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Campus Life  

Memorial Award helps fuel Okanagan College student’s education

Okanagan College Media Release

Losing her husband and son to a tragic plane crash two years ago led Michaela Chapman to contemplate how she could honor their memory.

Today, an Okanagan College student is completing his education with her help, thanks to a memorial award that Chapman has established.

Pilot Brad Chapman and his eldest son, Florian, passed away in October 2015 when their Cessna 207 crashed on takeoff. In honour of her husband and son, Michaela Chapman established the Chapman Memorial Award which enables Okanagan College students in Vernon to reach their educational goals in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME-M) program.

“Okanagan College is virtually in our front yard and I thought it would be a good idea to support our region’s budding aviation professionals and help students carry forward in their education,” says Chapman. “Being married to a pilot and also knowing many pilots, I know how important it is for them to look after their airplanes and for the industry to have people with the know-how to take care of the machines.”

The award was recently given to Deverick Clingwall, an AME-M student based out of Vernon. Clingwall is currently finishing the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

“I was honoured to receive this award and am so deeply thankful for the Chapman family,” says Clingwall. “Being able to meet Mrs. Chapman and talk to her was very personal, it was a new level that I’ve never experienced before, we really connected.”

Like Brad and Florian, Clingwall has a passion and extensive history in aviation. From age two and a half, he knew he wanted to become a pilot and since then has achieved both his private and glider pilot licenses’ as well as float endorsements – all before age 17. Clingwall is now currently working on his commercial pilot’s license while completing the AME-M program.

“My career goal is to be a commercial pilot, which is why I chose to enroll in the College’s AME-M diploma because like any vehicle or machine, if you’re going to be operating it, you should know what makes it tick,” says Clingwall.

Clingwall recently represented the College and placed fourth in the Aircraft Maintenance Competition at Skills BC. He is active in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, volunteers with the bi-annual Salmon Arm airshow and is involved in the Vernon and Salmon Arm flying clubs.

“He’s one of the top students we’ve ever put through the AME-M diploma,” says Dale Martel, Chair of Aircraft Maintenance Program. “Deverick is extremely dedicated to aviation and well deserving of this award.”

Every year the Okanagan College Foundation distributes awards to students like Clingwall. The Foundation will present 44 awards totaling $38,150 to students studying at the College’s Vernon campus in the upcoming Student Awards Reception ceremony on Nov. 15, 2017.

 





UBC and YMCA partner to offer evidence-based health program to community

UBC Okanagan associate professor Mary Jung

UBC Okanagan associate professor Mary Jung

Partnership sets-up university laboratory downtown Kelowna

With world diabetes day just around the corner on November 14, UBC Okanagan associate professor Mary Jung wants to help those living with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes create, and more importantly, maintain healthy habits.

The developer and researcher has devoted her research career to investigating what makes healthy habits stick. Her laboratory at UBC’s Okanagan campus —while petri dish and beaker-free— has been home to multiple studies that sought to identify how to make lasting dietary and exercise changes. The result: Small Steps for Big Changes, a three-week personalized diet and exercise lifestyle counselling program for individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes.

With the help of a private BC foundation, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Small Steps for Big Changes is now available to the Okanagan community at the Kelowna Downtown YMCA.

Developed in 2012 with an initial group of 32 participants with prediabetes, the personalized, one-on-one, training and counselling program showed promising results. Fast forward to 2016, and once again, the program has proven to result in long-lasting positive lifestyle changes for its 100 participants at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The YMCA UBC collaboration represents a unique form of research in action. While typically health research experiences a 7-year delay from study to practice, the YMCA-based lab offers the cost-free, accessible program while continuing to gather evidence for wider adoption.

“This pilot represents an opportunity for continuing to build evidence of the program’s success, while putting the time-efficient, effective program directly in the hands of people who can use it,” says Jung, who explains the vision for the program is to offer access across British Columbia, and beyond.

While adhering to a healthy diet and regular exercise have innumerable rewards for all populations, the program was developed with the intention of addressing the silent epidemic of prediabetes, which Diabetes Canada reports is expected to grow to 23 per cent of the Canadian population by 2025.

“The goal is to help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in those at risk by providing a program that is accessible and cost-free,” says Jung.

