164897

Campus Life  

Together, from afar: an Okanagan College graduation ceremony unlike any other

Kenzie Gorjanc

In a year unlike any other, Okanagan College student Kenzie Gorjanc found herself adapting to new ways of learning to complete her education.

On Jan. 23, she will join more than 2,000 OC students who will don virtual caps and gowns as they are recognized during the College’s first-ever online convocation ceremony.

Graduates, along with their family, friends and supporters in the community are invited to tune in and watch the pre-recorded virtual ceremony starting at 10:30 a.m. next Saturday. To view the ceremony and learn more, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/virtualconvocation.

The ceremony will see credentials conferred on students across all programs including Arts, Science, Business, Technologies, Trades and Health and Social Development.

Viewers can also visit the webpage in advance to leave messages of congratulations via a digital guest book, pre-order flowers for a graduate with a special discount code or to purchase a commemorative gift.

When the pandemic hit last year, the College was forced to take many of its programs wholly online and postpone its in-person convocation ceremonies.

The transition to online learning didn’t get in the way of Gorjanc’s academic success. The Psychology student completed the College’s two-year Associate of Arts Degree in June 2020 with a 93.67 per cent grade average – the highest grade average of any student in the degree program. For her accomplishments, Gorjanc is being awarded the College’s Associate of Arts Degree Academic Medal and graduated with distinction.

“If I could say anything to my peers and professors at the College, it would be a proper goodbye,” she says. “OC was a place where I developed many important relationships and felt a very strong social connection to both my peers and professors. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t thank them and say goodbye face-to-face.”

Gorjanc will complete her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna. She plans to focus her honours thesis in the clinical psychology field and wants to pursue graduate studies in psychiatry or clinical counselling. Her dream is to open a private practice in Kelowna providing clinical counselling to youth and young adults.

OC Kelowna

Students will hear from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton in his last graduation address before retirement.

“Having presided over more than 60 convocation ceremonies during my time at Okanagan College, I’ve been thinking about this one, my final ceremony as President, for a long time. I never imagined it wouldn’t happen face-to-face,” says Hamilton. “I have witnessed so many times how human beings, when faced with challenges in their private lives, in their communities or on a global scale, will rise to the occasion and apply their energy, skills and intelligence to turn adversity into opportunity. Our students successfully navigated an astonishing amount of change. This resiliency and fortitude will serve them well in the years to come. On behalf of the Okanagan College community, I am honoured to congratulate each of you on your graduation.”



OC Enactus helps young females navigate the future

OC Kelowna Aerial

Okanagan College’s nationally recognized Enactus team is kicking off the new year with new community-initiatives, including a program preparing local young females to navigate their future with confidence, positive self-image and the know-how to tackle the world of job hunting.

The project, Ivy Collective, is a free skills development program that supports females aged 15-18 through a series of one-hour online training workshops. Topics include public speaking, job application skills and confidence-building strategies.

The first workshop of the new year will be hosted on Jan. 21 and is entitled Your Brand Matters. Participants will learn what makes a great personal brand, first impression, professional presence and how to create an elevator pitch. Those looking to register can visit www.ivycollectiveoc.ca.

“Ivy Collective takes the pressure off young women by offering the workshops in a safe environment where they can non-judgmentally learn and try new skills, learn from each other and support one another along their personal growth journey,” says Laura Hetherington, Okanagan College Business Professor and Enactus Faculty Advisor.

Enactus OC was one of just five teams across Canada to receive a $3,100 RBC Future Launch grant for the Ivy Collective project. The Enactus team was also fortunate to connect with a community partner, marketing company Twirling Umbrellas, who donated $8,000 of their services to launch the project online.

“Job skills have always been important to build, but it’s even more crucial now to provide these opportunities to help youth navigate the virtual change of scenery in job hunting and relationship building,” says Twirling Umbrellas President Chris Stephens. “We are passionate about supporting our community and partnering with the Enactus students on this project was a no brainer for us.”

Despite the challenges of operating a club during a global pandemic, the College’s Enactus team has secured two more exclusive grants in support of new projects and expanding existing initiatives.

“In these unprecedented times, community initiatives that our Enactus OC team has led for many years, are so difficult to do, yet never more important,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Okanagan College Business Professor and Enactus Faculty Advisor.

