Alumni Engagement

Staff/Instructor Profiles

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 →

Automotive grad breaks barriers as program’s first female instructor

February 16, 2016


In an era where vehicles practically drive themselves, you’d think the automotive trade might have evolved with the technology. But female mechanics are still almost as rare as flying cars.

Elaine Lagasse is hoping to change that.

A graduate of Red River College’s Automotive Service Educational program, Lagasse is also RRC’s first female automotive instructor. She sees the number of female students walking in – or perhaps kicking down – the door of the Automotive Technician Certificate program, and it’s not pretty.

“We probably average three or four per cent women,” she says. “So (in a program with 100 students), that’s three or four women. The numbers are very, very low.”

Lagasse was the only woman in her program’s class of 2004. She graduated with top marks and received the Ken Preboy Memorial Award before moving on to become a Red Seal Automotive Technician for four years, then landed her current position as an RRC instructor in 2008.

“There’s no reason why the numbers haven’t picked up more than they have,” Lagasse says of the program’s relative lack of female students. “I think the big thing is just breaking the barrier and realizing that there’s nothing that makes (the automotive trade) more suited for men versus women.” Read More →

Business Analyst / Project Management grad applies skills to work and music

March 31, 2014

Scott Hinkson has the kind of schedule that might have you picturing him slipping into a phone booth before rushing off to his next stop, red cape flapping in the wind.

By day, he’s a nose-to-the-grind Senior Project Manager at Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). After hours, he instructs on-campus and distance courses, including one he wrote himself, in both of the Continuing Education certificate programs he’s graduated from at Red River College: Business Analyst (2010) and Project Management  (2011). He also sits on RRC’s Business Analyst Advisory Committee, and at home, he’s a father to a busy almost-three-year-old son.

Hectic, sure. But somehow Hinkson still finds time to fit in performing as a successful local musician and working on releasing his fifth album.

“My first love is music, ever since I was a little tyke listening to Simon & Garfunkel on my parents’ old 8-tracks,” says Hinkson, who sings and plays guitar, plus pretty much whatever other instrument he envisions for his songs. Since 2004, he has released a short film soundtrack, and garnered local radio play and media attention with four solo albums.

“Nowadays, I have to book a day off for the house to be quiet enough for me to actually finish writing a song,” he says. “Usually I have about a 15-minute window to come up with an idea for a song, like while my little guy is having a bath.”

Hinkson’s time is much more regimented at work, where he not only schedules his own day, but his colleagues’ as well. As Senior Project Manager, he runs a handful of large projects at any one time, defining each project’s needs, identifying risks, then ensuring the project team delivers within the agreed-upon scope, budget and schedule. Read More →

Pride is in the details for Cabinetry and Woodworking instructor

March 17, 2014

There’s a sense of pride that comes with creating a piece of furniture from start to finish. For Vern Bergen, that feeling is what led him towards a career in cabinetry.

“When you build a house, generally you have 30, 40 people working on in. You can say, ‘I was a part of that house.’ But when you build a piece of furniture, you have all of it. You’ve done it all,” he says. “There’s a lot more detail involved.”

As an instructor in Red River College’s Cabinetry and Woodworking Technology program, Bergen helps students realize the satisfaction that comes with creating a piece of furniture, cabinetry or millwork, and teaches them the technological aspects of the trade. But he didn’t always think he’d end up working for the RRC.

Bergen, 45, first became interested in woodworking as a child; his earliest memory of working with wood is helping his dad, a carpenter, work on the family cabin at the age of eight.

Bergen attended a vocational high school where he took a dual diploma program in academics and carpentry. He then got a job in DeFehr Furniture’s Product Development department, which he loved.

“We’d be the first to build (a product) and we’d have to engineer it. We’d have to make sure it could go through the plants without a hiccup. We did the thinking so the plant didn’t have to.”

Many of his colleagues had their Red Seal in cabinetry, and their advanced level of expertise was obvious.

“When you’re working with all these journeymen [cabinetmakers], you notice the knowledge that they have. It goes beyond where we’re working,” he says. “For lack of a better word, it’s like they’re in the old boys’ club. I knew DeFehr, but they knew cabinetmaking. Big difference.” Read More →

Good design is never stagnant – and neither is RRC’s Residential Decorating program!

February 10, 2014

When’s the last time your work impacted a generation of students? Josephine Pulver has been able to make a difference in just a few short years.

Pulver joined Red River College’s faculty in 2011 as an instructor in Continuing Education’s Residential Decorating program. Since then, she’s implemented the Residential Decorating Practicum, partnered with Palliser Furniture to offer students the opportunity to design for an international company, and introduced two new courses: Decorating Software Applications and Eco-Friendly Décor.

“I think it might be a little bit of an ongoing joke now,” Pulver says of the frequency with which she brings ideas to her department head. But Pulver’s creativity and innovation is students’ gain – especially since RRC prides itself on producing industry-ready grads.

“[The College is] open to creative ideas,” says Pulver. “They’re open to suggestions as to how to move forward with the program. It’s not a stagnant situation.”

Pulver graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Interior Design program in 1995 and has worked in the industry ever since. She felt a practicum would have been beneficial to her own career and wanted to give RRC students the opportunities she didn’t have. Enter the Residential Decorating Practicum, which is brand new this year.

“When we graduated [from university] we didn’t have support from the community at all,” Pulver explains. “It’s hard to get your foot in the door to meet people. A practicum really helps a student because even if they don’t get a position where they’re placed, they’ve met people, they’ve seen how the industry works, and they have a reference.

The Palliser project is also new this year, and will hopefully prove to be an invaluable opportunity. In the final term of the Residential Decorating program, students will be tasked with creating a display booth for Palliser Furniture. 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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