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Campus Life - Okanagan

College passes $95-million balanced budget

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has passed a $94.95 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year.

“We have passed a balanced operating budget that allows us to continue to provide programs and services throughout the region, without any service reductions or layoffs,” explains Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair Tom Styffe.

“It wasn’t easy, and we are looking to departments and our staff to find some significant savings in a variety of areas,” observed Styffe.

“When we first reviewed our budget for the coming year, we were facing a seven-digit issue, created by a number of pressures. Administration and staff have found ways to increase revenue through growth in some areas, and means to pare expenditures that allow us to balance the budget.”

The Board’s budget included provision for increased tuition revenue, both from growth in the number of international students and Continuing Studies activity and from a two per cent increase in tuition rates. 

For a full-time student taking university transfer arts, the increase will add about $32.67 per semester, bringing a semester’s tuition to $1,666.11. For a student taking the office assistant program, the increase will add about $42.82 for the program (total tuition of $2,183.79). A Level 1 Auto Service Technician apprentice will see tuition increase by about $14.50 to $739.63.

The Board also made a decision to hold off charging fees for either Adult Basic Education or English as a Second Language courses for domestic students for the 2015-16 year. The province recently changed policy to allow public institutions to charge for those program areas, and announced funding reductions, although those were offset with one-time transitional funding for the coming year.

Over the course of the next several months, Okanagan College is to develop a plan for which courses the institution might charge tuition for. The Board will review that plan before implementing any fees.

“We believe it is important to do the research about how ABE and ESL fees may affect our students,” said Styffe. “At a time when so many jobs require higher education, there is a great deal of interest in preserving access to these program areas.”


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College event focuses on local community impact on global change

Okanagan College Media Release

Janine Roth March 2015Kelowna resident Janine Roth was raised to recognize that not everyone in the world is as fortunate as most Canadians, and that time truly is the most valuable thing we can all give. 

The 29-year-old Okanagan College International Development diploma student has travelled and contributed to international development aid efforts in Haiti, Uganda, Kenya, Israel, Venezuela, Mexico, and China.

“I wanted to go to these countries to hear and see for myself what those communities needed,” says Roth. “It’s important to focus our development efforts on what the people in those countries tell us they need, versus us going in with our own ideas of what we think they need.”

On April 8 the public is invited to explore the issues developing countries face, and hear from the individuals and organizations in our Okanagan community who are helping transform the lives of those in need. 

The inaugural International Development Night will be hosted at Okanagan College’s Kelowna Campus in the Student Services Building from 4 to 6 p.m. 

Roth travelled to Haiti when she was 19 to volunteer with school children in the community and orphanages, and returned there in 2011 with a group from her Kelowna church to provide further aid and support. It comes as no surprise that prior to pursuing post-secondary education, Roth was named “2010 Volunteer of the Year” by her then-employer, Kelowna-based Disney Interactive Studios Canada. 

“When I worked at Disney, they genuinely fostered my interest in international aid,” adds Roth. “I had the chance to learn from their Corporate Citizenship Program Director, whom I still consider a mentor, and I realized I could turn my love of volunteering into a meaningful career by honing in my skills with some education.”

In winning the volunteerism award through the company, she was awarded a humanitarian aid trip to Kenya affording her the chance to tour and contribute to the various projects with Free the Children that Disney supports. Then, while she was in Haiti, Disney offered her the opportunity to contribute to their ongoing support projects by reviewing and reporting on how the monies were being spent, their impact, and discussing future aid in the community.

“Many of us travel and like to think we are internationally oriented,” says Dr. Rosalind Warner, Chair of Okanagan College’s Political Science Department. “Yet few of us think beyond our day-to-day about how our actions can aid sustainability and development.

“We wanted to create this forum for the community to connect with students, and also to help the general public see all the exciting goodwill projects initiated here that make a real impact in the world.”

The interactive community focused event includes information booths, mini guest lectures (room A125), networking, live music, and light refreshments. It is an opportunity to speak directly with local non-profit organizations about their aid efforts and expand the awareness of the need for individuals to contribute to developing countries beyond our everyday. 