“To be able to adapt their programs and launch new partnerships is a sign of the resiliency and commitment of our students; we are grateful for this funding and an opportunity to find creative ways for our team to continue its social impact work.”

The Enactus team was also awarded a $2,500 Canadian Tire Youth Empowering grant—one of just six teams in Canada to do so—for their new project, Rising | Empathy Empowerment Education.

The project was created in collaboration with educators and the non-profit organization, Journey Home, to equip School District 23 teachers with resources on how to open dialogues with students about homelessness and social responsibilities. The project is piloting in the spring and has plans to expand its reach later this year.

OC Enactus Faculty Advisor Dr. Myrah received the third grant, a $5,800 Faculty Advisor Research Fund grant towards research on allyship. Her research seeks to demonstrate the importance of utilizing lived experience in the development and co-creation of programs designed to help support vulnerable populations. Her research outcomes will be presented at the Enactus National competition in May.

For more information on Enactus OC projects, visit www.enactusoc.ca. For more information about other research initiatives on homelessness in the community that Dr. Myrah and others are involved in, please visit: https://khrc.ok.ubc.ca/



A call to writers for Okanagan Short Story Contest submissions

Okanagan Short Story Contest graphic

UBCO holds annual fiction writing competition

Up and coming writers are encouraged to submit entries for the annual Okanagan Short Story Contest.

Now in its 23rd year, the short story contest has a long history of bringing new and emerging writers to the Okanagan community. Past winners have been published with Penguin Random House, Arsenal Pulp Press and NeWest Press. They have also been featured in numerous magazines and journals across the globe, explains Nancy Holmes, creative writing professor in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS).

“Competitions like the Okanagan Short Story Contest are where a lot of writers get their start,” says Holmes. “We are always impressed with the calibre of entries we receive and we are excited to see what this year’s submissions will bring.”

This year’s judge is Frances Greenslade, acclaimed Canadian author and English professor at Okanagan College. Greenslade’s 2012 novel, Shelter, was named one of UK’s Waterstones 11 most promising debut novels that year and was nominated for both an Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award and the BC Book Prize Ethel Wilson Award.

The short story contest is open to fiction writers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia: east of Hope, west of the Alberta border, north of the US border and south of Williams Lake. The deadline for submissions is March 1, at midnight.

All entries must be between 1,000 and 4,000 words, and writers are welcome to submit as many entries as they wish. There is a $15 entry fee for each submission, but no charge for high school students. All proceeds go towards UBCO creative writing scholarships.

FCCS is offering cash prizes to the top three stories—$1,000, $400 and $200; the first prize winner also wins a one-week retreat at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna. For the fourth year in a row, the top short story by a high school student in the region receives a $200 cash prize.

Winners will be announced at a virtual event in the spring.

Co-sponsors of the contest are FCCS, TD Canada Trust and the Central Okanagan Foundation. For a full list of contest details, rules and past winners, visit: fccs.ok.ubc.ca/short-story

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



Radio burst in Milky Way sheds light on origins of mysterious phenomenon

The Okanagan-based CHIME radio telescope detected a fast radio burst from within the Milky Way in April 2020.

The Okanagan-based CHIME radio telescope detected a fast radio burst from within the Milky Way in April 2020.

UBCO researcher describes significance of findings

In the decade since they were first discovered, astronomers have categorized fast radio bursts (FRBs) as mysterious phenomena. But a recent astronomical event has provided further insight into the origin of these signals.

In a paper published recently in Nature, researchers confirm the evidence that supports their theory of what caused the April 28, 2020 event—a magnetar.

Magnetars, or high-magnetized pulsars, are remnants of dead stars that have gone supernova and left behind a compressed core that has more mass than the sun but is the diameter of a small city. Before this, researchers suspected that FRBs likely originate from magnetars, but no FRB-like event had been seen from any of the Milky Way’s roughly 30 known magnetars.

Alex Hill is an assistant professor of astrophysics in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science and a member of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) research team that made this discovery.

What is the CHIME project?

CHIME is a large radio telescope that was originally created to study the properties of dark energy. It was built in 2017 at the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) just outside of Penticton, BC.

