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Alumni Engagement

News, Profiles and Events

Rising to the challenge

April 30, 2020

We’re settling into the “new normal” at RRC, knowing full well that the only certain thing right now is uncertainty. As we continue to adapt to constant change, we’ve seen our alumni community overcome incredible challenges – you are what Manitoba is made of and you make us all #RRCproud.

You continue to inspire us with the work you are doing to adapt your businesses, provide new services, and volunteer your expertise to help those in need.

Here are some ‘good news’ stories from our alumni community:

  • The Prairie Collective is hosting a virtual day of wellness, Prairie Bloom, this weekend. The Prairie Collective is the evolution of Prairie Yogi Inc and Prairie Love Festival, launched by RRC alum Rachelle Taylor. Their seasonal wellness festivals and events across Manitoba have been bringing world-class yoga and wellness experiences to Central Canada since 2014. The Collective is selling Bloom Boxes supporting local businesses to elevate the at-home experience, and to make the virtual festival as accessible as possible, scholarships are available to those in need of financial support.
  • UpHouse, co-owned by RRC grad Kiirsten May, is once again stepping up to help the community, this time by transforming itself into a children’s book publisher to support families and celebrate frontline workers in the wake of COVID-19. “Frontline Friends” is a collection of kid-friendly, educational colouring sheets, featuring line drawings of real, local frontline workers. The printables are free to download.
  • Sourdough is making a giant comeback as more people are taking up baking as a hobby while spending more time at home. At the forefront of this trend is RRC grad Lisa Sylvestre, who was featured in the Winnipeg Free Press earlier this month. Sylvestre’s passion for baking sourdough predates the pandemic – it began years ago when she was gifted a 150-year-old sourdough starter lovingly named Cornelius (originally from the Basque region of Spain). You can read the full story here.

We know this is just a small sampling of what our alumni community is up to – we will continue to share these good news stories with you!

If you have some good news to share, DM us on social media, email us, or update your contact information to let us know.

Read More →

Stronger together, while staying apart

April 22, 2020

RRC’s alumni community continues to raise the bar with ingenious solutions to our new living and working conditions. From forging new paths of contactless food delivery to finding innovative alternatives to physical events, what you’re doing is working (albeit a little differently).

We know that this pandemic has not been easy on small business owners in Winnipeg. We are inspired by the work you are doing to adapt your businesses to provide new services, while also volunteering your expertise to help those in need. You make us all #RRCproud.

Here are some ‘good news’ stories from our alumni community:

  • Graphic design alum Ashley Nicole Kosowan, along with sister Jenna Rae Hutchinson, the masterminds behind popular Winnipeg bakery Jenna Rae Cakes (JRC), announced the launch of their first cookbook this week. While the book launch comes at a strange and uncertain time in the world, one thing the JRC team knows for sure is the happiness baking can bring to a household. When you pre-order the cookbook, JRC will send you a bundle of three of their favourite recipes to tide you over until its publication date on October 6.
  • Creative Communications grad Tyler Walsh gave the Prime Minister’s speech about COVID-19 for children a Lego makeover. His stop-motion Lego video (now available in both English and French) has gone viral, resonating with thousands of people around the world. Read the full story here.
  • Fort Rouge Glass, owned by RRC grad Brendan Berntt, is manufacturing protective shields to protect frontline workers so that they can continue to provide essential services while staying safe.
  • The crew at Build Films (co-owned by RRC grads Christopher Paetkau and Trevor Gill) continues to help the community, this time by working with thankourheroes.ca to share heartfelt messages from Canadians to frontline workers.  You can post your messages to Twitter and Instagram with the tag #thankourheroes for your comments to automatically appear on the Thank Our Heroes site.
  • Earlier this month, RRC grad Laneil Smith, manager of Marion Street Eatery, and her team donated 50 bagged lunches to Morberg House in St. Boniface. Those lunches were distributed to shelter residents.
  • RRC grad Raymond Ngarboui is delivering free meals to people in need in the Central Park neighbourhood. With help from other volunteers, Ngarboui’s Food 4 All program is helping to feed a community in need, sometimes serving more than 200 meals a day. You can read the awesome Winnipeg Free Press feature on Raymond here.