A dozen local non-profit organizations will be in attendance: Hope for the Nations, Partners in the Horn of Africa, Kelowna Zambia Partnership, Developing World Connections, Global Citizen Kelowna, Amnesty International Group 161 Kelowna, Gifts to Grandmothers, World Neighbours Canada, Inter-cultural Women’s Educational Network, Bicycles for Humanity, Potters Without Borders, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan.


Small classes key at college

Thinking about college? Information sessions at Okanagan College in Vernon and Kelowna will tell you all you need to know.

High-school students, parents, and anyone considering career training are invited to hear from college instructors and students about the learning options available to them. The sessions will also provide information about university transfer credits, financial aid and awards, and discuss career options for those pursuing studies in arts, science and business.

“Class size is the key piece,” says 32-year-old Vernon student Tim Osborne, who is completing his associate of arts degree along with science foundation courses. “When there are only 10 to 30 students in a class, you have more one-on-one time with your instructors. They genuinely care about your education, helping you learn.”

Arts and science information sessions will be held on Tuesday at the Vernon campus lecture theatre and Wednesday at the Kelowna campus in the atrium of the Centre for Learning. A Business program information session will also be held in Vernon (room E102/103) on Tuesday. All sessions begin at 6 p.m.

“The college is a real community,” adds Osborne. “I’ve taken courses at both the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. Because of the smaller campuses, the place becomes familiar. It was easy to meet friends and peers to help me study.

 

"The instructors know you by name. I don’t feel like I am just a number to them.”



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Kamloops writer wins top prize in Okanagan Short Story Contest

More than 90 entries received in annual writers’ competition

A Kamloops writer has won first prize in the Okanagan Short Story Contest. Katherin Edwards won the $500 first prize and a week’s residency at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre for her story Pellucidity.

In the Canadian tradition of stories about uncanny events in the woods, Edwards’ story is a poignant tale of friendship and coming of age in a young girl’s encounter with mortality and a dazzling but terrifyingly deep British Columbia lake.

Second prize was won by Kelowna resident Jocelyn Tennant for her story Red. This is a gripping tale about a 19th-century pioneer woman alone with her child in a Kootenays blizzard, struggling to cope after a bear attacks the livestock on her remote farmstead.

Third prize was won by Raven Faith Jones of Kelowna for her story Know You As You Feel You Know Me, a searing monologue that challenges the cool complacency and outright hostility enacted in the everyday encounters of Aboriginal people with the legacy of colonialism.

The short-list of 12 finalists was selected by UBC’s Creative Writing faculty from more than 90 entries.

During the reading last week at the downtown Kelowna branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, judge Marie Clements praised all the short-listed authors for their creativity and talent.  Edwards and Tennant read excerpts of their winning stories and Marie Clements read an excerpt of Jones’s story, as she could not attend the announcement event. Clements, UBC’s Writer-in-Residence, also read from her own work.

“Literary contests are a valuable encouragement to emerging writers,” says Nancy Holmes, Creative Writing professor at UBC Okanagan. “There is no doubt that this contest, in its 17th year, fulfills this goal for our region.”

The Okanagan Short Story Contest is an annual event sponsored by the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, the Central Okanagan Foundation, and Kelowna’s Capital News and is open to all residents of the Southern Interior.

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Project Management program earns international approval

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College has earned the designation of Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s largest project management member association. 

R.E.P.s are organizations that have been approved by PMI to help project managers achieve and maintain the Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Program Management Professional (PgMP)® and other PMI professional credentials.  

Okanagan College’s project management programming is offered through its Continuing Studies division. Earning the designation means the College has met the criteria for course content, instructor qualification and instructional design. 

“The shift to project-based work we are seeing in many industries, including finance, technology, construction and health, has helped to make project management an increasingly important field of work, and we have seen strong training demand in our region,” said Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development at Okanagan College. “Our program receiving this designation means our students are assured their education meets the highest professional standards and can be used to earn professional development units.” 

Okanagan College joins more than 1,500 R.E.P.s in more than 80 countries. These organizations include commercial training providers, academic institutions, and corporate training departments within corporations and government agencies.   

