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


Communications student standing outside the Centre for Learning building at the Kelowna campus
Meet Ruth Gabriela Melo Flores

April 4, 2023

Q: What's your name? A: Ruth Gabriela Melo Flores Q: What's your hometown? A: Quito – Ecuador – South America Q: How did you end up at Okanagan College? A: Well, I studied for a bachelor's degree in Law in Ecuador. Then, I worked for a while and got my Master's degree in Government and Culture of Organizations at the University of Pamplona.  When I returned to my country, professional opportunities arose for me. I mean, a Master's degree improved my career. Spain helped me develop ...

Animation student
Artistic students design future careers in animation

June 7, 2022

Grads of Okanagan College’s Animation Diploma program are finding their skills have never been in higher demand. First- and second-year students showed samples of their artwork and demo reels to industry partners at OC’s annual Animation Industry Night on May 17. “Lots of the work was very professional,” says James Wood, Chair of Okanagan College’s Animation Department. “Our program is short, but intense. The instructors make sure the students have a realistic understanding of what they need do to succeed in a competitive and demanding wo...

JAMK campus
OC Business students embrace international study again

May 30, 2022

Business students from Okanagan College are once again able to travel to Jyväskylä, Finland to experience an international summer school at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences.  Finland’s education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.  OC Business Professor Blair Baldwin, who has taught Services Design at JAMK for several summers, says working in Finland has helped him innovate and create new teaching methodologies. “JAMK employs experiential learning across its curriculum,” he says. “They stress critical thinkin...

Enactus 2022
Enactus Okanagan College tops the field, sets sights on national championships

May 27, 2022

Okanagan College students will once again be competing for the Canadian title after qualifying for the Enactus National Exposition with a first-place finish in their league during the semi-final round. Enactus teams at post-secondary institutions across Canada competed virtually earlier this month, and Okanagan College scooped up top position in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and runner-up in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge for the Unusually Good Food Co. project. It also included national runner-up in Shaw and RBC accelerators...