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Alumni Profiles

Health Service Management program marks 10th anniversary

January 4, 2012

Red River College continues to take a lead role in providing management and leadership education to the health sector in Manitoba, through the delivery of its Health Service Management (HSM) program.

In October 2011, a class of 32 students — all of them employees of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority — successfully completed the program, making for a total of more than 200 HSM graduates over the last 10 years.

The program’s success rate demonstrates the College’s continued commitment to leadership in the health service field, and to providing health sector employees with the knowledge and theory to become effective, proactive managers.

“They are acquiring relevant and applied skills and knowledge relating to management and leadership in health services,” says Jo-Anne Shay, Program Director of RRC’s School of Continuing and Distance Education. “It’s a very applied focus, so these are skills that have been identified by the Canadian College of Health Leaders. That is the foundation of this program.”

The HSM program is open to anyone, but is tailor-made for those already employed in management positions or those aspiring to career advancement within the health sector. The WRHA has built its capacity over the years by sponsoring many of its own employees’ as students, and much of the program’s success can be attributed to the participation of key health care professionals who serve as guest lecturers on a regular basis. Read More →

Grad profile: Loretta Sinclair (Early Childhood Education, 2011)

December 5, 2011

Loretta Sinclair“One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in my bank nor what my clothes looked like…but the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” (Forest E. Witcraft).

Loretta Sinclair is important in the life of not only one child, but in the lives of all the children she works with.

After a lot of hard work, determination and vision, Loretta recently graduated from Red River College with her diploma in Early Childhood Education. A mother and grandmother from Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Loretta completed a portion of her studies via distance education and the remainder in St. Laurent as part of a community based-training initiative in that Métis community.

Attending classes in St. Laurent meant driving many kilometres back and forth between home and school. This commitment to her education served as a great role model to other students, and Loretta took it upon herself to support and encourage them to complete their studies, as well.

Loretta now works as the director of the childcare centre in her home community and feels strongly about the movement of First Nations communities to meet provincial licensing standards by 2015. She wants Aboriginal childcare centres and families to have the same benefits, licensing, trained workers, and subsidies for parents as mainstream centres.

It is this vision that led to her decision to immediately begin her post-diploma training in the Studies in Aboriginal Child Care Certificate program, in order to achieve her ECE III — a requirement for directors of licensed centres. Loretta is working on this training via distance education and is encouraging other students in her community to begin their training, as well.  Read More →

Promoting the biggest story in town

November 24, 2011

The return of the Winnipeg Jets is the feel-good story of the year. But here at Red River College, we’ve got a different reason to be proud.

The Jets’ entire communications team — responsible for coordinating the May 2011 announcement that turned much of the city’s downtown into a giant victory party — is comprised entirely of graduates of our industry-renowned Creative Communications program.

Even better, the head of the department has for years enjoyed a close working relationship with the program, which he feels provides grads with relevant, real-world training.

“I’ve relied heavily on CreComm, not only for staffing resources in terms of graduating students, but also production resources from the College’s communications and multimedia programs,” says 1998 graduate Scott Brown, now the Senior Director of Corporate Communications for the Jets, the MTS Centre, and True North Sports & Entertainment.

“What the College is doing right now in terms of training is really in tune with what’s going on in the media industry … No amount of training can ever prepare you for what actually happens in the day-to-day of your job, particularly in the sports and entertainment industry. But I know the (CreComm) grads coming in are prepared to learn, and prepared to apply the tools they’ve been taught in a very flexible manner.”

Brown, who upon graduating spent six years as the late-night and weekend sports anchor for CTV Winnipeg, is supported in his current duties by Communications Coordinators Kalen Qually and Christina Caligiuri — both fellow CreComm grads. Together, they’re responsible for all communications on behalf of True North, MTS Centre, and the Jets, including printed publications, media relations, press releases and press conferences. Read More →

Grad profile: Kelly Seifert (Volunteer Management, 2010)

November 23, 2011

Kelly Seifert on football fieldThey’re the unsung heroes of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ world: The small army of volunteers comprising the Big Blue Flight Crew, without whose hard work and dedication game days wouldn’t even get off the ground.

