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Childhood Education, Construction Management grads earn Lt.-Gov.’s medals at Convocation

June 14, 2019

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who received their awards as part of our 2019 Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 4 and 5.

Each year, up to four medals are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and/or community activities. This year’s winners are:

Adele Petri, Spring ConvocationAdele Petri — Early Childhood Education Workplace

Adele Petri helps kids to be the best they can be.

A graduate of RRC’s Early Childhood Education Workplace program, Petri is a supervisor at Starting Blocks day care centre in Stonewall. In 2015, she co-founded the Stonewall support group Families for Autism Awareness & Support.

In 2014, Petri’s son Tanner was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.

“When you’re a parent of a child that’s diagnosed with autism, you really aren’t given any direction. You really have to be an advocate for your child,” says Petri, 47.

“There wasn’t a local support group here in town, so that would mean parents would have to travel to the city. Parents are already tired, so we wanted to provide a safe place where they can come.”

Petri says the support group allows families to compare notes on how best to navigate the vast spectrum of autism information and services.

“It goes both ways. I see what the support does for other families and I’m also getting support from them,” she says.

As an early childhood educator, Petri believes her career goes way beyond babysitting.

“You’re there to bring out the best in children and foster all the things children need to flourish,” she says.

Allison Enns, Spring ConvocationAllison Enns — Construction Management

Don’t tell Allison Enns she can’t do something.

After she was told in university to drop every course that had “reading, writing and numbers” because of her learning disabilities, Enns did what anybody would do: she enrolled in the Civil Engineering Program at Red River College.

Years later, Enns is still putting it to her naysayers, having graduated from RRC’s Construction Management program. She is currently working as a site coordinator at Akman Construction.

“I applied to engineering at Red River kind of out of spite, and to prove to them and myself that my learning disabilities don’t define me,” says Enns, 24.

“The school helped me understand my learning disabilities. My GPA skyrocketed from university to Red River because I finally understood how my brain works.”

Enns, who has dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD, spoke at RRC’s recent REDx Speaker Series about her struggles and successes with learning disabilities. She was also a member of an RRC advisory group where she helped to create guidelines on how presenters should format workshops so that they’re accessible to everyone.

“Whatever limitations people put on you, your only real limitation is yourself,” she says. “You can be you to get where you want to be.”

Honorary Diploma recipient celebrates lifelong link to RRC

June 5, 2019

Marilyn Kenny, portraitFamilies, friends and guests of Red River College will gather this week to watch their loved ones cross the stage and accept their degrees, diplomas and certificates — signaling the completion of their academic journey as students.

As these 2,000 new grads look ahead to their careers, the College looks back on its history, and proudly announces former board member Marilyn Kenny as this year’s Honorary Diploma recipient.

“Marilyn Kenny has truly demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Red River College, and to learning,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“From her dedication to women’s employment initiatives to her work with the development of language training, Marilyn has been working shoulder-to-shoulder with the College for her entire career, and we are honoured to recognize her achievements.”

Kenny will receive her Honorary Diploma in Community Development/Community Economic Development. She now joins the ranks of fellow recipients such as Gail Asper, Ray St. Germain and Ace Burpee — all of whom have demonstrated high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose local, national and international accomplishments qualify them for such a recognition.

“I was honoured and overwhelmed when I learned that I had received the award — I think it was the first time anyone at the College has ever heard me speechless,” says Kenny. “When I look at where my career has taken me, Red River College has always been a part of it in some way or another — and I guess I’ve always been a part of Red River.”

Kenny says her career really began when she tried to help a little girl who’d been in and out of difficult situations and hospitalizations, but was unsuccessful because she didn’t have the proper credentials. She was later devastated to learn the girl had passed away.

Around the same time, she learned of RRC’s Social Welfare Services program, which her husband and family encouraged her to apply for.

“At the time I was driving in from Ashern in the evenings for my classes, but it felt like this was what I was meant to do. Red River College put the wind beneath my wings and gave me what I needed to keep going.” Read More →

RRC shines light on The Spectrum – a new Students’ Association space for LGBTTQ+ students and allies

June 2, 2019

Red River College is beaming with pride as it prepares to again celebrate Winnipeg’s LGBTTQ+ community.

More than 100 students, staff and College leaders will walk in this Sunday’s Pride Winnipeg parade — just one of many LGBTTQ-related initiatives that reflect RRC’s ongoing commitment to diversity.

This year’s parade happens to coincide with the opening of The Spectrum, a new RRC Students’ Association (RRCSA) space for members of the LGBTTQ+ community and their allies.

“Red River College is committed to creating a safe campus environment by fostering an atmosphere of respect, equity and support, and ensuring everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner,” says Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-President, Academic.

“Participation in events like Winnipeg Pride, and the creation of spaces like The Spectrum are just a few ways we can create more opportunities for students and staff to meet like-minded individuals and allies, feel comfortable talking about their identity and experiences, and build a supportive and inclusive College community.”