For more information about the College’s Project Management Certificate program, visit the website: www.okanagan.bc.ca/cs


Lovig crushes 10 K record at Okanagan College race

Okanagan College Media Release

LovigMore than 400 runners crossed the finish line on Sunday at Okanagan College’s 13th annual Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race in Kelowna.

The women’s 10 K course record was shattered by Kelowna’s Christy Lovig (36:48). Salmon Arm’s Glynis Sim (38:32) finished second and Kelowna’s Martha Sirdevan (42:39) was third.

The men’s 10 K race was won by Greg Edgar (35:49). Second and third place went to the father-son duo of Jacab and Jeremy Harris; they crossed the finish line together with a time of 36:36.

The half marathon men’s race was won by Vernon’s Aaron Heidt (1:14:49). Kelowna runners Jeff Vogt (1:17:19) and Rory Switzer (1:21:09) finished second and third, respectively.

The female half marathon was won by Claire Young (1:26:44), followed by Tracy Dayman (1:33:48) and then Cindy Rhodes (1:34:19), all from Kelowna.

The half marathon relay event was won by a team from Fresh Air Experience in Kelowna. The team of five runners worked together to achieve a time of 1:38:36.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day for this event and the group of runners and volunteers who took part this year were incredible,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “I heard runners saying they couldn’t have experienced better weather for this time of year – it was the perfect temperature and nice and dry. The course was really well managed by a great group of volunteers and as always, our participants brought a huge amount of energy to the event.”

The Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay is an annual not-for-profit event that raises funds to support student bursaries.

Complete race results are available online: www.okanagan.bc.ca/halfmarathon.



Tech sector forecasts significant demand, nationally and locally

Okanagan College Media Release

More than 6,500 skilled individuals are the driving force of the Okanagan’s billion-dollar tech industry but a recent national report forecasts a shortage of the homegrown talent to fill the demand for tech jobs by 2019.

It is clear there are opportunities in the Okanagan to take advantage of job openings in the rapidly growing tech sector. 

“Youth in our community looking for jobs, need to look no further than the tech sector,” says Phil Ashman, Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “With the right training, hands-on experience, and industry contacts, thriving careers are within grasp for our students.” 

“Since we launched our accelerator programs in 2011,” notes Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO Pilar Portela, “our clients have hired over 360 employees, and we see this growth and demand on the Accelerate Okanagan job board too, which has had more than 55 jobs posted to it this year alone. There is clearly a demand for talent.”

“This is why our partnership with Okanagan College is so important,” continues Portela, “We provide direct access to the needs of the thriving Okanagan technology sector, which allows the College to create innovative curricula that will develop local, highly skilled, high-tech talent.”

In the Labour Market Outlook 2015-2019 report released last week by the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada, it is estimated there will be a talent supply shortage in filling 182,000 tech jobs in Canada in the next five years.

The growth of the tech sector in the Okanagan can be attributed to strong innovation and startups, but information technology permeates all aspects of the business world.  There are 100,730 British Columbians who work in technology, but of these only 44,000 actually work for a tech-based company. The majority in fact work in other sectors, including finance, health, and energy, providing technology support to the business needs that advance our economy.

Top in-demand jobs expected in the province are computer programmers and interactive media developers, software engineers, and support technicians. Okanagan College is committed to training students to supply this demand by offering three programs, all of which include a co-op component.  

“Through applied learning, our students gain hands-on experience that is valuable as they enter careers in technology,” remarks Ashman. “We are committed to fostering partnerships with industry in our region, and as such we are able to successfully help students find job-opportunities, ultimately helping meet the sector’s demand.” 

The College offers a four-year Computer Information Systems degree and a two-year Computer Information Systems diploma, which include software design and development, database management, development and administration, and incorporates mathematics, business, and communications courses. The programs are offered at the Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon campuses.

The two-year Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology diploma teaches students network infrastructure, telecommunication, and client/server administration, and also includes business courses to ensure students are prepared to tackle tech solutions for the broad range of businesses requiring tech infrastructure. 

