Alumni Engagement

News, Profiles and Events

ER Nurse immediately prepared to work thanks to RRC Polytech education

July 3, 2024

RRC Polytech Bachelor of Nursing graduate Melissa Williams had a secret behind her smile as she had her photo taken earlier this year. The photo was being used as a part of RRC Polytech’s Proud Partner billboard campaign showcasing grads across the province.

“In the billboard, you can’t tell, but I’m pregnant—I mean, like first trimester pregnant,” Williams said on a phone call. But before she begins her next adventure as a first-time parent, she shared her journey of being in school during a pandemic and how she found herself caring for the sickest of the sick in the hospital.

“I work in the resus room [resuscitation or trauma room] of the emergency department, taking care of the most acute patients. I really love doing that type of nursing,” said Williams.

Williams is familiar with people who’ve needed acute care. Both her sister and brother have almost died and have needed to have emergency services at hospitals.

“They both survived and have made full recoveries, but I understand the importance of emergency services,” she added. “I think I’ve always been interested in medicine; learning about the human body and ways to improve our health. My mom was a nurse and just such a nurturer – that helped inspire me to become a nurse.”

When asked why she was driven to work in the emergency room, she took a moment before she responded with, “I guess it’s that you’re using all of your skills, right? You really have to think critically. You have to run multiple infusions. Sometimes you’re intubating patients and putting central lines in. And it’s really interesting to see everything that we can do to save a patient.”

From Health Care Aide to ER Nurse

Williams started her career in health care after graduating from the Health Care Aide program at RRC Polytech in 2012.

“Choosing RRC Polytech [in 2012] was a positive experience and was the starting point of my post-secondary education and helped to bring me back in the future,” she said.

Williams had been working as a Health Care Aide when she decided to continue her education and took a two-year Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, graduating in 2016, after which she was able to join the LPN to Bachelor of Nursing Pathway program at RRC Polytech, which she completed in 2022.

“RRC Polytech really does have the best reputation for the nurses that graduate here,” Williams said, “and I wanted to graduate with that same reputation.”

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RRC Polytech key to success for Indigenous banking expert and Business Administration alum

June 19, 2024

One of the things Tom Thordarson likes best about his longtime career in Indigenous banking is that he is helping his own people.

“Being First Nations myself, I’ve seen the challenges First Nations go through. Anything I can do to help others be successful, that’s my big thing for sure,” he said, sitting at the kitchen table in his West St. Paul home. Thordarson is a member of Peguis First Nation, one of the largest communities of its kind in Manitoba.

One key to his own success was his education in the two-year Business Administration diploma program at RRC Polytech. He graduated in 2005, with an entry-level position at RBC waiting for him.

Today, as a Senior Relationship Manager in Commercial Financial Services for RBC, he specializes in Indigenous Markets with clients in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. He understands the First Nations experience and knows how to help people meet their financial goals.

In his role with RBC, he is part of a dedicated Indigenous Markets team with 14 staff across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and Western Ontario.

“There are a lot of good things happening in First Nation communities right now. So, it’s good to be able to help them,” he said.

“Not all the banks have an Indigenous Markets team like ours; I think RBC was the first to establish one. I appreciate the respect RBC has for First Nations people and communities, and its commitment to truth and reconciliation,” he added.

Thordarson works out of an office in Headingley, on the Swan Lake First Nation Reserve. From there, he empowers First Nation governments and Indigenous clients to navigate a path to grow and succeed, and helps them create future opportunity and prosperity in Manitoba.

His own opportunity came when he was a young man living and working with his father in Peguis First Nation, located 190 kilometers north of Winnipeg.

“There were limited opportunities for employment in Peguis, on the reserve at the time,” he remembered. His father worked in the heating and air conditioning business. “The work in Peguis was sporadic. We’d get busy, and then there were times when we’d have no work. I wanted something more stable.”

That was when he noticed the RBC branch in Peguis had posted a casual teller position. He applied and was hired. Working with numbers always appealed to him  ­̶  math was his strongest subject in grade school.

RRC Polytech program highly recommended

When it was time for him to leave Peguis First Nation in 2003 to further his education, he knew university didn’t feel right for him. “RRC Polytech seemed like a better fit for me, with it being smaller. That drew me there,” he said.

