Campus Life  

Enactus Okanagan College tops the field, sets sights on national championships

Okanagan College students will once again be competing for the Canadian title after qualifying for the Enactus National Exposition with a first-place finish in their league during the semi-final round.

Enactus teams at post-secondary institutions across Canada competed virtually earlier this month, and Okanagan College scooped up top position in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and runner-up in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge for the Unusually Good Food Co. project. It also included national runner-up in Shaw and RBC accelerators for projects that worked with Indigenous youth and refugee and immigrant youth on entrepreneurial and career building skills. 

Danielle Walker, President of EnactusOC, also won the Student Leader of the Year Award, presented by Canadian Tire.

“We are all truly humbled by these awards. As my term comes to an end, I am so grateful to have been able to serve so many incredible students who give countless hours of their time to positively impact our community,” Walker says. “I have been fortunate to learn from some very dedicated and amazing OC faculty advisors and I have learned so much on this journey. EnactusOC has so many great leaders that put their hearts into everything that they do. The real prize has been standing beside my teammates and seeing the impact. Our team helped 22,000 children access nutritious snacks this year, this is our why. We are all winners when we can empower others.”

So far in the competition, EnactusOC has earned $11,000 in prize monies through many top achievements.

“Joining EnactusOC has been one of the best things I have done since attending Okanagan College. Enactus has added tremendous value to my overall education through applied learning. This team has become a second family for me, and I am extremely excited to continue working alongside them over this next year,” says MacKenna Lenarcic, incoming Enactus OC president and member of the national team.

The Enactus Okanagan College teams are made up of students who are passionate about creating social, economic, and environmental projects that create a positive change in their community.

Enactus OC operates out of the Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Salmon Arm campuses. Through their work in the community, the organization aims to satisfy the needs of our region through their development and implementation of projects such as the Unusually Good Food Co., which turns unwanted apples from local orchards into a healthy snack for vulnerable members in the community, schools and food banks. To make the project financially sustainable, the team produces and sells fresh pressed orchard apple cider through retailers such as Askew’s Foods, Buy-Low Vernon, Peter’s Independent Grocer, and BC Tree Fruits Market. Seeing an opportunity to inspire the next generation, the project not only teaches local elementary and high school students about social entrepreneurship, but provides the opportunity for schools to run their own social enterprise.  

They launched two new projects this year, Elevate and the Ivy Collective, which built upon the team’s successful history with existing projects.

“I am so proud of these students. Despite the many challenges of the last two years, they have stayed committed to fighting food insecurity and climate change. These awards recognize their tremendous community impact,” explains Andrew Klingel, Okanagan College Business Professor and Faculty Advisor to EnactusOC.

“The consistent results of EnactusOC year after year demonstrate just how committed our students, faculty, community partners and Okanagan College stakeholders are to using the power of entrepreneurial action to create positive change in our communities. We could not be more proud of our students; they inspire us every day,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, EnactusOC Faculty Advisor and OC Business Professor.

One of five finalists for the entire country, EnactusOC will head to the National Exposition in September in Toronto with the winner going to the World Cup in Puerto Rico in October 2022. 

For more information, watch EnactusOC’s project videos or read their report. To support their social enterprise Unusually Good Food Co., visit their website: www.unusuallygood.ca



Okanagan College names Honorary Fellows for 2022

Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable residents, each of whom has made unique and meaningful contributions through education, public service, mentorship and philanthropy.

Dennis Gabelhouse, Clifford Serwa and Howard Soon have been selected by the College as its 2022 Honorary Fellows.

“Each of these remarkable individuals have demonstrated exceptional commitment to supporting education opportunities for Okanagan learners,” said Okanagan College President Neil Fassina. “They have contributed to the social and economic fabric of the region, impacting society in a positive way. As champions for education and learning, we’re proud to count them as Honorary Fellows.”

