Campus Life  

Coyotes Baseball Win over #1 and #12

Okanagan College Media Release


The Coyotes are near the tail end of their season opening annual trip to Las Vegas and Phoenix and what a week it has been. On Monday the Coyotes headed to Coolidge, Arizona to face the 2019 Junior College World Series Champions and current # 1 ranked program in Central Arizona College.

Wyatt Hummel, (West Kelowna, RHP, Sr) took the ball for his first start of the season and didn’t disappoint. The Coyotes pitching staff leader turned in 4 strong innings striking out 4 surrendering 3 runs. He then turned the ball over to Nic Taylor, (Calgary, AB, LHP, Soph) who also pitched extremely well going 5 innings to pick up the win in a 9-7 affair.

“Central Arizona is consistently the premier program in Junior College in the country that have multiple MLB draft picks and MLB alum,” adds Head Coach Geoff White. “For us to go in to their field and win a great game 9-7 was extremely satisfying for this team.”

Brendan Luther (Toronto, ON, INF, Soph) paced the offense going 2-4 with a triple, 2 runs, an RBI and a stolen base. Luther has had an incredible start to his season hitting over .500 for most of the trip and playing outstanding defense at short stop. Ethan Loran (Oyen, AB, OF, Soph) also went 2-4 with a triple, 2 runs, and 2 RBI.

“We had some timely hits and made excellent pitches to hold off an extremely talented team,” adds White. “We have been talking about the capabilities of this team and the high expectations we have, and I think we just showed what we can do by taking a win off the # 1 team in the nation.”

The Coyotes weren’t done there as they headed back to Las Vegas to take on the College of Southern Nevada currently ranked # 12 in the nation. The CSN program is where MLB superstar Bryce Harper came from and has produced many other MLB players and numerous draft picks. The Coyotes kept the momentum rolling on Thursday night as Chris Wyslobocki (Etobicoke, ON, RHP, JR) turned in 7 shutout innings while only surrendering 2 hits while striking out 8 on route to a 6-2 win for Okanagan College. Once again Brendan Luther lead the way going 2-4 scoring 2 runs with a walk and an RBI. Nolan King (Saskatoon, SK, OF, Soph) had a massive 2 RBI double in the top of the 9th to keep the game out of reach. Local Kelowna product Adam Sarafinchin (Kelowna, BC, RHP, Freshman) picked up the save as he worked out of a bases loaded, 0 out situation in the bottom of the 8th.

“Chris really was fantastic, he had all three pitches working and we made plays behind him,” says White. “They have an outstanding program and for us to pick up another win against a ranked opponent really shows this team’s ability. We have shown that we can play with some really tough competition, and this trip isn’t easy as we play 15 games in 8 days, it shows how deep this team is.”

The Coyotes will wrap up their annual trip over this weekend against the College of Southern Nevada and Community Christian College from California who the Coyotes beat 4-2 earlier in the week.


Okanagan teens take on booming tech industry at JABC TechWorks

Okanagan College Media Release

More than 200 teens from high schools throughout the Okanagan spent their Thursday on OC’s Kelowna campus for a full day learning about technology and innovation.JABC Techworks Feb 2020

Organized by Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC), the day focused on introducing middle school-aged students to the vast variety of opportunities that permeate the tech world. The morning opened with a plenary, led by Andrew MacLean, co-founder of HighTech U, a learning community based out of the University of Victoria. Other speakers included Okanagan College Regional Dean Phil Ashman, Ashley Ramsay of Yeti Farm Creative, Ray Warren of RBC and Veronica Best from Dyspatch.

“To see this event go from a smaller theatre in Victoria all the way to Kelowna now has been fantastic,” says MacLean. “What JABC is doing with this program is really setting students up for success by showing them different pathways that then inspire and show them what they can do. Right now, there is still a perception that you can be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or maybe a programmer, but people don’t realize just how many opportunities there are in tech in BC, let alone the rest of the world.”

Following lunch, students divided into breakout sessions, consisting of presentations and deep dives on various tech topics led by instructors. With five sessions to choose from, ranging from visual effects and animation to robotics and LED tech, students interacted with the presenters from Sony Pictures Imageworks, Best Buy, the Industry Training Authority and KF Aerospace and the College.

