Students

Student Refugee Program welcomes second sponsored arrival

August 30, 2016

Wasim Alkabani, Winnipeg International Airport

Repeating a tradition first established last fall, organizers of RRC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) welcomed a special addition to the College community yesterday.

Members of the program’s Local Committee were joined by RRC executive and staff from Diversity and Intercultural Services, to greet Wasim Alkabani (above), the second student to arrive at the College under a sponsorship with the SRP, an initiative of World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Now a permanent Canadian resident, Wasim arrived from Lebanon on Monday afternoon. Fluent in both English and Arabic, he’ll begin his Applied Accounting studies at the Exchange District Campus.

Born in Syria and raised mostly in Dubai, Wasim has a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Damascus University. He’s interested in a career in business or finance — just like his SPR predecessor, Yves Ngendahimana (below, at right), who arrived last fall from Malawi as the program’s first sponsored student. Read More →

Victory lane: Business Administration grad makes NASCAR history

August 29, 2016

Amber-BalcaenA Red River College grad burned rubber and blazed a new trail over the weekend, becoming the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race.

Amber Balcaen (Business Administration, 2013) drove her No. 10 Lee Pulliam Performance car straight into the history books Saturday night, pulling from the pack to capture the checkered flag at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.

The 24-year-old had previously found success on the local dirt track circuit, becoming the first woman in Manitoba to win a championship and carrying on the family tradition established by her father and grandfather, both accomplished racers in their own right.

Saturday’s win came during the second-last race of Balcaen’s rookie season on U.S. pavement, and bumped her to a third-place seat in the overall point standings. She’s earned top-five rankings in 10 out of 13 races this season, including podium finishes in the Limited Sportsman class of NASCAR’s Whelen All-America Series.

In a 2014 interview for RRC’s Going Places blog, Balcaen said her college experience gives her an edge over some of her racing-world competitors, especially when it comes to marketing herself and securing sponsorships.

“Not only is racing a sport, but it’s almost like a business where you need to be that full package,” she said then. “You need to be able to speak to people, you need to be professional, and then on the driving side of things, you need to be physically fit so you’re a good driver.”

Read more about Balcaen’s road to NASCAR.

Hive mind: RRC launches urban beekeeping initiative on downtown dormitory rooftop

August 5, 2016

Chris Kirouac (Beeproject Apiaries)

Red River College’s downtown dormitory is home to more than just students this summer. The rooftop patio at Paterson GlobalFoods Institute is also the new seasonal home of our very own buzz-worthy urban beehives.

A fixture at PGI since early July, the three hives each house between 40,000 and 50,000 European honeybees, a docile but still industrious breed expected to produce up to 75 kilograms of honey by this fall.

Until that time, they’re being tended to by Beeproject Apiaries’ Chris Kirouac (shown above) and Lindsay Nikkel, a husband-and-wife team of former nurses who describe their sticky venture as a DIY hobby gone wild, and with whom RRC’s Sustainability department struck a honey of a partnership earlier this year.

The resulting initiative is a perfect match with the College’s mandate on sustainable practices, offering environmental benefits (via the pollination of nearby greenspaces) and the opportunity to add another locally sourced food product to RRC’s menu — one that arrives at the table in very nearly its natural state.

“Honey is one of those amazing foods that’s better the less refined it is,” says Kirouac, noting the harvested honey is bottled in a CFIA-inspected facility, but not pasteurized or refined in any way. “The quality and safety of honey — right when you crack the hive and stick your finger in there — means it’s good to go, just the way it is.”

Once extracted, the honey will be used by students in PGI’s culinary labs (including in the kitchen of restaurant Jane’s), and by Food Services departments at all three Winnipeg campuses. It’ll also be available for purchase at College events throughout the year, including a new farmer’s market planned for the Notre Dame Campus this fall. Read More →

Development of new ceremonial grounds underway at Notre Dame Campus

June 29, 2016

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In the northwest corner of Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus, there’s a peaceful retreat students and instructors can explore when they need a break from the hustle and bustle of classes. A loop of trees, small boulders and benches encloses another circle of coloured bricks, the quarters of which align with the four points of a compass.

The College’s Medicine Wheel Garden isn’t just a quiet pavilion, however. The Indigenous symbol at its heart emphasizes different concepts for different people — the four seasons, the journey from birth to old age, and the meeting of different nations. It’s a familiar image for young people who may have moved hundreds of miles from their home communities in order to attend College.