"Acro Media is focused on applied skill sets in order to staff our software programming department in Kelowna,” says Becky Parisotto, Senior Project Manager at Acro Media. “The graduates from Okanagan College have been working closely with our business as co-op students, and growing into valuable employees for the past two years.

“The learning we see the students receive is ground-level, focusing on hard skills as opposed to concepts; which marries perfectly for joining our growing work force and resourcing needs,” adds Parisotto. “Their abilities to grasp new concepts with low ego and high work ethic motivates us as a local company to continue to go back to the well of talent at the College for recruitment and hiring.”


Award remembers Okanagan College student and aids another in following his dream

Okanagan College Media Release

Brad Atkins and Harder Family LR March 2015A young man’s dream of becoming an aircraft mechanic and pilot ended when his life was cut short by a tragic accident. Now, the award created in his memory is inspiring another student to pursue the lofty goal they shared.

Brad Atkins of Vernon is the recipient of the first annual Tim Harder Memorial Award, a $1,000 bursary created to support students in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) program at Okanagan College.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for this award,” says Atkins. “I can’t even put it into words.

“I feel very privileged, and I want to express my deepest thanks to the Harder family and to let them know just how much this award means to me. It takes an incredible weight off my shoulders to know that I have these funds to put towards living expenses and tuition for the rest of my program.” 

During the award presentation at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus in Vernon, Tim Harder’s parents, Drs. James and Joyce Harder, reflected on why they chose to establish the award in their son’s memory and their hopes for what it will achieve.

“When Tim died, our family and friends wanted to do something to honour his memory,” explains Joyce Harder. 

“We knew that it had been a struggle for Tim to go back to school after all those years, and so we decided to help other students in a similar situation,” says James Harder. “Okanagan College has been extremely helpful in making this happen.”

Harder was 30 years old when he decided to follow his passion and pursue a career in aviation, enrolling in the AME program at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus. He hoped one day to also attain his commercial pilot’s license and fly up north during the summer while pursuing his other passion, ski coaching, during the winter.

Sadly, after completing the first year of the program, Harder perished in a tragic motor vehicle accident. His parents established the annual award in his name through the Okanagan College Foundation; the award is intended to assist mature students enrolled in the AME program.

“Tim Harder brought a lot of life and laughter to the AME program and was great at encouraging fellow classmates to keep their goals in perspective,” says Dale Keegstra, Manager, Aerospace Department, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering M-License. “He was always willing to help out in the shop when someone needed an extra hand to get a job done. Tim had a genuine love for mechanics and the aviation industry.” 

Atkins, who has completed the first 48 weeks of training for the AME M-License through Okanagan College, will now embark for the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek. 

Like Harder, Atkins also has a great love for the outdoors and for coaching/teaching outdoor skills. Atkins founded his own business, Backcountry Avalanche Awareness, an avalanche skills training company, four years ago and has continued to operate the business while completing his studies at Okanagan College.

“It’s been a challenge returning to school as a mature student, completing my courses while still running my own business,” says Atkins. “But I’m so excited for the career this will allow me to have, and it’s been very fulfilling to be able to continue helping people through education while also continuing my own education.”

The AME program prepares apprentices to certify an aircraft after maintenance, inspection, repair or modification. Training on both rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) and fixed wing aircraft is provided, and covers a wide range of subjects with emphasis on practical training and job-readiness. 

For more information about this and other awards available at Okanagan College, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards.


Trifecta finish for College’s Enactus team at regional competition

Okanagan College Media Release

The winning ways of Okanagan College’s business administration students continue, with podium finishes for three teams at the Enactus Western Canadian regional championships held in Calgary recently.Enactus Entrepreneurship March 2015

A team comprised of five College students won first place at the competition in the entrepreneurship category. Kelowna’s Darren Gillespie, Cooper Simson, Brent Basil and Emilia Muscardin, joined by Pentictonite Suzanne Newton showcased the work they did in a project called Innspire, which benefited Inn from the Cold, a Kelowna homeless shelter. The students developed a social enterprise that focused on sales of repurposed soap to benefit and profile the Chandler House and the issue of homelessness.

The regional competition win means the Entrepreneurship team advances to the national competition in Toronto in May. 