Held outside Vancouver for the first time since the event’s inception in 2016, the sessions offered a hands-on experience for students to test technology and ask questions. In the session led by Best Buy, students used iPads to code five-inch tall Star Wars BB8 robots, leading them through a maze on the ground.

“This event exposes kids to what their future might look like in terms of careers,” says Sheila Biggers, CEO of JABC. “Most careers, if not all, will be tech-enabled and our whole mission is to prepare students for lifelong success. The importance of today is that this really opens up young people’s minds to that idea and hopefully we give them information on how to prepare themselves so that they can benefit from the future they may graduate into.”

For a photo gallery from the event, click


Study points to better medical diagnosis through levitating human blood

Sepideh Pakpour, a School of Engineering assistant professor, says test show levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

Sepideh Pakpour, a School of Engineering assistant professor, says test show levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

Floating human plasma helps researchers detect diseases like opioid addiction

New research from the UBC's Okanagan campus, Harvard Medical School and Michigan State University suggests that levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

The researchers used a stream of electricity that acted like a magnet and separated protein from blood plasma. Plasma is the clear, liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed.

“Human plasma proteins contain information on the occurrence and development of addiction and diseases,” says Sepideh Pakpour, assistant professor with UBCO's School of Engineering, and one of the authors of the research.

Pakpour is using the proteins to predict opioid dependencies and addictions, but the findings could one day lead to medical diagnosis using the technology.

As plasma proteins are different densities, when separated the proteins levitate at different heights, and therefore become identifiable. An evaluation of these types of proteins and how they group together can paint a picture that identifies whether a patient has the possibility of getting a disease or becoming addicted to drugs like opioids.

“We compared the differences between healthy proteins and diseased proteins to set benchmarks,” says Pakpour. “With this information and the plasma levitation, we were able to accurately detect rare proteins that are only found in individuals with opioid addictions.”

According to Pakpour, the researchers are particularly excited about the possibility of developing a portable and accurate new diagnostic tool for health care practitioners.

“More investigation is required, but our findings are certainly a step forward towards an optical imaging disease detection tool,” she adds.

The five-minute test uses machine learning and predictive models. It may one day lead to tools that can not only diagnose diseases, but also help practitioners prescribe medications that won’t lead to drug dependencies.

The researchers are now evaluating other dependencies and diseases to establish roadmaps for detection.

The research is supported by internal grants from the department of anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, and the Precision Health Program at Michigan State University. It was published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Pushing the green building envelope: builders and educators working together

Okanagan College Media Release


Okanagan College, UBC, City of Kelowna co-host net zero life cycle workshop

Workshops often involve questions and answers; this one focused on the real-world queries and solutions that may unlock a greener future for us all.

Building Net Zero PanelOkanagan College, the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBC Okanagan), the City of Kelowna and a host of industry partners convened in Kelowna at the Innovation Centre on Tuesday.

Building Net Zero was a one-day workshop designed to bring together building and energy innovators to tackle an ambitious green agenda. It offered attendees a behind-the-scenes look into the growing number of collaborations that are advancing affordable high-efficiency buildings in the Okanagan.

Speakers shared new research, technologies, materials and building techniques aimed not only at advancing sustainability, but also bringing it within reach for more builders and occupants across a host of settings – from smarter schools and other high-performance buildings to greener, healthier homes.

“This workshop was all about creating a forum to learn more about some of the exciting partnerships that are driving advancements in green building across the region,” says Andrew Hay, Vice President Education for Okanagan College.

“As an institution, we’re committed to continuing to raise the bar for ourselves and the Okanagan when it comes to building the most sustainable buildings possible on our campuses. We’ve added new programming to help train the leaders of tomorrow, such as our Sustainable Construction Management Technology program. We are working with local builders on several applied research projects. The key aspect is effective collaboration and communication, and that is what the workshop was all about.”

The sessions illuminated listeners to an array of green building topics.

James Allen, Program Manager, Conservation and Energy Management for FortisBC, delivered a presentation on achieving cost effective applications of the Energy Step Code in multi-unit buildings.

