Okanagan College and FortisBC Power up Support for Women and Indigenous students
New awards and opportunities for mentorship with FortisBC are making it easier for female and female Indigenous students to be successful with their trades education.
FortisBC recently set up three scholarships for women in trades with a focus on supporting female students who are at the mid-point in their education. The scholarship comes with the potential for the student to meet with FortisBC representatives and connect with someone working in a role they may be interested in pursuing in the future.
"We wanted to support students in paying for school but we also wanted to help students get connections and networking opportunities with people in their industry," explains Erinn Mah, Indigenous Talent Specialist with FortisBC.
Mah adds recruiting women and Indigenous students is part of the company's focus to ensure their employees reflect the diverse communities FortisBC serves.
"We know attracting top talent is critical to moving our business forward," says Mah.
"These scholarships allow us to support the career pathways of these students and provide an opportunity for us to build relationships with talented individuals who may consider a future career with us.”
Alanah Coss is Métis, and upon completing her Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship at Okanagan College, she received a FortisBC scholarship. Coss says the funds came at an important time. During her studies, Coss had been working evenings in a cabinetry shop. But when exam time drew near, she stopped working to prioritize her education. Her efforts paid off: Coss completed her program with 95 per cent, but her bills were piling up.
"I'm very grateful to have been selected for this award. The funds will help reduce some financial stress and allow me to move forward focusing on my career,” says Coss.
Nadine Lanz is taking Mechanical Engineering and received a Technology Scholarship from FortisBC. Lanz, who is a member of the Métis Nation B.C., says going to school as a mature student means she juggles her mortgage and other expenses while focusing on full-time studies. The scholarship gave her some relief, helping her remain committed to her education.
Lanz adds the opportunity to meet female leaders at FortisBC and ask questions is helpful for planning her future career path.
"To connect with FortisBC is fantastic and seeing women in roles that I could see myself in the future with mentorship is inspiring," says Lanz.
Nancy Darling, Women in Trades Training Program Administrator, says these types of awards from FortisBC are meaningful to women in trades who are often feeling some financial and emotional stress at the mid-point in their studies.
"The award comes at a time when women need a little support to keep the focus squarely on completing their education,” says Darling.
"Mentorship from women at FortisBC combined with the financial support, really takes the pressure off our students, and empowers these women to plan their futures. We are thankful to FortisBC for their support.”
FortisBC will award three new scholarships for female and female Indigenous students in 2022.
Last year, the Okanagan College Foundation awarded 756 awards to 477 students providing over $1 million dollars in valuable financial support.