A cousin of Thordarson’s had taken the Business Administration program at RRC Polytech before him and recommended it. “He had a lot of good things to say about the program, and the different fields you can go into after graduation,” said Thordarson, giving banking and entrepreneurship as examples.

The program taught Thordarson all the aspects of business he needed to know. “Law, accounting – which is helping me to this day, having to get financial statements from my clients and analyzing those – business communications, helping to write proposals, and so on.”

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Free Virtual Event: Elevate Your Personal Brand – How to Stand Out in the Job Market

June 14, 2024

You’re invited! In partnership with Ten Thousand Coffees, we’re excited to offer a special panel discussion with experts from across the country to RRC Polytech alumni and current students. This free virtual event will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at 4:00 p.m. CT.

Unlock the secrets to landing your dream job by honing your very own personal brand and learning how to make your resume stand out. Join this interactive Office Hour event to gain insider knowledge from industry experts from EY and RBC as they share valuable insights on personal branding for career success in today’s competitive job market.

In this dynamic session, you’ll:

  • Discover how to define and showcase your unique value proposition
  • Learn effective strategies to leverage social media for career growth
  • Uncover insights into talent acquisition and career development from industry experts

Panel includes:

  • Clodagh Scannell, Director of Talent Strategy and HR Tech Solutions, 10KC (Moderator)
  • Lynette Jack, Senior Associate, Canada’s Talent Attraction and Acquisition Team, EY
  • Swati Sriram, Manager, Early Talent Acquisition, RBC

Win coffee on 10KC!

Ten Thousand Coffees has an exciting offer for you! Every Office Hour registrant has a chance to win one of five $20 coffee gift cards. These cards can support your networking coffee chats, making your experience even more enjoyable. They’ll randomly select the winners and notify them via email within two business days of the event. Don’t let this fantastic opportunity pass you by!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn essential skills and build a personal brand that sets you apart – click here to register for this free webinar on Tuesday, June 18 at 4 p.m. CT.

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Celebrate the next generation of Culinary and Hospitality talent at Hy’s on June 13

June 5, 2024

All RRC Polytech alumni are invited to a phenomenal culinary experience in support of RRC Polytech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality students at Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar on Thursday, June 13.

Get ready for an evening of delicious appetizers, fantastic libations featuring ROKU Gin, and live music on Hy’s beautiful patio at the iconic intersection of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg. This annual patio party celebrates the future of culinary and hospitality excellence here in Manitoba and supports the Hy’s – John Aisenstat Memorial Award, which is dedicated to assisting graduating students from RRC Polytech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs.

By purchasing a $100 ticket, you’ll make a meaningful impact on the next generation of culinary and hospitality talent and receive a $50 tax receipt. Your entire contribution will go directly to the John Aisenstat Memorial Fund at RRC Polytech. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to support a great cause and have a fantastic time. Purchase your tickets now and be part of this memorable evening!

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Join RRC Polytech for Pride 2024

May 29, 2024

RRC Polytech alumni and community members are warmly invited to join us in celebrating Pride Month this June. Throughout the next month and beyond, RRC Polytech has resources and activities planned to support you in learning how to best be an ally, amplify 2SLGBTQIA+ voices, and take action in creating greater inclusion in your personal and professional life.

The Forecast is Calling for Rainbows: Winnipeg Pride Parade and Rally

For more than a decade, RRC Polytech has brought together students, staff, and their friends and family members to walk alongside the College’s float in the Winnipeg Pride Parade and Rally. All RRC Polytech alumni are welcome – please join us!

On Sunday, June 2, everyone in the RRC Polytech community is invited and encouraged to bring friends, family, and pets downtown for a few hours to celebrate inclusivity and feel the love, as we show our support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

A hard-working crew is once again preparing our elaborate float, tailgating festivities are being planned for prior to the event, and each registered participant will receive a complimentary RRC Polytech Pride themed t-shirt.

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Business Admin alum proves importance of giving back as Pride Winnipeg President

May 29, 2024

If a conversation with Barry Karlenzig does anything less than inspire, it will at least leave you questioning how many hours there are in a week.