Tim McLennan, Director of Design and Operations for Faction Projects Inc., spoke about the evolution of sustainable design and construction standards for institutional buildings.

Kasun Hewage of UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering discussed life-cycle-thinking-based green construction.

Dr. Sharia Aam of UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering and Ashley Lubyk, a professor in the College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology program highlighted goals and early work coming out of the Green Construction Research and Training Centre, which was launched as a partnership between OC and UBCO in July 2019.

Key learnings from the Wilden Living Lab were also shared. That project is a pioneering collaborative three-year learning and research undertaking by Wilden developer Blenk Development Corp., AuthenTech Homes, UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College and FortisBC.

The Lab was designed by professors and students from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering, while Okanagan College trades students and staff lent their hands to the project, completed in late 2016. It involved two homes – one built to current building code utilizing today’s standard building materials, and a second “the home of tomorrow” which incorporated the latest and emerging green building techniques and materials. Since completed, UBC Okanagan researchers have collected and examined extensive data to showcase how much better the home of tomorrow has performed – and how those learnings can be applied to future builds not just in the Okanagan but around the world.

Peter Robinson, Chief Technology Officer for Community Energy Association and Christian Cianfrone, Executive Director of ZEBx offered insights into what a number of organizations outside of the region are doing, and how those learnings can be used to continue to advance the Okanagan’s green construction industry.

The event concluded with a panel discussion on opportunities in regional Energy STEP Code implementation. Making up the panel was Ashley Lubyk of OC and Kasun Hewage of UBCO; joined by Trevor Butler, President of Archineers; Charles Cullen, Project Manager for Team Construction Management Ltd., Chris Ray, Community Energy Specialist for the City of Kelowna and Kim Larson, Director of All Elements Design.Manage.Build.

Peter Robinson, who moderated the panel, was encouraged by the packed theatre in the Innovation Centre and abundance of dialogue and questions throughout the day.

“It’s amazing how much innovation is happening around the valley in green construction,” he says. “Days like today help us continue to build on the momentum, to foster new collaborations and, above all, to help spread the word that green building is thriving. It is not just viable, but thriving in the Okanagan.”

The workshop was made possible by support from BC Hydro, FortisBC, and The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Workshop partners included ZEBx, Team Construction Management Ltd., All Elements Design.Manage.Build, Archineers, Innovation Okanagan Network, Community Energy Association and the Canadian Home Builder’s Association Central Okanagan.

View a photo gallery from the event here.


Signature Speaker Series explores slavery, murder, and piracy on the high seas

Okanagan College Media Release

How do piracy, human trafficking and other serious international maritime crimes relate to commercial fisheries and the choices we are left with as a consumer?Karsten von Hosselin Feb 2020

How does one go about solving cold cases?  

What is it like to defuse a hostage crisis and provide support to victims in the aftermath?

Karsten von Hoesslin will delve into all this and more during his presentation “Slavery, Murder, and Piracy on the High Seas: Is there a direct line between human trafficking and the seafood that ends up on your plate?” on Monday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College Vernon campus.

His talk is the latest in the Vernon campus’ Signature Speaker Series.

“If you want to commit the perfect crime, just do it at sea,” muses von Hoesslin, noting that despite technological advances, maritime crime-solving remains as challenging and complex as ever.

von Hoesslin has held a variety of harrowing roles from intelligence to hostage negotiation and crisis intervention to criminal investigations, SWAT and tactical medicine. He is also known for hosting National Geographic’s Lawless Oceans and has been featured in National Geographic’s Underworld, Inc. series.

von Hoesslin specialises in HUMINT (Human Intelligence) infiltration and investigative methodologies, which are derived from his PhD studies. He also holds a Masters in Strategic Studies and a BA in Political Science and History.

He is also a Response Consultant and commanded the marine component for the hostage rescue of the highest ransom case in Somali pirate history to date – the Smyrni case, which involved the safe release of 26 crewmembers of the MT Smyrni, a Liberian-flagged Suezmax tanker vessel.