Developed by the RRCSA with support from the College, The Spectrum is available for meetings and events aimed at students and allies, and to provide information on internal and external supports relevant to the community.

RRCSA executives say the space’s name was chosen to denote inclusion for everyone, as “The Spectrum” has a double meaning, invoking both the rainbow (a widely used symbol among the LGBTTQ+ community), and the spectrum of gender and sexuality.

“It’s essential for post-secondary institutions to create an environment where students feel safe and are free to interact and share with their community, and be themselves, so we are taking a proactive approach in supporting our marginalized students in a visible manner,” says Carmen McIntosh, the RRCSA’s Vice-President Academic and one of the coordinators of the space.

“The goal with safe(r) spaces like The Spectrum is to provide support to students who may feel as though they have nowhere else to turn. Students can come and meet others who share similar experiences and build a supportive community of allies.” Read More →

Making learning fun: Instructor caps off RRC career with Teaching Award of Excellence

May 29, 2019

Cathy Skene, Red River CollegeAt 65 and close to retirement, Cathy Skene is the 2019 recipient of Red River College’s Students’ Association Teaching Award of Excellence.

A Certified Professional Accountant, Skene began her career at RRC in 1981 as an evening instructor of Financial Accounting. Since then she’s taught in the Accounting, Teacher Education and Continuing Education departments and is currently winding down her career as an online instructor in the Certificate in Adult Education program.

In their award submission, Skene’s students praised her knowledge of the subject material, her inspirational teaching style and her availability in and outside of class.

Skene says her enthusiasm for teaching comes directly from her students.

“They bring out the best in me,” she says. “I feel so lucky to have been a small part of their lives, and I’m so very happy that they enjoyed having me.”

In their submission, many of her students wrote that she makes learning fun. Skene says she strives to make the classroom an enjoyable atmosphere.

“Most people learn better when they’re relaxed, and enjoying the process,” she says. “The learning objectives of each course are essential, but there are also ways to add to the experience, by talking about what the students want to learn.

“And as adult learners, they bring a great deal of knowledge with them. It’s necessary to acknowledge and incorporate what they already know. We all learn from one another. A cooperative and supportive atmosphere means everyone can be a winner.”

Crunching numbers and crushing the competition: Financial planning students set their sights on national challenge

May 28, 2019

For the second year in a row, Red River College Business Administration students have banked a first place victory at the 2019 Western Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFP) Case Challenge Competition, and will now square off against the best in the East next week in Vancouver.

The four students — (shown above, from left) Suzie Nguyen, Ron Eric Venezuela, Scott Lobban and Desiree Huang — and their Financial Services Specialization instructor, Maria Vincenten, have spent countless hours practicing and preparing in the hopes that this year they’ll come home the national champions.

“Students come to Red River College to gain the skills and knowledge that will make them employable,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Competitions like the CIFP Case Challenge provide our students with opportunities to practice problem solving, hone their innovation skills, strengthen their ability to communicate and work within teams, and acquire real-life experience that will ultimately lead them to a successful career.”

“We are so proud of these students and their instructor, who are representing Red River College on the national stage and are truly demonstrating the value of hands-on, applicable learning.”

The CIFP Case Challenge lets students take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and apply apply them in a fast-paced simulation of a real-world scenario.

Teams of three are sequestered in a room with a copy of a multi-page financial case study, then given just two hours to develop a case analysis, recommendations and an implementation plan.

Once completed, students then have up to 20 minutes to present their findings to a panel of judges (all of them financial services professionals). During this time, students must convince the judges that their solutions are viable and are the best solutions for the case. The team that makes the best and most persuasive case presentation wins. Read More →

School’s out for summer, but learning continues at RRC youth camps

May 24, 2019

Whoever said summer school was a drag clearly hadn’t heard of Red River College’s summer youth camps. For any child who dreams of building their own race car, or cooking like Canada’s next master chef, RRC has a number of fun-filled, hands-on camps returning by popular demand this summer.

“Red River College takes great pride in being a valued member of the community. Summer camps are just one way we are able to introduce young people to many potential career paths in a way that is interactive, engaging, and most importantly, fun,” says Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-President, Academic.

“We’re thrilled to offer a variety of different camps throughout the summer months in our state-of-the-art facilities and taught by our industry-leading instructors.”

Each summer, the College week-long interactive learning experiences for students aged 10 to 14. This year, RRC is pleased to offer the following summer programs: Read More →

Technical support: Interlake instructor gives Computer Skills course an upgrade

April 11, 2019

Dr. Kasongo Kalanda began his journey with technology and education at a time — and in a place — where few people had even heard of computers.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kalanda’s options for post-secondary education were similarly limited as a young man, but he managed to find an opening at a private university, where he was among the first students to register for Computer Studies.

