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Alumni Engagement


Hero worship: Graphic Design grad honours departed Can-rock icon

March 14, 2018

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie’s death affected so many Canadians in so many ways.

Fans placed wreaths, politicians gave teary tributes, and radio stations devoted endless airtime to the Hip’s decades-spanning discography.

On Oct. 17, 2017 — the day Downie peacefully passed after a battle with brain cancer — local artist and Red River College grad Adria Warren found comfort in picking up a paintbrush.

“He’s such a Canadian staple and the voice of Canada, some would say,” says Warren, a 2015 graduate of RRC’s Graphic Design program.

“I just feel like it really affected people. And when we found out he had cancer, I had actually just been touched by it pretty hard. I’d had loved ones who’d passed away, and one of my girlfriends is currently battling (cancer). So I just wanted to express this and make a difference with my art.”

Adria Warren's artLittle did Warren know the work she would create — a piece called Courage, featuring Downie’s now-iconic feathered hat — would eventually be presented to one of those aforementioned politicians.

“I found that out and I’m still in shock,” Warren says, of learning RRC President Paul Vogt gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a framed print of Courage last month. Trudeau was a good friend (and fan) of Downie’s, so the College thought Warren’s painting would be a meaningful way to showcase the talent of their grads.

While Warren has yet to receive a response from the PM’s office, she can take great satisfaction in the fact that Courage has raised more than $3,000 for CancerCare Manitoba. All of the proceeds for the painting have gone directly to the charity. Read More →

Bird Construction launches new scholarship; channels alumni pride into student support

December 18, 2017

Last month at the College’s annual Technology Awards Reception, longtime industry partner Bird Construction launched a new scholarship that exemplifies what it means to be a proud RRC grad.

The first-ever Bird Construction Employee Red River College Alumni Scholarship for the Construction Management Degree Program was awarded to Philipe Bras, who’s currently completing his final year of studies.

Terry Jacobson (shown at right), an RRC alum and 40-year Bird Construction employee, presented the $1,000 award, along with Dom Costantini, the company’s vice-president and district manager.

The new scholarship — the fourth RRC financial award to be made possible by Bird Construction — was created to give company employees a chance to have a positive impact on the lives of College students. It will be presented each year to a student who has achieved outstanding academic success in Construction Management, and is enrolled in their final year of studies.

Bird and its staff — 60% of whom are proud RRC grads — play a vital role in fostering positive relationships with the College through long-term investments in the development of both students and programming.

Many past and current Bird employees volunteer on RRC advisory committees, and the company helps students build successful careers by facilitating project site visits and taking part in the co-operative education program each year. Read More →

UX marks the spot: College to host top tech designer’s January tour stop

December 12, 2017

Red River College, in partnership with North Forge Technology Exchange, will host a two-day UX Workshop at RRC’s ACE Project Space on Jan. 18 and 19, 2018.

The workshop facilitator, Willy Lai, is an award-winning user experience design leader with over two decades at top tech companies in Silicon Valley including Apple, Samsung, PayPal, Intuit and eBay, and tickets for his only Canadian workshop are going fast.

Just a few of the 40 participant spots are still available and the College would love to see those remaining spaces filled by RRC alumni.

For more information or to register for the event, visit:

The more, the merrier: Culinary grad pens cookbook with tips for feeding crowds

November 24, 2017

Sharon Steward’s cooking is a real crowd-pleaser — and her new cookbook is sure to be, too.

A Continuing Education instructor at Red River College, Steward is busy prepping for the launch of Volume: Cooking for a Community on Sat., Dec. 2, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

The book is inspired by Steward’s role as the kitchen manager and head chef at InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Manitoba, a Christian summer camp located on MacKinnon Island at the north end of Shoal Lake.

During camp season, Steward and her staff are responsible for serving three meals a day (plus snacks) to anywhere from 180 to 200 people at a time. Suffice it to say, she knows how to cook for a crowd.

Book cover: Volume – Cooking for a Community“Each recipe in the book has an amount for four to six people, and then also for about 80 servings,” Steward explains. “It’s a very exciting tool — one I’m hoping a lot of other places, facilities and individuals can use to help them serve their communities.

“(Given) the types of food service people do, people cooking in their community centre or their monthly church meetings or in athletic groups, this book has huge potential and there really isn’t a current resource like it.”