Dark energy is a mysterious form of energy that’s causing the universe’s expansion to speed up over time. It’s challenging to study because we can’t see it—we can only see what it does to things we can see, like galaxies. Researchers from UBC, the University of Toronto and McGill University came together in partnership with DRAO to build CHIME in order to try and map out the properties of dark energy by observing hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe.

My main focus within CHIME is using this telescope to study our own galaxy, the Milky Way, which we must look through to see the distant universe. This is a great challenge for cosmological science but a great opportunity for us to understand where the 'star stuff' we’re all made of comes from.

What makes the CHIME radio telescope different from others?

With a distinct cylindrical design, CHIME is definitely not what comes to mind when most people think of a telescope. It looks like four massive half-pipes laying next to each other, and it’s now the fourth-largest radio telescope in the world. This allows us to see a strip across the whole sky from the southern to northern horizons all at once. CHIME itself doesn’t move. Instead, when the earth rotates, we let the sky rotate over, so we’re seeing the sky in its entirety every day.

This is highly valuable because it lets our team build up many signals so we can detect very faint things. It also lets us see signals that go off periodically, like FRBs. When an FRB goes off, you don’t know in advance where it is, so you need to be seeing as much sky as possible at a given time to see most of them. CHIME is specifically designed to do this.

What did CHIME detect on April 28, 2020 and why is it significant?

CHIME detected a signal from within the Milky Way that appeared similar to FRBs. The team immediately released what’s called an astronomer’s telegram to let our fellow astronomers know something strange just happened and they should point their telescopes at it right away. FRBs are exactly what they sound like: mysterious bursts of radio emissions that go off quickly. Because they go off so quickly and usually leave no signal behind, you have to catch them the moment they appear.

We suspected that they might be coming from magnetars because they’re compact and have strong magnetic fields that produce radio signals. But there just wasn’t enough evidence to say one way or another.

The first FRB was detected in 2007, and there were around 30 to 50 of them detected before we built CHIME. Since then, CHIME has detected hundreds, but none in the Milky Way until 2020. This had us scratching our heads—if FRBs come from magnetars, as we had suspected, and we know our galaxy has magnetars, it was a bit of a puzzle that they’d never happened here.

The April 28 event was really affirming for our team. It was a pretty exciting day for astronomers because it was a first, and we finally had this new, concrete evidence that we were on the right track.

What makes the Okanagan ideal to host Canada’s national radio observatory?

In our line of work, we’re trying to detect radio signals. And to do so effectively we need a site that is as radio quiet as possible. Cell phones, TV towers and any other electronic device that produces radio frequency interference can threaten our success.

Our site is one of the best in the world for what we do. It’s ideal because, through a combination of regulation and geography, it is well-protected from radio signals. We’re one valley over from Penticton, so the mountains block radio signals from the city. At the observatory, we don’t use microwaves to heat our lunch, all of our computers are kept in metal cages that keep radio signals in, and we can’t use cell phones even in airplane mode. The observatory staff test every piece of electronics on-site to make sure they don’t harm our radio-quiet environment.

It may sound extreme but we’ve worked incredibly hard to keep our site radio quiet—it’s an enormous benefit to science. I don’t think there’s an observatory in the world with a better combination of an outstanding radio-quiet environment and easy access to a major population centre.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO virtual open house explores community engagement

UBC is planning to use the Doyle Avenue location for academic and research uses and also create additional shared-use areas, office, residential and some amenity spaces.

UBC is planning to use the Doyle Avenue location for academic and research uses and also create additional shared-use areas, office, residential and some amenity spaces.

Online forum will discuss the future of UBC in Kelowna’s downtown

A new public gallery, creative innovation spaces, a public engagement and learning suite and other community-accessible facilities are being considered for UBC Okanagan’s downtown Kelowna site.

The community is invited to a January 19 virtual open house to learn more about the building envisioned at 550 Doyle Avenue and discuss how new spaces there and future spaces may serve the shared interests of the region and the university.

“From the initial announcement of the Doyle Avenue site last summer, we have considered this initiative the next major step in the evolution of UBC in the Okanagan,” says Prof. Lesley Cormack, UBC deputy vice-chancellor and principal of the Okanagan campus. “An expanded downtown Kelowna presence will support UBC’s and the City of Kelowna’s strategic priorities, and strengthen our ability to engage with the people of our region in new ways.”