“It was the only available opportunity,” says Kalanda, now a Computer Skills instructor at Red River College’s Interlake and Peguis – Fisher River Campus. “I took things seriously from there and told myself it was this or nothing.”

Kalanda earned a bachelor’s degree in Science and a master’s in Computer Science from L’Institut supérieur d’informatique programmation et analyse (L’I.S.I.P.A.), before moving to pursue both a second master’s and a doctorate in Computing Education from the University of South Africa.

While there, he ran into a problem when his master’s thesis was required in English, a language he’d never had the opportunity to learn. Kalanda asked for three months to figure out how to read and write in English. He says it wasn’t easy, and compared it to a “do-or-die” situation.

In 2008, he was invited to participate in a Microsoft-sponsored program that trained teachers in how to integrate technology into education. During a brainstorming workshop, Kalanda helped come up with the idea to create a classroom technology integration competition for teachers using a World Cup Soccer model.

The end results were called School Technology Innovation Centres, an initiative for which Kalanda became manager for Africa and the Middle East, eventually travelling to more than 50 countries between 2008 and 2013. Read More →

SpaRRCky flies: Student-built electric car cracks top 10 at Shell Eco-marathon

April 10, 2019

For the second year running, a team of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology students from Red River College have taken their battery-electric vehicle — dubeed SpaRRCky — to Sonoma, California for the Shell Eco-marathon.

The team beat their personal best, moving from a 14th-place finish last year to seventh overall in the battery electric category. And while this year’s race was ultimately a success, it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Going into our first run was the most nerve-racking part of the competition,” says team captain Joel Turner, an Electrical Engineering Technology student at RRC. “Our first set of available runs had been postponed due to rain, which furthered our nervousness, but as soon as we got off the line it was high fives and smiles all around!”

Nerves aside, the team also had to deal with various technical challenges. During the first run, SpaRRCky’s cover came loose and the team’s driver (Samantha Sousa, a Welding student who also constructed the racer’s steering knuckle) had to pull over for her own safety and the safety of the others on the track.

“Once we got the car back, we quickly brainstormed and fixed the problem on the fly, got SpaRRCky back in line, and were able to make the next run,” says Turner.

Students with battery-electric racerSousa noted that the first run track was the most nerve-wracking part of the competition, thanks in part to the weather.

“The rain was pushing our time slot back and the pavement was slick. I also had not driven SpaRRCky on pavement yet, only in the gym as we still had snow in Winnipeg,” she says.

But the stress didn’t stop there. “After our third run, a housing bolt had become stripped and we could not attempt another run with the vehicle in this condition,” says Turner.

Thanks to the team’s quick thinking and a visit to a local hardware store, they were able to make the fix and move on to the next run and a seventh-place finish. Read More →

University of King’s College data journalism school coming to RRC

April 8, 2019

Red River College, the University of King’s College and the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) are teaming up to bring Canada’s best data journalism training to Winnipeg.

For more than a decade, King’s summer data schools have trained journalists from across the country in basic data journalism skills, including how to find, clean and analyze data, and how to use that data to find and tell compelling stories.

That same training will now be offered at RRC from May 5 to 10, right after CAJ19, the CAJ’s annual conference.

“For people on the Prairies and in Northwestern Ontario, Halifax can seem an awfully long way to go for training,” says Fred Vallance-Jones, lead instructor in the program and associate professor at King’s. “So we decided to bring exactly the same content to Winnipeg.”

King’s data schools have trained journalists from some of Canada’s biggest news outlets — including the Winnipeg Free Press, the CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail — as well as those from many smaller outlets.

Journalists who know how to work with data open up new opportunities in their careers, and can find and tell stories others miss.

“Journalists with data skills are prized in in newsrooms for being able to see stories in new ways and ferret out what’s really going on,” says RRC Journalism instructor James Turner, a graduate of King’s 2017 data school. “This training is a worthwhile investment for any journalist or newsroom wanting to offer their audiences bigger, more meaty stories.” Read More →

RRC becomes province’s first post-secondary to offer credit for Armed Forces experience

April 5, 2019

Red River College has entered into a new partnership that will help Canada’s veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces trade the experience they gained serving our country for a diploma.

As part of the announcement, RRC signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government’s National Advanced Placement & Prior Learning (N-APPL) program, which supports the recognition of military experience in post-secondary settings. Thanks to the agreement, veterans and reservists now have the opportunity to turn their training and experience into academic credits.

“The strength of Red River College is our ability to be agile in meeting student needs and the changing needs of our economy,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Not only does this partnership formally recognize military service, it allows the College to offer a broad talent pool for employers and open new career paths for Canadians who serve our country.”

The agreement makes RRC the first post-secondary institution in the province to formally acknowledge that skills, training and experience acquired through military service can be applied towards a college diploma.

RRC will pilot the project by fast-tracking veterans and reservists into the second year of its Business Administration program, with plans to expand to other program areas in the future. Read More →