Equally invaluable? The person tasked with directing the Flight Crew to success — in this case, Red River College grad Kelly Seifert, who earned her Volunteer Management credentials in December 2010.

Seifert, who completed the program via RRC’s School of Continuing & Distance Education, now works as the Volunteer & Event Staff coordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, overseeing the 200-plus volunteers who provide such game day services as ticket scanning, ushering, shuttle service, and on-field promotions.

As she points out, volunteers are a crucial component of the game day experience, and their efforts help to ensure operations run smoothly.

“Some people think they just want to watch the game or get free tickets,” says Seifert of her volunteers, who also assist with concerts, amateur games and even administrative work at the Canad Inns Stadium site. “But it’s more than that. A lot of them come because they want to connect to the community, or meet new people, or experience the behind the scenes action of the football club. I’m so glad they come out and want to dedicate their time to us.”

Seifert had prior experience with volunteers when she signed on with Red River College. Having already completed RRC’s Recreation Facilitator for Older Adults program in 2005, she worked frequently with volunteers while serving as recreation facilitator for various long-term care facilities.

At the time she enrolled in the program, she was working as recreation director for the town of St. Laurent; she landed the job with the Bombers while competing the program by distance. Read More →

Grad profile: Janell Melenchuk (Aboriginal Self-Government Administration, 2010)

November 22, 2011

She wanted to learn more about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Now, she’s helping to shape their future.

As Events Coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, RRC grad Janell Melenchuk (Aboriginal Self-Government Administration, 2010) plays an integral role in giving voice to survivors of the residential school system.

“I’m constantly learning,” says Melenchuk, one of hundreds of success stories who graduate each year from RRC’s School of Indigenous Education. “To be involved with this work — to meet with survivors and hear their stories, and to be part of something that will have an impact on Canada’s history — is really amazing.”

Formerly a resident of Creighton, Saskatchewan, Melenchuk enrolled at RRC because she wanted to learn more about Aboriginal culture, in particular, governance practices and the history of First Nations people in Canada. While a student here, she benefited from the attention and wisdom of her instructors, as well as the many resources made available by the College’s Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations department.

“The support that you receive from the staff and the teachers is overwhelming,” says Melenchuk, who’s currently completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Winnipeg.

“There’s always somebody there that will assist you and have your back — whether financially, or just in your personal life. Especially when you’re dealing with the stress of moving to a new city — they’re amazingly supportive, and you don’t always get that at educational institutions.” Read More →

Grad profile: Jonathan Epp (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, 2002)

October 25, 2011

Jonathan Epp_Jonathan_Epp20111019026When you spend a year working in a foreign country — in a part of the world you’ve only heard stories about — the actual “working” part can be kind of a necessary evil.

But when the country in question is Angola — and the work involves flying a Cessna Caravan over much of south-central Africa — it’s probably fair to say there are worse ways to spend 12 months.

Just ask Red River College grad Jonathan Epp, who got a bird’s-eye view of Africa as a pilot and aircraft mechanic with Mission Aviation Fellowship, a faith-based international group that provides charter flights to doctors, missionaries and aid workers in developing nations.

A native of small-town Saskatchewan, Epp had never been outside North America before, and was quickly taken by the beauty of Africa’s landscape — the sweeping grasslands and mountains, plunging cliffs and waterfalls. He says he expected to encounter some culture shock on arrival — a lack of amenities and certain creature comforts — but admits to feeling even greater shock when he returned home to Winnipeg.

“After being there for a year and coming back, it really shocked me how materialistic we are,” says Epp, who graduated from RRC’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Apprenticeship program in 2002, and now works as an instructor for the program at the College’s Stevenson Campus on Saskatchewan Avenue.

“Here, everyone wants a bigger house, or they’ve got to have a big screen TV and two cars and a boat. And we work so hard for it — we work these long hours, 50, 60 hours a week. I came back and thought, ‘What are we doing this for?’” Read More →

Joe Thompson (ACCESS Business Administration, 1989)

September 30, 2011

Joe Thompson at pow wowAt Red River College, we’re used to being a part of people’s “first times” — whether it’s their first time pursuing post-secondary education, their first time earning a diploma or degree, or their first time finding meaningful work in a rich and rewarding field.

