Alumni Engagement

Alumni Profiles

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 →

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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