, respect and reconciliation. I hope to see more of this important work happening across the province.”

The flag formally signifies the College’s recognition of Indigenous peoples on whose lands the College resides.

“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. Today’s flag raising is a symbolic gesture, as well as an incremental step toward Indigenization and authentic partnership that can enrich the education of learners,” says Chris Derickson, Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair.Chief Roxanne Lindley June 2019

Dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and the ONA. Elder Grouse Barnes opened the ceremony with a blessing. Amber Cardenas sang the Okanagan song as the flag was raised by Westbank First Nation students Janice Money and Addison Fosbery.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag features animals, water and the landscape significant to the area, as a representation of Syilx Okanagan people’s understanding of living in reciprocity and harmony with the natural world.

The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Kelowna campus, which includes the na’ʔk’ʷulamən garden – green space featuring more than 50 different types of plants that are significant to Indigenous people of the region.


Future esthetician pampered with OC Tuition Giveaway Contest win
Okanagan College Media Release

Grace Hunter had no idea that attending Experience OC would pay off to the tune of $5,000.Tuition giveaway June 2019

The 16-year-old Clarence Fulton Secondary student knew her friends were attending the annual program exploration at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus. It was an opportunity for her to check out the Esthetics & Nail Technology Certificate program at the Vernon campus, which had caught her eye early on.

“Every Christmas, I would get something new to help me practice in esthetics, like a fake hand to practice painting nails,” Grace says, adding her mom, Ami, studied esthetics out of high school as well. “I grew up with my mom and my aunt doing my nails, so it is something I’ve always been interested in.”

Grace may have grown up around salons, but she can usually be found getting dirty playing soccer, basketball or volleyball.

“She is such a sporty gal. We usually see her with a messy pony tail and shorts, so she’s the opposite of what you would think someone who is interested in esthetics to be like,” Ami laughs. “When she does put on makeup and gets dressed up, it’s a huge transformation and we all ask, ‘Who is this person?’”

During her Experience OC session May 1, Grace explored psychology and nursing in addition to esthetics. She remembers touring around the campus and how impressed she was with the psychology presentation. In her esthetics session, the class practised applying nail polish on wood.

As a Grade 10 student, she hadn’t given post-secondary education too much thought, until her principal stopped into her class and told her she had won a $5,000 tuition credit to Okanagan College.

“It was so crazy. I didn’t even realize I had been entered into the draw just by attending Experience OC,” Grace says. “I’m excited to apply and get started. This will go a long way to paying for my education.”

The Tuition Giveaway Contest runs from July to May, when high school students and others interested in going back to school can enter to win by simply attending recruitment events, going on a campus tour, or meeting recruitment staff.

“We had almost 3,500 entries into the Tuition Giveaway Contest, which shows how many people are exploring their post-secondary options at Okanagan College,” says Inga Wheeler, Associate Registrar. “We look forward to welcoming Grace to the College.”

The Tuition Giveaway Contest will return in 2019/20. For details about the contest, visit


College sign signals future success for Office Administration alumna
Okanagan College Media Release

Dana Ingram June 2019Dana Ingram wasn’t looking for a sign about her future, but when she spotted one at the Okanagan College Penticton campus, it changed her life.

The former barista from Penticton was driving to work one day when she saw the Channel Parkway sign announcing openings for the Office Administration Certificate program starting in a few weeks. That planted a seed in her mind that propelled her to pull into the parking lot.

“I stopped into the Penticton campus in late August just to see what I needed to get into the program. Once I did the research, I thought it sounded really interesting – and everyone was so helpful in getting me started,” Ingram recalls.

When she stepped into the classroom, Ingram says she met “the best instructor I ever had.”

“We had a really special bond. It made it easier to go to school every day, made it easier to ask questions if I needed and learn more,” she recalls.

The supportive pace of the program helped her grasp the material, which covered a wide range of business skills like communications, computers, office procedures, math and spreadsheets.

“English was so helpful with what I’m doing now. I have to go through so many reports and letters every day so the program helped me understand punctuation and sentence structure,” Ingram recalls. “Payroll accounting was really difficult because there were so many different things to consider. When I finally finished my project for payroll accounting, I felt so good.”