“Our aim is to help individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to become independent exercisers and more devoted to a healthier diet. In the end, we want to enable positive, healthy and life-long changes to behaviour.”

YMCA of Okanagan was critical to moving the laboratory from campus to community. When Karlene Sewell, General Manager of Health Initiatives, learned of the program, it was a logical collaboration.

“YMCA of Okanagan is dedicated to building healthy communities,” says Sewell. “Small Steps for Big Changes represents YMCA’s pursuit of new programs and services that address the specific and unique needs in the communities we serve.”

The downtown community lab represents the first small step towards big changes for the YMCA and UBC partnership.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, 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. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



UBC researcher seeks to protect where the wild things walk

UBC Professor Lael Parrott is working to protect low-elevation ecosystems that are important habitat and wildlife movement routes.

UBC Professor Lael Parrott is working to protect low-elevation ecosystems that are important habitat and wildlife movement routes.

Ecological corridor will create north-south migratory route

UBC research is paving the way for a route that will serve as a pilot project to protect green space and allow wildlife to move throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Kelowna was identified in the 2016 Stats Canada census as one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. With growth comes development and UBC Professor Lael Parrott says the region is in danger of fragmenting low-elevation ecosystems and losing the habitat and movement routes needed by wildlife, especially on the east side of Okanagan Lake.

“This is the last chance we have to protect these areas which are important for at-risk species and many migratory animals,” says Parrott. “If we develop these areas, wildlife that depend on low-elevation habitats will have no chance of moving north to south.”

Four years ago, Parrott’s team began mapping and computer modelling the Okanagan Mountain to Kalamalka Lake corridor, a route many wildlife species already migrate through. The corridor, a combination of different ecosystems including large tracts of low-elevation grasslands and open woodlands, will be a one kilometre-wide area that will connect the approximately 75 kilometres between the two parks. Parrott notes this has been a collaborative effort including several levels of government and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, Regional District of the Central Okanagan, local First Nations, and BC’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition to protecting habitat, the ecological corridor provides many benefits for humans, including water flow regulation and filtration, habitat for crop pollinators, natural pest control and landscape aesthetics.

UBC Professor Lael Parrott

UBC Professor Lael Parrott

“We can’t fragment our ecosystems,” says Parrott, director of the Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services. “A landscape is like a human body and is connected in so many ways. It has water running through it, vegetation and wildlife. If, like a body, it becomes fragmented, it then becomes a series of disconnected sections that don’t function well.”

The corridor is a variety of Crown land and privately-owned property. Much of the area is used for recreational purposes and is populated by animals such as elk, badger, bighorn sheep and a variety of snakes and bats. Protecting this corridor will contribute to maintaining wildlife, ecosystem function and human quality of life in the region.

“We’re hoping to set an example for many parts of Canada because our landscape and our growth and development are not unique to this area,” she adds. “This is an excellent example of UBC Okanagan research having a real-world impact. We live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada, and most of us live here because of the quality of life that comes from our natural ecosystems. We have an opportunity to develop differently, and set an example for other places.”

Parrott recently made a presentation to the Municipality of Lake Country and the corridor is being considered for implementation in the Lake Country Official Community Plan.

This pilot project is partially funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant, Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) and BC Ministry of Agriculture.

More information about the wildlife corridor can be found at: http://complexity.ok.ubc.ca/2017/11/06/the-okanagan-mountain-to-kalamalka-lake-ecological-corridor/

 



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UBC employee stands tall at Remembrance Day

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike McGinty, centre, salutes while participants at UBC Okanagan's 2016 Remembrance Day service sing O'Canada.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike McGinty, centre, salutes while participants at UBC Okanagan's 2016 Remembrance Day service.

The elderly, uniformed veteran is an iconic image at Remembrance Day. However, it is time, says Lieutenant-Colonel Mike McGinty with the British Columbia Dragoons, that Canadians also pay homage to younger veterans who are often overlooked at this time of year.

McGinty is associate director of Risk Management and Security Services at UBC’s Okanagan campus. He is also an active reservist and commanding officer of the British Columbia Dragoons—the Canadian Armed Forces unit based in the Okanagan Valley.

“There are no veterans left from World War 1 and we have very few left from the Second World War,” McGinty says. “But there are a lot of veterans in Canada, thousands of them. These are the men and women who served in Bosnia, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and other places. We need to include them in our thoughts when we take time to mark Remembrance Day.”