An individual prolific in his sales career and as a volunteer, Karlenzig can make you rethink how you spend your time — and he shows no signs of slowing down. On top of a full-time Customer Programs Manager role with New Flyer, Karlenzig spends significant time volunteering with Pride Winnipeg, where he’s been the President for the last five years.

Karlenzig’s sales career, which began with a Business Administration diploma from RRC Polytech, has taken him across Canada. His first job was on a travel committee for Princess Auto, assisting with new stores being opened. From there, he worked for Sun Life, Enterprise, Sysco Food, and CWB National Leasing before joining New Flyer. Today, he works to ensure customer satisfaction with new buses and builds long-term relationships with those customers.

All these experiences started at RRC Polytech, though.

After attending high school at River East Collegiate, Karlenzig started out at university with most of his cohort. Unfortunately, after missing out on his first opportunity to get into business school, Karlenzig was left at a crossroads. On the advice of a friend already attending, he chose the Business Administration program at RRC Polytech.

“I still remember my first day, I had an amazing Business Communications instructor who walked in with a CD player and played Buckcherry – Crazy Bitch,” laughed Karlenzig. “She let the song play — lyrics, swearing, everything — and she said ‘You have ten seconds in business to introduce yourself and have someone either like you or not like you. You all are never going to forget this first 30 seconds of this class.’ Fifteen years later, I’ve never forgotten.”

The program also created some surprise experiences for Karlenzig. He was chosen out of his graduating class to be the business manager on the North American Solar Challenge team from RRC Polytech, transporting a solar car to Texas on a trip managed by students across several programs.

As business manager, Karlenzig did all the trip logistics — finding sponsors, making t-shirts, and booking hotels. He was also blogging updates from the road using a long-distance plan.

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Two-time RRC Polytech grad works her way up in finance while fostering inclusion

May 8, 2024

Fisyani Sinyama moved to Canada from Zambia in 2008, only a year after the global financial crisis. You might think the circumstances would repel someone from working in finance, but that wasn’t true for Fisyani.

“I was really interested in learning how the financial system works,” Fisyani said.

Fisyani’s husband arrived in Manitoba ahead of her and studied Computer and Information Systems Technology at RRC Polytech, landing a job with Great-West Life after graduating. Her husband inspired her, and she decided to study International Business in 2009.

Fisyani said one of the things she appreciated about International Business was the instructors, and how they accommodated, celebrated, and understood that their students were from different cultures with different customs.

“There was a lot of group work, which I was not used to. I struggled with it in the beginning, but I’m glad that I stuck with it,” said Fisyani.

“When I did my law diploma in Zambia, the work was very individual-centric. Then I came to Red River and was put in an environment where answers, ideas, opinions, and suggestions were discussed. All of a sudden, the lecturer’s answer wasn’t the end to the question…they were there to guide your thought process.”

Fisyani did a work placement during the program at the Winnipeg Airports Authority, which further helped her get a feel for Canadian workplaces.

“It prepared me in all sorts of ways…if I didn’t go to [the] College, I would have struggled in my first job for sure.”

After graduating from International Business and having her first child, Fisyani became a Customer Service Representative at Western Financial Group in 2011.

“I did well at Red River, which just lit a flame in me to go back and take more courses…I was looking for a job in investments and wealth management,” she said.

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‘Outstanding’ experience for Mechanical Engineering grad leads to rewarding role as agriculture product designer

May 3, 2024

From a high-flying co-op experience to a career in agriculture spanning more than a decade, Engineering Prototype Build Manager Glen Beamish has found his ideal landing spot.

Growing up on a grain farm near Hamiota, Manitoba, Beamish’s passion for agriculture was intrinsic from an early age.

When it was time to choose a career path after attending Hamiota Collegiate, an interest in engineering and product design led him to RRC Polytech, where he enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program.

Jet-setting co-ops

It was two work-integrated learning experiences that affirmed Beamish was on the right path, both set in a booming Manitoba industry: aerospace.

“I had two different co-ops with aerospace companies — one with Standard Aero in their tool design department and one the following summer with Magellan in their manufacturing engineering department,” said Beamish.