We know this is just a small sampling of what our alumni community is up to – we will continue to share these good news stories with you!

If you have some good news to share, DM us on social media, email us, or update your contact information to let us know.

Read More →

Helping our community

April 2, 2020

These past few weeks have challenged us in unimaginable ways. Many of us are currently facing unprecedented changes to how and where we work, and some of us have had to make some big adjustments.

But, now more than ever, we are seeing our Red River College community come together to help one another get through this stressful time. Our alumni community is tapping into the RRC spirit of innovation, flexibility, and problem-solving, and we are proud of the creative and kind solutions so many of you have implemented to help out.

Here are a few examples of our alumni going above and beyond:

  • Amie Seier, owner of The Community Gym, is providing fitness classes free of charge via Facebook and Instagram Live (though you can choose to donate $10 to keep the business thriving). On top of providing multiple online classes a day, The Community Gym has also rented out ‘equipment packages’ and spin bikes to those who don’t have a home gym.
  • Kiirsten May of UpHouse Inc., has launched a new book with her UpHouse co-owner Alex Varricchio, The Proximity Paradox.
    • Kiirsten and Alex have been going live on Instagram daily to talk through key findings in each chapter of their book, and provide tips and inspiration to help communicators, marketers, and creators get through this uncertain time.
  • Christopher Paetkau and Trevor Gill of Build Films have been supporting community members working on the front lines and those who deserve some extra help by asking their Instagram community to nominate deserving folks. Each day, they are awarding one nominee with a gift card to a local business.
  • Pita Pit North Main (co-owned by RRC grad Thomas Douglas) is supporting front line workers by delivering donated meals to paramedics and community members working in hospitals, grocery stores, fire halls, and other essential services.
  • Taylor Cole of King Cole Catering is delivering free food to front line and emergency department staff at St. Boniface Hospital and several paramedic stations.
  • Jessie Thiessen, mastermind behind Small Jane Kids, has put together some at-home activities for parents with young children, including an “Around the House Scavenger Hunt Game” free of charge.

We know this is just a small sampling of what our alumni community is up to – we will continue to share these good news stories with you!

If you have some good news to share, DM us on social media, email us, or update your contact information to let us know.

Read More →

Digital Marketing Day

March 3, 2020

Thank you for entering to win tickets to Digital Marketing Day

UPDATE

Due to recent developments with COVID-19, the Advertising Association of Winnipeg has opted to postpone this year’s event to ensure the safety of all attendees and speakers – you can read the Association’s statement here.

While we’re sorry we’re no longer able to reward you with a ticket to #DigitalDay2020 at this time, we understand and support the Advertising Association of Winnipeg’s decision to reschedule this event.

The good news? We still have two tickets to give away for this event, now slated for October 1, 2020, so your entry to this contest remains valid – we’re simply moving the draw date.

Please stay tuned for information later this year!

 

Conference leads to career launch for Applied Accounting grad

February 13, 2020

Erika Falcao credits Red River College for pointing her in the right direction.

Falcao, who is from Recife, Brazil, graduated from RRC’s Applied Accounting program in 2017. She works at Bokhaut Chartered Professional Accountants Inc., an accounting firm that specializes in working with physicians.

She was first made aware of Bokhaut through RRC’s annual Directions Conference, which connects business and applied arts students with industry professionals.

“I met a Bokhaut representative at the Directions Conference and then I sent them my resume. After a couple weeks I got an interview and a job, even before my graduation,” says Falcao.

“So when I finished the program, I had a job already. It was the first and only place I applied to, which was really great.”

Falcao started as a staff accountant at Bokhaut in June 2017, and in January 2019 was promoted to a manager position.

It makes sense that she was able to climb the ranks so quickly, given she worked as a financial analyst for a Brazilian construction company.

Back home, Falcao also earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, as well as a master’s in Business Administration, Financial Management, Auditing and Control from Fundação Getúlio Vargas.

