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Campus Life - Okanagan

Estheticians in demand at local beauty and spa businesses

Okanagan College Media Release

Heidi Luken, estheticsShe’s only 19, but Heidi Luken’s esthetics career has taken off.  

A month before graduating from Okanagan College’s Esthetics and Nail Technology Certificate program, Luken was hired by Ten Spot Beauty Bar, a trendy Toronto franchise that recently opened its first B.C. location in West Kelowna.  

“I’ve had multiple job offers and I only graduated. I’m able to negotiate my wage,” Luken says. “With the amount of knowledge you have, employers want you.”  

In the past four years, nearly all of the College’s Esthetics students have found work in the field before graduating. Instructor Candice Timm takes calls from employers across B.C., as far north as the Yukon and from the eastern provinces, looking for fully qualified estheticians trained beyond manicures and pedicures to include skin and body treatments such as massage.  

The spa industry is growing in the Okanagan Valley, Timm says. A Canadian Tourism Commission report predicted strong growth in the spa sector - an average annual rate of 17 per cent. The Spa Association of Canada reported the industry’s tremendous growth was reflected not only in the number of spas, but the diversity of spas and therapies available.  

Okanagan residents interested in an esthetics career can attend an information session on Aug. 4 in Vernon and Aug. 5 in Kelowna to find out more about the Okanagan College program, which is accepting applications for September.  

“It’s not so much about creaming and steaming anymore. The industry is more wellness-based,” Timm says. “The public is becoming more aware of the benefits of health and wellness and de-stressing.”  

The Beauty Bar, estheticsWest Kelowna Ten Spot Beauty Bar owner Lisa Kelley says she had trouble recruiting qualified staff to work at her new location, which opened mid-June.  

“There are a lot of nail technicians looking for work, but not a lot of fully qualified estheticians,” Kelley says. “Heidi has definitely been a valuable asset.”  

Luken’s training in the skincare brand Dermalogica has made her a particularly knowledgeable addition to the Ten Spot Beauty Bar’s staff, Kelley says.  

Timm, a registered massage therapist, clinical esthetician and nail technician, is the main instructor at the College’s Spa Training Centre in Vernon, which is open to the public for appointments from October to June.  

She says the College’s partnership with Dermalogica is among the reasons why employers value the Esthetics certificate, which includes an extra 200 to 300 hours of training over other programs.  

“We include everything from artificial nail treatment to body treatment, including massage, exfoliation and body wraps, which are not usually included in a regular esthetics program,” Timm says.  

“The feedback we get from employers is they’re thrilled with the level of professionalism and knowledge our students have.”  

For Luken, who originally planned to study law, helping people look and feel great is satisfying. She says the College’s reputation, amazing instructors and professional spa training facilities made her studies worth it.  

“I love what I’m doing. I like to be around people,” Luken says. “I feel like I can do anything I want to.”  

Okanagan College Esthetics and Nail Technology Information Nights  

Vernon: Aug. 4, 5:30 – 7 p.m., Spa Training Centre, Vernon Campus, Upper Level, E-Building, Room E212, 7000 College Way.  

Kelowna: Aug. 5, 5:30– 7 p.m., The Centre for Learning, Kelowna Campus, 1000 KLO Road, Room E103.  

Those attending the information sessions will receive a voucher for 70 per cent off a manicure or pedicure at the Spa Training Centre in Vernon. For more information, visit

Canadian Home Builders Association South Okanagan helps students build strong foundation for education

Okanagan College Media Release

Cody Plante was grooming ski hills in the Fraser Valley when he decided to carve a new career path; now a bursary from the South Okanagan Chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association is helping him and two other Okanagan College students build for their futures.  

Bursary CHBAPlante and classmates Chelsea Lindley-Scott and Jeremy Miller, students in the Residential Construction at the College’s Penticton campus, each received the award valued at $1,000.  