Dennis Gabelhouse

Longtime Kelowna resident, Gabelhouse enjoyed a 35-year career in media that included working at the Edmonton Journal, Penticton Herald, Kelowna Daily Courier and Winnipeg Free Press. He joined CHBC Television in 1975 as a sales executive, then marketing director and general sales manager to eventually moving up to the position of general manager in 2008. He oversaw the transition from CHBC to Global Okanagan in 2009, and was named the BCAB Broadcaster of the Year in 2012.

His community involvement is extensive. Gabelhouse has supported several high-impact programs and fundraising initiatives, generating significant financial resources to help those in need. He was an active participant in OC’s Trades Complex and Health Sciences Centre fundraising campaigns. He has also volunteered for events such as the Kelowna International Regatta, served on the boards for Kelowna Snowfest and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and being active with organizations such as Okanagan-Mission Rotary Club and the Central Okanagan United Way.

“What an unexpected surprise to be recognized for this award and with two individuals I have known and respected for decades, congratulations to them. I have a passion for helping people and businesses succeed and encourage everyone to strive for ways to impact their communities in a positive way through their work or volunteerism. It’s volunteers that make and keep a community strong and healthy,” says Gabelhouse.

Clifford Serwa

Serwa had a vision of champagne powder for ski enthusiasts, and alongside his business partner Doug Mervyn, made that vision come to life.

He and Mervyn co-founded Big White Ski Development, which constructed 14 miles of sub-alpine road, parking lots, a Day Chalet along with a 5,500 foot Doppelmayr T-Bar, all in place for opening day. The mountain resort opened in 1963 and quickly became a popular destination for skiers throughout the province. He also co-founded Doppelmayr Lifts Ltd., serving as its president from 1965 to 1978.

The resort changed hands, and Serwa began another chapter in his career. He was elected as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of B.C. representing Okanagan South in 1986, which he served until 1991 when the riding was divided. He was in cabinet from 1990 to 1991, as Minister of Environment. He served as the MLA for Okanagan West from 1991 to 1996.

He was a significant contributor to the OC Trades Complex expansion project, and supported educational development of students at OC by creating an annual bursary for Early Childhood Education Diploma program students. He is also a supporter of the Okanagan Mission Rotary Club.

“I have always recognized that diverse community support is both an opportunity and a responsibility. As an individual citizen, as a businessman, as an MLA and in retirement, that understanding and awareness has been a constant. In small ways and greater ways, my commitment to make a positive difference to the best of my ability for our greater community and its institutions remains as strong as ever,” says Serwa.

Howard Soon

Born in Vancouver, Soon graduated from UBC in Biochemistry, and later pursued an MBA at the University of Manitoba. Howard was appointed to the Order of Canada for his influence on and contributions to the wine industry.

From 1980 to 2017 he was Founding Winemaker at Sandhill Wines (formerly known as Calona Wines) and receive an Award of Distinction from the BC Wine Institute before his retirement from Sandhill. He has been the only winemaker in history to receive all three top honours at the 2009 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards when Sandhill won Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year, and Winery of the Year.

His contribution to the B.C. Wine Industry was first recognized in 1998 by the Okanagan Wine Festival with the Founders Award. Also, Howard was the first B.C. winemaker to receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in Burgundy, France. Recently he was awarded Canadian Winemaker of the Year by the Canadian Wine Industry.

He has shared his experience with students in the Okanagan College Winery Assistant program, Wine Appreciation in Continuing Studies and Food and Wine pairing with Culinary Arts students.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to receive this award and take part in these 2022 Convocation ceremonies of Okanagan College which recognize our students’ achievements. I am inspired by the thought of what they will go on to achieve,” says Soon.

The College will bestow the newest Honorary Fellows with their titles during Convocation ceremonies starting this June. For information, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/honorary-fellows.



College honours Kathy Butler with Distinguished Service Award

The first executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation, Kathy Butler, will be recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

“Kathy left a legacy of growth and development and a significant record of fundraising at the College,” says Neil Fassina, President Okanagan College.