“I didn’t find [Applied Accounting at RRC] that difficult,” Falcao says.

“I really liked the instructors — they were all very knowledgeable and I admired them a lot. It also helped already knowing the concepts of accounting. The program was helpful because even though I have a background in Brazil, I still needed a Canadian background to get the job.” Read More →

Game changers: RRC grads help build digital media industry at Ubisoft

January 13, 2020

Red River College grads Spencer Marr and Ibrahim Shahin have total recall of the day global digital entertainment giant Ubisoft announced it was opening a video game development studio in Winnipeg.

“When the news of the studio came out, all my friends and my family called me,” says Shahin (shown above, at left), who has since landed a plum job as a technical artist at Ubisoft Winnipeg‘s Exchange District studio. “I applied the same day it was announced.”

Marr (shown, at right) was already in celebration mode when he heard the news.

“The studio was announced randomly on my birthday,” says the 30-year-old team lead programmer. “As soon as it was announced I was looking into it, trying to find all the information I could, and I started preparing my resumé to apply for it that day.”

It’s fair to say Ubisoft’s arrival was a game-changer for the local industry. With brands like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Watch_Dogs, the company boasts it has the world’s largest in-house game development staff, with more than 17,000 employees in 40 studios on six continents.

The Winnipeg studio has a unique role as the only one focused on developing tools and technology to build better games. Lured in part by Manitoba’s Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, the company had hired 25 employees by the time it officially opened in October 2018. It plans to create 100 jobs over five years and so far, at least 10 RRC grads (many shown below) have signed on in various capacities.

“The best part is the people I work with,” Shahin says. “It’s crazy how well everyone gets along and how much care and effort is being put into building the team.”

Games have been a major part of Shahin’s life from an early age, but he’s always been more interested in making them than playing them. He says it helps that the skills he picked up at RRC are directly applicable to his job.

“All the stuff that we learned, all the tools and programs that we used there are industry standard.” Read More →

Range of programming preps Business Technology grad for role in project management

December 10, 2019

A graduate of Red River College’s Business Technology Management (BTM) program, Manchanda is currently working as a Technical Project Manager at Web Wizards Inc., a Winnipeg-based company that specializes in web design and development, with focuses on online marketing, search engine optimization and software development.

In his role, Manchanda is responsible for making sure that everyone is working within scope and following the framework of the team’s assignment. He’s also accountable for tracking the performance of projects and ensuring they come in on time and within budget, and that they ultimately satisfy his clients’ needs and expectations.

As an international student from New Delhi, India, Manchanda’s focus was on getting accepted to a college that had an excellent standing, and a strong success rate of graduates being able to find employment in their fields of study.

“I believe the BTM program is the best in the field, with a rounded curriculum that not only gave me the necessary project management skills but also familiarized me with business law, financial accounting and analysis and economics, along with a variety of other necessary skill sets that you require when operating an IT business,” says Manchanda, who graduated from the program in 2017.

BTM is a two-year diploma program offered at RRC’s Exchange District Campus. The program provides grads with the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze, design and manage projects and businesses related to the field of information technology.

Manchanda, who came to Canada in late 2015, adjusted to life in a new land quite quickly. He says RRC helped him to acclimate to a new country, a new city and a new culture. Within a short time of being here, he was also able to secure employment. Read More →

‘Tis the Season of Giving

December 9, 2019

With the help and generous support of our amazing alumni, Red River College has made significant strides in 2019 to ensure our students succeed and partnerships with industry are strengthened. Here are a few highlights and statistics from 2019:

New Prairie Research Kitchen Opens in Downtown Winnipeg

Darin Brecht and Ralph Eichler, Prairie Research Kitchen

Darin Brecht, Interim RRC President, and Ralph Eichler, Prairie Research Kitchen

Red River College is helping to feed Manitoba’s vital food and agriculture industry through the recent opening of its new Prairie Research Kitchen.

RRC’s newest research facility — and third Technology Access Centre (TAC) — brings together food scientists, culinary arts students and industry on the 11th floor of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. The kitchen supports industry growth through new product development and by providing culinary students with food science skills required by this crucial economic sector.