Cormack notes that, as a campus that emerged from community demand, UBCO’s faculty, staff and students have consistently worked with the region through initiatives such as the Southern Medical Program, the Memoranda of Understanding with the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the City of Kelowna, as well as Accelerate Okanagan. Additional collaboration exists with the wine sector throughout the BC Interior, the Healthy Cities initiative, Opera Kelowna, the Rotary Centre for the Arts and countless co-op placements and research projects.

“The 20-year ambition is to do more in partnership with the communities of our region,” she says. “To support that and accommodate significant growth in programs and enrolment, we’re adding space over the next decade. The downtown Kelowna site is an important part of that.”

  • a welcoming public atrium space
  • a public engagement learning suite for community programs, meetings and workshops
  • creative innovation space and a gallery capable of welcoming artwork from around the world to the Okanagan

The virtual open house will be held Tuesday, January 19, from 7 to 8 p.m. as a Zoom webinar. Hosted by Prof. Philip Barker, vice-principal of research and innovation, the evening will provide an overview of UBC’s vision for academic and community uses in the downtown site.

Associate Provost of Strategy Prof. Michael Burgess, will moderate a discussion panel and Q&A with the deans of several UBCO faculties. The discussion will focus on community interests in collaboratively developing programming in the various public engagement areas of the new building.

“While our immediate focus is on the downtown Kelowna location, the conversation with the community will be on-going,” says Burgess. “Our faculty and staff want to hear perspectives on how the people of this region would like to engage with UBC in future new spaces —either on campus or elsewhere in the community —and other ways to work together to enhance the community-university relationship in coming years.”

The open house webinar will be followed at 8:10 p.m. by a 45-minute discussion forum hosted by Burgess with breakout sessions for more fulsome conversations with members of the community. Anyone registering for the open house will also be invited to participate in the optional discussion forum.

For more information and to register, go to ok.ubc.ca/downtown.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



New UBC research partnership connects patients with virtual health communities

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

Free online health resources, coaching and peer-to-peer support

Researchers with the UBC Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) have teamed up with digital health company Curatio to provide Canadians with virtual health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stronger Together project harnesses Curatio’s social networking health app to connect patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

“Patients are facing unique challenges accessing health care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Kathleen Martin Ginis, director with the UBC Okanagan-based CCDPM. “We need to bridge these gaps and help patients build social connections that can improve their health and well-being.”

In addition to contributing expert content, CCDPM researchers will assist with program evaluation for the platform’s nine different public communities—which are cardiovascular health and well-being, disability and physical activity, stroke recovery, keeping mentally strong with multiple myeloma, respiratory health and well-being, prostate cancer, 4+2 diabetes reversal, plan to move your kids and parenting during COVID-19.

Curatio CEO Lynda Brown-Ganzert stresses the importance of helping patients stay healthy from their own home while also reducing the burden on an already-strained health care system.

“By providing daily virtual support to patients, we can help improve the lives of Canadians and support the important work of our dedicated health care professionals,” says Brown-Ganzert. “Current participants have already seen improvements in their health literacy and outcomes by using our private and secure platform, not to mention the enjoyment of making social connections with people going through the same thing.”

Individuals can register for free access at www.curatio.me/strongertogether. By joining the platform, participants will assist researchers in learning how to best offer virtual health support and contribute to Curatio’s program development.

“We are thrilled to offer this new online resource that will contribute to the health of Canadians and the health care system as a whole,” adds Martin Ginis.

The Stronger Together project is supported by an investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster which brings together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including health care, natural resources, manufacturing and transportation.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO launches arts career apprenticeship with local businesses

UBCO’s Arts Career Apprenticeship program will focus on new arts, humanities and social sciences graduates.

UBCO’s Arts Career Apprenticeship program will focus on new arts, humanities and social sciences graduates.

Donor-funded program creates employment opportunities for graduates

With many university graduates ready to hit the labour market running, UBC Okanagan is aiming to make that first job an especially meaningful one through the creation of an apprenticeship initiative together with local businesses and organizations.

The new Arts Career Apprenticeship Program will focus on new arts, humanities and social sciences graduates and will consist of a salaried career apprenticeship in the Okanagan for at least one year. Student participants receive mentorship, networking opportunities and a chance to contribute to the growth and development of a local business.