“The medicine wheel is certainly an important symbol to Indigenous people of North America,” says Dr. Mark Aquash, RRC’s Dean of Indigenous Education, who uses the medicine wheel as a tool for teaching students from any cultural perspective. “The Indigenous worldview is an important perspective today, as we are now feeling the impact of disrespecting Mother Earth and damaging our fragile ecosystems. Understanding the Indigenous worldview is learning about respect.”

In keeping with RRC’s strategic priority to advance Indigenous achievement over the next five years — weaving knowledge, philosophy, perspectives and content into programming and campus culture — a sweat lodge and change rooms will be installed at the same site this summer, marking the first step in the College’s ceremonial grounds expansion plan.

“There are several phases,” says Mark Wills, the project manager overseeing the build and a 17-year veteran of previous RRC expansions. “The committee involved has plans to extend the ceremonial grounds for powwows, and to set up sites for tipis and other structures.”

“The change rooms will be permanent, but the actual sweat lodge structure will be erected per use. They’re relatively simple, just a structure made of willow branches lashed together to create a shell. That’s covered by canvas, which I understand the elders will set up and take down themselves.” Read More →

Red River College signs MOU with Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology

June 22, 2016

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Red River College and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology will explore new ways to provide programs and services that benefit learners, employers and communities, having signed a memorandum of understanding today that renews their commitment to partnerships and shared resources.

“This new agreement builds on the strengths of MITT and RRC by growing the relationship between both of our institutions,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Not only will today’s commitment support our work in driving our province’s skilled trades agenda, but it will put us in a position to collaborate on initiatives that help all students succeed, including Indigenous, newcomer and international students. This evolving relationship between our institutions will continue to allow us to provide meaningful and rewarding educational opportunities and pathways for students.”

The MOU reaffirms the institutions’ commitment to working cooperatively to provide programs, improve pathways and expand services throughout Manitoba.

The MOU further states that both RRC and MITT will examine ways that each institution can share resources — including but not limited to facilities, equipment, curriculum and faculty expertise — while also supporting economic and social development initiatives to boost opportunities for Manitoba’s Indigenous and international students.

“The signing of the MOU demonstrates the commitment of both colleges to work together to the benefit of our students,” says MITT President Paul Holden. “We have to continue to encourage these forms of agreements across the post-secondary system. Whether that be between universities and colleges, or between a college and another college as is the case here, students need the opportunity to take what they have learned and see it recognized as they pursue advanced studies in other institutions in Manitoba.”

Both RRC and MITT are known for developing quality programs that are responsive to Manitoba’s evolving economic conditions and labour market. Both institutions have agreed to meet regularly to identify opportunities to work collaboratively and identify opportunities for mutual partnerships, with a goal of increasing credential portability in Manitoba’s post-secondary environment, while supporting each institution’s larger goals.

Shown above: Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic and Research, RRC; Paul Holden, President and CEO, MITT; Paul Vogt, President and CEO, RRC; and Ray Karasevich, Vice-President Academic, MITT.

RRC students to represent Canada at 2017 World Skills Competition

June 16, 2016

Ashley Weber/Silas Meeches

Two Red River College students will represent Team Canada at next year’s World Skills Competition in Abu Dhabi, having earned medals at the recent nationals round in New Brunswick.

Ashley Weber (Car Painting) and Silas Meeches (CNC Machining) are two of three Manitoba students who medalled in their categories at the Olympic-style Skills Canada National Competition in Moncton from June 5–8.

Meeches, a current RRC student, and Weber, who’ll join the fold this fall, were among 17 RRC students who advanced to the national team after winning gold medals in the provincial competition held at the College’s Notre Dame Campus in April. In Moncton this month, Manitoba students and apprentices earned 19 medals overall — four gold, nine silver and six bronze.

“Competition is intense, and the training and preparation our students put in throughout the year really paid off,” says Maria Pacella, executive director of Skills Canada Manitoba. “It’s this level of excellence that will help to build Manitoba future workforce needs in the area of skilled trades and technology.”

Next year’s Skills Canada National Competition will take place at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg from May 31 to June 3. The event will draw more than 1,800 delegates from across Canada, including more than 500 students from each province and territory, to compete in nearly 50 trades and technology skills areas.

Eyes on the future: College unveils new mission, vision and values statements

June 16, 2016

Open Cafe meeting

Classes may be winding down for the summer, but Red River College sits poised to enter a new era of post-secondary excellence, armed with an updated set of initiatives to guide its strategic direction and future growth for the next five years.

