Generous gift will advance OC health-care education

By College Relations | January 19, 2022

Lane Merrifield
Lane Merrifield

A local family foundation is investing in the future of health-care education with a generous gift to Okanagan College.

The Merrifield Family Foundation is donating $100,000 to the Our Students, Your Health campaign for a modern Health Sciences Centre on the College’s Kelowna campus.

The gift will support technology upgrades and new equipment for eight professions ranging from Pharmacy Technician Assistants and nurses to Therapist Assistants.

Lane Merrifield, a well-known entrepreneur, says he values the College's focus on applied learning where students engage directly in hands-on skills to better understand their craft.

“I know I’ve benefitted from hands-on learning in my career and health care is no different. Having opportunities to try your skills in learning labs will greatly enhance students’ skills and confidence,” says Merrifield, who was named an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow, the College’s highest honour, in 2012.

“Our family values the role frontline health-care professionals play in supporting us all to live healthy lives, and we’re proud to be part of this incredible new Centre that will serve our community.”

Hannah Koch is a recent graduate of the Therapist Assistant program. As one of the first students to take classes in the new Centre, Koch remembers being shocked at the modern elements of the facility. She describes the Therapist Lab as bright and spacious with new beds and technology that supports their training.

“As a student we are going out into the workforce in one or two years, however long your health-care program is, and I think it’s important to get the proper education so we can be effective in the workforce and come out work ready,” says Koch.

“Having an environment that is built newer with newer equipment is really helpful.”

Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director, adds students are inspired knowing a local family is investing in their education.

“So many of our students talk about health care as a calling. This gift from the Merrifield Family Foundation will not only help students with their skills training, but also boosts their confidence knowing that our community is supportive of their educational choices,” says Jackman.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Merrifield Family Foundation for supporting students and excellence in health-care education.”

Jackman credits the gift as helping the Foundation hit its current milestone of $4.25 million raised from the community to complete the Health Sciences Centre. She says the Foundation is inviting the public for tours of the Centre, and if they can, to give a gift in support of educating frontline health-care professionals. The Okanagan College Foundation is $750,000 away from reaching its fundraising goal to compete the Centre.

“We are incredibly thankful to the many individuals and organizations for getting us to this point and we’re hopeful we can reach our goal with the continued generosity of the public,” she adds.

To learn more or to give, visit

Tags: OC Foundation, Health Sciences Centre, Therapist Assistant, Kelowna, Inside OC



Sign up for weekly stories


Cam Egan hiking Mount Kaala with two friends
Meet Cam Egan, Biology Professor

March 8, 2022

Q: What is your name and role at Okanagan College?  A: Cameron Egan, College Professor in the Department of Biology  Q: What did you take at OC/OUC? When did you graduate? What campus did you attend?  A: I was enrolled in the Associate of Science program at the Vernon campus 2003-2005. This was during the transition years between OUC and OC.  Q: Why did you choose your program at OC?    A: Biology always fascinated me as a high school student. When starting my post-secondary educat...

Haley Chapman and Bailey
Meet Haley Chapman, Pharmacy Technician Student

February 28, 2022

Q: What is your name? A: Haley Chapman. Q: What program and year of study are you in at Okanagan College? A: I am in enrolled in the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program and am about to enter my third month of classes. Q: Which campus do you primarily study at? A: The Kelowna Campus. Q: What drew you to that program?  A: I have been working as a Pharmacy Assistant for five years now and I wanted to further my knowledge and capabilities within the Pharmacy. I’ve fallen in lov...

Tara Laveay with her dog
Meet Tara Laveay, Therapist Assistant student

February 20, 2022

Q: What is your name/preferred name?   A: Tara Laveay   Q: What are your pronouns?    A: She/Her  Q: What program and year of study are you in at Okanagan College?    A: First year, Therapist Assistant Diploma   Q: Which campus do you primarily study at?    A: Kelowna   Q: What drew you to that program?     A:  Everything! This is a program that is built for me. The fact that I get to participate in helping a person to make their daily living better through things such as movement ...

Student Mikala Vujcich with her dogs
Meet Mikala Vujcich, Therapist Assistant student

February 16, 2022

Q: What is your name/preferred name?   A: Mikala   Q: What are your pronouns?   A: she/her   Q: What program and year of study are you in at Okanagan College?  A: I am in my last semester of the Therapist Assistant Diploma  Q: Which campus do you primarily study at?   A: Kelowna   Q: What drew you to that program?   A: The TAD program is a defined diploma program, meaning it is designed and built to direct successful graduates right into the industry. That and the fact that it is a...