For businesses, the program offers direct access to highly-skilled recent graduates, as well as a grant of up to $4,000 per month for four months’ salary of the hired candidate.

“The time after graduation can be an exciting but also stressful for students as they navigate the transition from university to their first jobs,” says Ananya Mukherjee Reed, provost and vice-president academic at UBC Okanagan. “This program is designed to bring local businesses into that transition process, and provide real-world experience to help jumpstart their careers and to help foster talent right here in the Okanagan.”

The grant funding is made possible by the donation from Ottawa-based philanthropist Alan Rottenberg, who approached the university after successfully piloting the concept in Ontario.

“This is an opportunity for students to launch their career in a field related to their studies and work with local industry partners,” he says. “Businesses will receive direct access to a talented pool of new arts and humanities graduates—with an added funding incentive to help establish meaningful and long-term career opportunities in their organization. It is an inspiring program for everyone involved.”

Mukherjee Reed says she knew instantly that UBC Okanagan and its partners were the perfect fit for an apprenticeship program like this one.

“UBC Okanagan produces incredible graduates, many of whom want to stay and develop their careers in the region,” she explains. “At the same time, Okanagan businesses are well known for their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. We have an incredible opportunity to bring the two together in exciting new ways.”

The university is currently inviting employers and students to sign up for the program, which will pilot in the spring with up to 10 graduates in the first round.

“We have a connection to community that runs deep,” says Mukherjee Reed. “This new program will help create new links and exciting opportunities for students, employers and the local economy.”

For details about the Arts Career Apprenticeship Program, visit: provost.ok.ubc.ca/initiatives/experiential-learning/ubco-arts-career-apprenticeship-program

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



Loved nurse honoured with a major gift to the College

Miller Family

She was the type of nurse who was working even when she was off. If the phone rang in the middle of the night, Mary Miller would go to the hospital to help her colleagues.

In celebration of all the love she gave her patients and especially those closest to her, the Miller family are making a $150,000 donation to Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre. The gift honours Mary, who passed away in October at age 83.

“My Mary would be so pleased and so honoured that we’re doing this for her,” says Dean Miller, her husband of 62 years and co-founder of Miller & Wyatt, a local auto parts store.

“Our mom was a tremendous caregiver, caring for us and caring for her friends and anyone in the community,” adds her son Bruce Miller. “She just means everything to us in terms of the love she gave us.”

The Miller family’s gift will support the student collaboration room, a shared study and technology space that will be open to all eight of the health care professions who will be studying in the Centre. The Miller’s gift will also support a care bed unit and another student gathering and study lounge.

Kathy Hattrick, Mary’s daughter, says they chose the student study spaces to recognize that their mother was always inclusive, and they hope the spaces provide opportunities for students to socialize and collaborate.

“It’s not just about the book learning, it’s about making connections, getting to know one another and building support systems,” says Hattrick, who is also a retired nurse.

“This new Centre is amazing, I was blown away by the level of technology. My mom would have wanted this, to help train the next generation.”

Mary was born and raised in Kelowna before leaving to train as a nurse at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster in the 1950s. After graduating, Mary returned to Kelowna to marry her high school sweetheart, Dean. They had three children together, Kathy, Bruce and Brian. Mary worked at Kelowna General Hospital for her entire career.

“This significant gift from the Miller family will have an incredible impact on our students and our campus,” says Yvonne Moritz, Associate Vice President of Education Services and Interim Dean of Science, Technology and Health.

“To see local families investing in health care education is extremely reaffirming for our students who can feel proud about entering in-demand health care careers. We’re deeply grateful for this support.”

Okanagan College has raised $3.5 million towards it $5 million fundraising goal for its new Health Sciences Centre in Kelowna.

To learn more or to donate visit OurStudentsYourHealth.ca.



Reflecting on what really was the Year of the Nurse

The role of the nurse has been front and centre since the pandemic began.

Why 2020 shone the light on our nursing professionals

Even before the term COVID-19 was a household name, the World Health Organization had designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. It was to be a year of celebration, milestones and recruitment opportunities to encourage more people to think about nursing as a career.

Marie Tarrant, director of UBC Okanagan’s school of nursing, reflects on 2020 and how the events of the pandemic brought home the significance of nurses in our society today.