The British Columbia Dragoons have a long history in the Okanagan Valley. Established in 1911, those were the soldiers who went to Canada’s battles, serving in places like Flanders in WW1 and Italy and Holland in WW2. This year’s Remembrance Day, the regiment has soldiers from the valley deployed in South Sudan and in Eastern Europe.

McGinty retired from the British Army in 2014 and joined the Dragoons after moving to British Columbia. It was while working with them, the lead for a job at the university came up. He applied, stressed in this interview that he was a reservist, and was successful. Now, he juggles the two roles and is thankful the university recognizes his dual duties.

“UBC has known I was reserve soldier since the moment of my application,” he says, explaining not every employer wants to hire reservists as they overestimate the distraction and underestimate the benefit.

“It’s a common misconception for many employers”,” says McGinty. “But if they hire reservists, they get people who are motivated and exceptionally well trained in areas like leadership development. Best of all, they get employees who are getting that training on somebody else's dime.”

Along with McGinty, there are almost a dozen students and one faculty member currently serving with the Dragoons. Earlier this year, UBC Okanagan was recognized by the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, winning the Provincial Award of Excellence for the university’s support of military reservists who are also employees. The campus won two awards; one at the provincial level and also special recognition at the federal level.

“UBC Okanagan is proud to support employee reservists and to recognize all Canadian veterans on Remembrance Day,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard. “Reservists bring unique experiences and special skills to their work and I applaud their dedication and that of all veterans to our communities and to the country.”

For McGinty, who was an officer and helicopter pilot in the British Army, there will always be a need for a few minutes of reflection every November. He will speak, in uniform, at the campus Remembrance Day service this week, as he did last year. While he thinks it’s important for the campus community to mark the event, for him it’s also personal.

“Remembrance Day is significant to me because I’ve been to 33 funerals,” he says. “These are people I met through my work, or I was responsible for their funeral arrangements. And at those, I met their grieving families. These are people who voluntarily gave themselves and I truly believe it’s worth us giving up a few hours one day a year to recognize and reflect on their sacrifice.”



Coders take note: $4,000 tuition award up for grabs

Okanagan College Media Release

An internationally-recognized software development company based out of Kelowna is so anxious to find coding talent that it is putting its own money on the line in hopes of attracting students to a new College program.

Acro Media is one of North America’s premier users of Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS) that is at the heart of seven million websites globally. Okanagan College and Acro Media have worked together to develop a new Drupal Web Developer certificate that will be offered weekday evenings beginning Jan. 8.

To help draw out talent for the program, Acro Media is hosting a coding contest that will award one lucky applicant a $4,000 tuition award toward the program.

There is a serious need for software developers in the Okanagan region and Shae Inglis, CEO of Acro Media in Kelowna, is one of the people who knows first-hand the need for Drupal developers. In fact, he is guaranteeing everyone who successfully completes the Okanagan College certificate a job interview upon graduation.

“We need great candidates for interesting and exciting CMS work in Kelowna and are looking forward to hiring graduates from this program,” says Inglis. “In fact, Acro Media is going beyond just supporting the OC program. We are also sponsoring a contest to provide a $4,000 tuition award to a talented student who submits the best code sample before Dec. 15 (for the January intake of the course) and/or April 6 (for the May intake).” Contest details are available at okanagan.bc.ca/drupal.

“The Drupal Web Developer certificate will give students the knowledge, practice and experience to find great jobs and careers in the Okanagan,” says Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “This exciting Okanagan College and industry partnership has resulted in a program that will provide companies with highly qualified and work-ready graduates.”

Taught by industry experts, this 240-hour certificate will be offered at the Okanagan Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna Mondays through Thursdays from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Students applying for the Drupal Web Developer certificate are financial aid and student loan eligible.

For more information visit okanagan.bc.ca/drupal or call 1-888-638-0058 to learn more about qualifying for this certificate. You can also find out more by visiting Okanagan College’s Career Fair on Nov. 5 at the Kelowna campus – Acro Media and College representatives will be on hand to answer questions.

 



Generosity continues to flow for College’s Trades Complex

Okanagan College Media Release

Bartle & Gibson Donation Nov 2017A leading Western Canada company is giving a surge to trades students at Okanagan College.