But just as often, we’re lucky enough to be part of people’s non-academic “firsts” — as with RRC grad Joe Thompson, who just this year chose the College’s annual Graduation Pow Wow as the site of his first traditional dance.

“I’ve participated in their graduations before, but this year I actually danced for the very first time,” says Thompson, who graduated from RRC’s ACCESS Business Administration program in 1989, and works as a Recruitment and Diversity Advisor for Manitoba Hydro.

“I chose Red River College for my first time dancing at a traditional Pow Wow because (the College) meant something very important to me now and in the past. I thought, ‘What better place to start than here?'”

A former resident of the community of Duck Bay (Pine Creek First Nation member), Thompson’s first job was working for the mining company Inco Ltd., in Thompson, Man.

He moved to Winnipeg when he was 23, and heard about RRC’s Business Administration program while completing his high school credentials at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre.

“I just needed to do more,” says Thompson. “I wanted more education, and I was starting a new family. That’s what prompted me to make sure I was providing for my family.” Read More →

Grad profile: Judy Richichi (Business Administration, 1985)

August 25, 2011

Her younger years were marked by some serious ups and downs — including experiences with poverty and the child welfare system — so it’s no surprise Judy Richichi was at first wary of working with some of Winnipeg’s most marginalized residents.

But the Red River College grad has for years been doing just that — helping to enrich and improve the lives of those currently experiencing homelessness, first as an accountant and more recently as Director of Resource Development for inner city shelter Siloam Mission.

“To be honest, when you go through something like that, the last thing you want to do is to come back to it,” says Richichi, a mother of four who graduated from RRC’s Business Administration program in 1985.

“But having been a product of the system, I knew that change can happen. I know you don’t have to be stuck in that situation. We as a society tend to stereotype and say, ‘They’re never going to change.’ I and seven brothers and sisters can attest that is wrong. If you give people a hand up and help them out, then change can happen.”

One of eight siblings who grew up in Ohio and Florida, Richichi spent time in and out of foster homes and group homes before her dad and new step-mom were able to move her — and half of her brothers and sisters — to Winnipeg in the late 1970s.

Though her parents were able to keep the younger children together, money was always tight, and Richichi and her siblings had to pay for their own post-secondary educations. Having excelled at math and accounting courses in high school, Richichi opted to pursue a Business Administration diploma at RRC, impressed by the College’s reputation for providing a quality, career-focused education that wouldn’t involve decades of student debt. Read More →

Grad profile: Adam Donnelly (Culinary Arts, 2005)

August 4, 2011

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 books about cooking during a break between semesters. He decided instead to take a year off so he could save up for Culinary Arts; 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,” says Donnelly, while preparing for the dinner rush at his Osborne Village eatery.

“(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.” Read More →

Grad profile Karen Cox (Hospitality and Tourism Management, 2008)

July 15, 2011

As one of the frontline employees for the newly-restructured Assiniboine Park Conservancy, Karen Cox gets to avail herself of some pretty breathtaking on-the-job perks.

So while the rest of us are toiling away in cramped cubicles or harshly-lit retail outlets, Cox spends her days at one of the city’s best-loved tourist destinations — a 1,110-acre site that has for decades been described as Winnipeg’s “crown jewel.”

“Assiniboine Park is really a one-of-a-kind place in Winnipeg,” says Cox, 24, a recent graduate of RRC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program.

“We have so much greenspace to offer newcomers who are visiting the city or the province for the first time, and also local residents. It’s just a great place to spend time with your friends and family — an overall fun place to be.”

Raised in Teulon, Man., Cox moved to Winnipeg directly after high school, enrolling at the University of Manitoba, where she’d originally considered a career in recreation. A year later, she decided that university wasn’t the best fit, so she instead enrolled in RRC’s two-year Hospitality program, where she majored in Tourism Management

“I knew that I loved working with people, so I thought that tourism would be a great career path for me,” says Cox.

“I know the tourism industry is continually growing and full of opportunities — people are always coming and going — and because I really enjoy working with people, I thought it would be the perfect choice.” Read More →