Food and feed processing is the largest manufacturing sub-industry in Manitoba, accounting for 26 per cent of sales in 2018. Many of the companies working in this area are small and medium-sized enterprises, which the Research Kitchen can work with to help bring new ideas and products to life.

“The Culinary Research team at RRC has been with me from the start,” says Hailey Jefferies, president of Prairie Fava. “It has been invaluable to brainstorm with the team and quickly test some of the ideas. This has helped shape my business and our direction.”

The opening of the Research Kitchen makes RRC the only college outside of Quebec with three federally funded TACs. Its launch speaks to how rapidly the College’s work with industry has grown in 15 years, when applied research first began at RRC.

For more information on how you can support projects at the Prairie Research Kitchen, contact Lauren Konrad, Donor Relations Manager, at lkonrad@rrc.ca.

Indigenous Education at RRC Celebrates 25 Years

Indigenous graduation ceremony

Red River College is quickly becoming the college of choice for Indigenous learners in Manitoba. This year, RRC will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its School of Indigenous Education.

With expanded student supports, new and innovative programming, and an increased financial commitment through a partnership with Indspire, the College continues to grow its commitment to Indigenous student success.

“Forty-three per cent of our students come from other post-secondary institutions — this suggests we should have been their first choice,” says Rebecca Chartrand, Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy at RRC. “We are the step before employment, or where people come to upskill. We’re focused on Indigenous achievement at the College, and it’s important that we look back to see where the successes have been, but also where we need to go next.”

Over the last two years, Indigenous Education has grown by adding new staff, supports and programs that ensure Indigenous peoples have the opportunity to grow into every sector.

No matter which field students choose to pursue, they can learn more about Indigenous culture, participate in ceremonies and connect with Elders at RRC, where enhanced and holistic wraparound supports ensure students are supported — both inside and outside
the classroom.

“Our role is to train people for employment,” says Chartrand. “But from an Indigenous perspective, we want our students to achieve wellness as much as we want them to achieve academic success.”

Price Family Foundation’s Donation to Support Engineering Technology Students

Aileen Najduch, Jessica Burzminski, Gerry Price and Derek Kochenash

Aileen Najduch, Jessica Burzminski, Gerry Price and Derek Kochenash

Students in RRC’s Engineering Technology programs now have the chance to earn life-changing scholarships, thanks to a pair of local philanthropists.

Dr. Gerry Price, chairman and CEO of the Price Group of Companies, and his wife Barb have committed to donating $525,000 to RRC over the next five years.

Their scholarships will recognize high-achieving Engineering Technology students, providing them with the financial support needed to minimize time spent working to pay for tuition and rent, or simply to survive.

“If you can barely keep food on the table and have a part-time job just to survive, you might not be able to put your best effort into school,” says Dr. Price. “Students need to put in long hours, but if you’re broke, you’re in trouble because you need to eat and sleep, too. We want these scholarships to provide more time for students to focus on their studies, so they can be the best they can.”

Through the Price Family Foundation, the Prices already fund approximately 200 scholarships each year, and are particularly committed to supporting those who don’t always have champions — children, single mothers and families in distress.

Jessica Burzminski (shown second from left, above), a 2018 Manufacturing Technician grad, says she benefited greatly from similar supports while a student.

“The one thing I am most thankful for … is the ease it gave me,” she says. “I have no family here in Manitoba that were able to help support me financially, and when I was finding it difficult to work and study, these generous offers helped me to pursue my studies and goals.”

With this announcement, the Prices will now support an additional 40 to 60 students every year. Our thanks to Gerry and Barb for their support and generosity.

ACE Project Space and new Innovation Centre Receive Generous Support from RBC

Students in ACE Project Space

Red River College extends its sincere gratitude to RBC, for the recent contribution of $300,000 in capital to support the College’s ACE Project Space and the new Innovation Centre.

The ACE Project Space is an interactive workspace where students, entrepreneurs, non-profits and corporations collaborate to bring unique ideas to life. Under the guidance of staff and faculty, students of the Business Information Technology, Business Technology Management and Information Security programs work with industry clients to create prototypes, products and services that can be introduced to market.