Bartle & Gibson Co. Ltd. is contributing $37,500 to the Bright Horizons - Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the new trades complex on the Kelowna campus.

The Canadian-owned plumbing, heating and electrical products distributor announced the gift at the grand opening of their new location in West Kelowna on Nov. 3. Bartle & Gibson President Robert Whitty was in town to present the cheque to Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

“Bartle & Gibson is proud to make an investment in the training and education of the industry’s future electricians and plumbers,” says Whitty.

The company’s contribution to the $35-million trades complex, which officially opened in Sept. 2016, is two-fold. A cash donation will support the tool room that serves the Electrician program’s three labs. The company has also pledged an in-kind donation to provide products, tools and equipment to electrical and plumbing and piping trades students.  

Launched in 2006, the College’s Electrician program is the most popular trades program in terms of enrolment, with approximately 700 full-time equivalent foundation and apprenticeship students per year, with training at all four campuses and through a partnership at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in Merritt.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift to our students, programs and facility,” explains Moores. “When a well-respected company like Bartle & Gibson makes the choice to invest in skills training, it instills confidence in our students knowing the industry supports their educational choices.”

Founded in 1944, Bartle & Gibson originally launched with stores in Vancouver and Victoria and has expanded to 30 branches. Their first Okanagan store opened in West Kelowna in 1997, followed by a Kelowna location in 2006. After more than 20 years in the region, their highly-anticipated new space combines the two branches into a single 35,000 square-foot building located at Hwy. 97 and Stevens Rd.

“Our customers, manufacturers and employees have helped us grow our footprint in the Okanagan,” adds Whitty. “Investing in the region is our way of thanking them and showing our commitment to the region today and well into the future through our partnership with the College.”  

 



The 8th Annual 3-Hour Short Story Contest returns

Okanagan College Media Release

To write, or not to write? That is the question Okanagan College students and Grade 11 and 12 secondary students across the valley will be asking themselves in anticipation of the 8th Annual 3-Hour Short Story Contest. Sean Johnston Nov 2017

Students will be spinning stories, telling tales and mastering metaphors in a timed short story writing contest on Nov. 18, presented by Okanagan College’s English department. Participants will be challenged to go out of their comfort zone to write and edit an original story in just three hours.

“The pressure of this contest is energizing and liberating for writers of all levels,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, contest organizer and English professor at the College. “It forces a writer to be free and uninhibited and quite often they produce surprising results that show them a way forward in their artistic development.”

Pitted against the clock, students will also be required to weave a mystery phrase into their story, revealed at the start of the contest. Participants in previous years were required to incorporate phrases such as “under the weather,” “downy mustache” and “soggy bread” into their story.

Writers will be competing for glory and prize money towards tuition. A judging panel, made up from the College’s English department, will review stories and select four regional winners. Each winner will receive a $250 tuition credit and an overall grand prize winner will take home an additional $250 tuition credit and have their story published in a limited fine-press edition by the Kalamalka Press.

“What we hope to see in the stories is something human and startling, something that makes us see a bit of our world in a new way,” says Johnston. “Each year it is astonishing to see the scope of creativity and talent in such a short amount of time.”

Registration is open until midnight on Friday, Nov. 17. The contest is free to enter and takes place from 1 – 4 p.m. at Okanagan College campuses in Salmon Arm, Penticton and Vernon. The Kelowna contest will be held at KSS. For more details, complete contest rules and registration, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting

 




Okanagan College deans educate on approaching digital revolution

Okanagan College Media Release

Two Okanagan College deans are combining their perspectives on preparing for the digital revolution at the upcoming Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Bill Gillett Nov 2017Bill Gillett, the College’s new Dean of the Okanagan School of Business will present the keynote address to a chamber audience on Friday, Nov. 3, giving the community a glimpse of technologies to come and how to prepare for success.

“Change is afoot in the digital industry and all aspects of businesses, from human resources to operations, will be impacted,” says Gillett. “Students and businesses will need to prepare for a future where billions of people are connected with massive processing powers and have an even broader access to knowledge than they already do.”

Gillett will be joined by Phil Ashman, the College’s new Central Okanagan Regional Dean, who sees the disruptive shifts in today’s world akin to the industrial revolution.Phil Ashman Nov 2017

“More than 20,000 students attend the College each year and many graduates are hired by regional employers and local businesses,” says Ashman. “We are actively planning how we are going to meet the challenge of educating students with the skills and knowledge required in this increasingly digital age.”