“Under her guidance, and with the support of a team of dedicated volunteers and staff, she helped thousands of students achieve their education and career goals. Her leadership supported the college’s evolution in modern development practices, demonstrating a commitment to excellence and making a positive impact on our communities.”

The award recognizes past employees who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support its mission, vision and values, and are active within and outside the College community.

Butler played an integral role in the growth of the Okanagan College Foundation’s endowment. During her tenure, 11,272 awards worth more than $12 million were disbursed to students. She also led the largest college capital campaign in B.C., raising $9 million for Kelowna’s Trades Complex – nearly doubling the $5 million goal.

“Fund development is more than the raising of money; it is the building of long-term relationships and a community of support that elevates the college and furthers access and opportunities for students. I have been in a privileged role to facilitate that happening and am deeply honoured with this recognition.”

After completing a Bachelor of Arts from UBC, Butler began her path to fundraising and donor relations soon after by working with Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.

She entered the post-secondary sector during a critical juncture, as OUC split into two organizations: Okanagan College and UBCO. Butler steered the Foundation through the complex time, establishing the organizational and fund structure to serve OC for years to come while stewarding donor relations.

In 2016, she conducted original research on the state of post-secondary fundraising in Canada, earning her a Master of Arts degree in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. She has held Certified Fund Raising Executive designation since 1993.

She retired from OC in 2018 and joined Global Philanthropic Canada as a Senior Consultant. She remains active in the community, serving as a director for the Child Advocacy Centre in Kelowna, and as Assistant Governor of Rotary District 5060.

She has received numerous other awards, including the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education in 2019.

Butler joins seven other past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award: Dr. Jayne Brooks (2020), Heather Banham (2019), Rick Gee (2016), John Lent (2014), Catherine Williams (2012), Gary Dickinson (2011) and Lynda Wilson (2010).

Butler will receive the Distinguished Service Award at an upcoming Convocation ceremony in June.

For details about the Distinguished Service Award or to learn about past recipients, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/distinguishedservice.



Car crash couldn’t keep OC apprentice from winning B.C. gold

It takes a lot to throw Joey Bruno off his game. 

The third-year apprentice in the Auto Body and Collision Technician training at Okanagan College was on his way to a Skills Provincials competition on April 22 when the car he was riding in rear-ended another vehicle.

“I knew our car was a write-off, but I also knew I could fix it,” said Bruno. 

By sheer coincidence, he was heading to the Skills Automotive Collision Repair provincial competition, where he set to compete. Bruno arrived late and tried to put the car out of his mind. “I was more concerned about the competition,” he recalls. “I wanted to go in, finish, and think about the accident later.”

Skills Canada helps prepare British Columbia’s youth for the highly skilled economy through competitions like the one Joey participated in. The competition was eight hours of skill and knowledge testing stations. Each station evaluated Joey’s abilities to weld, complete precise vehicle structure dimension measurements, and preform plastics and sheet metal repairs. Joey excelled through each timed task with confidence. 

“Joey looked fatigued, but he kept on going. He’s a very determined person,” says Andreas Roth, OC’s Collision Repair Instructor.

Bruno completed his assignments, saw nobody else had finished and that some had even quit. That’s when he realized he was going to come out on top.

Bruno is working at Craftsman Collision Repair in Abbotsford, B.C. He credits OC with his success, praising the facilities and quality of instruction. Roth, who was Bruno’s coach at the provincials, came to OC as a student in 2014 and also won medals at provincial and national skills competitions before becoming an instructor.

Bruno is now looking forward to competing at the Skills Canada competition in Vancouver on May 25, but first he wants to repair the car he was riding in at the time of the accident.

To find out more about OC’s Collision Repair programs, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/collisionrepair.



OC students amplify e-commerce studies with help of Shopify

Now a multi-trillion dollar a year industry, there is a lot more to e-commerce than just clicking a button to “add to cart.”

Okanagan College Business students got an inside look on how e-commerce works during BUAD 335 Open Learning Project, which brought practical experience into the classroom.