Capturing second place at the competition in the Eco-Living green category were students Abbey Jones, Sakura Hirata, Aaron Gregory, Rob Larkin and Carly Suddard. 

The team’s projects that impressed judges at the event, held in Calgary, included Instill Life and Innspire. Instill Life is a project that puts Enactus Okanagan College students into classrooms to educate Grade 5 and 6 students with interactive workshops on a variety of topics such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. The children learn about local foods and agriculture as well as about agricultural entrepreneurs from around the world, they then create greeting cards out of their own personal artwork and are taught how to become entrepreneurs themselves by selling the cards for a profit. This profit is then micro-lent to an entrepreneur of the students’ choice in a developing country.

A third team from Okanagan College placed third in the financial literacy category, comprised of Vernon student Christianne Edbald and Kelowna students Daniel Alfred, Minami Endo, Talasa Larder and Rebecca Alfred. Their projects included two financial literacy programs run for low-income earners called Dollars and Sense and MAPS (Mentorship for All Parents).

"It's amazing to see the passion and determination that our Enactus teams, and the other teams across Canada have for helping those in our communities,” noted Tom Arrowsmith, the President of Enactus Okanagan College. “I couldn't be more proud of the success we have had this year at the regional exhibition, and I look forward to what lies ahead for the Enactus Okanagan College team." 

"This year we brought a very new team to the Enactus regional event and I am very excited that the team once again excelled,” observed Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, faculty advisor with the first-place entrepreneurial team. “It confirms the passion and ability of our students to implement entrepreneurial projects that address the social, economic and environmental needs of our region."  

“The outcomes at regional competition are a testament to the quality of the projects we run across the region and the incredible support we have from our students, institution and the communities we serve,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, faculty advisor for Enactus Okanagan College.”

“The competition results speak to the quality of the effort the students expend on these projects, but the real payback is for our community,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The projects benefit organizations and move forward the agenda on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and sustainability, and they also provide hands-on learning for students who carry their skills and commitment to these causes into their careers.”

Enactus Okanagan College involves students from each of Okanagan College’s four major campuses. To learn more visit www.enactusoc.ca.


Benefit of small class-sizes and campus community draws students to College, hear more at upcoming info nights in Vernon and Kelowna

Okanagan College Media Release

Tim Osborne March 2015Good things come in small packages. At Okanagan College the small class sizes at its four local campuses continue to be a differentiator for prospective students.

“Class size is the key piece,” says 32-year-old Vernon student Tim Osborne who is completing his Associate of Arts Degree along with some science foundation courses at the College. “When there are only 10 to 30 students in a class, you have more one-on-one time with your instructors. They genuinely care about your education, helping you learn. I felt they were invested in my success for the future.”

At three upcoming information sessions in Vernon and Kelowna, high-school students, their parents, and anyone considering further studies for additional training or a career change are invited to hear from Okanagan College instructors and students including Osborne about the learning options available to them. The sessions will also provide information about university transfer credits, financial aid and awards, and discuss career options for those pursuing studies in arts, science and business.

The Arts and Science information session will be held on Tuesday March 31 at the Vernon Campus lecture theatre and also on Wednesday April 1 at the Kelowna Campus in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning. A Business program information session will also be held in Vernon (room E102/103) on March 31. All sessions commence at 6 p.m.

Beyond receiving valuable information about programs offered by the College, those in attendance will also have the chance to hear about the academic and social culture on campus.

“The College is a real community,” adds Osborne. “I’ve taken courses at both the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. Because of the smaller campuses, the place becomes familiar. It was easy to meet friends and peers to help me study.”

Instructors are also a key part of the College community. Osborne credits the industry-expertise of the faculty for fostering an unexpected interest in sciences for him. He will pursue psychology and English when he transfers to UBC Okanagan next year.

“I’m an arts student, and had no science experience. I took a biology for arts course at the College. The instructor would actually approach students when he felt as though clarity was not fully attained. It was this help and knowledge that helped me achieve one of my highest grades that semester.

“The instructors know you by name. I don’t feel like I am just a number to them.”


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