2020 shone the light on our nursing professionals. Is this something we should carry forward after the pandemic?

Yes, I think the important role of the nurse has been long overlooked in many ways. Within a hospital setting, the most important intervention in a patient’s progress and recovery is expert nursing care. Surgeries and other medical interventions can only be effective if there are skilled nurses to care for and monitor patients.

In preventive care, the delivery of infant and maternal health programs—primarily by public-health nurses—has also been responsible for substantial decreases in maternal and child mortality over the past century. In addition, nurses are often the most common health-care provider for education and counselling on chronic disease prevention and management such as smoking cessation, diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Has the pandemic changed people’s perceptions?

I think so and I hope this continues once we have Covid-19 under control. The pandemic has highlighted how essential and impactful nurses are every day in the lives of their patients. Nurses have been on the front lines of the pandemic and sadly have been the health care professional most likely to be infected and to die from Covid-19. In late October, the International Council of Nurses released data showing that in 44 countries, more than 1,500 nurses have died of Covid-19. The true toll is likely to be higher and the majority of these are in low-income countries where nurses may be the main health-care providers for their population. This will have implications for health-care delivery in these countries for years to come.

Also, because of restrictions in health-care settings, nurses are often the only person with Covid-19 patients as they pass away. This has been the focus of a lot of media attention and has highlighted both the unique role of nurses in the pandemic and also the enormous burden that nurses have endured over the past nine months. This is also an issue that will have ramifications on the profession of nursing for years to come.

What led you into the career?

I was hospitalized several times as a child, and I have two older sisters who are nurses. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a nurse. It has been a highly rewarding career for me, and has literally taken me around the country and around the world. I have worked in large Canadian cities, in remote northern regions of Manitoba, Ontario, and Nunavut, and in one of the most densely populated cities in Asia.

There are so many different paths a nurse’s career can take. What advice would you give someone considering a career as a nurse?

What I always tell our incoming students and anyone considering a career in nursing, is that it offers such a diverse and rewarding career pathway. Just in our school alone, we have faculty members who have worked in all areas of clinical practice within a hospital setting. Outside of the hospital setting, our faculty have worked in such diverse nursing roles as flight nursing, research, education, school nursing, community and public health, and home care. They have also worked all over the world including in the United States, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Within all of these roles and areas of practice, nurses can be working in direct clinical practice, in advanced practice nursing roles, in management and administration. In an academic career, nurses are involved in clinical and classroom teaching, research, community and professional service, educational leadership, and academic administration.

It wasn’t the year you planned, but it sure did put a focus on the profession. What’s next?

Going forward, it is clear that nurses will be heavily involved in the rollout of the Covid-19 mass vaccination campaign. Of course, nurses have always been one of the main providers of vaccinations, but the context and scale of this vaccination campaign will be like nothing we have ever witnessed before.

While 2020 was earmarked as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we need to recognize and celebrate nurses every day. It has been heartening to see all of the public support for nurses and other health care professionals over the past year. Nurses will always be there—at the forefront of health care.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO experts offer tips to help make this Christmas worth remembering

Many people are having to re-think their Christmas plans, or make new traditions this holiday season.

2020 will go down as one holiday season that’s hard to forget

While it’s true that Christmas 2020 will be unusual for most, a team of UBC Okanagan experts suggest it doesn’t have to be a holiday season to regret. The experts’ advice includes everything from online shopping tips and getting some exercise to curling up with a good book.

Careful while shopping online, suggests Faculty of Management researcher Ying Zhu.

“Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, people should be more mindful of their shopping budget. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the world of online shopping. Balance joyful feelings with a budget.”

Ying Zhu suggests putting down the tablet or smartphone when holiday shopping online, especially when you plan to buy indulgent products in an effort to stem pandemic stress. Her research has shown that study participants were more likely to indulge in guilty pleasures when shopping online with a touchscreen device (i.e., a smartphone) versus a desktop computer. The reason is that using a touchscreen evokes consumers’ experiential thinking, which resonates with the playful nature of hedonic products.

Find creative ways to get some exercise, says School of Health and Exercise Sciences’ Matthew Stork.

“Due to the winter weather and current COVID-19 restrictions, finding ways to stay physically active is more challenging than ever. Try new outdoor activities like skiing or snowshoeing, go for socially distant walks or find creative ways to be active at home.”

