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Alumni Profiles

Grad profile: Wayne Morsky (Business Administration, 1981)

January 22, 2012

Inspired in equal measure by his passion for family and for family-run businesses, Regina resident Wayne Morsky has been working for his own family business since the age of 13.

He’s now President and CEO of Morsky Group of Companies, head of a thriving infrastructure development operation that for 55 years been involved in diverse sectors of the industry, including general contracting, highway construction, railway maintenance, industrial services, HySpeed soil nailing, and oil and gas development.

Born and raised in Virden, Man., Morsky graduated from RRC’s Business Administration program in 1981, having attained skills he now describes as vital to his success as an entrepreneur.

“I could take the things I learned at Red River College and put them into daily effect quite quickly after getting out of school,” says Morsky, “especially because I was involved with a family-owned business.”

Since graduating, Morsky has helped take his family business to new heights, while maintaining his commitments to the profession and to the community. He’s a founding member of the Regina chapter of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE), and was the 2010 Chairman of the Canadian Construction Association.

He’s served as past president of the Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association of Saskatchewan and past chair of the Western Canadian Roadbuilders Association, and sits on the boards of both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Saskatchewan Centre for Excellence for Transportation and Infrastructure. Read More →

Grad profile: Richard Graumann (Civil Engineering Technology, 1978)

January 22, 2012

Just because you start out in an entry-level position doesn’t mean you can’t ascend to great heights.

For proof, look no further than Red River College grad Richard Graumann, who over the decades has worked his way from a job as a construction industry estimator to a senior management position at one of Canada’s leading construction management companies.

“Who would think you could go from being an estimator to being vice-president of a national organization?” says Graumann, a Civil Engineering Technology (CET) grad who’s now the Vice-President (Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario) for Canadian construction firm Stuart Olson Dominion.

“But in fact, at our company, we’ve got 12 VPs that represent different divisions, and of those 12 VPs, five of them came out of estimating.”

Graumann got his industry start working for his father — a local contractor — but enrolled in RRC’s CET program as a means of furthering his career in the field. He says the two-year program provided him with the skills required to make a quick transition to industry, and like many, he found work in Alberta’s building boom soon after graduation.

“Within days of sending out resumes I had three requests for interviews, so it was a good indication there was demand for my background and training,” he says. “Also, as it turned out, the employer I ended up working for had hired other students from Red River College, so they recognized the value of the program at that time.” Read More →

Grad profile: David Hodge (Computer Analyst/Programmer, 1983)

January 22, 2012

Even at a young age, Red River College alum David Hodge had a clear idea of what he wanted: namely, a career in Information Technology.

So when it came time to stake out a post-secondary path, Hodge was drawn to RRC’s Computer Analyst/Programmer option — it was a perfect match.

“The program was practical,” says Hodge, who graduated in 1983. “It got right to the point of what I really wanted to study.”

“It was intense, but it brought out the best in a lot of people. And generally, it was right on the money as far as how practical it proved once I’d graduated.”

Hodge, who’s now Senior Vice-President and Chief Information Officer at Great-West Life, describes his college years as a highly positive experience — one that allowed him to collaborate frequently with classmates, while at the same time getting a feel for real-world working environments.

“One of the realities of the program is that it mirrors real life, in that things don’t always happen in a structured manner, or according to a calendar schedule,” he explains.

“There were times of intense study and of course materials that had to be presented publicly, so it matched real life, in that things weren’t always orchestrated nice and neatly.”

Hodge was also impressed by the scope of the CA/P program, noting the curriculum included a financial component with emphasis on accounting, language and public speaking skills. The I.T. components and application languages taught — as well as the methods used to teach those skills to students — were similarly practical and pragmatic, he says. Read More →

Grad profile: Sean Kavanagh (Creative Communications, 2003)

January 22, 2012

At the turn of the new millennium, Sean Kavanagh was doing his best to make ends meet, eking out a living as a general contractor in the Lake of the Woods region.

He’d tried his hand at a number of careers, but didn’t find his true calling until 2001, when his wife suggested he let his nose for news lead him to more suitable employment.

“She said, ’You’re the only contractor on the lake who reads three newspapers a day, has the radio constantly tuned to the news station, and can’t wait to come home and watch the six o’clock news every night — maybe that’s where you should be directing your energy,’” Kavanagh recalls.

When the couple moved back home, Kavanagh applied for Red River College’s Creative Communications program, with an eye on entering the field of journalism as soon as he could. Within months, he was reading news reports on a local radio station, and — following work placements with the CBC — appearing on both radio and TV.