Following months of consultations with internal and external stakeholders — including a series of Open Café meetings (shown above) with staff and faculty from all campuses — the College has adopted newly-revised mission, vision and values statements, casting an aspirational eye towards sustainability, service to community, and global recognition.

Redrafted in tandem with RRC’s new Academic and Research Plan and pending five-year Strategic Plan (due this August), the new statements provide a roadmap for the College to follow, and a set of guidelines for all staff as they put policies into practice — both inside and outside the classroom.

“We don’t expect people to memorize them word for word, but hopefully to get to know them and understand what we are as an institution, and where we’re trying to go, so they can be part of the change,” says Cindee Laverge, vice-president, Student Services and Planning at RRC.

“It’s a way for people to help us achieve our strategic direction: through the mission and vision, to understand on a day-to-day basis what’s important to us, and through our values to understand how we work and play.” Read More →

Business Administration, Child and Youth Care grads earn Lt.-Gov.’s Medals for Proficiency

June 1, 2016

Congratulations to the latest recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, which will be awarded next week as part of the Spring 2016 Convocation ceremonies.

Each year, up to four medals (two in winter, two in spring) are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and community activities. This year’s winners are:

Kelsey Henderson, Business Administration

Kelsey HendersonPart of RRC’s latest crop of Business Administration grads, Kelsey Henderson was originally considering a career in human resource management, but opted instead to develop a broader understanding of business and how it could help her improve her future.

She describes her time at the College as “stressful, but rewarding,” noting that students who were willing to put in the work and effort were able to reap the benefits of a well-rounded education — in her case, one that included training in not just administration, but also payroll, marketing and human resource.

“It has helped me come out of my shell more — to become more sociable and less nervous to speak in front of an audience,” she says. “And it has helped to train me in time management skills, seeing as how you stay very busy, all of the time.” Read More →

Accounting instructor honoured with teaching excellence award

May 30, 2016

Barry Balanduk cropBarry Balanduk doesn’t just make learning fun for his students — itself no easy feat, especially when the subject matter is accounting.

He also finds a way to make their classroom experiences ‘better,’ by investing everything he does with patience and passion.

Barry is this year’s recipient of the Red River College Students’ Association’s Teaching Award of Excellence, which recognizes outstanding teaching practices and dedication to students.

Having taught in RRC’s Applied Accounting, Business Administration and Business Information Technology programs for the last 15 years, he’s earned a reputation as a positive influence who’s always willing to help out.

“You can always tell he not only enjoys the subjects he teaches, but the opportunity to teach others,” they said in their award submission. “He inspires you to do your best, jokes around with you, and always makes you feel at home in his class. Whatever subject he teaches is made immediately better by having him as an instructor.”

A graduate of RRC’s Business Administration program, Barry continued his education in the Certified General Accountants program and started his accounting career at Colliers Pratt McGarry, a property management and commercial real estate company.

He later moved to a position at Great West Life Reality Advisors, and then at the Lions Club of Winnipeg, before joining the faculty at RRC. He says his favourite aspect of working in post-secondary education is the opportunity to interact with students — giving them a little entertainment with their education, and allowing them to enjoy their time together while learning.

“I find it very rewarding to know that I am having a positive influence on my students,” he says. “And my students should know they have a positive influence on me.”

Barry will receive his award next Wednesday afternoon during RRC’s Spring Convocation Ceremonies, which take place June 7 and 8 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

Transforming Futures pilot program prepares students for new career paths

May 16, 2016

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Amanda Wallace, Claire Oswald and Baldeep Dillon (front row, from left to right) are three Red River College students who take their academic careers very seriously.

All three are punctual, motivated self-starters who know how to prioritize in order to meet the demands of their course loads. They’re also immersed in all aspects of student life, from student council and advisory committees to work experience programs.

Claire and Baldeep want to work in the provincial government, while Amanda has her eyes on a career at City Hall. Like many others in RRC’s Transforming Futures program — a pilot project launched in 2014 — all three have blossomed into exemplary students, thanks to the support of their instructors and peers.

A first of its kind program in Manitoba, Transforming Futures helps students with intellectual disabilities and other significant barriers prepare for and deal with the realities of post-secondary life. The first stage of the program allows students to explore career options based on their interests and strengths. Students are introduced to College-level studies, as well as personal management, job searching, interviewing and essential workplace skills.

“During high school your life was basically structured for you,” says Claire. “When you enter college, it’s a lot more independent, a lot more responsibility’s on your head. You’re responsible for you.” Read More →

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