Steward graduated from RRC’s Culinary Arts program in 2002. Prior to enrolling, she worked at the Wildgrass Café on Pembina Highway and Bread & Circuses Bakery Café off Corydon Avenue.

She first became interested in cooking as a young child, growing up on a grain farm between the towns of Oak Bluff and Sanford, Man.

“Cooking and baking from scratch was a very natural and common part of our everyday life,” Steward says. “I have many memories of my mom and I packing up meals and taking them out to the field. We’d take a table and chairs out, and set up a full picnic on the back of the pickup truck.” Read More →

Business Administration grad maintains client connections while pursuing Olympic gold

October 17, 2017

Raunora Westcott’s employers allow her to balance her business career with her side gig as a competitive curler. It’s a privilege she doesn’t take for granite.

As an account manager at National Leasing, Westcott spends her days helping clients meet their commercial, agricultural and medical equipment needs. But during her off-hours, she can often be found sweeping and sliding her way down a sheet of ice as the lead on a rink skipped by Michelle Englot.

Team Englot will curl in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings (Dec. 2 to 10 in Ottawa), where they’ll compete for the right to represent Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea.

Westcott, who works from a home office, says National Leasing gives her the flexibility she needs to focus on her pursuit of Olympic gold.

“National Leasing has been really good to me,” she says. “They make sure that their employees are feeling balanced in their lives, and health and wellness is important to them.”

“They’ve always been supportive of employees and the sports they play and the activities they do, but once my team and I hit a national level where we started playing on the world tour more often, they really got behind me. They even sponsor our team.”

Westcott graduated from Red River College’s Business Administration program in 1998, and joined National Leasing that same year as a lease administrator. She says the practical and cooperative nature of the program prepared her for her eventual role at the company.

“As much as the group work was a bit of a grind — and there was a lot of group work — looking back I think that was the best experience of the whole program,” Westcott says of her time at RRC. “It prepares you for real-life experiences in sales, and in work in general. We’re negotiating all the time, we’re working with others, so I feel like that was a cornerstone of my success.” Read More →

A legacy of caring: New scholarship launched in memory of local activist

September 20, 2017

“I realize that alone, I will never stop poverty, hunger, war, etc., but by doing whatever I can to help those in need, I can set into motion a chain of events that could in fact make those kind of differences.”

— Richard (Asher) Webb

During his lifetime, Richard (Asher) Webb exemplified the philosophy that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

A 1986 Computer Programming graduate who’d returned to Red River College to study Business Administration when he died at the age of 49 in 2009, Webb devoted his time, talent and irresistible enthusiasm to helping others, driving social and political change, promoting the arts and nurturing a universal sense of community.

“He was very outgoing — he was very social minded,” says brother Ken Webb, RRC’s former vice-president of Academic and Research. “He was a servant leader and a great organizer and a lot of his passion was around organizing groups and activities to make the world a better place.”

His family established the $750 Richard (Asher) Webb Social Justice Activist Memorial Award to honour and extend a legacy of kindness and caring, recognizing RRC students who inspire others through efforts to further “equity, inclusion and social justice through community engagement.”

Patrick Webb, who lives in Edmonton, says he’s proud of his late brother’s accomplishments on a great many fronts. A lifelong champion of the underdog, he didn’t just talk about equality and social justice issues, he did something about them, and he convinced others to join him.

“He wasn’t an armchair quarterback and a critic,” says Patrick. “He lived by his values and led by example and tried to get other people to do the same thing.”

When he lived in Vancouver in the early 1980s, Webb organized the city’s first hospice for HIV/AIDS patients, at a time when they were frequent victims of fear and misinformation.

“He gave his all to care for the terminally ill, many of them in hospice or hospitalized,” says his sister Linda Dyck, from Vancouver. “He helped ease many during the most difficult times of their lives. He cared for and provided emotional support for both the ill and their families, often to the very end.” Read More →

Calling all Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) grads!

June 1, 2017

Red River College’s Electrical Engineering Technology department invites all program graduates to attend a homecoming barbecue.

The event takes place Thursday, June 15, from 4:30-7 p.m., in the D/E/F courtyard of the Notre Dame Campus, 2055 Notre Dame Ave.

There’s no cost to attend, and that includes the food. A number of past instructors will be there, all of whom are looking forward to seeing you!