The experiential model used in the ACE Project Space will be applied to all programs in the College’s new Innovation Centre, set to open in 2021. The Innovation Centre will bring together students from different programs to work together with businesses and entrepreneurs on real-world products and solutions.

RBC’s gift was made through its Future Launch program, which will invest up to $500M over the next 10 years in programs and opportunities that help youth gain work experience, grow networks, acquire new skills and enhance their mental well-being.

A Year to Remember

Funding the Future: A record-breaking $3,252,316.68 in student awards were distributed in 2019.

Innovation: Five new learning facilities opened in 2019: The Smart Factory, Gene Haas Innovation Lab, Prairie Research Kitchen, MotiveLab, and Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre.

Industry Partnerships: 916 students completed industry-relevant co-op learning programs in 2018-19.

Holiday greetings

Thank you to our family of alumni and supporters for continuing to stay in touch with Red River College. We wish all of you a safe and joyous holiday season.

Your investment makes a significant difference in the lives of Red River College students. Help us to elevate student success by making a gift and joining our growing philanthropic community. For all inquiries and giving support, please contact the Development office at 204.632.3031.

Community Development grad pays it forward in facilitator role at Mount Carmel

December 5, 2019

A Red River College grad is giving back to her adopted hometown by helping recent arrivals to Winnipeg — just like she was helped 12 years ago.

A 2010 graduate of RRC’s Community Development/Community Economic Development program, Catherine Biaya knows how it feels to be in an unfamiliar city with nothing to her name but her clothes and her family. The challenges that come with moving to a new home and adapting to a new culture would feel overwhelming to anyone — but are especially so to those coming from a war-torn country.

Biaya and her family first moved to Winnipeg in 2007 as government-sponsored refugees after they were forced to flee to Uganda from their homeland in the Democratic Republic of Congo when war erupted across the nation.

After two years in Winnipeg, Biaya decided she wanted to go to school, and enrolled in RRC’s Community Development/Community Economic Development program (now called Social Innovation and Community Development).

Biaya said she was attracted to the College by its culture and course timeline.

“Going to the university, taking four years, five years, would not be beneficial — would be too demanding,” she explains.

While at RRC, Biaya had to handle numerous obstacles, from teaching methods that differed from those she was used to in Africa, to learning how to use PowerPoint for the first time. She credits her teachers and classmates for helping her adapt to these challenges.

“I would stay after school, tell them ‘I didn’t understand it very well, could you explain it to me?’” says Biaya.

“They would sit with me, summarize it, explain it. It really helped.” Read More →

Partnership with Shenyang Institute provides head start for Electrical Engineering grad

November 26, 2019

Sophie Shi knows that knowledge is power.

A 2018 graduate of Red River College’s Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program, Shi works as a junior electrical designer at Hatch. A global engineering firm, Hatch supplies project and construction management services, as well as consulting and operational services to the mining and metals, energy and infrastructure industries.

Shi, who is from Liaoning province in northeastern China, started at Hatch a year and a half ago on the strength of her final project in the EET program.

“[The project] was about home energy monitoring by using SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories) company software and equipment,” says Shi, 26, who did her co-op placement at Hatch. “[Hatch] was using SEL company software and equipment, that’s why they were very interested in my final project.”

Shi’s duties at Hatch include assisting engineers with 2D and 3D drafting works, as well as project deliverables, including reviews of vendor drawings, cable lists, and some basic interconnection drawing design work.

Shi says she enjoys working at Hatch, which has an office location in downtown Winnipeg.

“I never feel bored,” she says. “At Hatch, engineers are highly qualified, they teach me before I start the project drafting work. I get the chance to understand and learn the electrical design. My manager provided me 40 hours of 3D modelling training when I entered the company.”

“In addition, Hatch provides exciting social events for us after the work day every month.”

Shi came to RRC through a partnership with Shenyang Engineering Institute in China. This meant that she was able to skip the first year of EET and go straight into year two of the 28-month diploma program. Read More →