Though his passion for news gave him a bit of an edge, Kavanagh admits the program’s rapid pace took some getting used to, though it served him well once he began making his first forays into the field.

“CreComm is wonderful in many regards, but especially because they recreate the atmosphere that exists in professional life,” says Kavanagh, who’s now a TV and radio reporter for CBC News Winnipeg.

“In journalism, everything is very deadline-driven. My biggest recollection of the program was it did a great job of making you feel under pressure to perform, and to hand everything in on time … Your assignments really approximate the kind of assignments you’d get as a news reporter, and the same is true of the advertising and public relations streams.” Read More →

Grad profile: Caroline Chartrand (Licensed Practical Nursing, 1986; Registered Nursing Diploma, 1988)

January 22, 2012

These days, she laughingly admits she “didn’t know what she was getting into” when she signed up for Red River College’s Licensed Practical Nursing program in 1985.

But thanks to the training she received here — and the decades of industry experience she’s gathered since — alumna Caroline Chartrand is now a leading force in the ongoing effort to provide Aboriginal communities with access to quality health care.

A member of the Pine Creek First Nation, Chartrand graduated from the College’s LPN program in 1986, and earned her Registered Nursing (RN) diploma from RRC in 1988. She now works as Executive Director of the Diabetes Integration Project, a mobile screening and treatment program administered by health professionals throughout the province.

The goal of the project is to improve the health of First Nation individuals, families and communities, through actions aimed at reducing the prevalence of diabetes, and complications resulting from the disease.

Chartrand’s is an uphill battle, given the high incidence of diabetes among Aboriginal populations, and the scarcity of health care workers available to administer care in northern or remote communities. But having worked as a community health nurse in Pine Creek, and later as Director of Nursing for the West Region Tribal Council, she’s become adept at liaising with First Nation organizations and health care professionals in order to improve conditions for Aboriginals.

“What I find most challenging is the complexity of the care that’s required for chronic diseases that are epidemic in our communities,” says Chartrand, who after graduating from RRC went on to earn her baccalaureate degree in Nursing from the University of Manitoba in 1994.

“We’re not just dealing with poverty, but also with the social determinants of health — not having basic food and water, all those kind of issues.” Read More →

Grad profile: Adam Donnelly (Culinary Arts, 2005)

January 22, 2012

When locally renowned chef Adam Donnelly was a kid, he couldn’t have cared less about cooking, menu planning, or even the means by which food ended up on his family’s dinner table.

But after two years of training at Red River College’s Culinary Arts program, Donnelly — now the head chef and co-owner of Segovia Tapas Bar & Restaurant — found he’d discovered his true calling, an epiphany that would kick-start his career as one of the most buzzed-about young chefs in the city.

“When I was younger, I’d just come home and food would be on the table,” says Donnelly, a 28-year-old Pinawa native. “I never helped my mom make food because I was never really that interested in it. Then I got older and moved away, and I had to learn to do it all myself.”

Donnelly’s original post-secondary plan was to pursue film studies in university, but he began bingeing on cookbooks and cooking instruction manuals during a break between semesters. He decided instead to take a year off so he could save up for RRC’s Culinary Arts program; shortly after classes commenced, he knew he was hooked.

“It really kept me interested — there was so much I didn’t know, so every day I came to school, I would learn something new and different,” he says.

“(The program) really gives you the basic starting skills that you need to succeed in a professional kitchen. And then you take it from there — whether you want to cook in a hotel, or cooking Italian food or French food or whatever — you can take those basic skills and go in any direction you want.”

In Donnelly’s case, those skills took him all over the world. After first honing his skills at some of Winnipeg’s finest eateries (Amici and Sydney’s), he landed a series of cooking gigs in Melbourne, Australia. He returned to Winnipeg briefly, then hopped the pond to England, where he worked under Michelin-starred Chef Tom Aikens. Read More →

Grad profile: Rachel Ines (Technical Communication, 2006)

January 19, 2012

Racehl InesThere are all manner of misconceptions surrounding the field of technical communication — chief among them, the one painting practitioners as fussy grammar nerds toiling away on text-heavy instruction manuals and other technical documents.

But even more annoying to Red River College grad Rachel Ines (Technical Communication, 2006) is the stereotype that equates the field’s “plain language” approach with a reduction in intellectual content.

