OC alumni honoured for community impact

By College Relations | March 9, 2020
           

Christina Fast, Jayne Brooks and Bree Cawley
Christina Fast, Jayne Brooks (first ever recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award) and Bree Cawley

Two female graduates of Okanagan College have earned the highest honours from the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their outstanding contributions within their communities and industries.

The OCAA has been conferring the Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards since 2002 to honour the extraordinary contributions and recognize the positive impact that OC’s graduates have in improving the lives of those around them.

Christina Fast is the recipient of this year’s Young Alumni Award.

“I was a careless 19-year-old with no clear direction in life when a neighbour recommended I register for the Continuing Studies Sterile Processing Certificate program at OC,” said Fast. “I was fortunate to have had a number of inspiring instructors and preceptors throughout the program who imparted their knowledge and passion for a field of healthcare that deserves much more recognition for its essential role in patient safety.”

Since graduating from the program (which has since been renamed Medical Device Reprocessing Certificate) in 2006, Fast became an International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) certificated educator and began teaching internationally trained health care workers, unable to be licensed in Canada, how to sterilize surgical instruments.

In 2011 she volunteered to work as a sterile processor on the Africa Mercy ship, stationed in Sierra Leone. Not only did she improve sterile processing practices on the ship and ran education sessions in the evenings to ensure staff were appropriately trained, but she also visited local hospitals. Finding no organization that worked to address the obvious need for proper sterilization, Fast founded SPECT, a Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust.

Over the last eight years, SPECT has worked with staff from more than 100 hospitals and 60 clinics in African Nations. Fast has educated and mentored over 500 workers as well as advocated with local and national governments to address standards to improve sterile processing.

“We just did a study in Tanzania with Harvard University collecting the overall data. There was a 50 per cent reduction in surgical infection rates,” says Olive Fast, Chair, SPECT. “It’s incredible – one woman’s dream to make a difference, is saving a huge number of lives.”

“I would have never dreamt that a sterile processing certificate would lead me to starting a charitable organization that has now gone on to impact thousands of lives in 14 low-income countries,” adds Fast. “I’m so proud to have begun this rewarding career at Okanagan College.”

Fast received her award Thursday night at the OCAA’s annual awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus.

Bree Cawley was honoured with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Cawley graduated from the Bachelor of Business Administration program in 1999 since then has made her mark in communications, marketing and non-profit leadership for a host of organizations.

In August 2017, after realizing the lack of support there was for her daughter who was born with a brain abnormality, Bree founded the Okanagan chapter of GIRLS CLUB. GIRLS CLUB is a club for girls with autism and neuro-developmental differences and was formed to give girls a place to be themselves and connect with others who share in their experience. It is 100 per cent volunteer run and relies on donations to operate.

“We offer regularly scheduled free meet ups and activities for these girls, as often these kiddos are the ones that go from therapy to therapy, but don’t get the chance to connect with other likeminded kids to make friends,” says Cawley.

Initially, Cawley was funding the club’s activities out of her own pocket before receiving essential grants to continue the program. Since the club’s inception, activities have been free for members, which creates increased access for families that may not be able to afford club registration fees.

“Through GIRLS CLUB, Bree provides families in the Okanagan with an opportunity to connect, have friendships and form community,” says Vicky Ryan, Founder, GIRLS CLUB. “The work that Bree is doing is affecting hundreds of families.”

Cawley was humbled by the award.

“I am still not sure how I deserve to stand up here and accept this award, but I am incredibly grateful for the chance to do so,” said Cawley. “I extend my gratitude to my fellow BBA grads who became lifelong friends (one of which even became my husband), my amazing instructors, and the Okanagan College Alumni Association, who have all supported me in my career, in my life, and allowed me to be exactly where I was meant to be right now.”

“Both Bree and Christina have done outstanding work. Their commitment to their communities and industries is remarkable,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, OCAA. “We congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say we are excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”

Videos were shown to further broadcast Fast and Cawley’s achievements.

For more information on the awards and previous recipients, visit alumni.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni-awards.



Tags: Distinguished Alumni Award, Young Alumni Award, OC Alumni Association

TOP STORIES

RELATED STORIES

Sign up for weekly stories




Trending

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...

Read more...
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...

Read more...
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 ...

Read more...
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...

Read more...