The event is open to graduates of all EET programs, including:

  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Electronic Engineering Technology
  • Instrumentation Engineering Technology
  • Computer Engineering Technology
  • Communication Engineering Technology
  • Network Technology
  • Cisco Networking Academy (CCNA courses)

If you’re planning to attend, please pre-register here. We’d also invite you to forward this post to any fellow EET grads you’re still in touch with.

Thanks and see you soon!

Rebel Generation Award winner trades roadwork for leadership role at RRC

May 4, 2017

Nikolai Bola, RRC Rebel Generation Alumni Award winnerOn the final day of Camp Aurora, Nikolai Bola watched as 40 LGBTQ youth he’d just spent a week mentoring put on a talent show. The individual acts don’t stand out in his memory as much as the event’s atmosphere: supportive, encouraging and joyful.

It’s was a far cry from what was once a typical day spent toiling away on the highways, but Bola had a transformative year after leaving his road construction career and attending Red River College’s Business Administration program. Walking away from the steady income that had provided him with a house, two new cars and a comfortable life wasn’t an easy choice, but Bola — who recently won the College’s Rebel Generation Alumni Award — says the short-term sacrifices have been more than balanced by long-term gains.

“I knew I needed to go back to school for a while,” says Bola, who began his decade in road construction at age 19, without a high school diploma. “Eventually I decided there wasn’t ever going to be a ‘right time,’ so I had to cut my losses and try it out.”

Having originally registered for Civil Engineering Technology due to his work experience, Bola made a last-minute shift to Business Administration, where he could pursue “broader learning objectives that would open up many different jobs.” He’d realized Civil Engineering might send him right back to the highway he was trying to leave, whereas the Business programs could provide him new horizons to explore. Pushing his doubts down, he signed the forms.

Changing his career trajectory would add more financial uncertainty to his decision to head back to school, but Bola had a strategy: take as many courses as he could, as quickly as possible, to speed his re-entry to the workforce.

A passing conversation derailed his plans, though. Read More →

Medical Radiologic Technology grads named winners of 2017 Valentine’s Day contest

February 23, 2017

Thanks to everyone who entered the Something’s in the Water contest at Red River College.

All of the submissions were amazing and we look forward to running the contest again in 2018.

The winner of the prize package walked away with sweet treats provided by the College’s Professional Baking program, as well as other assorted gifts from Alumni and the Culinary program at Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.

Jordan and his wife Leslie are both graduates of the Medical Radiologic Technology (MRT) program at RRC, and first met in 2008. After a clinical rotation at St. Boniface Hospital, the two were officially a couple.

Immediately following the rotation, Leslie enrolled in RRC’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging program, and in 2011, Jordan accepted a position as an Educational Assistant in MRT. Jordan also completed his Certificate in Adult Education in 2016.

In 2014 they were married, and in 2016 they welcomed the best gift of all, a beautiful daughter.

In Jordan’s submission he revealed, “Without RRC, my life would truly have been different. Now with our new addition, it is whole. Thank you RRC.”

Finding the words: Language training helps RRC grad begin medical career in Canada

February 17, 2017

Dina KoreenBecoming a doctor is a long and daunting process – especially when you don’t speak the same language as your future patients.

Dina Koreen knows the feeling. In 2013, she completed her studies to become a general practitioner in Alexandria, Egypt, but after years of maintaining a long-distance relationship with her husband, she opted to join him in Winnipeg, instead.

While her husband — who was also from Egypt, but moved to Canada for work in 2007 — had already established himself as an accountant, Koreen, who only spoke Arabic, had a long way to go before she could pick up her career again. After six months of basic English language training, she turned to Red River College.

“It was perfect,” Koreen says of the Language Training Centre’s Communication for Health Professions program. At five months, the program was shorter than Koreen expected – but also more intensive than she ever could have imagined.

“It was very hard,” she says. “I didn’t know it was going to be hard like this. It was nine-to-four every day from Monday to Friday, with three or four hours of homework at night.”

As many RRC grads can attest, that level of hard work often paves the way for opportunity. For Koreen, it led to a volunteering gig with CancerCare Manitoba. From there, she was able to obtain the experience she needed to complete the program in 2014 and pass her clinical assessment. When it came time to interview for her current job with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in early 2015, she had both the language skills and the confidence she needed. Read More →