Using an applied learning approach, Business Professor Pam Nelson integrated Shopify into the class curriculum, incorporating their state-of-the-art technology into real-world applications. Shopify gave OC students the opportunity to create their own online stores: building corporate brands, designing websites, developing product catalogues and creating online content.

“The students love it. All feedback has been extremely positive,” says Nelson.

Tina Langedyk, one of 39 students who took the class, describes it as practical and fun.

“We got a lot of useful knowledge we can put on a resume,” she says, noting her team was surprised to discover the e-commerce store they’d created worked so well.

“I think this is a tool I can use in the real world,” says Katelyn Trudel, a fellow third-year student. “Now I understand how to make a website look good.”

“Our students seemed to thrive in designing and creating their own online stores from scratch,” says Professor Glen Coulthard, who said students reported finding a lot of value in Shopify’s online learning resources. “Most of them found the experience very enjoyable and personally satisfying.”

Leah Dagg, a Shopify Open Learning Specialist, says students are even given access to real online stores and can make actual sales if they have a product they want to sell. The company hopes some students may end up working for, or with, Shopify.

“We are currently piloting a program where Open Learning students become partners of Shopify, as store builders,” says Dagg. “A couple of great students from Okanagan College have participated in our initial focus groups and pilot program.”

After successfully completing the program students received a ‘digital badge’ certifying they met Shopify’s criteria. Nelson says the fictional businesses could lead to students creating real businesses if they continue on the e-commerce path.

To learn more about Business studies at Okanagan College, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/business.



Explore study options at College info sessions

Labour markets ebb and flow, but education will always serve you.

B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook indicates that, of the one million expected job openings between 2021-2031, approximately 77 per cent will require some level of post-secondary education or training.

That’s why Okanagan College is hosting a series of information sessions this month, to encourage those who might be considering post-secondary education to explore their options now.

“People of all ages are considering their options for a post-COVID world, and increasingly training or credentials are required. Education gives people more options,” says Inga Wheeler, Associate Registrar for Okanagan College.

“Info sessions at Okanagan College give people the chance to discover program options, meet faculty and instructors, as well as learn about the supports available to students. It is a perfect opportunity to explore what’s next.”  

The schedule of sessions in Kelowna include:

  • May 10 – Arts: meet faculty and sit in on panel discussions about critical issues facing the world today like social justice, what a post-COVID world looks like, global society, and identity and community in the digital age.
  • May 11 – Business and Office Administration: learn about the advantages of completing a business degree, diploma or certificate at OC.
  • May 17 – Science and Engineering Technologies: STEM fields of study are growing in demand – learn about the countless opportunities available for careers while meeting faculty and touring labs.

Representatives from OC’s Indigenous Services, Financial Aid and Awards, and Accessibility Services will be on hand to provide information on how they support students through their academic journey.

Sessions run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd., in the E Building (Science and Engineering Technologies sessions will be in the E and C buildings). Future students can apply for admission to any OC program for free during the info sessions. Parents and friends are welcome. Free parking, snacks and refreshments are available.

For details about Kelowna, Salmon Arm and virtual info sessions, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/infosessions. For questions or those who can’t make the sessions, people are invited to contact [email protected] to get in touch with someone at OC who will help.



OC Alumnus cycles for charity in solo ride across Mexico

Nick Pelletier didn’t spend his recent trip to Mexico relaxing on the beach.

The Okanagan College Business Alumnus pedaled solo across Mexico in a 51-day trek, stopping at points with the highest and lowest elevation in the country, while raising awareness and funds for charity.

The journey, which began in February, benefited charity: water, an organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to those without access.

Pelletier, an ultra-endurance athlete and extreme adventurer, is no stranger to epic endeavors and likes to combine his efforts with a cause he cares about.

In 2019, Pelletier cycled across the continental United States raising funds for Pencils of Promise, an organization committed to building schools and providing education opportunities to children. Along with a multitude of other athletic endeavours, he has also attempted to swim the length of Okanagan Lake on two occasions.