As a Detective, von Hoesslin investigates and has solved a number of high-profile cold cases (unsolved mysteries) ranging from homicide to environmental crimes. He is trained in SWAT and tactical medicine and is a Paramedic candidate with an EMT-level certification. von Hoesslin has also been part of special medical teams in Nigeria providing assistance to Boko Haram victims and has also provided support in post-disaster environments including Typhoon Yolanda.

Presented by Okanagan College, the series is sponsored by the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Uprooted Kitchen and Catering Co. Admission is $10, or free for Okanagan College students.

Participants can register in advance online at
www.okanagan.bc.ca/SignatureSpeakers or pay at the door.


UBC Okanagan launches Festival of Ideas with BC’s Lieutenant Governor

The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Inaugural event to feature panel discussion with Janet Austin

In celebration of its 15 years in the Okanagan, UBC’s Okanagan campus announced today the Festival of Ideas—a yearlong lineup of events curated to inspire ideas and catalyze conversation between UBC and the community. The inaugural event will be a panel discussion with the Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and three guest speakers on March 5.

The panel, titled ‘Igniting Greater Civic Engagement in Our Community, Our Province,’ will explore what individuals, institutions and organizations can do to advance reconciliation, democracy, and equity and inclusion.

“Engaging with our community is an intrinsic element of UBC Okanagan and it permeates everything we do,” says Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Provost and Vice-President Academic, at UBC Okanagan. “I am delighted that our Festival of Ideas will continue to cultivate this partnership by showcasing many of the incredible events that are integral touchpoints between community and campus.”

She adds that beginning the festival by welcoming BC’s Lieutenant Governor to the Okanagan is a particular honour.

“Her Honour Janet Austin’s priorities of equity, diversity and inclusion; democracy and civic engagement; and reconciliation are incredibly important and complement UBC Okanagan’s own values and expertise so perfectly,” says Mukherjee Reed. “This is going to be a fantastic discussion and one that I hope sparks a wider conversation.”

The Festival of Ideas will run through the summer and until the end of the year, with over 30 public events—most of which are free. Mukherjee Reed says the festival features everything from special guest speakers to ground-breaking research to moving performances. She adds that the spring line up is already generating interest and more events are expected as the year progresses.

“We’re excited to be sharing and celebrating this milestone with our community,” she says. “Over the coming months, we hope to highlight the kind of bold thinking and exciting ideas that make our campus and the Okanagan so unique.”

To see the spring line up or to register for the panel discussion, visit: ok.ubc.ca/festival-of-ideas

UBC Okanagan is also encouraging the public to sign up for an email newsletter to stay informed about the many public events hosted by the campus. To sign up, visit: ok.ubc.ca/events/subscribe

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Chefs’ Table Society sets up Harry McWatters Scholarship Fund

Okanagan College Media Release

A Canadian wine icon is honoured — scholarship will fund deserving students for overseas studies

Harry McWatters Feb 2020When Canadian wine icon Harry McWatters passed suddenly last summer, the sense of loss that so many felt went well beyond his extensive personal relationships. At McWatters’ service in Penticton, many of the 1,500 in attendance wondered just who might fill the void in the British Columbia wine industry which he helped invent, then cultivated for more than 40 years.

“Harry’s mentorship is rightly legendary,” says Jonathan Rouse, Associate Dean of the Okanagan School of Business; and Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College. “He always had his eye on emerging talent in the business, and vigorously mentored young people, through his roles as founder of the BC Wine Institute and his many ongoing industry affiliations.”

Rouse recalls an overseas trip that McWatters helped arrange. “Years ago Harry and I discussed the importance for students to experience different regions of the world with rich histories of food and wine. Harry arranged for me to visit Italy’s Castello Banfi, and of course, at the highest level.”

“My visit coincided with a Banfi-sponsored scholastic tour,” Rouse says. “So I had the opportunity to meet students from a wide range of American universities, such as Cornell, famous for its hotel and hospitality disciplines. Without Harry’s introductions, we would likely not have a number of new wine student exchange agreements in place with European universities.”

The Chefs’ Table Society of BC quickly recognized the need to salute Harry’s enduring legacy. “Our member chefs serve hundreds of bottles of B.C. wines every day,” says Robert Belcham, president of Chefs’ Table, “and I like to think there’s a little bit of Harry in every one of them. In retrospect, it’s astounding what Harry and his fellow pioneers accomplished in just over three decades — B.C. wines are securely on the global map.”