“It’s just awesome to have people in the industry backing me, wanting to support my goal of getting into construction,” says Plante. “It’s especially cool that the support comes from a group like CHBA South Okanagan, which has among its members leaders from so many builders and other businesses throughout the Valley.”  

“Supporting students entering the construction industry is the perfect fit for our organization,” says Carol Sudchak, Executive Officer for the Canadian Home Builders' Association South Okanagan. “One of our cornerstones is to support the professionalism of our members, and it benefits us all to provide the next wave of tradespeople with opportunities to learn, grow and take pride in their achievements.”  

For Plante, the immediate benefit is a boost to his budget for tools. But he is quick to point out that the long-term effect of receiving the bursary extends well beyond the financial lift.  

“This support is literally helping my dreams come true,” Plante explains. “It’s already inspiring me to achieve excellence, to do the CHBA proud, and demonstrate that their investment in my future was a good one.”  

Plante and his classmates are currently getting hands-on experience towards that future. As part of a mentorship opportunity provided by Greyback Construction Ltd. in partnership with the College, the current residential construction class is assisting with the construction of a high-end home at the Skaha Hills development in Penticton.  

The 26-week Residential Construction program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter in the construction industry.  

Sudchak notes that the hands on training provided by the College will continue to be needed in this area, given an aging workforce across the trades sector.  

“Shortage of skilled labour is an important issue and we would like to assist the students in getting into the field in any way we can,” adds Sudchak. “Okanagan College has wonderful trades programs and we hope that our bursary truly makes a difference for students as they begin their careers in the construction industry.”  

According to the British Columbia Labour Market Outlook, of the one million job openings expected in BC by 2022, more than 160,000 are directly related to trades and related occupations that require formal training at the college level.  

The College is currently embarked on a $33-million renovation and expansion of its trades training complex in Kelowna to position itself to be able to meet the training needs of the province ahead of this demand. The Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign was launched in October, 2014 to raise an additional $7 million ($5 million for capital construction costs and an additional $2 million for student and program support) to supplement the B.C. government’s $28-million investment. 

More information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, please visit

Kelowna Kia supports Okanagan College trades training complex, sees bright future for automotive trades in the valley

Okanagan College Media Release

Kelowna Kia Donation July 2015With a vast network of automotive-related businesses, the region will continue to need skilled automotive service technicians says one Okanagan College donor who has come forward with major support for the College’s new Trades Training Complex.

Kelowna Kia has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in support of the renovation and expansion of the College’s trades training facilities along KLO Road.

“Having been in the Okanagan for 43 years, I wanted to give something back into the community and the industry that has been very good to me,” says Winfried Gradnitzer, Dealer Principal of Kelowna Kia. “I support the College’s vision for this wonderful new facility because I feel it is very important that we continue to develop tradespeople in the Okanagan.”

The donation will help build a new classroom space in the three-storey tower along KLO Road, part of the 10,000 square-metre renovation and expansion project.

“We know that a significant percentage of the projected job openings in our province over the next decade will require trades and technical training,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “This new facility, which will accommodate more than 2,600 students per year, will allow us to be proactive in training the skilled workers needed in our region, across the province, and throughout Western Canada.”

“We are very appreciative of Kelowna Kia’s investment in our students and our campus as we build for the next fifty years of trades training at Okanagan College.”

Gradnitzer points out that investing in new tradespeople benefits many sectors of our regional economy, not just the trades. 

“Helping young people get started in automotive careers is certainly good for our industry but it also has a positive effect on many others sectors. This new complex will be good for our community as a whole.”

Launched in October of last year, the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign aims to raise $7 million—$5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support—to complement the provincial government’s $28-million investment.

Auto dealers throughout the Okanagan have shown strong support for the project, on both the capital and student support side. A donation of $10,000 from the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association was one of the first donations which helped the campaign kickoff last fall; dealerships throughout the valley have collectively provided more than $600,000 to date.

Campaign Ambassador Mike Roberts points out that all donations, large or small, have a big impact on students.