“I always like to tie in a social venture, in this case charity: water,” says Pelletier. “While at OC, I took Kyleen Myrah’s social entrepreneurship business class. She showed us the social side of not-for-profit businesses and how they function. In many cases, it is the people who make it happen – donors and volunteers who contribute in various ways.

“Charity: water was part of a project we did in class, so I knew about the program and had read a book about the organization. I admired the goals of this charity and thought that fundraising for it was a good way to achieve a goal of mine and help others.”

Financial support has poured in from the local community, as well as Pelletier’s hometown of Calgary, AB.

“It’s crazy to see that my decision to do this trip has led to so many donations that will help people in need,” says Pelletier.

Planned with COVID-19 regulations and testing in mind, Pelletier chose Mexico for his cycling trek to help keep logistics to a minimum. Mexico is a big enough country to complete this kind of trek without having to cross multiple borders and deal with COVID testing while on the bike.

From there, route planning took shape as Pelletier looked for the furthest points within the country and stops of interest along the way. Starting in Cabo San Lucas, winding down to the lowest elevation, Laguna Salada, up to the highest point, Pico de Orizaba, then continuing to Cancún in the south of the country.

All told, the journey covered 5,879 km, which Pelletier completed in 317 hours of active riding time, spanning 51 days. What he didn’t count on was the time he would spend fixing his bike.

“The varied road surfaces of Mexico threw me some surprises,” says Pelletier. “During my ride across America in 2019, I had one flat tire. But on this trip, I had over 70 flats.”

Despite the challenges of keeping his bike in working order, Pelletier was able to keep himself motivated.

“When I undertake a challenge like this, I try to stay goal motivated and process oriented,” says Pelletier. “My goals were clear, raising money for the charity and completing the trip. I stayed process oriented by waking up and focusing on what I needed to do that day.”

Despite the hard days on a self-supported solo trip, stopping wasn’t an option for Pelletier.  

“You won’t always have the motivation,” says Pelletier. “But you can have the discipline to keep moving forward. The toughest part of each day for me were the first 50 km. But as the day would progress, I’d get a boost seeing those numbers add up. Keeping a sense of humour also helps.”

See Pelletier’s sense of humour as he documents the adventures of his daily rides with a video diary. Find his weekly updates from the trip online, along with an opportunity to contribute to his fundraising efforts.



Conference to discuss outdoor learning in Early Childhood Education programs

How does being outdoors help children’s cognitive and social development?  

The involvement of outdoor pedagogy in college programs will be discussed during a virtual conference on May 16, that will bring together Early Childhood Education (ECE) instructors and outdoor play experts from across the country. 

Okanagan College, in collaboration with Bow Valley College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and New Brunswick Community College, and colleagues at the YMCA and the University of Fraser Valley will host a conference called Outdoor Pedagogy: Change Makers from Diverse Perspectives.   

“We are so excited to bring together college ECE instructors all across the country to participate in this second annual conference aimed at collaboratively advancing outdoor pedagogy in college ECE programs,” says Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College and project lead on the Lawson Foundation-supported research project. “We are eagerly looking forward to the ideas, discussions, resources and action this conference will generate.” 

Attendees will have the opportunity to join workshops by leading ECE and outdoor play experts from across Canada. They will also have a chance to hear from guest speaker Dr. Rebecca Isbell, an internationally renowned speaker and author of several books including Creativity and the Arts for Young Children and?Nurturing Creativity: An Essential Mindset for Young Children’s Learning. Isbell is known for celebrating the positive influences that educators, researchers and early learning professionals have on children during their critical years of development. 

The conference is made possible by the Lawson Foundation supporting researchers from the four institutions in their innovative approach to advancing outdoor early learning and teaching nationally. 

The conference is just one initiative in a three-year project which aims to demonstrate a model of outdoor pedagogy practices, teaching, learning and mentoring that will create a shift in curriculum in post-secondary ECE programs and in community early learning and childcare programs. 

