Spotlight: BC’s Colleges Prepare Graduates for Jobs Today and in the Future.
June officially marks the end of the traditional school calendar even though for many, school continues through the summer months. As such it seems to be an appropriate time to celebrate academic achievements of graduates past and present. At BC Colleges we are proud to be part of the educational success of our students, helping to put them on a path to a successful future.
Situated in almost 70 communities throughout the province, BC’s 11 community colleges are well positioned to provide education and skills training that’s affordable and accessible to everyone in BC. Following are some examples of students who have taken advantage of the first-class education offered at BC’s colleges and how they have gone on to their own success.
When Ron Anderson, a native of Nelson, was in high school his dad asked him what he wanted do when he grew up. Ron’s honest answer was “I want to do something that makes money.” His dad suggested he take a high school accounting course to see if he liked it, and he did. Ron entered Selkirk College in the University Transfer (UT) program in 1989, with plans of transferring to Simon Fraser University, but that all changed with the development of the Open University program. After spending one year in UT courses, he decided to sign up for the Business Administration program and stay in Castlegar.
After graduation, Ron left the Kootenay region to article in Vancouver for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a very successful multi-national accounting firm. In 1999 Ron returned to Castlegar and joined Yule and Associates in October of that year, and became a full partner in August of 2000. Yule Anderson: Chartered Accountants, as it is now called, is one of the largest public accounting firms in the Kootenay region.
Ron was soon recruited by Selkirk College as a member of the Business Administration Advisory Committee, and before long to the Selkirk College Board of Governors. As a Director of the Board for two years, Ron enjoyed learning the ropes, and for the next four years he stayed on as Chair.
Recently honoured with Selkirk College’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award, Ron said “Wow! Out of 40,000 alumni of the college, I am the first!” He is extremely proud to be the recipient of the award and plans to continue to work with people to help make their lives better, just as Selkirk College did for him.
For Douglas College valedictorian Julia Collin, the sky is the limit in more ways than one. “This spring, I’m extremely excited to be embarking on my new career and working on getting my private pilot’s license,” says the Surrey resident, who graduated June 3 with a Post-Degree Diploma in Marketing.
Collin came to Douglas College with a degree in Ancient and Medieval History from the University of Calgary and a taste for marketing from her time working in sales as a student. After four years at university, Collin was eager to get her career off the ground and the one-year Post-degree Diploma in Marketing Program proved to be just the ticket.
“I didn’t want to go back to school for another four years to get another Bachelor’s degree in Business,” says Collin. “This program was perfect for me. It gave me the training I needed in minimal time to fast-track my marketing career.” Collin is already well on her way: she is already settling in as marketing coordinator with Coast Hotels and Resorts. Nonetheless, Collin remains passionate about learning. Collin says that she may eventually consider going for her MBA. But whatever flight path she chooses, Collin says her main goals are to be happy be the best she can be. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say “Veni Vidi Vici” which is Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Camosun College alumni are also doing amazing things. Take Dr. Brad Nelson. He’s a 1983 University Transfer graduate and last year’s Camosun College Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Brad says this fondest college memories are of going out on biology field trips and a camping venture to Botanical Beach on Vancouver Island. “Camosun is where I found out how much I love biology and science in general,” says Nelson.
After graduation, Nelson went on to complete his undergrad degree with honours at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. From there, he pursued a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. He has held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre (FHCRC) in Seattle and faculty appointments at FHCRC, the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington and the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, all in Seattle.
“I was led to cancer research because of my mother-in-law’s experience with ovarian cancer. I quickly realized we need better early detection and treatment for this disease,” he says.
Today, at 47, he is the Director and Senior Scientist for the BC Cancer Agency’s Trev and Joyce Deeley Research Centre in Victoria. He oversees more than 40 staff and his research focuses on understanding the immune response to cancer. His work has put Victoria on the map as an international centre for leading-edge cancer research.
“My career path started at Camosun,” says Nelson. “I can’t think of a better place to start your undergrad studies or complete a diploma program.”
Andrea Menard’s journey to her current job began in Prince George at the College of New Caledonia. This is where she first learned to develop the necessary study habits to become a successful Aboriginal law student, and to thrive in the work environment after law school was finished.
While in her third year of post-secondary education (attending both CNC and UNBC at the same time), Menard decided to write the standardized Law School Admission Test. She was accepted at the University of Manitoba, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia.
It’s a rare exception for a student who doesn’t possess an undergraduate degree to get into law school, especially one as prestigious as the University of British Columbia.
Now as Director of Indigenous Academic Services at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law, Menard assists Aboriginal law students, by providing both academic and non-academic assistance in an Indigenous-friendly environment. She helps Aboriginal law students to ensure they’ll flourish in the tough, demanding three-year program.
“I love reading the Aboriginal applicants’ personal essays. It’s inspiring for me to read about their journey. A lot of us have overcome so many hardships just to get to the door initially of law school. I will advise each and every person interested in law that you don’t have to be perfect to get into law school.”
These are just a sampling of the many stories of British Columbians who have benefited from their experience at one of BC’s 11 community colleges. With campuses throughout the province, BC’s colleges support students to meet their learning and career goals from adult basic education, trades, university transfer, to applied degrees.
Our colleges develop and offer programs that reflect and anticipate changing social, economic and labour-market realities. We strive to connect with employers and policy-makers to provide the programs and career opportunities that British Columbians need now and in the future. In fact, BC Colleges are the largest provider of highly skilled, job-ready graduates for employers in British Columbia.
Congratulations to all of this year’s college graduates. Best of luck in your future endeavours!
President, BC Colleges