“Every dollar raised benefits students,” says Roberts. “When you see the impact that a bursary has on a student—when you see the look of pride and motivation on his or her face—it is something that is difficult to put into words.”

In the past year, Okanagan College and Okanagan College Foundation have disbursed more than $133,000 to trades students in scholarships and bursaries to help make trades training accessible for students.

“It is very special seeing our community support students through this campaign. That support is absolutely crucial if we are going to reach our $7-million goal and help get these students into a world-class facility by next spring,” adds Roberts.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit

Okanagan College Foundation board welcomes new directors, thanks retiring directors

Okanagan College Media Release

Following its annual general meeting the Okanagan College Foundation has announced five new directors have joined its board in 2015.

Anne Clarke, BA, B.Ed, MA (North Okanagan)
A retired English professor at Okanagan College, Clarke is an active community leader who has served in a variety of capacities on numerous boards and councils throughout the region and at the provincial level. Clarke served as a Councillor for the City of Vernon from 1984-1986 and as Mayor from 1987-1990.

Bob Eby, CA, (North Okanagan)
An experienced education administrator and chartered accountant, Eby served as Okanagan College’s Vice President of Finance and Administration for more than seven years, from April 2007- December 2014. He joined the College’s executive team following a 17-year career with the Vernon School District as Assistant Secretary Treasurer. He also previously served as Treasurer for the Okanagan College Foundation.

Gladys Fraser, MBA, PFP (North Okanagan)
Fraser has over 25 years of experience in banking as a Financial Services Manager, Personal Financial Planner, Business & Professional Banking Advisor. She also brings a wealth of experience in corporate social responsibility built through her position as a Branch Manager for Scotiabank. Fraser is currently a Director and Vice President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce President of the Vernon Montessori Society and previously served as a Director and President of the North Okanagan Hospice Society.

Keith Grayston, B.Com, CGA,  (Central Okanagan)
Prior to his retirement in June, Grayston was the Director of Financial Services for the City of Kelowna; he was a member of the Financial Services Department for 18 years and has more than 35 years’ experience in the financial industry. He recently served as a Director on the Board of the Government Finance Officers Association of BC. 

Alan Sanderson, CA (Central Okanagan)
With extensive experience in the accounting industry, 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.

“The mission of the Okanagan College Foundation is to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in supporting Okanagan College,” says Foundation President Alf Kempf. “With a $7-million fundraising campaign now in full swing for the new trades training complex at the Kelowna campus, this is a crucial and very active time for our board. 

“On behalf of my fellow directors, I am pleased to welcome our newest directors. They bring a great diversity of skills and depth of experience, and we look forward to working with them to achieve some important goals over the next term that will hopefully have a positive impact on students in the valley.”

Kempf says the board also wishes to extend a sincere thanks to three of its current directors who retired from the board at the Foundation’s annual general meeting in June. 

Frank Richter retired after serving nine years with the Okanagan College Foundation, Vern Nielsen retired after serving five years, and Cher Watkins retired after serving four years.

Since its incorporation in 2002, the Okanagan College Foundation has raised and disbursed more than $9 million in scholarships and bursaries to students at Okanagan College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm, and Vernon. In total, the Foundation has raised more than $23 million, including student awards, capital projects, programming and an endowment that now totals over $8.3 million.

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

Mini chefs whip up treats at Camp OC

Okanagan College Media Release

Sarah Clarke Mini Chefs July 2015Hot dogs don’t cut it for today’s young foodies. Camp OC’s Mini Chef Academy is all about going gourmet—and having fun in the kitchen. 

More than 1,200 students are registered this year for Camp OC, Okanagan College’s summer camp for children and teens, now starting its second week. From Extreme Survivor Challenge to LEGO Robotics to Game Programming using Minecraft, more than 100 programs are scheduled from now until Aug. 28 at Okanagan College’s Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon campuses. 