You can register for the conference online at https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/learning-and-applied-research/ece-conference



OC student to attend prestigious astroparticle physics summer school

The sky is the limit for Okanagan College physics student Divyesh Dagia, who is set to attend the Canadian Astroparticle Physics Summer School (CAPSS) this May.

The intensive week-long session is designed for astronomy, physics and engineering undergraduates and will introduce them to the current topics in the field of astroparticle physics at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and virtually at SNOLAB. Only 20 students from across Canada are invited to attend the session each year.

Dagia, who will complete an Associate of Science Degree at OC this month, learned about the summer session after his professor shared the opportunity with the class. With the encouragement of a classmate, he applied for the session.

“The day I learned I was accepted into CAPSS was the best for me,” says Dagia. “From the classes I have taken at OC, I know that the seminar sessions are the ones that I get most excited about. With the CAPSS program, I am looking forward to learning what other researchers and professors are working on, as well as meeting students who have similar interests.”

Dagia, an international student from Dubai, attended his first year at OC while living at home. COVID-19 travel restrictions may have put a damper on Dagia’s ability to attend courses on campus, but he was a diligent student.

“Despite being 11 hours ahead during his first year of studies, he attended lectures in the middle of the night,” says Kevin Douglas, Chair of the Physics and Astronomy department. “Once on campus in Kelowna, he has been an eager and enthusiastic student. The summer school opportunity is the perfect meshing of some of his interests.”

“Choosing OC, I knew I would be coming to a smaller school and that was compelling for me,” says Dagia. “There really is a one-to-one interaction that takes place between students and instructors, particularly as you move into second year classes.

“Sometimes learning the concepts behind the sciences can be challenging and that is when a smaller class size can be helpful. For example, on Pi Day (March 14) in my Calculus 4 class, we ate pie and reviewed concepts. Everyone wants to help you succeed.”

Science studies at OC feature a range of university subjects, from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, to Data Science, Kinesiology and Oenology and Viticulture. There are a variety of credentials available, including the Associate of Science Degree – which offers students the ability to transfer directly to third year in any B.C. post-secondary institution.

“At OC, we match up our offerings with the courses students need to pursue their education goals,” says Douglas. “We strive to blend those classes with exposure to research opportunities whenever possible. We want to show students what is out there in the sciences. You can go just about anywhere with your degree.”



Okanagan College proudly presents the Gold Medal Banquet fundraiser

Fundraising has never been so tasty. Okanagan College is partnering with Culinary Team B.C. and Junior Culinary Team Canada to present a banquet worthy of a gold medal, to raise funds for the teams to compete at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg this coming November.  

 Culinary Team BC will be cooking its community catering menu during a special fundraising dinner hosted at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on May 27. OC Culinary Arts students will assist the provincial and junior teams as they prepare this world-class dinner.   

“Welcoming these extremely talented chefs into our kitchens is such an amazing learning experience for our students, and we are excited to invite the community to be a part of it,” says Cari Jahns, Manager of Culinary and Pastry Arts. “We are also happy to support and celebrate the team members who are OC Culinary Arts alumni.” 

Both teams feature familiar OC faces. Provincial team member Chris Braun is an OC alumnus who graduated in 2006. He recently guided the sold-out Student Chef Dinner Series event at Infusions restaurant. Braun joined the Culinary Team B.C. in November 2020 after receiving gold in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party for the Okanagan. Junior Culinary Team Canada member Simon Dufresne also completed the Culinary Arts program at OC in 2020.   

Each Culinary Team B.C. member will be paired with an OC Culinary Arts student throughout the timed practice. OC students will also be working with the members of the Junior Culinary Team Canada team in the design, preparation and assembly of the reception canapés.    

The dinner will include four courses with wines generously provided by Mission Hill Family Estate. The reception starts at 5 p.m. with guests being seated at 5:45 p.m. for dinner.  

All proceeds from the event will support the provincial and junior teams as they head to Luxembourg in November. They will also be competing in the Culinary World Olympics in 2024. 

You can buy your tickets and view the menu on Eventbrite



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