“I got more exposed to engineering and figured out how the program I was taking at the College might translate to a career. Most of my experience to that point had nothing to do with engineering. In high school, we were in a small town, so we didn’t have a lot of exposure to engineers.”

Going from a small town to a tight-knit group in the MET program was another highlight of Beamish’s polytechnic experience.

“It’s the friendships, for sure,” he said. “You’re in a tight-knit class for eight hours a day trying to build your project skills, and you build some pretty good relationships with people who are all going through the same experience.”

“There was a sense of community in that program — one of my classmates was even my landlord. It was great that way. We made some great memories.”

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Passionate Hospitality and Tourism Management grad is in ‘The People Industry’ — and loves it

May 2, 2024

When Maria Jose Eguigure Torres moved from Honduras to Winnipeg in August 2022, she brought with her a budding passion for event planning, a field she had dipped her toes into back home.

Now, as an Event Coordinator for Assiniboine Park Conservancy and a proud alumna of RRC Polytech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Maria is “living the dream” and has turned that passion into a career.

Maria’s journey in event coordination began in 2019 when she started her own event planning business in Honduras alongside her day job. Her move to Winnipeg a few years later was fuelled by a desire to deepen her expertise in a more structured educational environment.

“RRC Polytech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program was perfect for me because it was hands-on, which is exactly what I needed to build on my existing skills,” said Maria.

But the transition from Honduras to Canada was significant, not only culturally but also professionally. During her co-op at Assiniboine Park Conservancy, Maria had to adapt to the challenges of organizing outdoor events in Winnipeg’s harsh winters—something she had never experienced in her tropical homeland.

“The first time I saw snow was here in Winnipeg. Learning to manage events outdoors here, like understanding why it’s important to put salt down, was completely new to me,” she said.

Despite the steep learning curve, Maria quickly made a mark in her field. She began her co-op placement at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in April 2023, and by the time she graduated from the one-year program in November 2023, she had already secured a job offer with them.

Her role involves coordinating various outdoor events across the park and zoo, from weddings in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and family movie nights at the Lyric Theatre, to large-scale events like Brew at the Zoo and Zoo Lights.

One of the most gratifying aspects of her job is the ability to create memorable experiences for others.

“At the end of an event, when I see happy faces and hear how grateful people are, it fills my heart,” said Maria. “When people say that, it’s like an affirmation that we are going the right way. It’s also a challenge for myself to be better every day and keep learning because there are always new things that you can apply.”

Her people-centric approach to event planning was influenced by her instructors at RRC Polytech. “One of my instructors always reminded us that we are in the people industry. That stuck with me because I love to talk and connect with people.”

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Join RRC Polytech for CreativeMornings Winnipeg’s free April event

April 23, 2024

On Friday, April 26, RRC Polytech graduate Jackie Wild will be the guest speaker at CreativeMornings Winnipeg’s free event taking place on campus at RRC Polytech’s gorgeous training restaurant, Jane’s. All RRC Polytech alumni and community members are warmly invited to attend.

More than a decade ago, CreativeMornings was launched out of a desire for ongoing, accessible events for creative communities to connect. Today, these communities gather in 223 cities across 67 countries — including right here in Winnipeg.

Jackie at Tito Boy Restaurant in Winnipeg’s south end.

The Winnipeg chapter of CreativeMornings not only celebrates our city’s creative talent, but also promotes an open space to connect with like-minded individuals. From marketing legends to hometown heroes, speakers are selected by each chapter based on a global theme. This month’s theme is SPICY: being open to trying new and bold tastes is a good lesson for bringing daring and originality into all of our creative endeavors. 

Join CreativeMornings Winnipeg this Friday as Jackie chats about ‘the secret sauce’: how to spice up your life with creativity, culture and community. A graduate of RRC Polytech’s Creative Communications program, Jackie transformed her father’s decades-old dream into Tito Boy Restaurant in Winnipeg. Hear how she turned her maternity leave into a business plan, defied convention, and opened the first Philippine eatery in the south end of the city. Discover how Tito Boy’s isn’t just about serving delicious food—it’s a space for fostering intergenerational and intercultural connections within the Philippine-Canadian diaspora. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about Jackie’s unconventional path to unlocking her creative potential and launching a successful business.

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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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