Kelowna Mini Chef Academy instructor Shandrea Tesoriere says her goal is to have students try new things. Besides introducing campers to less common treats such as dragon fruit, Tesoriere incorporates valuable lessons into the culinary fun. 

“I want them to learn measurements, math and the vocabulary. Today they learned what sauté means,” she says.

“It’s also about learning that sometimes the recipe doesn’t work out and that’s okay.”

Sarah Clarke, 8, counts smoothie popsicles among her favourite treats made so far. Cooking for Sarah is all about getting her hands dirty, or in the case of rolling chocolate and coconut balls, sticky.

“It’s fun,” Sarah says, “And after you’re done you get to eat a lot.”

Space is still available in some courses. To find out more or register, visit the Camp OC website:

College trades campaign gets another boost from a local auto dealer

Okanagan College Media Release

Students in the Automotive Service Technician program at Okanagan College will test drive an exciting new learning environment next spring thanks to a generous donation from a local automotive dealer.Kelowna Toyota donation July 2015

Kelowna Toyota has donated $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. The donation will support the construction of a classroom in the new three-storey Trades Training Complex currently under construction along KLO Road. 

“As the technology in our vehicles advances at an ever-increasing pace, it is vital for automotive tradespeople to have a solid foundation of formal training,” says Jack Kofoed, Dealer Principal at Kelowna Toyota. “We have had the privilege of hiring numerous Red Seal graduates from the College over the years and have seen first-hand the quality of the training they receive.

“The new complex is going to be a great resource for our region and we are proud to support it.”

“It is very encouraging for our students, and for everyone at the College, when industry steps forward in a bold way like this to recognize their potential and support their futures,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are very grateful to Kelowna Toyota as one of the local industry leaders who have stepped forward as donors and champions in the community for this project.” 

Kelowna Toyota has also donated two vehicles to Okanagan College in recent years. 

The donated vehicles provide valuable hands-on training opportunities for students. Once the students and instructors have ensured they are road-ready, the vehicles are then auctioned off by the Okanagan College Foundation with proceeds going towards student support.

Kofoed visited the Kelowna Campus recently to tour the renovated Automotive Service Technician (AST) shop which is already in use, as are updated shops for carpentry, collision repair, and heavy duty mechanical trades.

“It is wonderful for the Okanagan to have a trades trainer like the College to supply local industry,” says Kofoed. “Providing opportunities for students here in the valley, and establishing the Okanagan as a hot spot for trades, benefits us all.”

The new Trades Training Complex in its entirety is expected to open in Spring 2016. Blending renovation and new construction in innovative ways is a challenge the College has embraced with the project.

In addition to the new Trades Training tower along KLO Road, the College is also aiming to meet LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards with the renovated shop and classroom spaces. When doors open next spring, it will accommodate more than 2,400 students annually.

The $7-million fundraising campaign for the 10,000 sq. metre complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved can be found at

Salmon Arm students recognized for their achievements

Okaangan College Media Release

Forty-seven students from Salmon Arm were honoured with scholarships and bursaries this month at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm Campus awards ceremony.

A number of mature students from the Salmon Arm campus credit support from the College and the community for helping them to realize their dream of returning to the classroom.

Laureen Shannon June 2015Laureen Shannon, who is currently pursuing a Business Administration diploma, received one of five Al Neale Bursaries valued at $1,500. A single mother to three children, Shannon says the bursary helps in more ways than one.

“Receiving this bursary will help me complete my program,” says Shannon. “But the impact of the support goes beyond alleviating financial stress. I feel incredibly inspired by the fact that someone in our community recognizes my hard work and wants to help me in my education.”

When she completes her diploma in 2016, Shannon hopes to go on to pursue a Bachelor of Business degree in Human Resources Management at the College.

“I feel very proud to be able to set an example for my sons,” says Shannon. “I am showing them the importance of lifelong learning, and I’m very grateful to the donors and to the College for helping me bring my dreams within reach.”