The program consists of a three-week practicum, which gives students hands-on experience to apply their learning. Ingram stepped into the Penticton Health Centre and was exposed to a variety of support roles for health care including public health, home support, kidney clinic, and more.

“It was great to see how many different departments there are. I found public health is where I felt most comfortable, answering the phone and booking immunization appointments,” she says.

“The Office Administration program is valuable for learners right out of high school as well as adults who are returning to class. It is very accessible for different learning styles,” says Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “These skills are in high demand by employers in the community. Our grads go on to work in non-profits, government, legal offices and many businesses in the region in positions they wouldn’t have received without learning the fundamentals from this program.”

For Ingram, full-time employment came quickly from Interior Health. She is currently booking speech therapy appointments and the setting is inspiring additional possibilities for her future.

“Working at Interior Health has opened my mind to different areas. I’ve been thinking about going back to school later for nursing maybe. Seeing things behind the scenes and talking to nurses makes it easier to make decisions,” she says.

“I have a full-time job in health care. I love the area I’m working in, and I love the people. It was a great decision, and I hope other people take advantage of it.”


Sweet victory for OC alumna at Vancouver Chocolate Challenge
Okanagan College Media Release

The seven judges at the seventh annual Chocolate Challenge in Vancouver, sponsored by the Gourmet Warehouse, know what a winner tastes like: beer-infused ganache bonbons.

Okanagan College Pastry Arts alumna Jalayne Jones whisked her way to the highest honours earlier last month at the competition, where some of Western Canada’s top pastry chefs and chocolatiers came together to compete for a good cause.Jalayne Jones and Danny Capadouca June 2019

The style of the competition is simple – seven chocolate experts, who serve as event judges, elect a protégé and then provide mentorship leading up to the event. The competitors craft chocolates and bring them in an unmarked box that is presented to the panel of judges.

Jones, a pastry chef at Hillside Winery Bistro in Penticton, merited the invitation to compete from OC Pastry Arts instructor and event judge, Okanagan College chef instructor Danny Capadouca.

“The competition was exciting, stressful and nerve wracking all at once. Many hours of work went into dialing in the final chocolate then once it was perfected, a few days of early mornings and late nights were spent making all of the chocolates in preparation for competition day,” says Jones.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the results.”

Jones stepped up to the challenge with an original recipe inspired by locally grown – and brewed – ingredients. Her recipe achieved the perfect blend of savoury and sweet and crunchy and smooth, earning her a unanimous victory over competitors representing Chez Christophe, Thierry, Thomas Haas, Temper Pastry, Chocolate Arts, and the Fairmont Pacific Rim.

The bonbon – dubbed Beer and Pretzels – used Royal Decree English ale from one of Kelowna’s newest breweries, Vice and Virtue Brewing Co., and used locally-crafted chocolate from none other than Okanagan College.

The College is the first post-secondary institution outside of Europe to create its own chocolate recipes. Jones used OC’s milk chocolate recipe, Kalamalka Karamel, to create the smooth beer caramel with almond pretzel praline.

“Working with Jalayne was a treat in this competition and her directive on this chocolate was well-received by some of the biggest names in the industry,” says Capadouca, a former competitor turned judge. “It’s amazing because we all give the competitor free creative reign because it is their chocolate. It’s some of the highest quality chocolates you’ll see.”

Capadouca served as a judge for the competition for a second year in a row and invites an OC Pastry Arts graduate to compete every time, after previously participating himself. Jones win marks the third appearance for the College in the event.

“The competition is by invite-only and I always bring a Pastry Arts alumnus with me to compete,” he explains. “Jalayne’s put in a lot of volunteer time for the College since she graduated. She’s really shown an interest and growth in her own chocolate making.”

The Chocolate Challenge began in 2012 as a fundraiser for at-risk youth. Proceeds from the event benefit Vancouver Firefighters Charities Snacks for Kids, Project Chef and the Strathcona Backpack Program, which are local programs in Vancouver that engage kids and food. To date, the event has raised more than $125,000.