In honour of McWatters, Chefs’ Table is launching a new scholarship through the Okanagan College Foundation with an initial contribution of $2,000 per annum for a minimum period of five years. Students enrolled in a Wine or Tourism program at Okanagan College and are participating in an international education experience will be eligible for the scholarship.

“The operative word is ‘Fund’ says Belcham. “We’ve donated first, but it’s really a call to action: We invite industry associations, wineries and private individuals to enhance our gift by donating online or contacting the Okanagan College Foundation and pledging their support.”

“This is a very special award that honours Harry, his passion for mentoring students and his connection to Okanagan College,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

Jackman notes that Harry taught at the College and was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate from Okanagan University College for his vast contributions in putting B.C. wine on the map and as a steward of wine education in and beyond the region.

“Now, his legacy will continue as students get the opportunity to experience and learn from other cultures and infuse those insights into the unique food and drinks of the Okanagan Valley.”

Lisa Lalonde, Harry’s wife for many years, together with Harry’s children, Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, commented jointly. “Out of tragedy can arise positive outcomes. We are very grateful, and honoured, that the Chefs’ Table Society and Okanagan College have joined in this positive partnership to honour Harry and salute his legacy. It’s a perfect fit and much in keeping with Harry’s profound interest in global wine connectivity.”

Lalonde added “Harry collected experiences. He loved nothing more than planning trips based on where we would dine, what we would drink and who we would visit. We think Harry would love the creative use of these funds, and our family is pleased to add to CTS’s initial contribution in the amount of $1,000 per annum. Now we hope that others will see the benefit in adding to this Fund and bringing international wine experiences and knowledge back to the Okanagan.”

To donate to the Harry McWatters Scholarship Fund, visit Okanagan.bc.ca/mcwatters or contact Anne Kirkpatrick at the Okanagan College Foundation at 250-492-4305 ext. 3254 or [email protected].


Okanagan College spotlights STEM education and career paths in Feb and March

Okanagan College Media Release

What do soccer-playing robots, spaghetti bridges and soaring aviators have in common?

Over the next month, Okanagan College will be opening its doors to elementary, middle and high school students to attend a series of events aimed at encouraging young people to step into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

“We want learners of all ages to hear the message that there has never been a better time to get into technology careers. There is a very real need for skilled workers in everything from animation to electronic, civil, network and telecommunications and water engineering. With advances in green building, there’s also strong demand for sustainable construction managers – which is a career some students may not have heard of or considered before,” says Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health for Okanagan College.

“There is also a huge push locally, nationally and internationally to encourage and support more women getting into engineering and technology careers. So, events like these are just one of many ways we are working to create entry points, moments of inspiration and pathways into technology education.” 

14th Annual Western Canada RoboCup JuniorRoboCup

On Friday, Feb. 14, Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus will be transformed into a high-energy learning arena as it hosts a day of epic robot battles. Teams of students from school districts around the Okanagan and as far away as Vancouver will bring along robots of their own making to compete in soccer and rescue challenges.

Students and staff from the College’s Electronic Engineering Technology (ELEN) program help to coordinate and judge the event, which is sponsored by ASTTBC, Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp and Tekmar Control Systems.

More information is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/robocup.

Experience OC

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, more than 700 high school students from the Central Okanagan will converge on the College’s Kelowna campus to experience a brief taste of what it’s like to attend college. Students have the opportunity to attend three of their top choices from sessions covering more than 45 program areas, including tech programs such as Animation, Sustainable Construction Management Technology, along with OC’s Civil and Electronic Engineering programs. The event offers students a chance to test-drive possible education and career paths by chatting with instructors, learning about programs, exploring campus and having their questions answered.

JABC TechWorks

On Thursday, Feb. 20, more than 200 teens from high schools throughout the Okanagan will be at OC’s Kelowna campus for a full day event organized by JA British Columbia (JABC) to learn about careers in the tech sector. This event has been held in Vancouver for the past four years, and Victoria for the past two. This marks the first time it will be held in the Okanagan. 