Jim Barmby, Regional Dean for Okanagan College’s Shuswap-Revelstoke region spoke about the role that donors play in supporting the interactive educational experience offered by the College.Sean Rossouw June 2015

“The learning environment provided by Okanagan College is conducive to a high level of student-teacher interaction, which is something we are very proud of and feel greatly benefits the students,” says Barmby. “It is all the more special that the people of our region play such an active role in supporting our students.”

At the ceremony, numerous students credited small class sizes and the quality of instruction they received as contributing factors for their success the College.

Sean Rossouw received two awards, including the Salmon Arm College Scholarship for top student in Business. According to Rossouw, the generosity of his professors echoes the generosity of donors in the community.

“Having top-level professors who are so incredibly generous with their time as well as their knowledge has been life changing for me,” says Rossouw. “I have been touched by their generosity as well as by the generosity of the surrounding community that is so involved in supporting students.”

Rossouw previously completed his Associate of Arts Degree at the College and hopes to parlay his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree (Accounting) into a career that allows him to give back.

“People have invested in my future and I want to do the same,” says Rossouw. “It would be wonderful to be able to use my business skills to help others kickstart their ideas. It would be a way of paying forward the investment that has been made in my education.”

This year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.

Serwa family supports trades training complex at Okanagan College

Okanagan College Media Release

Cliff and Lois Serwa June 2015Their family’s connection to Okanagan College goes back more than 50 years, and through a generous donation to the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus, Cliff and Lois Serwa are helping the College build for the next 50. 

The Serwas have given $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign behind the $33-million renovation and expansion of the College’s trades training facilities in Kelowna. The donation will support the construction of a state-of-the-art classroom space in the new three-storey tower along KLO Road.

“This community has been good to us and we’re very proud to be able to give back and support an institution that continues to have such a far reaching impact on students from all walks of life in the Okanagan,” says Cliff Serwa.

“Whether it’s supporting students fresh out of high school, or mature students, or single parents going back to school to find employment so they can support their families, the opportunities Okanagan College creates valley-wide are truly invaluable.”

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton says community support for the campaign, in addition to topping up the provincial government’s investment of $28 million for construction of the new building, is also helping the College create new awards, bursaries and other support for trades students.

“We are sincerely grateful to Cliff and Lois Serwa for this generous investment in our students’ futures,” says Hamilton. “Support like this sends a strong message to our students that there are people in the community who believe in their potential and want to see them succeed.”

“The Bright Horizons campaign is aptly named because this renovation and expansion project is about just that—creating opportunities and building bright futures for the more than 2,400 students per year who will train in this new facility. And with a provincial skills gap projected across much of the trades sector over the next five years, this new facility will help bridge that gap.”

Cliff Serwa is known for co-founding Big White Ski resort and for his work as a political figure in British Columbia. He represented Okanagan South from 1986 to 1991 and Okanagan West from 1991 to 1996 in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, and also served in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Environment. Their granddaughter Kelsey Serwa is a world-class freestyle skier; she won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Serwas’ support of students at the College goes beyond the trades. In 2007, they established an annual bursary for students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program.

“Having worked around the trades, I can certainly appreciate the importance of formal training, now more than ever, as the trades become increasingly technical,” notes Serwa. 

“But on a broader level, the College offers students young and old so many avenues to better their lives through education.”

“The value of a gift lies not in its price but in its potential,” says Lois Serwa. 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign complex launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support, in order to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

More information about opportunities to get involved, including ways to contribute to existing awards, or establish new support for trades students, is available at

Solar panels power up College’s Kelowna campus

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College has activated B.C.’s second largest solar panel system at its Kelowna campus, taking another large step towards its ambitious goal of seeking to be energy net zero by 2025.Kelowna Solar Array

“With the longer and sunnier summer days upon us, we’re thrilled to have the solar panels up and running,” says Peter Csandl, Manager, Operations and Energy Systems at Okanagan College. “Imagine the electricity consumed by 26 homes annually. That’s the equivalent power the system is anticipated to provide the campus.”