If you’re busy or overwhelmed this holiday season, add some “exercise snacks” into your day. Go up and down the stairs three times in a row, or take a five-minute walk to the end of the street and back. Even short bouts of exercise can add up and can help keep you fit at home.

And if you want to get a bit more out of your workouts—add tunes.

“Music is a simple, yet powerful strategy that can enhance your exercise and make it more enjoyable.”

Okanagan School of Education Associate Professor Stephen Berg focuses on active, healthy children and youth.

Berg has several suggestions for making sure children, and the entire family, have a good holiday season. The idea is to stay active.

“It may seem simple, but getting outside and going for a walk is beneficial. With limited daylight hours, getting outside, even if it is for a short time, will help boost the immune system and provide some much-needed energy.”

Other tips include limiting the treats, trying something new—like a YouTube workout the family can do together, volunteering, and setting basic and small goals, like getting outside for 30 minutes a day.

“My final tip would be to do your best to stay balanced,” he adds. “Quite simply, this has been a unique year. Let children have some fun, relax and breathe. Connect with them. Play board games, find out what they are doing online.”

Alex Hill, who teaches astrophysics at UBCO, suggests people look to the stars as a new activity this holiday season.

When there are clear skies during the holidays, grab a pair of binoculars and get outside after dark, says Hill. The next few days will be spectacular because Jupiter and Saturn will pass quite close to each other—a 400-year benchmark.

“To find them, look southwest as it gets dark, which is nice and early this time of year, about 45 minutes after sunset. If you hold your fist at arm’s length, they’ll be a bit more than two fist lengths above the horizon. They’ll be the brightest ‘stars’ by far and easy to see.”

With binoculars, you should also be able to see the rings of Saturn and the four largest moons of Jupiter. While Jupiter and Saturn are both spectacular with binoculars, they are visible without.

“They won’t look quite like they do in Hubble Space Telescope images you might see in books, but it’s still amazing to be able to see the rings and the moons with your own eyes.”

Fall in love with reading all over again suggests Marie Loughlin, who teaches in UBCO’s English program.

Her advice to anyone is to get settled comfortably with a good story. Loughlin and colleagues suggest books to help relieve stress, help with loneliness or fill in time spent alone.

George Grinnell suggested Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys (Penguin/Random House 2020). “This is easily one of the most compelling and artistically complete novels I have read in a long time.”

Margaret Reeves suggests Thomas King’s newest novel Indians on Vacation (HarperCollins, 2020), saying it is well worth reading for its wry sense of humour.

Joanna Cockerline recommends Idaho (Chatto & Windus, 2017) by Emily Ruskovich; it is set in the rugged mountains of Idaho and is tied around a devastating secret that impacts the life of a man facing early dementia.

Sean Lawrence suggests Andrew Kaufman’s All My Friends Are Superheroes (Coach House, 2003); the ordinary guy Tom has a close group of friends and a wife, all of whom are actually superheroes.

Finally, suggests Loughlin, Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, of which the author’s iconic reading will be featured on CBC over the holidays.

Try something completely new or outside your comfort zone, suggests psychology Professor Lesley Lutes.

“My students suggested we do an online cooking class together,” says Lutes. “I must admit, my first thought was ‘oh lord, this is going to be a disaster.’ But I said yes because they suggested it and I could see that they needed it. I had never done anything like this before and had no idea how it would go.”

Lutes picked a favourite recipe and purchased all the ingredients, including a candy cane and gluten-free dessert. It was a great success and she would do it again in a heartbeat.

Lutes shares other suggestions on how to make the most of this atypical Christmas:

  • Try and accept this holiday season for what it is, instead of what it should have/could have been.
  • If you can connect virtually with friends—do it!
  • Deliver, either virtually or to front doors of your friends and loved ones, gestures of your love/affection/appreciation.
  • Try and find humour and levity in the moment—and put it to good use.

“This was truly one of the most challenging years in modern history,” Lutes adds. “I hope everyone can take some time to slow down, reflect and find safety, love, and feelings of hope during these final days of the year. May 2021 bring us all some much-needed relief but also the resolve to make everything that happened this year matter.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—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 in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



More Campus Life articles

168272