Andrew MacLean, Co-founder, HighTechU, will serve as emcee for the morning plenary session. The Honourable Rob Fleming, Ministry of Education, will provide a video welcome. Students will then have a chance to hear from a number of B.C. business leaders, including Ashley Ramsay, President and CEO of Yeti Farm Creative, Ray Warren, Vice President Commercial Banking for the Okanagan and Kootenay Region for RBC and Veronica Best, Director of Product at Dyspatch.

Students will then step into breakout sessions including:

  • Visual Effects and Animation presented by Sony Pictures Imageworks,
  • Women in Technology,
  • Robotics presented by Best Buy,
  • LED Tech Infused into Everyday Items presented by the Industry Training Authority (ITA), and
  • Innovation in Aviation, presented by KF Aerospace.

Students attending the Innovation in Aviation session will have a chance to hear from a number of OC alums who can speak to the benefits of technologies, trades and business training and career paths in the aviation industry.

37th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building ContestSpaghetti Bridge

The 37th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest is happening at OC on Friday, March 6.

More than 250 students from elementary schools to post-secondary institutions all across B.C. trek annually to the Kelowna campus for a day of bridge building, testing and real-world, hands on learning about STEM concepts.

As of Wednesday, Feb. 12, there were 121 job opportunities on Accelerate Okanagan’s #OKGNtech online job board. The Okanagan is home to more than 200 animation, film and digital media firms, employing some 2,450 people – and this is just a fraction of the overall pool of skilled technology workers employed in the region.

Provincially there is expected to be more than 3,300 technology jobs created by 2025. There are more than 6,000 people currently working in the water and waste water engineering workforce, with more than 2,300 job openings expected in that sector over the next eight years.

Find more information and register online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/spaghettibridge.


Community, industry support propels College’s Tourism Management program

Okanagan College Media Release

Students from Revelstoke and around the world chasing tourism career dreams

Julia Dorrius Feb 2020

For Julia Dorrius, born and raised in Revelstoke, the College’s new Tourism Management (TMD) diploma has done far more than just open her eyes to the booming demand for skilled tourism professionals – it’s also opened doors, giving her a chance to gain work experience with local employers.

“I graduated high school last June and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” explains Dorrius. “My dad sent me a link to the program and suggested I take a look at it. I just finished my first semester and, so far, I’ve found it to be a great way to get the most out of the first two years of a business degree. You really learn a lot in a short amount of time, while getting work experience.”

Dorrius is among the inaugural intake of students, nine in total, who stepped into the program last fall. The Revelstoke grad is already putting her new business knowledge and skills to work.

“At the moment, I’m completing a co-op with the Railway Museum in town, doing marketing for them, and I am really enjoying it. It’s been a great experience, and something I likely would never have had the opportunity to do without the program.”

Her supervisor, Hayley Johnson, Interim Executive Director for the Revelstoke Railway Museum, has been one of the many local industry leaders who have championed the program since before it began.

“We all know tourism is vital to the Revy economy, and the fact is we need more skilled professionals to meet the demand right now. It’s very hard to find qualified staff,” says Johnson.

“Having this program based in Revelstoke is incredibly beneficial to students and employers alike. The students get a chance to build experience in exactly the types of jobs and settings they’re interested in, and we get to tap into a new cohort of well-educated up-and-coming tourism workers. It’s a win for everyone.”

That strong support from leaders like Johnson and scores of others is not lost on students, says Dorrius.

“It’s been great being able to stay at home and have the support from my family and the rest of the community. The community in town has been super supportive of the whole program and everyone taking part in it. The staff and professors at OC have been amazing too, so you can really feel the support for students across the board.”

Stephen Jenkins, owner of The Explorers Society Hotel, is among that group of business leaders trumpeting the merits of the program.

“Tourism is the growth engine for our economy, no doubt,” says Stephen Jenkins. “So, training students here means they can get a very clear sense of the tourism sector in Revelstoke. The program has been tailormade with our local workforce needs in mind.”

Jenkins says the program’s focus on giving students hands-on experience in industry is well thought out.

“I started my career through internships, so I’m a big supporter of opportunities that give students a chance to see the end product of all those hours in the classroom. Giving them a chance to work in and around various roles builds excitement. They come away with a better understanding of what to expect after graduation. And for those looking to take the initiative, to really stand out and excel in this industry, it gives them a chance to distinguish themselves by demonstrating their work ethic.”