Throughout the summer, Jones can be found making chocolate and other pastries at Hillside Winery Bistro on Naramata Road. Its operating hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.


OC student engineers a new career path
Okanagan College Media Release

keyvan KhademCivil Engineering Technology graduate Keyvan Khadem has found that Okanagan College is helping him build the career and future that he’s seeking.

Khadem is one of more than 600 students who will be acknowledged at OC Convocation ceremonies this weekend. 

He originally moved to Vancouver from Iran to pursue a career in medicine. After exploring that career path, he realized it wasn’t quite the right fit and decided to pursue his other passion, construction.

“I’ve always really enjoyed construction, and decided to start my own company,” says Khadem. “I knew I would be more respected in this field if I gained more knowledge in it, so I decided to enrol at Okanagan College. I love the lifestyle here so much that I’ve decided to move my company here.”

Khadem owns a construction and development company, Bosso Developments Ltd., that’s currently located in Vancouver and specializes in residential development.

This Saturday at the Kelowna campus, Khadem will graduate with distinction from OC’s Civil Engineering Technology Diploma program at the Spring Convocation. He is among students graduating from academic and vocational programs receiving certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and bachelor degrees.

An exemplary student, Khadem was selected as the student speaker to address the 2019 graduating class as they embark on their future endeavours.

“There’s so much happening around us in this chaotic world that the news portrays to us,” says Khadem. “It can be scary. You feel hopeless and wonder what you can do. The set of skills we learn at this institution are what will help us be better people. Institutions like this help shape the people who will assist in environmental issues, the people who will go into politics, and help the people who will help build your dream house.”

The journey to graduation can be different for each student. Khadem notes that it’s not always an easy one, and advises his peers to never lose sight of their goals.

“Being a student is hard work,” says Khadem. “There are so many different pressures that people experience whether it’s financial, or the stresses of having a family. The most important thing that I want to say to my peers is to not lose hope…hope for the future, hope for yourself.”

After completing his two-year diploma program at OC, Khadem has now chosen to bridge his education into a four-year degree and will attend the University of British Columbia Okanagan for Civil Engineering. (OC offers a bridging program specifically focused on allowing people to move from the diploma program into the UBC degree program.)

“I’m not the same person that I was two years ago,” says Khadem. “OC shaped me into a better version of myself. The way I speak, the way I carry myself, the way I present myself to people, and to my industry…I’m just so grateful for this experience.”

Saturday’s ceremonies mark the fourth and fifth of eight convocation ceremonies that the College will host this year. The ceremony is split into two celebrations. The first begins at 10:30 a.m. and will honour students from arts, health, technologies, science and computer science programs. The afternoon ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. and will recognize students from the Okanagan College School of Business.

Students attending the morning ceremony will hear from Robert Louie, who will formally be announced as one of OC’s 2019 Honorary Fellows. After being recognized with the Distinguished Service Award at the afternoon ceremony, retired Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, will address the next wave of business leaders.

“My advice to the 2019 graduands is to see the value and importance in lifelong learning,” says OC’s President Jim Hamilton. “If they keep learning and keep applying what they’ve learned, they’ll transform their own lives and the communities around them.”

Both of the ceremonies on Saturday will be livestreamed on the College’s Facebook page and viewers can tune in from across Canada. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend, be sure to follow along on our Facebook page.

For more information on convocation and upcoming ceremonies, visit

Rise project lifts student learning and trades program
Okanagan College Media Release

For Okanagan College carpentry student Brittany Couchman building a new home from the ground up has been “an amazing experience.”

“I've learned so many skills, from reading a tape measure, to reading code and using hand tools, and lots of math,” says Couchman, a Vernon campus student.

Home For Learning May 2019She is one of 12 Carpenter Foundation program students taking part in this year's Home for Learning project, unveiled to community members and media today. This year's project marks Okanagan College's 60th Home for Learning, an initiative that involves carpentry students spending 14 weeks on a job site learning all aspects of modern construction.