“Writing in plain language doesn’t mean dumbing it down,” says Ines, currently the Communications Coordinator for the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging. “It simply means understanding how to adapt your writing for your audience. If you’re writing for an academic audience, you’re using terminology they’ll understand. And if you’re writing for the general public, it’s the same thing. But it’s definitely not dumbing things down.”

A longtime Winnipeg resident, Ines graduated high school with dual passions, having excelled in both English and history classes. After spending a year in B.C., she returned home to earn a degree in Anthropology from the University of Winnipeg — which in turn led to positions with Parks Canada and several local museums, as well as a six-month internship in New Zealand.

But Ines wasn’t completely sold on the idea of pursuing additional degrees in Anthropology, so instead turned her attention to a career in writing. At first, she considered training to become a journalist, but later focused on technical communication — a field that allowed her to further explore her love of writing, and to debunk yet another of those pesky misconceptions.

“A lot of people think technical communication is boring — that you just write instruction manuals all day,” she laughs.

Read More →

Leilani Esteban (Child and Youth Care, 2007)

January 13, 2012

She is bubbly, personable, and passionate about building relationships with youth – these are the traits that Leilani Esteban, a Child and Youth Care grad from 2007, embodies as the Program Coordinator for Together in Elmwood/Parent Child Coalition, as well as the Community Coordinator for Elmwood Communities That Care.

And as a mother of five, Esteban is no stranger to dealing with children.

“When I entered the Child and Youth Care profession I was a single mother of four,” she says, “but I was an older adult returning to school as a single mother. And I was looking for a field where I could give back to the community.”

Before entering the Child and Youth Care program at Red River College, Esteban had another job – as a hairstylist. However, she soon realized that her true calling was working with youth.

“I found that I was good at building relationships with youth, so I wanted to take that and I wanted to build on that. I looked into the list of courses for RRC and I thought that Child and Youth Care was best suited to my skills and I guess what my qualities were, so I thought that was a perfect fit.”

For Esteban, her career choice and her family life have a symbiotic relationship.

“My children were growing up and I wanted to know more about how to keep them on the right path. My main goal was to kind of get all the resources I could to be the best possible parent I could and use those skills to build a career.” Read More →

Grad profile: Ellen Barron (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, 2005)

January 13, 2012

Ellen Barron, a graduate of Red River College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Diploma program, has a career that’s really going places.

Since graduating from RRC in 2005, Barron, an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, has worked in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Sweden in various aircraft engine repair, maintenance, and audit facilities.

Barron grew up on a farm in rural Manitoba, always surrounded by machinery. “I would help rip apart tractor engines,” Barron said with an enthusiasm only a mechanical buff would understand.

After taking a year off from high school, Barron decided to stake out a career for herself. “I had so many interests and they were really broad,” she explained. “So I thought, ‘I like to travel, and I like mechanics, and I like to fly but I don’t want to be a pilot.’” It was Barron’s grandmother who finally suggested she work as an aircraft mechanic. “I thought, ‘I guess someone needs to fix those,’” she added.

Barron would find RRC’s diploma program in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering a perfect fit. “They gave us the theory we needed. We had a bit of practical,” Barron explained. “That’s why I liked the RRC course, because I got to take some of my theory, go out and actually use it.”

Barron entered the program in 2001. “I came into the industry at a really weird time,” she pointed out. “The industry was really bad back in 2001 after the towers fell. Of course, the economy is dictated by how many people fly. So that was a concern for aircraft engineers, like myself.” But Barron didn’t let the tragedy of 9/11 stop her from thriving. Read More →

Grad profile: Dan Dupuis (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, 2008)

January 12, 2012

From the time he was a young boy, Dan Dupuis has dreamed of working with airplanes. However while growing up, the high cost of earning a pilot’s license was prohibitive for his family.

After graduating high school and beginning to work, it didn’t look like Dupuis’s dream would be possible.

“I got married pretty young,” he says, which made it difficult to stop working and begin studying for a career change.

It wasn’t until someone connected with Red River College asked Dupuis about what he would consider his dream job to be, that things started to come together.

Dupuis didn’t hesitate. “I answered that my dream job would to be to work with aircraft.”

Shortly thereafter, in 2007, Dupuis began his studies at Red River College. He enrolled in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Diploma program.

Back in elementary and high school, Dupuis was not a strong student, and found studying frustrating. “I didn’t read very well,” he says.  “I didn’t like the kind of school work we did.”

However, for Dupuis, studying something that he was passionate about made all the difference. Read More →