One of those students who took the initiative is Stephanie Sonsona, who campaigned enthusiastically for a co-op position at the Explorer’s Society Hotel.Stephanie Sonsona Feb 2020

Sonsona, who hails from Bohol in the Philippines, is more than 11,000 km from her hometown. Thanks to the program, she’s found a new adopted home in Revelstoke.

“Before I came to Canada, I was given the opportunity to work in the hospitality industry and that set me on a new career path. Coming to Revelstoke and taking the program has opened my eyes to how big a career in tourism can be – just how many opportunities there are, and what an exciting time it is to get into the tourism sector,” says Sonsona.

While she doesn’t have any firm long term plans yet for where she wants to work, Sonsona says the experience has equipped her to work in a variety of settings in the field. Each student completes a tourism sector study, for example, which allows them to experience both the depth and breadth of roles in tourism.

“The program is innovative and unconventional in that it challenges us and gives us the freedom to explore the industry and get hands-on experience, to build on the business knowledge we’re acquiring in the classroom,” she says. “Having professors who are experts in their respective fields, and who genuinely care about us as students, has really paved the way for me to learn.”

For Danielle Tighe, Manager of the Revelstoke Centre, the focus is now on working with the current group of students to continue to ensure they get the most out of the experience as the first cohort through. Tighe is also once again working closely with industry partners to ensure support is in place for the second cohort to start this fall.

“We’re really encouraged by the feedback from students so far, particularly around how strongly the community has rallied behind them. From providing co-ops to helping us find accommodation, support from the good people of Revy has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has made all the difference.”

A host of other businesses and individuals have helped with student co-op placements, notes Tighe.

“Brady Beruschi, host at the Best Western and The Regent, has four of the nine students on co-op. We’re so grateful to everyone who has supported the launch of TMD in Revy.”

The College is now accepting applications for the program for September. Those interested can contact Kristine Wickner, Recruiting and Events Coordinator for OC Shuswap-Revelstoke at 250-762-5445 Ext. 8259 or by email at [email protected]. News and updates about the program and upcoming info sessions will also be posted to www.okanagan.bc.ca/tmd. 


Councillor gives from the heart

Okanagan College Media Release


Kelowna City Councillor and local community champion Maxine DeHart is giving a gift from the heart this Valentine’s Day.Maxine DeHart Feb 2020

DeHart is donating to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, which is raising funds to build a new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College and create scholarships and bursaries for health care students.

DeHart is the Campaign Ambassador for the fundraising campaign and is spearheading the media campaign encouraging others to get involved. She says the project’s goals touched her heartstrings and inspired her to give her time and resources to the campaign.

“We do not have anything if we do not have our health,” says DeHart. “Okanagan College grads play an important role in keeping our community healthy, and that includes caring for our family, friends and even ourselves.”

While DeHart is opting to keep the nature of her gift private, she says supporting health care students who will go on to keep our community healthy resonated with her. And she’s inviting others to step up and give a gift from the heart that’s meaningful to them.

“These students need our help now, so they can care for us in the future. We should all open our hearts and give what we can.”

DeHart adds that with growing health care staffing shortages, investing in a state-of-the-art training Centre will put Kelowna on the map for health care students.

“I think it will make us one of the most sought after communities for people to come and study here,” says DeHart.

“They can learn here, they can graduate here, they can find jobs and they can stay here. That’s what you’re giving to, and your giving to people that are going to be helping you for the rest of your life.”

“We are so grateful to Max for giving her time, talent and treasure to support the training of health care professionals for our community,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“Our more than 11,000 graduates have an immense impact on the local health-care system. So we hope people will hear the messages that Max and others are sharing, and will be inspired to give and help us make this project a reality.”

The B.C. government is funding $15.4 million of the $18.9 million Health Sciences Centre. The Okanagan College Foundation is fundraising $3.5 million to complete the building and $1.5 million for scholarships and bursaries for students entering high-demand health care careers.

To learn more or to donate, visit ourstudentsyourhealth.ca.


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