The Preparing for Digital Revolution luncheon event quickly sold out and there is now a waiting list for tickets.

“We’re not surprised this event sold out so quickly, as many businesses in our organization are coming to grips with the reality of the emerging digital change,” says Dan Rogers, Executive Director of Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. “Okanagan College injects large numbers of qualified workers into the community and businesses are eager to hear how they’re going to address digitization.”

Those interested in attending can register to be added to the waitlist at kelownachamber.org.

 




Science confirms you should stop and smell the roses

Science confirms you should stop and smell the roses

Short nature intervention can bring out the best in people

Is it any wonder that most happiness idioms are associated with nature? Happy as a pig in muck, happy as a clam, happy camper.

A UBC researcher says there’s truth to the idea that spending time outdoors is a direct line to happiness. In fact, Holli-Anne Passmore says if people simply take time to notice the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being.

Passmore, a PhD psychology student at UBC’s Okanagan campus, recently published research examining the connection between taking a moment to look at something from the natural environment and personal well-being. A recent study involved a two-week ‘intervention’ where participants were asked to document how nature they encountered in their daily routine made them feel. They took a photo of the item that caught their attention and jotted down a short note about their feelings in response to it.

Other participants tracked their reactions to human-made objects, took a photo and jotted down their feelings, while a third group did neither. Passmore explains that examples of nature could be anything not human-built: a houseplant, a dandelion growing in a crack in a sidewalk, birds, or sun through a window.

“This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness,” Passmore says. “This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”

Passmore, who studies wellness, says she was ‘overwhelmed’ not only by the response of her 395 study participants—more than 2,500 photos and descriptions of emotions were submitted—but also by the impact that simply noticing emotional responses to nearby nature had on personal well-being. And their prosocial orientation—a willingness to share resources and the value they placed on community.

There is scientific documentation that people who live in greenspaces generally seem to be happier, and may live longer than those who don’t. Passmore is taking that research further. This study is one of a series by a research team in UBC Okanagan’s psychology department known as the “Happy Team” which is providing evidence that nature can increase happiness.

“The difference in participants’ well-being—their happiness, sense of elevation, and their level of connectedness to other people, not just nature—was significantly higher than participants in the group noticing how human-built objects made them feel and the control group.”

Passmore’s research, recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

UBC Okanagan researcher Holli-Anne Passmore.

UBC Okanagan researcher Holli-Anne Passmore.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, 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. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



College opens its doors to showcase high flying options at Career Fair

Okanagan College Media Release

A global shortage of commercial pilots, which made headlines in Kelowna earlier this month after local flights were cancelled, has created an even more urgent need for industry professionals to spread awareness of the opportunities that exist in aviation.

Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC) will be doing just that as one of more than 50 employers showcasing careers and educational pathways at Okanagan College’s Career Fair on Sunday, Nov. 5.OC Flight Simulator

Representatives from Southern Interior Flight Centre, Okanagan College's long term aviation training partner, will be at the College’s Kelowna campus all day on Sunday to spread their passion for aviation with would-be pilots.

“The need for commercial pilots has reached an unprecedented level—not just nationally, but globally,” says Marc Vanderaegen, Flight School Director. “We’ve been training pilots through the Okanagan College Commercial Aviation diploma program for more than 27 years and have certainly seen ebbs and flows but we have never witnessed a need as great as the demand that exists right now.”

Students who take the commercial aviation program, which is a partnership between SIFC and Okanagan College, earn a Transport Canada licence, making them highly sought-after around the world.

“There are far fewer barriers to becoming a commercial pilot these days,” says Vanderaegen. “A student who enters the program can reach a major airline as a junior first officer immediately after graduation, through various industry partnerships, a pathway which used to take closer to a decade in the previous labour market. There are also opportunities for students to access financial and employment awards which makes taking the training much more achievable.”

Vanderaegen encourages anyone who has an interest in pursuing a career in aviation to attend Career Fair on Sunday. The College’s campus facilities will be open, including the program’s flight simulator.

“Our staff will be at Career Fair and can answer questions, provide advice, and even help people make their first big landing in the flight simulator,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to find out whether or not the program is a fit.”

 



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