The College is now benefitting from 793 solar photovoltaic module panels, which cover the top of the new outdoor training space at the College’s Kelowna Trades Complex. The outdoor shop was built as part of the Trades Training Complex renovation and expansion project currently underway along KLO Road. 

The 194 kW electrical solar photovoltaic array system is the second largest in the province, only slightly smaller than the 258 kW system built on top of the LEED Platinum certified Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus. 

The array is part of the College’s larger sustainability plan that includes seeking LEED certification for its buildings and striving for the esteemed Living Building Challenge standards. Achieving energy net zero will require the College to produce as much energy as is consumed; the College is targeting to reduce its net carbon emissions by 80 tons per year, and is already well underway. From 2007 to 2013 the College successfully reduced its energy consumption per square meter by 32.2 per cent.

“There is the misconception that energy efficient systems can be cost prohibitive, but that is not the case,” explains Csandl. “In three short years, working with Skyfire Energy, we’ve seen a 40 per cent reduction in the cost of the installation of our solar panels.”

Csandl credits the maturing of the industry for this, including increased demand and production, as well as advances in the application of innovative technology. 

Solar photovoltaic modules are made of crystalline silicon, the same material used in a circuit board, and mounted on an aluminum frame. They have a glass front to protect them from the elements, while letting light in. Placed in sunlight, they produce direct current electricity (similar to a battery), which then goes into an inverter before being converted to electricity used by the buildings. They are durable, with relatively low cleaning and maintenance requirements.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Okanagan College is a member of the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) program and was the first college in the province to earn a silver ranking in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

For more information on sustainability at Okanagan College, visit

College’s new liberal Arts program ArtsX marks the spot for incoming students

Okanagan College Media Release

Anika Raynolds June 2015Like many of her peers, 18-year-old Penticton high school graduate Anika Raynolds has had a busy year researching post-secondary education options. The end goal has always been a Bachelor of Arts, but to get there she was searching for a program where she could apply her creativity, curiosity and one that suited her learning style.

Raynolds first heard about the ArtsX program at an Okanagan College information session.

“It sounded like a non-intimidating introduction to post-secondary education,” says Raynolds. “It’s reassuring that for the first year, courses are pre-selected to meet requirements and be well rounded. I was drawn to the small group focus, up to 30 students. I think that will definitely help to meet new friends and get more time with the instructors.”

Prospective students and their parents are invited to explore the College’s new program, the Arts Experience (ArtsX), at an upcoming information session at the Kelowna campus on Monday June 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. The session will be held in room E202 of the Centre for Learning building.

Attendees will meet the program’s faculty, including College professors Sharon Josephson and Jake Kennedy, who will explain the program, which is tailored to students who want to explore connections between key subject areas of our society in a multi-disciplinary approach. It is an opportunity for students and parents to ask questions they may have about the progressive structure, curriculum, and about what to expect.

The Arts Experience (ArtsX) was designed by Okanagan College faculty as an avant-garde learning approach offering a collective class for the two-year university transferable Associate of Arts Degree. The progressive and innovative education option will see a small group of students flow through core course curriculum together, but the classroom model and way of learning is what will be different.  

“I can get my two years of credit under my belt, while still trying a variety of classes,” says Raynolds. “It’s reassuring to know that I will get the same transferable credits of the regular Associate of Arts Degree, but that I can learn in a format that is focused on collaboration, self direction, and that goes beyond the classroom.” 

For Raynolds, the affordability of Okanagan College’s program, compared to similar styled programs offered at various North American universities, also factored into her decision to pursue the option that was close to home.

Students who have received admission into the Associate of Arts Degree program at Okanagan College will have an opportunity to apply to complete their studies with the limited enrolment ArtsX program at the Kelowna campus. To find out more about ArtsX, attend the June 29 information session in Kelowna and visit

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