“Our students have helped build daycares, condos, horse barns, sheds and beautiful homes such as this one on The Rise,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Okanagan College Associate Dean of Trades.

“There is always a certain pride when you build something with your own hands. These students will always be able to look at this house and say ‘I helped build that.’”

Keith Construction is this year's Home for Learning partner, mentoring students as they build a new duplex. Keith Construction owner Ken Dahlen says his company was pleased to get behind the project and help coach future trades students, which are in high demand.

“Our industry is struggling to find skilled workers, and forecasts say that 40,000 people will be retiring in our industry in the next 10 years,” says Dahlen.

“It's important for young people entering trades careers to understand the need for a post-secondary education. Homes today are highly engineered, and not as easy to build without understanding the building code.”

In addition to being this year's Home for Learning partner, Keith Construction was a major sponsor of Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Centre in Vernon. Dahlen says local facilities and programs are important for the community, providing an opportunity for young people to stay at home and get an education. Dahlen announced that Keith Construction and other trades are adding a special fundraiser to the Home for Learning project.

Dahlen says a number of trades are providing preferred pricing on their products and services. Once the home is completed and sold, Keith Construction will donate a portion of its proceeds to future trades training at the College.

“Construction has been very good to our family, and I'm happy to support students,” Dahlen says.

Michael Collins from Quad-Lock was one of the suppliers to offer its product, airfoam (insulated concrete forms) at cost to the project. An engineer on his team also provided a full day of learning on their products with students.

“Anytime you can give back to the community where we live, we are all the better for it,” says Collins.

Vernon's Home Building Centre is supplying a number of products at or below cost, including windows from Gentek Building Products and exterior doors from Masonite. Other companies offering preferred pricing include JP Garage Doors, Livingwood Floors and D & B Home Fires.

“We are training our future clients, and we are happy to be involved,” says Gary Gilchrist, Home Building Centre Owner.

For students, meeting experienced trades gives them a glimpse into the near future.

“I am so glad I chose carpentry. It is so interesting, and it gives me the opportunity to have a career that will support my kids,” Couchman says. “I am really proud of this project.”


College honours Banham with Distinguished Service Award
Okanagan College Media Release

Dr. Heather Banham, retired Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, will be recognized by the College with the Distinguished Service Award.Heather Banham May 2019

“Under Heather’s leadership, business programming was expanded on our Vernon and Penticton campuses, providing more access for students in the region,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “She worked to continue to develop the Okanagan School of Business national reputation and distinguished herself as a vital member of the accounting community. Heather is incredibly deserving of the Distinguished Service Award.”

The award is the highest honour bestowed upon a former employee and recognizes those who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support its mission, vision and values, and are active within and outside the College community.

Banham worked at the College for 24 years and wore many hats. She was a professor, department chair, Associate Dean and Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. Upon her retirement in 2017, the business program boasted more than 2,000 students on four campuses.

“She is and was well respected by colleagues, bargaining groups and students who she worked closely with to grow the international exchange program OC offers and to foster student clubs and team competitions,” says Hamilton. “Heather is truly an inspirational leader and mentor who prioritized creating a culture of collegiality and cooperation.”

This isn’t the first time Banham has received accolades. In 2014, she was recognized nationally for receiving the Fellowship designation by the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association, the highest honour that can be given to a member of the association. The award acknowledged her time on the B.C. CGA board of directors where she served from 2011-2015 as second Vice Chair Board and First Vice Chair. In 2016, Banham was appointed as Chair, CPABC Board of Directors for 2017/2018.

“I sincerely appreciate this recognition from Okanagan College,” says Banham. “It was really a privilege to work at the School of Business during those years and to be part of the team that was so committed to building strong programs and creating opportunities for students to gain the skills, knowledge and experience to be successful.”

Banham joins five other past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award; Rick Gee (2016), John Lent (2014), Catherine Williams (2012), Gary Dickinson (2011) and Lynda Wilson (2010).

Banham will receive her award at the College’s spring convocation ceremony on June 1. She will address the graduating business students during the ceremony, which is held at 1:30 p.m. at the College’s Kelowna campus.