Campus Life  

OC students ‘newcomer neighbour’ thrift store program captures design thinking accolades

Three students from OC who won second place in the Royal Roads University Design Thinking Challenge.

Growing up in Victoria, Okanagan College student Kimberly Cornell remembers spending time at Royal Roads University, hanging out on the university grounds after school waiting for her mom to finish work.

Now in post-secondary school herself, she joined forces with fellow OC students Eric Worman and Nicole Benevides to place second in Royal Roads’ Design Thinking Challenge, a competition that offers teams of undergraduate business students an opportunity to contribute to a real-world challenge.

This year’s event tackled the question of how non-profit thrift stores might become spaces that further bolster inclusivity and community. Students were asked to create solutions for the Victoria non-profit organization Beacon Community Services.

“I'm so proud of the work we did in this challenge,” said Kimberly.  “We're a small college but we're consistently standing with some of the best on the world stage. I'm so proud to have had a chance to represent Okanagan College and show people what we can do. This challenge was nostalgic for me. I loved having the opportunity to support a Beacon Community Services, who's doing so much good in my hometown.”

The challenge began in January when Kimberly, Nicole and Eric submitted a first solution to a panel of judges. That was followed by a four-day follow up in February, where the team heard feedback and made two more presentations to the judges. Their project proposed a ‘newcomer neighbour’ volunteer program to connect locals and immigrants through social activities – and it earned a second-place finish.

“To me, taking part in this challenge was interesting as it was a different way of applying what we have been learning in our classes,” said Eric. “I enjoy the fact that at OC I have strong relationships with many of the professors and know most of my peers. It makes it easy to learn.”

Six teams of undergraduate students from post-secondary schools in Canada, the U.S. and France took part in the challenge. To be successful, students had to think beyond typical marketing solutions to present new and innovative ways to redesign the thrifting experience to be more inclusive.

The three students are enrolled in the Okanagan School of Business at OC and were coached by business professors Aidan Cole and Robert Ryan.  

“Student competition teams are a great way to showcase students' skills and what they have learned in their time at Okanagan College,” said Cole. “Participating in a challenge like this helps students expand their problem-solving skills to help real organizations with real challenges. It's a fantastic thing to expand their education and show that they can be adaptable and have a type of industry experience in solving organizational challenges.”

“Congratulations to the entire team from Okanagan College, who put a lot of effort into this competition, learning how to solve real-world problems, while working on their education,” said Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business at OC. “We are proud to give our students these opportunities that will help them enter the workforce with confidence.”

To learn more about the different programs offered in the Okanagan School of Business at OC click here.


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